ISIS

U.S. Says ISIS Sold $500 Million of Oil, With 'Great Deal' Going to Syrian Government

Russia accuses Turkey of being a primary recipient.

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ISIS

ISIS brings in about $40 million a month in revenue from oil sales, according to remarks made by Acting Treasury Undersecretary Adam Szubin in London on the same day the U.S. military announced it had killed ISIS' finance minister in an airstrike in Iraq late last month.

According to Adam Szubin, ISIS has earned $500 million from oil sales so far, as well as between $500 million and $1 billion from Iraqi and Syrian bank lootings, while it "extorted many millions more from the populations under its control."

ISIS "presents a challenging financial target," Szubin said in the prepared remarks. "Unlike many other terrorist groups, ISIL derives a relatively small share of its funding from donors abroad.  Rather, ISIL generates wealth from economic activity within the territory it controls.  This makes it difficult to constrain its funding."

Nevertheless, Szubin said the U.S. was working with Iraq to cut off banks in ISIS-controlled territory from the international financial network, and that it had sanctioned more than 30 ISIS leaders and financiers. The U.S.-led military coalition had also begun, he said, to bomb ISIS' "key energy assets," including oil fields, refineries, and tankers.

Szubin reportedly deviated from his prepared remarks, telling his audience in London that ISIS had been "selling a great deal of oil to the Assad regime," far more than made its way into Turkey or Kurdish-controlled areas there and in Iraq.

Russia has previously accused Turkey of being the primary destination of oil from ISIS, alleging Turkish President Recep Erdogan and his son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, the new energy minister and former CEO of an Istanbul-based conglomerate, were orchestrating the resale of oil coming from ISIS, an allegation Ergoan called a "slander."

Earlier this week at a Senate hearing, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter opened the door to redeploying troops to Iraq, but also warned such an escalation would "Americanize" the conflict and fuel "a call to jihad" in the region.

In an address to the nation from the Oval Office on Sunday, President Barack Obama described ISIS as part of a terrorist threat that's "evolved into a new phase" after the U.S. limited the ability of terrorist groups to perpetrate "complex, multifaceted attacks like 9/11," saying the U.S. and its allies were ramping up their military campaign against ISIS and its infrastructure in the wake of the November 13 ISIS attacks in Paris.

 The United States continues to insist the political solution to the war in Syria will require Bashar Assad, a Russian ally, to step down. Critics of the Syrian regime accuse it of avoiding a confrontation with ISIS and even creating space for it in order to weaken the broader rebel movement, part of which the U.S. supports.

Meanwhile, Russian airstrikes against Syrian rebels, ISIS, and other terrorist groups (how much attention is paid to each depends on who you ask) continue, with Turkey accusing the country of perpetrating an "ethnic cleansing."

NEXT: The US is Heading Toward More Open-Ended War With No Coherent Mission

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  1. I guess we couldn’t bomb the oil refineries/rigs because…???

    1. too busy with the banks – Szubin said the U.S. was working with Iraq to cut off banks in ISIS-controlled territory from the international financial network, and that it had sanctioned more than 30 ISIS leaders and financiers.

      I’m sure those ISIS guys are petrified over sanctions.

      1. I read a report about 10 years ago pointing out that international financial sanctions basically don’t affect islamic terror groups at all because they all utilize Halawa systems which don’t require direct funds transfer, and instead rely on ‘trust nodes’. It bypasses international financial systems entirely.

        It was also used in the late-1970s-1980s by drug smugglers who realized it was idiotic to be trying to move giant piles of cash from one country to another. The Chinese Triads had a similar system that worked in a few countries via expatriate communities.

        1. politicians are a bit like the guy with the hammer. The only solution they see to anything is laws, no matter how meaningless those may be.

          1. That is understandable, because it really is all they have.

            But you’d think – or perhaps this is naive – that they’d actually consider the cost-benefit options of all the various ways of trying to hurt terrorists… and choose the most effective ones. Instead they choose the “biggest hammer” which ends up costing the most and hurting the most innocent peripheral organizations… because “big schemes” are a way to increase political power.

            why do you think all the bigwigs in Paris are thrilled to do huge, vague “climate deals”? Its one big collective excuse to grab more power for themselves in each of their respective countries, which they can all blame on ‘the weather’.

            1. at the risk of sounding conspiratorial, do they want to hurt the terrorists? Or do they need the terrorists in order to expand the police and surveillance state along with other control mechanisms?

              I have long believed that any institutional effort to solve a societal problem is far more vested in perpetuating that problem. There are jobs, power, prestige, etc on the line. No one derails their own gravy train.

              1. There’s a lot of truth there.

                But… the ‘utility’ of terrorists is purely in their existence as theoretical, ‘far away problems’

                when they start killing your people and fucking up your claims of maintaining ‘stability’, then morons like Trump can come along and kick you and your peers out of power and fuck up the whole thing. Of course everyone wants “perpetual problems” to solve. But they prefer they be toothless ones like Global Warming or Inequality or something. The reason the media has gone into full pants-shitting mode since San Bernardino is because they’re terrified that the reality of a terrorist attack on US soil means the end of the party for Democrats. and they’re not far wrong.

                1. meanwhile, the urban shooting gallery continues its daily run without a word from Dems, who are supposed to care so deeply about the victims of that violence. I get terrorism being a problem, but the numbers say the death toll this weekend in (pick your large Blue urban area) will be higher than San Bernardino.

      2. I must be reading too many thrillers – I instantly read “sanctioned” as a euphemism for “assassinated”

    2. Global warming.

      Seriously, ‘environmental impact’ was supposedly one of the reason oil fields and refineries weren’t bombed.
      Also, fear of civilian casualties (this is why for months truck convoys could operate umolested) and presumably not wanting to say to Iraqi government “Oh hey, we just wrecked billions of dollars of your infrastructure and probably cost you couple billions a year in lost oil revenue.”

    3. Obama said he didn’t want to kill the civilian drivers. Seriously.

  2. after the U.S. limited the ability of terrorist groups to perpetrate “complex, multifaceted attacks like 9/11,

    What a fucking douchebag!!!!!

    They haven’t limited anything!!!!!

    They’re not happening because such attacks don’t serve the strategic goals of any of the active Islamist terrorist organizations!!!!!!!

    Jesus Christ!

    Every time I hear (or read) the words coming out of Obama’s mouth I am struck by what a colossal prat he is.

    1. I also love how they seem to think killing ‘ISIS’s finance minister’ is akin to striking some major blow to the institution.

      Would any major company implode if their CFO had a heart attack? No, they’d just promote someone else.

      It would be more-significant if they – as noted – actually destroyed their sources of cash (oil refineries), or really punished their biggest-customers. Killing a few footsoldiers isn’t how you dismantle the organization.

  3. So neither Rubio nor his “factchecking” lapdogs took at all into account the most important fact: our feelings. I am always glad knowing that laws are being rammed through critical analysis and passed to make me feel safe.

    1. (This is a new feature I’m trying out. Previewing comments in earlier posts for your convenience.)

  4. my hippie English teacher in college brought her boyfriend in one day to give a demonstration. his superpower was being able to be kicked in the nuts. we all lined up to take our shots ala Airplane.

    1. It was obviously a trick. She neutered him.

  5. “””Szubin reportedly deviated from his prepared remarks”””

    Better so that the State Department can later say that he was just speaking off the cuff and its not the State Department fault that it was not true.

  6. Oil is fungible so we’re all driving with blood-oil.

  7. Mr. Burns, I think we can trust the president of Cuba the United States!

  8. Ashton Carter opened the door to redeploying troops to Iraq, but also warned such an escalation would “Americanize” the conflict and fuel “a call to jihad” in the region.

    Wait… they’re admitting blowback exists now?

    1. “Yeah, we might go ahead and do it, but we’re going to fuck up really badly”.

      Somebody promote that man.

      1. I’d prefer that they fire him.

        That kind of guy shouldn’t be working for the government. He might go on to do productive things.

    2. Don’t you know, blowing people’s neighbors and families up from the air doesn’t make them angry and seek revenge. That only happens when you do it from ground level.

  9. Oh, I thought it meant “great deal” as in a good bargain. Like it was a great deal, a tremendous deal. Because if ISIS is as great a negotiator as Trump, we really are screwed.

  10. This isn’t surprising if you stop thinking about the Middle East, and pretty much all the rest of the World, like nation-states and coalitions that my international affairs professors droned on about.

    Think ‘OZ’. Think prison gangs.
    Short-term interests.
    Short-term alliances.
    Drugs.
    Ass rape.

  11. BBC had an interesting article about what Syrian exiles in UK want (spoiler: do nothing but get rid of Assad, only kill bad people, squeeze and fart at the same time etc).

    Interesting quote:

    During the Commons debate ahead of the vote on air strikes, the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn quoted a letter from Abdulaziz Almashi, co-founder of the Syria Solidarity Movement.

    He was worried his mother and father, stuck in a town occupied by IS, could be endangered by British air strikes.

    When we met, he told me that his parents had even felt a little safer when IS – called by some at the meeting by the longer acronym Isis – came, because then President Assad stopped bombing the town.

  12. “Unlike many other terrorist groups, ISIL derives a relatively small share of its funding from donors abroad. Rather, ISIL generates wealth from economic activity within the territory it controls. This makes it difficult to constrain its funding.”

    Is it just me or does this seem like it would be easier to constrain its funding?

    1. For a certain definition of “constrain”, anyway.

  13. Critics of the Syrian regime accuse it of avoiding a confrontation with ISIS and even creating space for it in order to weaken the broader rebel movement, part of which the U.S. supports.

    It wouldn’t surprise me for a second. Everyone accuses these Arab states of thinking one-dimensionally.

    Look what happened in Egypt. The Arab Spring actually strengthened the Mubarak regime.

    1. I don’t think it’s that complicated. I think it’s more like:

      Putin: Tell you what buddy, I’ll deal with ISIS – you deal with the other rebels involved in the insurrection. I get to help a friend, claim to be defending the free world from crazy terrorists, stabilize a friendly regime in a neighboring country, and give the USA a red ass.

      Assad: Sounds good.

  14. IOW, the ‘choice’ between Assad and ISIS is a fraud. The former supports the latter.

  15. “extorted many millions more from the populations under its control.”

    Taxes are the price we pay for civilization.

    1. Yeah, I was going to point out that this was ISIS acting like an ordinary government.

  16. We can solve the ISIS problem easily. Drop a tactical nuke on Raqqa.

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