ISIS rakes in donations on Twitter


The United States is "very focused" on disrupting the social media fundraising by supporters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Treasury Department said Thursday.

The terror network has solicited both small and big-dollar donations through social media, David Cohen, the Treasury Department's under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said during an appearance in the White House briefing room.

"You see these appeals on Twitter in particular from, you know, well-know terrorist financiers . . . and they’re quite explicit that these are to be made to ISIL for their military campaign," Cohen said, using an alternate acronym for the group.

"That makes the efforts of countries in the Gulf that are, you know, quite intent on preventing funding from going to ISIL — the Saudis, for instance — it makes their efforts more difficult because these are appeals that are made, you know, over social media and made broadly."

Cohen said the United States had already sanctioned a handful of individuals responsible for channelling online donations to the terror group.

Still, the U.S. believes that external donations "are not right now a significant source of funding" relative to other revenue streams.

According to the Treasury Department, ISIS was earning $1 million per day through the sale of smuggled oil before coalition airstrikes began targeting the group this summer. The group has also earned an estimated $20 million through kidnappings and ransom, and millions more every month through criminal activity.

"I think there’s no question that ISIL is among the best-financed terrorist organizations, leaving aside state-sponsored terrorist organizations, that we’ve confronted," Cohen said.

Later, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the administration was working with faith-based leaders to help counter extremism on social media.

"I think there's an opportunity for everybody to do more to make sure we're succeeding in this effort," Earnest said.