Los Angeles Times: Islamic State making millions despite U.S. bid to halt money flow

Brian Bennett of the Los Angeles Times reports on efforts to limit money flow to ISIS:

Islamic State still generates tens of millions of dollars a month in illicit income despite a U.S.-led effort to cut the financing streams that have helped turn the once-obscure militant group into a terrorist organization unlike any previously seen, a senior U.S. counter-terrorism official said Thursday.

U.S. and allied airstrikes have pounded small oil refineries that the Sunni militants captured in eastern Syria, slowing but not halting their ability to process and sell smuggled oil and petroleum products at discounted rates on the black market in neighboring Turkey and elsewhere.

But in Iraq, U.S. financial officials say, dozens of local bank branches remain free to transfer money in and out of cities and towns controlled by the militants, giving them some access to financial systems.

The militants now control so much territory, especially in Iraq's Sunni dominated regions, that U.S. officials are struggling with "a lot of difficult questions about how to take action against ISIS without alienating the local population," said Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, referring to Islamic State by another acronym.

"We need to be realistic about just how much we can go after their income as long as they are in control of that oil-producing area," Schiff said.

"In terms of stopping the extortion or the kidnapping or the fees that they levy, there is little way to get at that income," he added.

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By:  Brian Bennett
Source: Los Angeles Times