The U.S. Treasury Department and Washington’s allies are ramping up efforts to hit Islamic State’s finances, particularly focusing on steps to choke off its oil sales, its donations from the Persian Gulf and its extortion rackets.
But current and former U.S. officials said the campaign presents a unique challenge to Washington’s counterterrorism agencies, as one of the first to target an organization that maintains a covert international support network while also functioning as a state through the control of large tracts of land.
The Obama administration, as a result, is tailoring a military, diplomatic and financial strategy to deny the Islamist extremist group access to the international financial system and to restrict its ability to export commodities and raise revenues through extortion and kidnapping.
U.S. and European officials said their emerging strategy is highly dependent on the cooperation of Middle East allies, such as Turkey, Qatar and Kuwait, in preventing the flow of finances and fighters into the Islamic State’s war machine.
U.S. officials have accused all three countries of being lax in the past in taking steps to deny the Islamic State funding, charges that their governments deny.
Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting Arab leaders in Jordan and Saudi Arabia this week to press the need for their support of a U.S.-led financial campaign against Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, according to senior U.S. officials.
“For some it will mean contributing to the desperately needed humanitarian relief effort. For some it will mean helping to identify, track, and cut off ISIL’s funding, and prevent the flow of foreign fighters,” Mr. Kerry said Monday ahead of his trip to the region.