Skip to main content

US targets Islamic State financiers in Turkey, Syria, Indonesia

The US hit five individuals with economic sanctions over aiding jihadi recruits via money transfer.

The Biden administration imposed economic sanctions on five Islamic State financiers in Turkey, Syria and Indonesia on Monday night.

Members of the network played key roles in helping IS recruits join the group, and moved funds to help IS fighters obtain weapons and for children to be smuggled out of IS detention camps in Syria, the US Treasury Department said in a statement.

One member of the network, Dwi Dahlia Sustani, is accused of assisting IS members with money transfers from all three countries. Sustani helped her husband deliver nearly $4,000 and weapons to an IS leader, distributing roughly $500 of that money to fellow IS supporters, the department said.

Why it matters: The new sanctions show that despite IS’s military defeat in 2019, the group retains ardent sympathizers willing to lend assistance from abroad.

  • Supporters in more than 40 countries around the world have sent funds to IS detainees in northeast Syria, the US Treasury Department said in its press release.

  • At the al-Hol detention camp in northeast Syria, IS affiliates have obtained up to $20,000 per month via the local hawala currency transfer system. A majority of that money originated from outside Syria, according to the Treasury.

The group has continued to smuggle affiliates out of prison camps run by Kurdish-led forces in northeast Syria to Idlib (where two subsequent IS leaders were found and died during US Special Forces raids), Deir Ezzor and Raqqa provinces.

  • “ISIS is particularly focused on smuggling children out of displaced persons camps for recruitment as fighters,” with much of the latest funding having been gathered in Turkey and Indonesia, the Treasury said in Monday’s statement.

Counter-IS strategy: The sanctions came just two days before a foreign ministers’ meeting of US-led anti-IS coalition member states is to be held in Morocco’s capital.

In January, the jihadist militants staged a massive prison break at a detention facility in the northeast Syrian city of Hasakah.

  • Hundreds of imprisoned IS fighters were initially estimated to have escaped, and the ensuing fighting left some 370 jihadis and more than 150 Syrian Kurdish-led forces dead.

  • The majority of escapees were either killed or captured in street battles and house-to-house searches by Kurdish-led forces backed by the US, according to a Pentagon inspector general’s report which was published last week.

  • The group’s second leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, took an active role in planning the operation, US officials said at the time. Al-Qurayshi blew himself up when Delta Force operators surrounded his residence in Idlib province less than two weeks later, dealing what the Pentagon then called “a significant blow” to the jihadi group.

  • However, Qurayshi’s death has had no appreciable impact on IS’s operational capabilities, last week’s inspector general report noted. The group maintains a low-level insurgency in rural areas of Iraq and Syria.

What’s next: With few easy options, Washington’s Syria policy appears to be in a holding pattern.

  • The US announced $800 million in humanitarian aid for Syrians on Tuesday as a July deadline looms for the UN Security Council to renew cross-border aid into Syria.

  • But there’s little outward sign of a renewed diplomatic effort to resolve the indefinite detention of more than 10,000 IS fighters and more than 60,000 family members in makeshift facilities across northeast Syria, a situation which US military officials have described as unsustainable. The Biden and Trump administration have repeatedly called on foreign states to repatriate citizens interned in the camps.

  • Asked during a Senate hearing on Tuesday by US Senator Jeanne Shaheen whether his agency has a strategy to deal with radicalization among the tens of thousands of detainees, Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, the head of the Pentagon’s intelligence branch, balked.

  • “We have an intelligence collection strategy to monitor it,” replied Berrier, head of the US Defense Intelligence Agency.

Know more: Read Al-Monitor’s takeaways from the death of IS’s second leader.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in

Security Briefing Security Briefing

Security Briefing

Middle East defense and security in your inbox

Trend Reports

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (4th R) attends a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (3rd L) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on February 22, 2019. (Photo by HOW HWEE YOUNG / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read HOW HWEE YOUNG/AFP via Getty Images)

From roads to routers: The future of China-Middle East connectivity

A general view shows the solar plant in Uyayna, north of Riyadh, on March 29, 2018. - On March 27, Saudi announced a deal with Japan's SoftBank to build the world's biggest solar plant. (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP) (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)

Regulations on Middle East renewable energy industry starting to take shape

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial