ISIS makes its fortune by selling oil from seized territory to its enemies, including the Syrian government it has vowed to topple and to Kurds in Iraq, a U.S. official said Thursday.
The official, Undersecretary David Cohen of the Treasury Department, is in charge of cracking down on ISIS finances. In remarks prepared for a speech to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, he said that ISIS "has amassed wealth at an unprecedented pace."
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Unlike al Qaeda, he said, ISIS gets only a small share of its money from deep-pocketed donors. It relies mostly on black-market oil sales, extortion and ransom payments, Cohen said. Estimates of how much ISIS makes selling oil have varied widely, but it is believed to be at least $1 million a day.