David Cohen, U.S. Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, told PBS NewsHour that there has been progress made in hitting the Islamic State where it gets its funds, but more needs to be done.
ISIL is one of the most generously funded terror organizations outside of state-sponsored groups, explained Cohen, and it has been a challenge cutting off its sources of funding, which do not come mainly from donations, but with selling oil it has seized from oil fields, ransom, extortion and other criminal activities.
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Cohn said that ISIL was making a million dollars a day with such activities, but after airstrikes damaged some oil fields, it is more like 2 million dollars a week. “It’s still an enormous amount of money, ” said Cohen, “but it’s a movement in the right direction.”
ISIL is using smuggling networks that pre-dated the founding of the Islamic State. The Kurds are aiding the U.S. in cutting off those networks. He also predicts that since ISIL wants to represent itself as a government, social services and other expenses are going to cut into the wealth the organization has amassed.
European governments have been paying ransom to free Western hostages, something the U.S and the U.K. have refused to do. “If ISIL has received $20 million in ransom payments this year, someone is paying those ransoms.