Experts call ISIS the best-funded non-state terrorist organization the U.S. has ever confronted. The group reportedly takes in tens of millions of dollars a month from oil smuggling, kidnapping for ransom, “taxing” locals and donations from big supporters across the region. We explore how ISIS fills its coffers and how the international community is trying to shut off the funding pipeline.

Guests

  • Juan Zarate Senior Adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Former deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism, and former assistant secretary of the treasury for terrorist financing and financial crimes; Senior National Security Analyst, CBS News; Author of "Treasury’s War: The Unleashing of a New Era of Financial Warfare" (PublicAffairs 2013)
  • Louise Shelley Professor of Public Policy and director of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime, and Corruption Center at George Mason University; Author of “Dirty Entanglements: Corruption, Crime and Terrorism” (Cambridge University Press 2014)
  • Matthew Levitt Director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at The Washington Institute on Near East Policy; Former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis at the Treasury Department and a former counterterrorism intelligence analyst at the FBI; Author of “Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon's Party of God” (Georgetown University Press 2013)

Transcript

  • 13:26:50

    MS. JEN GOLBECKWelcome back. I'm Jen Golbeck from the University of Maryland sitting in on "The Kojo Nnamdi Show." The best known source of cash for the Islamic State, also called ISIS and ISIL, is oil extracted from territory the militant group controls in Iraq and smuggled to buyers around the region who pay an estimated $1 million a day for it. But experts say ISIS also profits from crime, extortion, kidnapping for ransom and racketeering that takes place in ISIS-controlled areas and is largely outside the reach of American counterterrorism efforts.

  • 13:27:21

    MS. JEN GOLBECKThe result is a militant group that's reportedly richer than some small countries, taking in tens of millions of dollars a month to fund its push across Iraq and Syria. A top Treasury Department official says that aside from state-sponsored groups, the Islamic State is the best-funded terrorist organization the U.S. has ever confronted. And while American-led airstrikes against oil fields are beginning to slow the group's oil revenues, experts say the battle requires an economic strategy too, like isolating ISIS-controlled banks and convincing western allies to stop paying ransom for hostages.

  • 13:27:53

    MS. JEN GOLBECKJoining me to look at the Islamic State's funding in efforts to halt it are Louise Shelley. She's a professor of public policy and director of the Terrorism Transnational Crime and Corruption Center at George Mason University. Good to have you with us.

  • 13:28:05

    MS. LOUISE SHELLEYThank you.

  • 13:28:06

    GOLBECKWe have Matthew Levitt, director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute on Near East Policy. He's a former counterterrorism official at the Treasury Department and the FBI. Good to have you here.

  • 13:28:19

    MR. MATTHEW LEVITTPleasure, thanks.

  • 13:28:20

    GOLBECKAnd Juan Zatare (sic) , senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, former White House advisor and Treasury Department assistant secretary of terrorist financing. It's good to have you.

  • 13:28:32

    MR. JUAN ZARATEThanks, Jen. It's Juan Zarate. Thank you.

  • 13:28:34

    GOLBECKOh, I'm sorry. I said it wrong.

  • 13:28:35

    ZARATENo worries.

  • 13:28:36

    GOLBECKYou can also join us. Give us a call at 1-800-433-8850. Matt, let's start with the big picture. We hear lots of numbers thrown around that the Islamic State makes $1 million a day selling smuggled oil, that it's total budget is hundreds of millions of dollars. But they're all estimates and best guesses. What do we actually know about how much money the group has?

  • 13:28:59

    LEVITTA lot. And anybody who tells you something more specific is probably someone you shouldn't be listening to. We know that they are raising, or at least have been raising about a million dollars a day through oil sales. But we also suspect that the airstrikes have been targeting some of their refinery capabilities, some of the smuggling routes. And also some of the diplomatic initiatives, trying to get the Turks and the Kurds in particular, but also the Iranians, Jordanians to do more in curbing the ability to move that product has been somewhat successful.

  • 13:29:28

    LEVITTThe biggest problem is that unlike al-Qaida, which traditionally and still gets a lot of money through major donors, especially in the Gulf, that is an earning area for ISIS but it is not anywhere near as significant. Much more important for them are criminal enterprises at home in Iraq. And our traditional tools to combat terror financing can't reach into Iraq. We're not there and the Iraqi government just can't do it.

  • 13:29:50

    GOLBECKWell, the other side of the equation is how much ISIS is spending. What do we know about the cost of governing the territories it controls in Iraq and Syria?

  • 13:30:00

    ZARATEWell, as Matt just said, I think anyone who can give you those numbers is probably not fully informed. I don't think we know. We certainly know that the Iraqi government has spent about $2 billion a year in terms of expenditures in the provinces that the Islamic State now controls. But that number, I think, is a false marker. It's not a one-to-one comparison. I think it's a really -- it's perhaps a baseline from which to operate.

  • 13:30:24

    ZARATEIt is true though, I think we focus very much on the funding sources, the extortion, the oil, the food, the kidnappings, the sex trade, even the antiquities trade that ISIS has taken advantage of to run a war economy. But they also have to govern. And certainly that means paying their fighters, paying police forces in places like Mosul and Fallujah. It means buying weapons. It means moving the food and the oil.

  • 13:30:50

    ZARATEAnd so there are expenditures but I don't think they are expending at the rate that a normal government would. And certainly they're able to use the threat of force to extort discounts, if you will, on the market. And so it's not a one-to-one comparison. They are governing but they are certainly taking in quite a bit of income to the tune of millions of dollars a year.

  • 13:31:11

    GOLBECKThe income source we hear most about for the Islamic State is oil. How does the group smuggle and sell oil and how is the United States targeting oil profits?

  • 13:31:21

    ZARATEWell, in some ways the Islamic State is using existing infrastructure first and foremost, oil infrastructure in Syria, the parts that they control in parts of Iraq that they control to take the oil out and to ship it. They've developed mobile refineries as well as a way of moving the oil. They use tankers, both small and large shipments to move the oil into territory where they can sell it, put it in the hands of brokers. The U.S. Treasury has talked about Turkish brokers serving in this capacity. Our own researchers at the Center for Strategic and International Studies have viewed and taken videos of the oil tankers moving out of Syria territory into Turkey. And we've also -- we also know that they deal with the Kurdish authorities in Kurdish populations.

  • 13:32:08

    ZARATEInterestingly these networks also, in some ways, have been planted on top of the smuggling routes that existed back in the oil-for-food smuggling days, and so the routes into Turkey, into the Kurdish areas, into Jordan and into Syria. And interestingly too, at least over the last couple of years, the Islamic State has learned also sell the oil to the Assad regime itself. And so you wouldn't anticipate that. These are two sides that are, at least in theory, at war but they've done business in the oil context.

  • 13:32:39

    GOLBECKInteresting. We'd like you, our listeners to join us too. How do you think the U.S. and the west should target the Islamic State's funding? Should countries pay ransom for kidnapped hostages? Give us a call at 1-800-433-8850 or send us an email to kojo@wamu.org.

  • 13:32:57

    GOLBECKLouise, you've said the Islamic State also needs to be viewed as a business, a diversified criminal business. What are some of the illicit activities it profits from and how do they affect American efforts to cut off its funding?

  • 13:33:09

    SHELLEYOh, one of the things that hasn't been mentioned has been the illicit cigarette trade...

  • 13:33:13

    GOLBECKInteresting.

  • 13:33:14

    SHELLEY...which at this moment, it's a big phenomenon in the Middle East. And that provided what I would call a lot of the seed capital for ISIS when it got started because it couldn't build up its capacity without seed capital. And at the moment there's a decline in that because they are opportunists. They function as business people. It's a diversified business but they've got a great profit source. But as one cuts back on some of their illicit activities, like oil trade, then you'll find a rise of other areas of activity.

  • 13:33:49

    SHELLEYAnd there's been a trade in counterfeit pharmaceuticals in the region. So there are a greater range of activities than people are talking about. And it's very important to understand the role of corruption in this region. As I've written in my book "Dirty Entanglements: Corruption, Crime and Terrorism," you could not be moving this oil across borders without corruption. So you have Kurdish officials who are supposedly defending the interests of their country but are corrupt in helping to move this oil.

  • 13:34:24

    GOLBECKJuan, you worked on a report that looked at lesser known sources of ISIS funding. Certainly cigarette smuggling and counterfeit pharmaceuticals would be surprising for a lot of us who aren't hooked into this space. But explain how selling western passports at the Turkey-Syria border raises cash for the group.

  • 13:34:39

    ZARATEWell, what you have is a group that really is adaptive and opportunistic. And Louise has just described exactly that, sort of taking advantage of the opportunities in the market. One example, and we've seen this from our researchers at CSIS, is the use of the sale of passports as a way of raising revenue. And so you have the problem of foreign fighters, thousands of them coming from around the world to fight in Syria and Iraq, most of them traveling through Turkey.

  • 13:35:06

    ZARATEAnd what we witnessed was at cafes along the border, in essence a passport trade underway. And that was let's say a Belgian citizen coming through offering to sell his passport. At the time the market rate was about $8,000. That was then sold to the people at the café. The cash was taken. That foreign fighter than would move into Syria, would use that cash to transport himself and also to donate to the cause.

  • 13:35:33

    ZARATEMeanwhile at the café, the individuals were then able to use the passport and create a fraudulent passport. And we actually witnessed individuals taking pictures for new passports. And the danger there is you have this added mixture of the threat of foreign fighters moving in and out of theater, which is a grave concern to counterterrorism officials, but also as a source of real capital for the Islamic State. You have people flowing in that are now cashing in on their passports and able to then contribute to the cause. And so it's a dual threat in that regard and something quite interesting that our researchers witnessed.

  • 13:36:10

    GOLBECKMatt, another way ISIS raises money is by kidnapping western aid workers and journalists in Syria. This is certainly one of the most high-profile activities we've seen. The U.S. and the UK won't pay ransom but other countries will. How much money comes from ransom payments and what are the U.S. and UK doing to try to convince other countries to refuse to pay?

  • 13:36:30

    LEVITTThis is a very significant source of funds for groups. If you can get people to pay, you can get millions of dollars per kidnapping for ransom, KFR. The UK and the U.S. don't pay. Some other countries in Europe in particular have. There's a big push at the G8 and at the UN to stem this. Under Secretary of the Treasury David Cohen recently highlighted this once more in that this is, you know, not a position that has taken -- ignoring the ethical and moral dilemmas that are involved. But if you can create a situation where your adversaries know you just won't pay, then the whole reason for kidnapping, at least for profit, will be denied.

  • 13:37:11

    LEVITTThis is something that has been going on for a long, long time. Keep in mind that this group we're dealing with, ISIS, is just the latest incarnation of what used to be the Islamic State in Iraq, al-Qaida in Iraq, the (word?) at work. And when you look back to what they were doing in '05, '06, '07, kidnapping for ransom on a smaller scale in Iraq, as Louise said, this is a target of opportunity. And when these opportunities present themselves they'll make use of them. When you have westerners, you can get a lot of money for each one of these captives.

  • 13:37:39

    GOLBECKJuan Zarate, your thoughts.

  • 13:37:40

    ZARATEWell, it's an incredibly difficult problem. And, as Matt said, it's not just isolated to the Islamic State. You have this problem in spades with the al-Qaida group in North Africa, al-Qaida's Islamic Maghreb, which according to Treasury reports raises potentially tens of millions of dollars on this trade. And you've seen that problem with the Taliban as well.

  • 13:38:02

    ZARATEIt's such a profitable trade now for these al-Qaida affiliates and these groups that operate in these safe zones or safe havens that in the treasure trove of documents found in bin Laden's Abbottabad compound, there was a memo from bin Laden himself talking about the need to move to a kidnap-for-ransom model to raise money because the other sources of funding had grown difficult given Treasury and the world's efforts to cut it off. But he was watching and witnessing what the Taliban was able to do and certainly what al-Qaida and the Islamic Maghreb was doing.

  • 13:38:35

    ZARATEAnd so the memo was suggesting maybe that's the model we should move toward. That's certainly part of the portfolio here that the Islamic State is employing.

  • 13:38:43

    GOLBECKLouise, talk about some of the other ways ISIS makes money. Explain how it squeezes money from sales of wheat and water from -- and selling off ancient artifacts.

  • 13:38:52

    SHELLEYI also want to say something about kidnapping...

  • 13:38:55

    GOLBECKPlease.

  • 13:38:55

    SHELLEY...because it is a dual-use crime because they're kidnapping not just foreigner but locals. And when you kidnap an individual in a traditional society, you are also undermining the community resistance because they think all the time about recovering the family member and not about opposing the terrorist group. So it's important to think of crime not just as a source of revenue generation, but as a tool of war and a tool of activity of terrorist groups.

  • 13:39:27

    SHELLEYAnd I want to say something else that's related to this because they're also kidnapping or trafficking women. And when you think about the money that's being generated from this, it's quite trivial. Maybe some of the women are sold for $150, maybe as little as $10. And when you're making so much money from oil, this is not really a revenue source but it's part of their business mentality, like extorting from wheat or selling water as you see elsewhere, that everything has a business part of it. And nothing is given away. So as you took women as slaves in previous conflicts, they were often given away. Now, they're sold off as one more revenue source.

  • 13:40:17

    GOLBECKJuan, did you want to comment?

  • 13:40:19

    ZARATEYeah, I mean, it's a fascinating point that Louise makes. In part, what makes the Islamic State so interesting in this regard, and dangerous, is that they've implanted themselves on the elements of local custom, criminality and the economy. And so they're running a war economy. They're not in there necessarily blowing up the banks. They're there using the banks, right?

  • 13:40:42

    SHELLEYRight.

  • 13:40:43

    ZARATEThey're not blowing up the oil infrastructure or the food granaries, they're leveraging those. And so that's, in some ways, what makes them very interesting and frankly, what makes dislodging them all the more difficult. Because to disrupt the financing, as Matt and Louise know, you have to not just cut off the external sources. And in a case like this, you have to dislodge their physical control of the space that allows them to take advantage of all of these opportunities we're talking about.

  • 13:41:11

    GOLBECKMatt?

  • 13:41:12

    LEVITTYeah, and that's why -- and it's contrary to conventional wisdom, because usually when we're dealing with combating financing of illicit conduct, you're talking about just about every tool other than the military. Here, military action is incredibly important to deny them control of territory, so that they can do all the things that we're talking about, including taxing minorities and taxing farmers and capturing and selling women and demanding a quote, unquote, "contribution" when you take money out of your bank, et cetera. In most situations, when you're trying to combat the financing of transnational threats, the military is not very prominent in what you're trying to do.

  • 13:41:49

    LEVITTHere, military tools to push back ISIS's control of territory is of paramount concern.

  • 13:41:55

    GOLBECKLouise.

  • 13:41:56

    SHELLEYI have a little different approach on this. And I think that what we're not talking enough about is the role of ISIS in the virtual world. Because part of a business model of the world today is that you want to get the manpower and you want to recruit them for your business. And ISIS is masterful at using the Internet to recruit foreign fighters. But it's not just taking any kind of foreign fighter. Many of the foreign fighters that they're recruiting have criminal backgrounds. So in part, that makes them disposable people in the Muslim world. But also, it gives them the skill set to be perpetrating their crimes. So I'm not sure that just controlling space is key, when they are so proficient in images in the virtual world and through the Internet.

  • 13:42:46

    GOLBECKOur listeners can join the conversation by calling 1-800-433-8850. We're going to take a quick break before we continue our conversation on the economic fight against ISIS. I'm Jen Golbeck and you're listening to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show."

  • 13:44:54

    GOLBECKWelcome back. I'm Jen Golbeck from the University of Maryland, sitting in for Kojo Nnamdi. I'm talking with Louise Shelley, author of "Dirty Entanglements: Corruption, Crime and Terrorism." She's a professor of public policy and director of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center at George Mason University. Matthew Levitt, he's author of "Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon's Party of God." He's also director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at The Washington Institute on Near East Policy. And Juan Zarate, author of the "Treasury's War: The Unleashing of a New Era of Financial Warfare." He's senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

  • 13:45:34

    GOLBECKJuan, when ISIS took control of Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul, in June, it reportedly raided the banks and took hundreds of millions of dollars. But the banks are still open and operating in ISIS-controlled areas. From the American standpoint, what are the options for dealing a blow to ISIS without harming the Iraqi economy or the Iraqis who use these banks?

  • 13:45:55

    ZARATEWell, it's a great question. And actually one of the revelations in the speech that Under Secretary David Cohen from the Treasury gave last week, the fact that the bank branches in the areas that ISIS controls in Iraq continue to operate. And it goes to the point we were making before the break, which is ISIS isn't blowing up the banks. They're not shuttering them. They're actually using them and wanting them to operate. And so a major question for the international financial community and the U.S. Treasury in particular, is what do you do with these bank branches, which are potentially being used not just to deposit cash and other funds from this group and their operations, but maybe being used to transfer money or wire money.

  • 13:46:38

    ZARATEAnd so this is where the formal elements of the financial system meet the problem of the Islamic State. And really, the challenge is how do you cut them off from the international financial system so it doesn't become a point of -- an asset or a point of leverage for this group, without destroying the overarching Iraqi banking system. One thing that the Treasury can do -- they haven't done this yet -- is to identify by name, by address, each and every bank branch that we believe to be in the hands of ISIS. That, then, allows the international financial community to in essence isolate those branches -- not take wire transfer from them, not engage in correspondent banking relationships, in essence to isolate them.

  • 13:47:20

    ZARATEThe problem with that, of course, is those branches have deep relationships with the Iraqi banking system. And so if you send a message out saying, you need to quarantine this segment of the Iraqi banking system, much of the Western, if not legitimate banking world is going to say, Hey, that's too much risk. We may not want to deal with anything coming in and out of Iraq, to include the legitimate Iraqi banks in Baghdad, which we need to operate for purposes of the Iraqi economy. And so there's a bit of a challenge here and a balance that needs to be struck. But the reality is, ISIS is in control of bank branches, which is something that wasn't revealed officially until last week.

  • 13:47:59

    GOLBECKYou can also join the conversation. Give us a call at 1-800-433-8850. Matt, you wanted to follow up on that.

  • 13:48:06

    LEVITTJuan's point is really important. And one thing that the Treasury has already done is started working together with the private sector. The private sector has a major role to play here. And when they file Bank Secrecy Act filings about suspicious transactions, that information can and is already being shared with other elements of the international financial community so that they can make their own decisions, not only to protect themselves in terms of their reputational risk and their fiduciary obligations to their shareholders, but also to make sure that they are not being used as a point of entry or leverage, as Juan put it, for an illicit group -- in this case, ISIS -- to access the international financial system.

  • 13:48:42

    LEVITTMost people think about these things in terms of governments. But the international financial system is actually run by the private sector and it has a very important role to play here.

  • 13:48:49

    GOLBECKLouise.

  • 13:48:50

    SHELLEYWhen they -- when we think about business, I think we need to think much more broadly than just the financial sector, because so much of this illicit activity that we're talking about is tied to trade. And we're not talking enough about partnerships with the businesses that are involved in trade in the region. And they follow anomalies in trade and they have enormous insights. And some of them have been enormously helpful in the past in breaking illicit trade connected to terrorism. So we need much more of public-private partnerships with many other sectors -- transport, producers who have counterfeits and illicit trade of their commodities.

  • 13:49:29

    SHELLEYAnd beyond that, we need to have the insights that come from the business community. Because it takes business to break an illicit business.

  • 13:49:40

    GOLBECKLet's take a call from Adam in Washington, D.C. Adam, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:49:46

    ADAMHi. Thanks for a great conversation. You've really got the experts that are leaders in their fields here. So I'm happy to be able to ask them a question. I can think of many. But Juan was talking about the formal banking system. But I'd like to hear about what the panel thinks about the informal banking system. What about the hawala networks that we have very few tools to counter at this point? What do you see being the future of the informal value-transfer system in this part of the world? Do you see any movement to cultivate ties with more formal money transfer businesses, such as Western Unions or ways that law enforcement could track those transactions that are currently not trackable?

  • 13:50:36

    GOLBECKAdam, thanks for your call. Louise, do you want to start on that one?

  • 13:50:40

    SHELLEYThe informal banking system always provides a challenge, but it's surprising in how much of international trade that financial transactions intersect with the legitimate financial world. And we also could be doing a lot more in understanding trade-based money laundering, which is a very central piece of the way money is moved in the Middle East. It is not just through these informal exchanges but through trade. And that's why we need the business community that can help us understand the anomalies of trade in the region.

  • 13:51:14

    GOLBECKJuan, did you want to follow up?

  • 13:51:16

    ZARATEYeah, I think, looking at the spectrum of financial services and conduits is important. And so Adam is exactly right. It's not just about banks or bank branches and it's, as Louise said, about trade and trade flows. And that's important. But you do have other ways that value is transferred. So money-exchange operators, for example out of Turkey, provide some of the services and the ability to move liquidity for smugglers and to include ISIS in that context. In the context of hawala or hawaladars, this is the informal sort of system of brokers, based on trust, that pervades in the Middle East and South Asia -- but in many parts of the world, to include Africa and parts of North America -- that allow the transfer of value.

  • 13:52:00

    ZARATEWhat's happened post-9/11 is an attempt to bring a regulatory structure to those systems. And so in places like Dubai, these are now regulated as part of the money-exchange house and operations. And so they have to register. They have to file suspicious activity reports, as Matt was talking about. It's imperfect, incomplete. But that's been part of the structure. One other thing, and this goes to Louise's point about leveraging and using the private sector, the hawaladars themselves have unions and regulate -- self-regulation.

  • 13:52:34

    ZARATEAnd so one of the things that was done in Afghanistan was to work very closely with the hawaladars themselves to implement standards of conduct, know-your-customer rules that were translatable to the formal financial system, as a way of trying to ferret out movements of illicit capital. It's imperfect. It's a work in progress. But it has to be part of the equation.

  • 13:52:54

    GOLBECKMatt.

  • 13:52:55

    LEVITTI'd just add that, you know, after I left the Treasury Department and went to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a colleague of mine and I wrote a study on -- called "The Money Trails," on our website for download. And we went to the Gulf and we met with some of these hawaladars. And we saw first-hand some of the things that Juan is describing and some of the great innovations that are being made, both from a government side to regulate and from their own little private sector to try and bring themselves out of the shadows and become kind of more respectable in their international domain.

  • 13:53:22

    LEVITTAnd yet some of the biggest problems we still face are in places where you might not expect it, not necessarily in Afghanistan but, for example, Qatar. Qatar was very hesitant to really put in place effective regulation of hawaladars. Though they had very good laws on the books, they for a long time were just not implementing them.

  • 13:53:39

    GOLBECKLouise.

  • 13:53:40

    SHELLEYI just -- I wanted to add that there are few hawaladars that are really problematic, that don't want to be regulated and are really key conduits of this money. And it's a concept of what I would call the -- or Doug Farr (sp?) has called the super facilitator. And these facilitators -- these hawaladar facilitators are conduits for terrorist money, for illicit trade, and every kind of bad money that is moving through the system.

  • 13:54:09

    GOLBECKMatt, what role do the Gulf States play in financing ISIS, starting with Qatar and Kuwait.

  • 13:54:16

    LEVITTSo both Qatar and Kuwait have been the biggest problems -- and several U.S. officials have been saying this over the last few months -- in terms of getting them to implement and not just pass and have on the books, but actually implement effective counterterror finance into money-laundering regimes. We've got a whole bunch of U.S.- and United Nations-designated terror financiers in Kuwait and Qatar that those governments have yet to take any action against. Qatar has now passed I think it's its third version of a charitable regulatory authority, and we're going to need to see if they actually put it in place this time.

  • 13:54:53

    LEVITTBut what we're talking about is much more of whether the government is doing enough to regulate the activities of people within the countries more than are the countries themselves financing these groups.

  • 13:55:04

    GOLBECKLouise, you first, and then Juan on this question. You've said, one challenge for the U.S. is that no single agency is responsible for all the different ways ISIS raises money. What does that mean for efforts to cut off its cash flow?

  • 13:55:18

    SHELLEYIt makes it extremely complicated because we have too much stove-piping in government, so that some part of government is responsible for the financial sector, other parts are involved for examining oil policy. Treasury is trying to have a unified strategy. Military is also looking at this. But it is not just the United States that's involved on these issues. Part of the problem is that, as we mentioned earlier, that the kidnapping money is being paid by European governments. And unless there's coordination, which brings in the State Department, of how we go after the flows that are coming from Europe, we do not have an effective policy.

  • 13:55:59

    GOLBECKJuan, your thoughts?

  • 13:56:00

    ZARATEWell, Louise is right. To be effective, you have to have a coordination of all elements of national power. And in the U.S. government structure, that means you have disparate authorities in different agencies. That said, one of the innovations, post-9/11, was the creation of the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, of which Matt and I were a part. And the idea there was to create, in essence, a center of gravity around the use of financial and economic tools in the furtherance of national security efforts.

  • 13:56:27

    ZARATEBut at the end of the day -- you know, I spent four years in the Bush administration at the White House at the NSC, coordinating a lot of this -- the White House and the NSC has to really be the center of gravity that pulls together all elements of this power. Because it isn't just the tools and information and relationship that the Treasury has. You have to apply, in particular in this case, the military tools in a very strategic and tactical way that affects the funding. You have to engage the trade community, as Louise has said, the energy sector, all of these efforts in a context of an international environment, have to then be coordinated. That's the job of the White House.

  • 13:57:02

    ZARATEAnd what you see now is the attempts to create a strategy and a coalition to drive this. Whether or not we're going to have staying power, I think, is still a question to be answered.

  • 13:57:12

    GOLBECKMatt, you're going to get the last word in the conversation, so, please.

  • 13:57:15

    LEVITTYou know, one of the creative types of things that Treasury's been able to do with these new powers, working with the interagency, is to identify creative ways to do this. So for example, while most of the oil is moving in networks that are largely outside the formal economy, working with the intelligence community you can try and figure out the businesses that are being financed and the trucks that are being insured, the facilities that are being licensed, and you can target them with some of your more traditional Treasury tools that other elements of this oil economy might not be vulnerable to.

  • 13:57:42

    GOLBECKI'd like to thank all of our guests. This is an important and fascinating conversation but we're out of time. Louise Shelley, author of "Dirty Entanglements: Corruption, Crime and Terrorism," and a professor at George Mason University, thanks for being with us. Matt Levitt, author of Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon's Party of God," and director of the Stein Program at -- I'm sorry, the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligent at The Washington Institute on Near East Policy. Thanks for joining us.

  • 13:58:08

    LEVITTA pleasure.

  • 13:58:08

    GOLBECKAnd Juan Zarate, senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and author of "Treasury's War: The Unleashing of a New Era of Financial Warfare." Thanks for being with us.

  • 13:58:18

    ZARATEThank you, Jen.

  • 13:58:19

    GOLBECKI'm Jen Golbeck sitting in on "The Kojo Nnamdi Show." Thanks for listening.

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