WASHINGTON – The U.S. announced Monday that it is sanctioning five people accused of fundraising for the Islamic State group and using the funds to help traffic children to serve as fighters for the organization.
U.S. Treasury says the actors are pivotal to helping extremists travel to Syria and other regions where IS operates.
Dwi Dahlia Susanti and her accomplices are accused of facilitating money transfers from Indonesia, Turkey, and Syria, where the Treasury Department says Sustani used the funds to help “smuggle teenage children out of the camps to the desert, where they were received by (IS) foreign fighters, likely as child recruits" for IS.
The sanctions, imposed by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, block any property or other assets the individuals have in the U.S. and those who engage in business with the sanctioned people could receive secondary sanctions.
The announcement comes just two days ahead of a meeting of foreign ministers from the global anti-IS coalition that is happening in Morocco on Wednesday.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken had to cancel his plan to attend because he tested positive for COVID-19, but the U.S. will be represented by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, who is the third highest-ranking U.S. diplomat.
Treasury says several of the individuals allegedly conducted a large portion of transfers through Syria-based refugee camps by collecting funds in Indonesia and Turkey, where some the funds were used to pay for “smuggling children out of the camps and delivering them to (IS) foreign fighters as potential recruits,” according to Treasury.
Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said Treasury intends to “expose and disrupt an international facilitation network that has supported (IS) recruitment, including the recruitment of vulnerable children in Syria.”
Of the roughly 40,000 foreign IS members identified in Iraq and Syria, 12 percent were children under the age of 18, according to a 2019 United Nations report.
“The United States, as part of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, is committed to denying (IS) the ability to raise and move funds across multiple jurisdictions," Nelson said in a news release. The U.S. government refers to the group as ISIS, which stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Associated Press writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report.