KRG delegation to visit Germany to discuss investigation of ISIS financial crimes
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) delegation will visit Berlin, Germany, on Wednesday to meet with officials investigating the financial aspects of core international crimes by ISIS.
Representative of the Kurdistan Region Prime Minister, the Special Advisor of the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by ISIS (UNITAD), and representatives from the Iraqi National Coordination Committee (NCC) and the German Federal Foreign Office will participate in the meeting, the KRG Office of the Coordinator for International Advocacy (OCIA) said in a press statement.
Dr. Dindar Zebari, the KRG Coordinator for International Advocacy and the KRG representative in the NCC, said in a statement that "the meeting will focus on the efforts of the KRG in this regard, as well as the mechanisms for exchanging information with the international community."
"We are continuing our coordination with UNITAD, especially in the process of archiving and documenting the crimes of ISIS, exhuming the mass graves, returning of the remains, and rescuing the kidnapped," he added. "The regional government is currently working on a project to investigate the use of mobile network information and to identify criminals through their mobile phones, which will greatly facilitate the specify of the channels through which ISIS received and transferred money through the exchange offices in Iraq and the neighboring countries."
Zebari also said that the KRG conducted substantial research since 2014 to identify the mainstream financial sources of ISIS.
ISIS carried out a genocide committed against the Yezidi community in Sinjar in 2014 and kidnapped thousands of Yezidi women. Over 2,000 Yezidi women and children remain unaccounted for, and their fates remain unknown.
ISIS kidnapped citizens, including Yezidis, members of the army and police, and asked for money from the families of the kidnapped through intermediaries. They used the phones of the kidnapped to report and request the ransom.
"ISIS also used the phones obtained from the citizens they kidnapped and received the funds through exchange offices from inside and outside Iraq," Zebari said. "ISIS deliberately laundered the money it was receiving and made financial transfers of this money to finance its armed operations and its sleeper cells throughout Iraq as well as neighboring countries."
The statement added that "ISIS terrorist activities overwhelmingly relied on financial inputs from oil smuggling, theft and sale of antiquities, extortion and embezzelment, the money they stole from the banks, kidnappings, human trafficking of the sex slaves, and imposition of zakat - a form of almsgiving in Islam."
In addition to this, ISIS also sold the antiquities it looted, earning them $150-200 million per year.
"About 100,000 cultural items of global importance, including 4500 archaeological sites under the control of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, were seized by ISIS or located in places under their temporary rule," read the statement.
KRG Coordinator Zebari said that ISIS "had taken advantage of the Iraqi banking and financial system to strengthen their financial resources with the help of a number of individuals, companies and currency exchange offices in Iraq, which were assistive in receiving, storing and distributing the money on ISIS's sleeper and active cells across the areas it controlled."
Special Adviser of UNITAD (United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by ISIS) Christian Ritscher last year also discussed the handover of evidence of ISIS crimes with the Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani.
Read More: Kurdistan PM, new UNITAD head talk handover of evidence on ISIS crimes
The KRG, in the past few years, has handed thousands of pieces of evidence on ISIS crimes to UNITAD.
Last year, Germany also renewed its support to the UNITAD by providing it with an additional one million euros in funding for its investigations into how ISIS financed its numerous crimes.