Treasury official outlines plan to bankrupt ISIS

A Treasury Department official on Wednesday said the administration is trying to cut off funding to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) by leveling sanctions against people who do business with the group.

David Cohen, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the Treasury Department, said administration officials are on the lookout for people who buy oil from ISIS. 

“At some point, there is someone who is purchasing this oil that they're going to refine and try and sell. Those people have relationships with the banking sector. Those are people who we're identifying,” Cohen said on CNN.

“We can apply sanctions against them but we can also message those people and make clear to them the danger that they're putting themselves in,” he added.

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Recent reports say ISIS has made $3 million per day in oil sales. Last week, the U.S. bombed oil refineries operated by the group in Syria.

Cohen said another way ISIS is funded is through foreign donations, which he said the Treasury Department is working to stop.

Last week, the department imposed sanctions on 11 people and one entity that the administration said has provided financial and other support to ISIS. President Obama has said the administration would work to cut off the group’s financing.

While Cohen said ISIS has “substantial resources in terms of funds,” he said their financing shouldn’t be overestimated.

Host Wolf Blitzer noted estimates say they have hundreds of millions of dollars, but Cohen said he couldn’t provide a specific number.

“I don't have a precise figure to give you, Wolf. And there's no question that is has substantial financial resources,” he said. “But the question really is, will they be able to continue to replenish those resources, will they be able to use those resources, and what can we do to undermine their financial strength.”