United States targets ISIS moneymen in Turkey, Syria

The United States government is working to make it more difficult for the Islamic State (ISIS) to move money internationally via new sanctions imposed by the Treasury Department on Monday.

Washington is sanctioning three people and one company for their key roles in the fundamentalist terror group’s illicit financial network, the U.S. Treasury said in a statement.

According to the statement, Alaa Khanfurah stands accused of using a money services company he established in Turkey to transfer thousands of dollars to top ISIS leaders and operatives in Syria in 2017 and 2019.

Idris al-Fay, former al Qaeda member and ISIS judicial officer, is sanctioned for using Turkey-based money services firm Al-Fay Company to funnel donations to ISIS members, the Treasury said. Some ISIS members al-Fay contacted were operating out of the al Hol camp, a Kurdish-run displacement camps for relatives of ISIS militants in northeast Syria, it said, while al-Fay’s operations continued on a global scale.

The sanctions “highlight the continued importance of all jurisdictions bolstering their efforts to combat the financing of terrorism,” the Treasury cited Office of Foreign Assets Control Director Andrea Gacki as saying.

Al-Fay’s brother Ibrahim al-Fay is accused of controlling the Al-Fay Company in his brother’s absence, and directing international funds towards ISIS elements in Iraq and Syria.

ISIS could be sitting on top of cash reserves as much as $100 million, Voice of America correspondent Jeff Seldin said in February, citing the Treasury.

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on Monday that ISIS “remains active and maintains connections to the financial system”, despite the military defeat of the group.

Security at al-Hol camp has “struggled to address ISIS recruitment and fundraising”, a U.S. official told Voice of America in April.

The camp is controlled by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), comprised mostly of Syrian Kurds who have allied with the U.S.-led international coalition against ISIS and played a key role as the boots on the ground in the defeat of the fundamentalist group.

Turkey considers the group a terrorist organisation, and since 2016 has carried out several large-scale military incursions into territory it controlled.