Iraq News

Sanctions on ISIS operatives in Turkey increase financial pressure on group

By Al-Mashareq


A member of Kurdish security stands guard amid preparations for departure from al-Hol camp in Syria on May 11. Sanctions implemented in May targeted efforts to transfer money from foreign donors to ISIS operatives inside the camp. [Delil Souleiman/AFP]

WASHINGTON, DC -- The US government's move last month to sanction three individuals in connection with the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) is putting increased pressure on the terrorist group's efforts to regroup financially.

"The individuals and company being designated today played a crucial role connecting ISIS with a network of international donors and enabled ISIS to access the financial system in the Middle East," said the May 17 statement from the US Treasury.

The move was taken during the 14th meeting of the Counter ISIS Finance Group (CIFG), which includes nearly 70 countries and international organisations, and aims to deny ISIS access to the international financial system and eliminate its sources of revenue.

ISIS has continued to exploit formal financial systems despite the loss of its so-called "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria in 2019.

"In Iraq and Syria, ISIS has generated revenue through extortion of local businesses, kidnapping for ransom, and looting. The group has transferred funds internationally through money services businesses, including hawalas, couriers, and financial facilitation networks," the statement said.

"In addition to revenue generated from its illicit financial activities, ISIS also has access to tens of millions of dollars in cash reserves disbursed across the region," it said.

Alaa Khanfurah was designated for using his Turkey-based money service business to transfer funds to ISIS members throughout Syria. In 2017 and 2019, Khanfurah served as a key intermediary in facilitating financial transfers between senior ISIS leaders.

Idris Ali Awad al-Fay, who is in Iraqi custody, was designated for using the Turkey-based Al-Fay company (also designated) to facilitate the global distribution of currency on behalf of ISIS, and to act as intermediary between foreign donors and ISIS, including ISIS members located in al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria.

Ibrahim Ali Awad al-Fay, who is Idris al-Fay's brother, was designated for managing the Al-Fay company in Idris's absence.

Last July, the US Treasury designated three other entities and one individual located in Turkey and Syria, who have provided a critical financial and logistical lifeline to ISIS and its global facilitation networks.

These designations "further challenge ISIS's ability to conceal its activities and finance its operations through key money services businesses and charities operating under false pretenses", the Treasury said at the time.

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