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1/26/15

U.S. Attacks Islamic State Oil Revenue - by Albert R. Hunt

In an interview last week, David Cohen, the U.S. Treasury Department's under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said that U.S. officials believe that Islamic State's illicit oil sales have been reduced from about $1 million a day to a couple million dollars a week. Cohen credited the U.S. bombing campaign against Islamic State along with efforts by several neighbors, including Turkey and Kurdistan, to undermine Islamic State's capacities in the region.

While acknowledging "a fair amount of fuzziness" in any estimates, Cohen said Islamic State is getting less revenue from oil sales than from extortion, including kidnapping ransoms and shaking down banks and other businesses. Extortion, he said, is harder to stop.

Islamic State holds large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria and needs resources to provide public services previously provided by those governments. "If they are unable to keep the water on, keep the electricity on, pick up the trash and meet basic needs, that undercuts their narrative that they are a legitimate governing entity," Cohen said. Based on anecdotal evidence and other reports, Cohen suggested, "They are failing at this."

Read more:U.S. Attacks Islamic State Oil Revenue - Bloomberg View

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