ISIS Funding Channels

On April 14, 2016, the United Nations Security Council, in conjunction with the inter-governmental Financial Action Task Force (FATF), held a briefing at the U.N. Headquarters discussing plans to sever ISIS’s financial channels. The conference discussed the success of U.N. resolution 2253, which calls on national governments to investigate ISIS’s funding by all means necessary within the bounds of their law.

Led by Mr. Philippe De Koster, the head of the Belgium Financial Intelligence Processing Unit, De Koster cited the group’s frequent communication on the dark internet as the leading limitation on FBI and Interpol intelligence acquisition. Criminals often use this network to share dangerous or illicit information, as it protects user anonymity by neglecting to log IP addresses. If utilized, the legality of an FBI or Interpol investigation is compromised.

DeKoster identified the group’s exploitation of oil and gas as its major funding source. In addition, he pointed to ISIS’s micro-financing methods, such as human and narcotic trafficking. These, he stated, should be of primary concern to U.N. member nations’ law enforcement, as their eradication remains within the scope of national jurisdiction. The drug in highest in demand in ISIS’s occupied regions is Captagon, a synthetic amphetamine. Though in low demand among European black markets, De Koster called on nations to increase their scrutiny on the trafficking of this drug.

In addition, Interpol reported that many of ISIS’s affiliates with a European citizenship send their national welfare benefits back to associates in the region. Benefits are received on a prepaid debit card, which are then transferred using online banking services such as Bitcoin and Western Union. The recent Paris and Brussels attackers heavily exploited this method of money acquisition and transfer.

De Koster suggested to the conference, “we’re more anti terrorism gatherers of intelligence…as such, we will always remain quite late discovering what is going on.” He insisted that moving forward, “we transform ourselves as hunters of intelligence. We will develop a novel way…to exchange information, to use information, to share information, to deal with ISIS.”

Delegates from France, the United Kingdom, China, and the U.S., questioned how exactly the United Nations would do that. President of the FATF, Mr. Je-Yoon Shin proposed that the U.N. implement a standardized legal system to which all financial investigative authorities could adhere. However, this would involve the suspension of each country’s particular privacy and search laws.

The U.N. will reconvene in Geneva next week to further discuss strategies to combat the destructive organization whose members are its own constituents. The U.S., French, and Chinese delegates will attend the conference, as well as Mr. Shin and Mr. De Koster.

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