Treasury to 'intensify' work to block ISIS funds

The Treasury Department is vowing to “intensify our efforts to undermine” the coffers of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL).

Hours before President Obama was set to lay out his strategy for dealing with ISIS, the Treasury said its efforts to upend the group's finances will play a key part in that effort.

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“We at the Treasury Department are hard at work to undermine ISIL’s financial foundation, as part of the broader strategy to degrade, dismantle and ultimately defeat this terrorist organization that the President will outline tonight,” wrote David Cohen, under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, on the department’s website.

Specifically, Cohen said the department has long worked to impose sanctions on officials tied to the group and financiers who move funds around for them.

He noted that the group, however, like other terrorist organizations, also relies on funds from within Syria and Iraq, outside of U.S. reach, and funds obtained through smuggling, robbery, kidnapping and other criminal actions.

Cohen said the department was focused on disrupting as many sources of ISIS funding as possible. And in an effort to limit the reach of funds the group already has on hand, the department is also working to limit ISIS’s access to the international finance system.

ISIS "benefits from sales of Iraqi and Syrian oil," he said, and the Treasury will work with partners overseas on "disrupting each of these sources of financing."

Cohen made his comments as the White House is pushing Congress to sign off on authority to arm and train Syrian rebels as part of a stopgap spending bill. Obama and Vice President Biden are personally calling members to build support for such a measure.

House Republicans were preparing to vote on a government funding measure Thursday, but postponed those plans Wednesday to take time to consider the administration’s request.

— Laura Barron-Lopez contributed.