Islamic State militants are siphoning money from Iraqi government employees in places like Mosul and Baghdad, the Wall Street Journal wrote in an exclusive report. ISIS, also known as the Islamic State group, has been able to steal tens of millions of dollars from the state a month.
So what is the United States government going to do? The U.S. is in a difficult situation, the Journal noted. If it interferes and stops ISIS from getting funds, it might also prevent innocent Iraqis from getting paid, possibly igniting a “humanitarian crisis.” But if the U.S. doesn’t do anything, ISIS could use the hundreds of millions it has stolen to buy weapons for use against the U.S.
The U.S. likely won't try to get the Iraqi government to stop paying residents in places like Mosul, though. “The general consensus [in the Obama administration] was people can’t starve,” a senior administration official told the Journal. “If people don’t get paid, they won’t be able to buy food and it will be even worse. The alternative is a lot worse.”
But “no decision has been made one way or another as to how the U.S. should engage on [the seized funds],” a different senior Obama administration official told the Journal. “This is something we are concerned about and continue to look into, but this is a matter that the Iraqi government ultimately controls.”
Since last summer, the U.S. has had “some success” by trying to cut-off the Islamic State’s money supply, demolishing oil refineries ISIS used to sell millions of dollars worth of oil on the black market each month.
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