Financing of Terrorist Groups to be Probed by House Task Force

Rep. Michael G. Fitzpatrick, the chairman of a new House Financial Services task force on terrorism funding, will spend the next six months leading a review of U.S. efforts to counter the financing of global terrorism.

Fitzgerald then plans to recommend improvements, including with legislation.

“Is America doing enough and does the Department of Treasury have enough authority?” said Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., who stressed he believes Treasury is already doing a “very good job” of handling the vexing problem of terrorist financing. He said the review will include briefings and public hearings with Treasury and other government officials overseeing current efforts as well as with outside experts on terrorism.

Fitzpatrick said the challenge is that financing operations for terrorist groups are continually changing and are diverse. He noted, for example, that Islamic State has relied on oil revenue, ransoms from kidnapping and drug and human trafficking to pay for its activities.

The Financial Services Committee approved the resolution establishing the task force by voice vote, a sign of what lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say is bipartisan support. Fitzpatrick will chair the 21-member task force withRobert Pittenger, R-N.C., as vice chairman and Stephen F. Lynch of Massachusetts as its top Democrat.

House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, said his panel will use the review to “look at whatever changes are needed.”

Terrorism financing is not an entirely new issue for the panel, which held a hearing on it last November with David Cohen, the undersecretary of Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence. Cohen told the panel “we need better information but we are by no means blind” on the revenue-generating activities of the Islamic State.

Cohen also said the Obama administration has the legal authority it needs, primarily through Executive Order 13224, to attack Islamic State’s funding sources.

Panel Democrat Brad Sherman of California, who will be on the task force, criticized the federal government at that hearing for not cutting off banks in ISIS-controlled territory that gave the group access to the international banking system.

Since then, Treasury has worked to cut off those banks, but has to balance doing so without limiting access to the finance system for Iraqis and Syrians not associated with ISIS. ISIS has found ways around those restrictions by tapping into international financial systems just outside the areas they control.