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On May 17, the U.S. Treasury Department announced the release of a joint statement by members of the Counter ISIS Finance Group (CIFG) of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, which coordinates efforts to isolate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from the international financial system and eliminate revenue sources. CIFG held its sixteenth meeting on May 9 to discuss ongoing efforts to combat ISIS financing worldwide. According to the statement, the Coalition is focusing “on disrupting international ISIS funds transfers and dismantling ISIS finance networks that support extremist activities, including terrorist attacks, militant recruitment, and promotion of violent ideology.”
During the meeting, participants discussed that, despite having access to at least 25 million U.S. dollars in reserves, ISIS Core in Syria and Iraq is struggling to meet its financial obligations, as its expenditures exceed its income. CIFG also noted that Africa has emerged as a center of gravity for ISIS, and “the branches and networks in Africa generally have precarious finances and typically rely on local fundraising schemes.” CIFG further stressed the importance to “remain vigilant” to “deepen our understanding of ISIS’s financial operations, emerging financial threats, and activities.”
On December 14, the U.S. Treasury Department announced the release of a joint statement by the Counter ISIS Finance Group (CIFG) of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, which coordinates efforts to isolate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from the international financial system and eliminate revenue sources. CIFG held its fifteenth meeting on December 6-7 to discuss ongoing efforts to combat ISIS financing worldwide. According to the statement, the “Coalition is deepening and expanding cooperation to identify and disrupt ISIS finance networks around the world, while taking steps to strengthen oversight of financial systems and non-profit sectors in vulnerable jurisdictions to prevent their abuse by terrorist groups and their supporters.” During the meeting, participants discussed ISIS financing in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, as well as recent judicial and administrative enforcement actions. CIFG noted that while ISIS continues to rely on the use of informal money service businesses (e.g., cash couriers and charitable appeals made through internet platforms) to move funds across borders, authorities in several key countries have coordinated measures to disrupt these activities. CIFG noted that local virtual asset service providers’ compliance with anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism standards have helped as well. CIFG further stressed the importance of “ongoing vigilance” to prevent ISIS’ abuse of non-profit organizations, and “encourage[d] counterterrorism partners to share their knowledge and experiences to strengthen our fight against ISIS financing and defend the international financial system from abuse by terrorists.”
Terrorist Financing Targeting Center designates ISIS-affiliated financial facilitators and money services businesses
On July 15, the U.S. Treasury Department announced that the seven member nations of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC) have jointly designated six targets affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), including three key money services businesses. Four targets are designated for providing “a critical financial and logistical lifeline to ISIS, its branches, and its global facilitation networks,” while two targets are designated for “abus[ing] the goodwill of the international community under the auspices of charitable giving to facilitate the transfer of funds for and to support the activities of ISIS’s branch in Afghanistan, ISIS-Khorasan (ISIS-K).” Since 2017, the participating TFTC members—Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)—have issued five rounds of joint designations against 60 terrorist targets globally, in an effort to challenge ISIS’s ability to finance its operations through money service businesses and charities operating under false pretenses.
As a result of the sanctions, “all property and interests in property of these targets that are or come within the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC.” OFAC noted that its regulations “generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within the United States that involve any property or interests in property of blocked persons.” OFAC further warned that persons that engage in transactions with one of the designated individuals maybe be exposed to sanctions or subject to an enforcement action. Additionally, foreign financial institutions that knowingly facilitate significant transactions to the designated entities may be subject to prohibitions or strict conditions by OFAC.