Who Enables the Financing of ISIS?

The biggest single source of ISIS funding by far comes from the sale of oil from areas that it controls. This accounts for well over a third of the group’s funding, and represents somewhere around $1 billion in profit for the terrorist group each year. But other sources include a range of commodities, as well as individual donations. Below is a description of some of the main people and entities responsible for enabling.

Hajjaj al-Ajmi. This Kuwaiti Sheikh, who operates under at least a half-dozen aliases, has raised donations via Twitter in the Gulf region for ISIS. The U.S. Treasury Department has put him on its list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT). His fundraising efforts are channeled through Jabhat al-Nusra or Al Nusrah Front (ANF), an affiliate of al Qaeda and an ISIS ally. He does this in exchange for having Kuwaitis appointed to ANF leadership positions.

Sheikh Thani bin Abdullah. A prominent member of Qatar’s ruling family, he heads up the Qatar Investment & Projects Development Holding Company (QIPCO), a company whose board of directors is composed entirely of members of the Qatari ruling family. Qatar has hosted many meetings with people who back ISIS, including Harith al-Dari, a designated terrorist and leader of the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS) in Iraq.

Salim Hasan Khalifa Rashid al-Kuwari. Al-Kuwari channeled hundreds of thousands of dollars to terrorist networks while working in Qatar’s Ministry of Interior.  American sources have also suggested Qatar has overtaken Saudi Arabia as the leading source of private donations to ISIS, as well as to al-Qaeda.

Khalifa Muhammad Turki al-Subaiy. Subaiy appears to be well connected in the upper Qatari echelons. Documents released in September 2014 by the U.S. Treasury allege that Subaiy is now funding Islamist terrorists fighting in Syria and Iraq.  Recipients of the financing included an al-Qaeda terrorist who had been plotting to blow up European and American passenger jets using a toothpaste-tube bomb that could be smuggled on to aircraft.  Likewise, Qatar seems to continue to refuse to say what status Subaiy now has.

Abd al-Rahman bin Umayr al-Nuaymi. Nuaymi has been a senior figure in Qatar, having been a president of the Qatar Football Association and founder of a charity linked to the royal family, but he has also channeled millions to terrorist groups in both Iraq and Syria.

Ezdan Holding Group
The Ezdan Holding Group largely conducts the business of the Qatari ruling family. The Qatari Investors Group (QIG), a part of Ezdan, includes QIG Marine Services which provides “a total shipping and logistics service on a worldwide basis which meets the ever-increasing demand for freight forwarding and shipping needs along with technology and trade.” Ezdan has strong ties with Turkey. Despite Ezdan’s “total shipping and logistics service on a worldwide basis” and its strong ties with Turkey, further investigation is necessary to determine if Ezdan is involved in purchasing or shipping ISIS commodities, particularly from Turkey.

Turkey. The Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) is a Turkish charity that is suspected of providing arms to ISIS and its allies under the guise of humanitarian relief – as in truckloads of munitions hidden underneath food supplies. Enough evidence has been produced to lead the Netherlands, Germany, and Israel to declare the IHH as a terrorist entity. The U.S. has yet to follow suit, although some members of Congress have called for it. In addition, a U.S.-led raid on the compound housing the Islamic State’s “chief financial officer” produced evidence that Turkish officials have directly dealt with ranking ISIS members. Given Turkey’s membership in NATO and its desire to be admitted to the European Union, these are disturbing developments. Norwegian efforts to track ISIS oil sales have also revealed that much of it winds up in Turkey. And some of it might be thanks to Bilal Erdogan, son of Turkish including BMZ, Ltd. which may be shipping ISIS oil to Asian countries. The irony is that some of this oil is also being imported to Israel, which doesn’t look too closely at the sources of oil imported by private companies.

Ecuador?  On October 21, 2015, President Correa visited Qatar. Also in October, the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF) removed Ecuador from its money-laundering blacklist. Only two months later, Qatari Sheikh Dr. Khalid bin Thani Abdullah Al Thani visited Ecuador for several days. A Syrian woman known as Sakhadi Seham is believed to have been directly involved in the ISIS terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015, but had spent four months in Ecuador prior to that. Considering (1) Seham’s Ecuador visit from approximately July to November; (2) President’s Correa’s history of opposing U.S. foreign policy; (3) Evidence of Qatar’s ties with ISIS; (4) Correa’s October visit to Qatar; (5) Ecuador’s removal from the FATF blacklist in October; and, (6) Al Thani’s December visit to Ecuador; additional investigation into whether Ecuador’s banks have or are accepting ISIS deposits directly or through Qataris might be warranted.

RECOMMENDATION. Oil from ISIS-controlled fields should be tracked in order to effectively track and potentially disrupt ISIS funding, which entails tracking of middlemen who are buying and reselling ISIS oil.  This might include BMZ’s five tankers operated by Palmali Shipping: Mecid Aslanov, Begim Aslanova, Poet Qabil, Armada Breeze, and Shovket Alekperova. This might also include Ezdan’s tankers, if it has any.  Tracking tankers owned by the Turkish president’s son and the Qatari ruling family might have foreign policy consequences.  Additionally, implicating Bilal Erdogan or the Qatari ruling family in facilitating the sale of ISIS oil will also have foreign policy consequences.  Perhaps that is why the Israeli government chooses not to look closely at where its oil comes from.

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