The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated on April 16 six individuals and a money exchange company with offices in Turkey for their roles in a key Islamic State financial network. The designation exposes Ankara’s continued failure to crack down on the jihadist group’s financial networks in Turkey.
The six designated individuals are part of the Rawi Network, whose operations in Turkey and Iraq are led by the Belgium-based Iraqi national, Mushtaq Talib Zughayr al-Rawi. Treasury also designated his son and two of his brothers, along with two other members of the extended family.
From 2017 on, the Rawi network oversaw money transfers to and from Turkey on behalf of the Islamic State, OFAC said. With the help of unnamed Turkey-based individuals, the network moved money through Turkey’s northern province of Samsun to support the Islamic State’s leaders in Iraq and Syria. As of May 2018, the network operated Islamic State hawalas, or money transfers, out of the Turkish branch of the Al-Ard Al-Jadidah Money Exchange Company, which Treasury also designated.
OFAC previously designated at least 11 other individuals or entities operating in Turkey on behalf of the Islamic State or other jihadist groups like al-Qaeda or Islamic Jihad. Since 2014, Turkey has been a key jurisdiction for smuggling weapons, cash, and militants to the Islamic State in Syria. Although Washington repeatedly warned Turkey to seal and monitor its porous 550-mile border with Syria, Ankara allowed the Islamic State to exploit its territory until 2016, when the Turkish military helped to clear the terror group’s last stronghold near the Syrian border with Turkey. This week’s OFAC designation, however, shows that the jihadist group continued to operate from Turkish territory well into 2018.