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UN Security Council Goes After Islamic State Cash

The UN Security Council passed a resolution targeting Islamic State finances Thursday.

GettyImages-501781476
GettyImages-501781476

The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution Thursday aimed at cutting off funding to the Islamic State, although it remains unclear how effective the measure will be in fighting the world's wealthiest terror group.

That’s because much of the revenue generated by the Islamic State comes from the people who are under its control in large swaths of Iraq and Syria. The group taxes and extorts those in its territory for everything from using roads to buying heating oil, making traditional sanctions an ineffective tool against it.

“As soon as they expand territory, their potential for taxes, theft, tolls, and oil revenue increases,” Valérie Marcel, a Chatham House associate fellow focused on energy and resources, recently told FP. “They need territorial expansion to maintain their revenue. Controlling territory is the bottom line.”

The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution Thursday aimed at cutting off funding to the Islamic State, although it remains unclear how effective the measure will be in fighting the world’s wealthiest terror group.

That’s because much of the revenue generated by the Islamic State comes from the people who are under its control in large swaths of Iraq and Syria. The group taxes and extorts those in its territory for everything from using roads to buying heating oil, making traditional sanctions an ineffective tool against it.

“As soon as they expand territory, their potential for taxes, theft, tolls, and oil revenue increases,” Valérie Marcel, a Chatham House associate fellow focused on energy and resources, recently told FP. “They need territorial expansion to maintain their revenue. Controlling territory is the bottom line.”

The UN resolution, which passed by unanimously, is designed to target areas where the Islamic State deals with the outside world to make money. This includes revenue from the sale of oil as well as stolen antiquities.

The measure also requires countries to control and monitor the flow of cash to organizations and individuals likely to commit terrorist acts. It was brought to the 15-member council by the United States and Russia, two countries that are conducting airstrikes against the group.

Thursday’s action adds to a February resolution that banned the sale of antiquities from Syria. It also threatens sanctions on anyone caught buying oil from the Islamic State, as well as the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front.

The Security Council meeting was chaired by U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. Last week, Adam Szubin, the acting Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said the group has benefited from more than $500 million in black-market oil sales in Syria and Iraq, as well as  between $500 million and $1 billion stolen from banks in territory under its control.  

Photo Credit: Bryan Thomas/Getty Images

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