Two senators from across the aisle have joined forces to demand that the Obama administration finds a way to cut off the Islamic State's finances while calling it the "best funded terrorist group in history."
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Bob Casey have written to Secretary of State John Kerry seeking to stop the flow of money to the Sunni extremists, also known as ISIS, according to a press release
from Casey's office.
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"ISIS's criminal activities — robbery, extortion, and trafficking — have helped the organization become the best funded terrorist group in history," wrote Rubio and Casey.
"This wealth has helped expand their operational capacity and incentivized both local and foreign fighters to join them. ISIS has the resources, weaponry, and operational safe havens to continue to threaten the stability of the region and U.S. national security interests."
The senators cited a report claiming that ISIS has seized control of valuable oil reserves in Iraq and Syria. They are selling the oil on the black market for up to $2 million a day to finance their attempts to create a caliphate in territories they have seized in eastern Syria and northern Iraq.
Rubio, who sits on the Foreign Relations and Intelligence Committees, and Casey, a member of the National Security Working Group, urged the State Department to designate ISIS, or the Islamic State, as a "Transnational Criminal Organization."
They said that the designation would "send a strong signal to other countries and potential third parties" who are buying oil smuggled out of Iraq and Syria by the militants.
The senators said Syria President Bashar Assad is supporting the terrorists by buying his own oil, although some of it is "making its way to third countries."
"Although ISIS is already under both U.S. and international sanctions, we should employ all available tools to curtail these activities and disrupt its financial networks," according to the letter. "ISIS's cash flow from this criminal enterprise relies on smuggling routes and black market sales."
Rubio and Casey also said in the letter that ISIS is receiving "significant financial support from private individuals residing in several U.S. partner countries in the region," The Hill
They urged the State Department to reveal what action is being taken to prevent smuggling networks in the region from helping ISIS to sell oil in violation of international sanctions.
"We urge you to make the halting of these private financial flows a greater priority and to make clear to countries in the region that continued financial support of ISIS could lead to imposition of financial penalties on their citizens and financial institutions by the U.S. Government," the senators wrote.
The radical Islamists are also funding their terror activities with millions of dollars they have stolen from banks they have seized.
It was reported in June
that ISIS looted $429 million in Mosul, Iraq, including a suspected large cache of gold bullion, after capturing the country's second largest city.
The stolen funds have helped to make ISIS richer than al-Qaida and as wealthy as the small nations of Tonga, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, and the Falkland Islands, according to reports.
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