Inside the Economic War Against the Islamic State

Inside the Economic War Against the Islamic State by Joby Warrick, Washington Post

The Islamic State starts the new year with a drastically depleted bank account, counterterrorism officials say, following months of intensified efforts to deprive the Islamists of oil profits and other revenue used to finance military operations and terrorist attacks abroad.

Coalition aircraft in the past 15 months have destroyed more than 1,200 tanker trucks — including 168 vehicles struck in a single air raid in Syria in early December — while also using new weapons and tactics to inflict lasting damage on the terrorists’ remaining oil fields, U.S. and Middle Eastern officials say.

The military strikes are being paired with new measures intended to shut down financial networks used by the Islamic State to procure supplies and pay its fighters, the officials say. Two weeks ago, the U.S. and Iraqi governments announced the first coordinated effort to punish Iraqi and Syrian financial services companies used by the terrorists to conduct business.

The campaign has slashed profits from oil sales, traditionally the biggest revenue source for the Islamic State, U.S. officials say, and deepened the economic pain for a terrorist organization that until recently was regarded as the world’s wealthiest. One sign of the financial strain, the officials say, is a shrinking payroll: After cutting salaries by 50 percent a few months ago, the Islamic State now appears to be struggling to pay its workers and fighters at all.

“We are destroying ISIL’s economic base,” Brett McGurk, the Obama administration’s special envoy to the 67-nation coalition arrayed against the Islamic State, said at a news briefing recently, using one of the common acronyms for the militants. Just a year ago, the militants were luring foreign fighters with promises of generous paychecks, but today “that is not happening,” he said…

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