OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: US works to choke off ISIS revenue

THE TOPLINE: The Treasury Department is “very focused” on disrupting the revenue streams that fund the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), including illicit oil sales and social media fundraising by its supporters, a key official said today.

The terror network was raking in as much as $1 million per day through the sale of smuggled oil before coalition airstrikes began targeting the group this summer, David Cohen, under secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said in prepared remarks at a Washington think tank.

ADVERTISEMENT

ISIS has also earned an estimated $20 million through kidnappings and ransom, and millions more every month through other 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, using an alternate acronym for the group.

The Treasury is also aware that the terror group “controls oil refineries of various sizes and output capacities, and earns some revenue from the sale of refined petroleum products.”

The terror group has also solicited donations through social media, Cohen said later 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.

He said the U.S. had already sanctioned a handful of individuals responsible for funneling online donations to ISIS but such donations "are not right now a significant source of funding" compared to other revenue sources.

 

RANGEL: ISIS NOT DIRECT THREAT TO US: Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) said that ISIS is not a direct threat to U.S. security and questioned President Obama’s strategy to defeat the group.

"I don't see where that's a threat to our national security," he said in an interview on MSNBC.

“There is a cancer in this part of the world, and it is true that America and probably Europe has no idea the depth of feeling and discord in this area for religious reasons," he added.

Rangel said he didn’t see an easy solution for confronting ISIS.

"Notwithstanding that, it appears as though there could be overall a threat — not directly to us — but for us to be involved in a military way, I don't see how in the heck that's going to solved," he said.

The veteran lawmaker also expressed doubts about the administration’s strategy.

"Do you have any idea who the drones and bombs that we're dropping are killing?" Rangel asked. "I challenge you to tell me who they're killing. We haven't the slightest idea."

 

GOP SEES FORT HOOD PARALLEL IN OTTAWA ATTACK: House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) used Wednesday’s deadly shooting attack in Canada to slam the Obama administration’s response to the 2009 massacre at Fort Hood.

“I was impressed with the Canadian government's swift condemnation of what was obviously an act of terror,” the retiring lawmaker said in a statement.

“I wish the Obama administration used similar language during the Ft. Hood shooting, rather than pretending that 'workplace violence' was an accurate description of a tragic terrorist attack,” he added.

The White House on Thursday afternoon described the shooting, and one that occurred earlier in the week in Quebec, as “despicable terrorist attacks.”

The Defense Department classified the 2009 shooting in which Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan killed 13 people as workplace violence, rather than an act of terrorism.

Republican lawmakers have proposed legislation that would declare the shooting took place in a combat zone and was a terrorist attack.

McKeon highlighted that such language was included in both the House and Senate drafts of this year's defense authorization bill.

“I hope the president will follow Prime Minister [Stephen] Harper’s example and recognize terrorist attacks for what they are,” he said.

Canadian Prime Minister Harper pledged to intensify his country's efforts against “terrorist organizations,” after a masked gunman shot and killed a soldier guarding the National War Memorial in Ottawa. The gunman then entered the Canadian parliament building and opened fire before being shot dead by the body’s sergeant-at-arms.

McKeon wasn’t the only Republican lawmaker to see similarities between Ottawa and Fort Hood.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said in a statement that the Ottawa incident was “all too reminiscent of the attack on Fort Hood.”

 

PENTAGON, DHS WON'T CHANGE SECURITY: The Defense and Homeland Security departments do not intend to heighten security following Wednesday’s shooting around Canada’s Parliament building, officials said.

“There’s been no increased security,” a Defense official told The Hill.

DHS “continues to monitor the evolving situation” in Ottawa, according to an agency official.

However, “at this time, there is no specific reporting to indicate that ongoing events in Canada pose a threat to the United States,” the DHS official added.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said in a statement that the shooting is “yet another reminder that homegrown terrorism is a real threat, not only to our country but to our allies as well.”

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

— McCain: Pentagon spokesman is an ‘idiot’

— Russian fighter suspected of terrorism to be tried in US

— GOP lawmakers: Use civil planes for Ebola relief after travel ban

— Bill would end benefits paid out to Nazis

— Behind the numbers: ‘Kills’ against ISIS

 

Please send tips and comments to Kristina Wong, kwong@thehill.com, and Martin Matishak, mmatishak@thehill.com.

Follow us on Twitter: @thehill, @kristina_wong, @martinmatishak