UN adopts resolution targeting ISIS finances

Finance ministers from the UN Security Council on Thursday unanimously adopted a wide-ranging resolution aimed at ramping up sanctions against the Islamic State (ISIS) group and cutting off its revenue flows.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew led the council’s first-ever meeting of finance ministers, shoring up a major diplomatic push to end the war in Syria, where ISIS jihadists control a large swathe of territory and have installed their de facto capital.

The resolution calls on governments to ensure they have adopted laws that make the financing of ISIS and of foreign fighters who join its ranks a serious criminal offense.

Drafted by the United States and Syrian ally Russia, the measure updates a previous resolution that set up an Al-Qaeda blacklist, which will be renamed the “ISIL (Daesh) and Al-Qaeda sanctions list” to signal the UN’s stronger focus on the ISIS extremists.

It urges countries to “move vigorously and decisively to cut the flow of funds, and other financial assets and economic resources” including oil and antiquities to ISIS, and to “more actively” submit names to the sanctions list.

A Russian-drafted resolution on cutting off the extremists’ revenue streams was adopted in February, but countries have been slow to take action to choke off funding channels.

“While we are making progress to financially isolate ISIL, if we are to succeed we all must intensify our efforts, on our own and together at the international level,” said Lew, using the alternative acronym for ISIS.

The latest measure would require all countries to report within 120 days on steps taken to target ISIS financing.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be asked to prepare a sweeping report in 45 days on the ISIS threat and its revenue streams, focusing also on funding for foreign fighters.

According to the London-based IHS analysis firm, the Islamic State group is pulling in $80 million per month, but Russian and U.S. coalition air strikes on oil facilities are putting a strain on its finances.

About half of ISIS revenues come from extortion and looted property, 43 percent from oil sales and the remainder from drug smuggling, electricity sales and donations, according to IHS.

ISIS, known to be the world’s richest terrorist organization, has reportedly made up to $1.5 billion from robbing banks in Syria and Iraq as well as black market oil sales – meaning it has higher revenues than many small countries.