Degrading and defeating Daesh from the battlefield to the bank

Guns and money changing hands in Iraq (© AP Images)
The U.S. Treasury Department works to cut financing to terror groups like Daesh. (© AP Images)

Daesh’s military infrastructure isn’t the only target of the global coalition assembled against it. The terror group’s finances are a target, too.

“As part of the international campaign to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL, we at Treasury, along with colleagues throughout the interagency, are leading an effort to attack ISIL’s financial foundation,” says Jennifer Fowler, deputy assistant secretary for terrorist financing at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

The Treasury Department works with global coalition partners to counter Daesh financing by:

  • Curtailing oil revenues. In 2014, Daesh earned up to $100 million in illegal oil sales. While airstrikes continue to destroy stolen oil facilities, Turkish and Kurdish partners further aid the process by halting oil transport along borders.
  • Rejecting terrorist demands. U.S. policy is to refuse the payment of ransoms or make other concessions to hostage-takers, and the Treasury Department urges other countries to adopt similar policies. In 2013, G8 members issued a communiqué rejecting the payment of ransoms to terrorists. In 2014, the U.N. Security Council approved Resolution 2133, which underscores that paying ransoms to terrorists creates more victims.
  • Reducing international donations. Although international donations to Daesh are not a main source of revenue for the terror group, they remain a significant concern. “Treasury has worked very closely with partners in the Gulf to disrupt the flow of donations to a number of terrorist organizations operating in the Middle East and elsewhere,” Fowler says.

As part of broader efforts against illegal financing activity, the U.S. is a member of the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Founded in 1989, the FATF sets standards and promotes measures for combating terrorist financing, among other illegal financial activities.

One thing is certain, says David Cohen, under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the Treasury Department.  So long as Daesh “terrorizes the people of Iraq and Syria, imperils the broader Middle East, and threatens U.S. interests overseas and at home, we will remain committed to degrading its financial strength.”