US designates ISIS child traffickers as ISIS resurges in several areas, including Rojava, Israel, Egypt

An ISIS propaganda video purporting to show fighters near the Iraqi city of Tikrit. (Photo: AFP)
An ISIS propaganda video purporting to show fighters near the Iraqi city of Tikrit. (Photo: AFP)

WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – The US designated five ISIS financial facilitators involved in trafficking children as fighters as it prepares for a meeting of foreign ministers of the anti-ISIS coalition that is focusing on countering ISIS financing.

The designations are being made as ISIS is making a comeback in northeast Syria and Afghanistan. In addition, it has recently carried out significant attacks in Egypt, where it was thought to have been largely defeated, and in Israel, which it has not attacked in several years.

Monday's action marks the first time that the US has sanctioned ISIS members for child trafficking. All five individuals designated on Monday are Indonesian, and two of them are female. 

As the Treasury Department explained in a written statement, the five people "have played a key role in facilitating the travel of extremists to Syria and other areas where ISIS operates."

"This network has also conducted financial transfers to support ISIS efforts in [northeast] Syria-based displaced person camps by collecting funds in Indonesia and Turkey, some of which were used to pay for smuggling children out of the camps and delivering them to ISIS foreign fighters as potential recruits," it stated.

Dwi Dhalia Susanti, who is female and 45-years-old, is a key figure in the network. She is resident in Syria's rebel-held Idlib province.

The statement said that Susanti "has been an ISIS financial facilitator since at least 2017 and has assisted other ISIS members with money transfers involving individuals in Indonesia, Turkey, and Syria."

"In late 2017," it continued, "Susanti helped her husband deliver nearly $4,000 and weapons to an ISIS leader," while she used some $500 of that money for her own network. 

Her husband, Rudi Heryadi, was also designated on Monday, although he was convicted on terrorism charges in an Indonesian court two years before and, apparently, is in jail there.

Susanti also "facilitated money transfers from Indonesia" to displaced person camps in northeast Syria, the Treasury statement said. 

The largest of those camps, al-Hol, holds some 70,000 people. Most of those interned are women and children, and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), along with the US, have repeatedly urged their native countries to repatriate them.

Sometimes, the money Susanti sent to northeast Syria was used "to smuggle teenage children out of the camps to the desert, where they were received by ISIS foreign fighters, likely as child recruits for ISIS," the Treasury Department statement charged.

The second woman designated on Monday, 29-year-old Dini Ramadhani, lives in Turkey in the large industrial city of Kayseri in central Anatolia. She is linked to Susanti and "provided financial assistance to Susanti on multiple occasions," according to the Treasury Department. 

Susanti was also aided by a 25-year-old Indonesian, Muhammed Dandi Adhiguna. He helped her with "financial and operational matters," including providing advice "on the use of her personal bank accounts."

The Treasury Department described the fifth individual designated on Monday, Ari Kardian, as an "ISIS facilitator," who was "previously charged by Indonesian authorities for facilitating the travel of Indonesians to Syria to join ISIS."

New US Sanctions Come as ISIS Resurgent

A series of recent reports suggest that ISIS is resurgent in several parts of the world. Last Monday, The New York Times reported that ISIS was making a comeback in Afghanistan. Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was then asked about that in congressional testimony the following day. "We're seeing initial indications," he replied.

Read More: ISIS resurgent in Afghanistan: US officials, media

Israel has experienced a spate of terrorist attacks that began in late March with two ISIS assaults. The Jewish News Syndicate described the first attack, on March 22, as "the worst terror attack Israel has seen in recent years."

More would follow. It has been many years since Israel has been subject to such an extended series of vicious assaults. 

Read More: US condemns terror attack in Israel following spate of assaults that began with ISIS

Then, on Saturday, ISIS attacked a group of Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai, east of the Suez canal, killing eleven of them. "It was the heaviest loss of life the army had suffered in years in its long-running campaign" against militants loyal to the Islamic State group," the Voice of America reported.

Read More: ISIS claims attack that kills 11 Egyptian troops, as US, EU, Arabs condemn assault

Finally, on Monday, the Rojava Information Center (RIC) in northeast Syria reported that April had seen the largest number of lethal ISIS attacks in many months. It attributed the surge in violence to Ramadan.

That may, indeed, turn out to be the explanation. However, the RIC report was very narrowly focused. It only considered attacks in northeast Syria and did not take into account that ISIS attacks were rising elsewhere. Moreover, those attacks began even before Ramadan and continued after Ramadan. Therefore, other factors might be involved. 

Even so, as the RIC report noted, "the number and brutality of attacks this year shocked some observers."