Islamic State may decentralise financing: US official

Representative Image (Image by David Schwarzenberg from Pixabay)

The Islamic State (IS) group's financing is likely to shift from a "centralised" system in Iraq and Syria to a much more fragmented one following the death of its leader, a US official said Wednesday.

"They still have access to millions of dollars," Marshall Billingslea, US Treasury assistant secretary for terrorist financing, told reporters after attending a Luxembourg meeting focused on countering the IS.

He said that the group's financial operations are expected to move away "from a centralised model in Iraq and Syria into a much more regionalised approach" as it adapts to cope with the death of leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Baghdadi died on October 26 during a US special forces raid on his hideout in northwestern Syria, where he was holed up after the defeat of his so-called caliphate that has once stretched across northern Syria and Iraq.

Billingslea predicted that IS will rely "on their different regional bodies to become more self-sufficient," notably through ransoms from kidnappings, extortion and even the theft of cows in Nigeria, where it also has a presence.

The Luxembourg meeting brought together representatives of countries within a coalition that has formed to combat IS financing, under the banner Counter ISIS Finance Group.

The coalition, led by the US, Italy and Saudi Arabia, welcomed two new members: Malaysia and Thailand. It meets twice a year in different locations that are not communicated in advance.

On Monday, the US Treasury department added eight companies and individuals in Turkey, Syria, the Gulf and Europe to its sanctions list for allegedly providing financial support to the IS group.

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