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Ministry says Russia outperforms US in destroying ISIS energy infrastructure

Russian forces have destroyed around 4,000 oil tank trucks, 206 oil and gas production facilities, 176 oil refineries and 112 oil pumping stations

NEW YORK, June 7. /TASS/. Russia outperforms the US in the number of destroyed ISIS (the Islamic State, a terror organization that is outlawed in Russia) energy facilities, Deputy Director for New Threats and Challenges Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Dmitry Feoktistov, told Russian reporters after the ninth turn of the Russian-US negotiations on countering terror financing.

More than double

Feoktistov expressed satisfaction that more countries had presented information on countering ISIS financing sources at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) plenary meeting that is scheduled to be held on June 17-23 in Valencia, Spain. "Apart from Russia and the US, seven states have presented updated information: Australia, Greece, Iraq, Monaco, Sweden, Turkey and the UK. Russia and the US had the largest reports that had been shaped into a sole document by the FATF Secretariat," the diplomat noted, elaborating that Americans reported that 2,000 oil tank trucks used to transport crude oil and petroleum products had been destroyed since the summer of 2014.

"We have presented our figures that are bigger than in the US’ report: around 4,000 oil tank trucks, 206 oil and gas production facilities, 176 oil refineries and 112 oil pumping stations," the diplomat said. Answering the TASS reporter’s question, he specified that these figures concerned Syria’s territory since the launch of the Russian Aerospace Forces’ operation in this country on September 30, 2015. Americans have reported for the period since the launch of the Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria (August-September, 2014).

"The effectiveness is evident, as our figures more than double those presented in the US report. This is not about vying, of course," the department’s deputy head noted.

New sources of ISIS financing

The department’s deputy director paid special attention to a new information that had been presented and discussed within the FATF over the past four months. Information on the terrorists’ attempts to gain profit from other types of commercial minerals was added to the existing information on the ISIS’ attempts to get control over drug production in Afghanistan, organ trafficking and real estate investment attempts, including in New York, Turkey and some European countries.

"This time we’ve talked about the ISIS’ attempts to control mass transportation of refugees to Europe and control investments into spheres with quick return, such as pharmacology, medicine and construction," Feoktistov enumerated, also mentioning phosphate mines, sulfuric and phospohoric acids production in Iraq, salt mines in Syria, as well as cement plants in these countries.

"By the way, we have presented information about the use by the ISIS of a number of banks in the Near East to invest into European projects. The US and a number of Near East countries, after studying this information, insisted that it must be registered that other FATF countries had failed to provide this information," the diplomat said. "We presented the names of specific Near East banks used by the ISIS to invest money into two West European countries. The US studied this information, expressed gratitude to us, and we, in our part, asked to address such issues directly to us in order to bolster our cooperation on identifying news sources of terrorism financing."

Reorganizing banks and ‘White Helmets’

During the New York negotiations, the Russian part also elaborated on the activity of the four-party format set up under the initiative of the Russian, Syrian, Iranian and Iraqi financial intelligence services in February, 2016. This format includes exchanging lists of terrorist and the reorganization of the Syrian bank system. The problem is that Iraq’s and Syria’s governments had been transferring wages and pensions through these banks to people who had stayed on the territories controlled by the ISIS. "The use of banks for financing terrorism was logically considered a more serious problem than unpaid wages and pensions. As a result, with our support, around 100 bank outlets, 20 exchange points and 15 transfer points had been closed down," Feoktistov reported.

As he put it, Americans, unlike Russians, do not disclose a lot of information and mostly focus on blocking credit balances of the ISIS leaders and their US-based sponsors. In addition, Australia and Iraq, apart from Russia, drew the meeting’s attention to the increase of the risks of misusing organizations in order to finance terrorism. Answering TASS’ question, the diplomat named the Syrian Civil Defence (the White Helmets) organizations as an example. "We are now dealing with the White Helmets, and we see that they are doing anything but what they should do. We have no doubts that this organization often supports terrorism."

During the past year, some mass media outlets, including CNN and RT TV channels, published the evidences that at least some part of the White Helmets’ video recordings had been staged. Independent researchers are also publishing video recordings found in the radical Islamists’ social networks in which people who act in recordings about recovering injured people from debris by the White Helmets also appear in video clips showing the execution of hostages by the Islamic State and the Al-Nusra Front terrorists.

In February, 2017, the film about the White Helmets became the Oscar winner for Documentary (Short Subject).