Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyDemocrats struggle to gain steam on Biden spending plan Building back better by investing in workers and communities Barletta holds wide lead over GOP rivals in early poll of Pennsylvania governor race MORE (D-Pa.) is urging the Obama administration to tighten its grip around Islamic extremists’ access to money.
Casey sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday asking for new sanctions on “middlemen” for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and to consider designating the group as a transnational criminal organization.
The extra bureaucratic maneuvers could increase the pressure on ISIS, he said, and strike a serious blow to its ability to function.
“ISIS’s wealth allows them pay competitive salaries for their fighters and to provide some basic services, including food and fuel, in the communities they control,” Casey wrote. “More must be done to address this element of the strategy to combat ISIS.”
While the State Department has labeled ISIS a foreign terrorist organization — banning people from providing them with material support such as money or financial services — the group has not been registered as a transnational criminal organization, similar to drug cartels.
Last summer, Casey and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who is running for president, urged the Obama administration to consider slapping the extra label on the group to further cut off its money. Officials have not responded to that request, Casey said.
“It is clear that ISIS garners financial support from many sectors and strategies, and that its activities are similar to those of a criminal network,” Casey wrote in his letter. “Military efforts to degrade ISIS should be coupled with efforts by the international coalition to root out this vicious terrorist group’s support networks.”
According to various estimates, ISIS pulls in millions of dollars each week from black-market oil sales as well as from financial support from backers in the Persian Gulf and ransom payments for hostages.
This week, the Obama administration and congressional Democrats blamed Republicans for failing to act on the White House’s nominee to a key Treasury Department anti-terrorism post. Adam Szubin was nominated for the undersecretary of terrorism and financial intelligence in April but has yet to be called before the Senate.