News from a parallel universe: ISIS Sanctions Renewed for Another Six Months

RAQQA– The US and European Union states have once again narrowly voted to renew targeted sanctions against the Islamic State (still commonly known as ISIS). In a press conference on Monday morning, US Secretary of State once again reiterated that sanctions would be removed as soon as the Islamic State complies with an agreement which would give the territories they control in Syria special status. ISIS leaders, meanwhile, called the sanctions “counter-productive” and promised “reciprocal measures” against those countries who support the sanctions regime.

Targeted sanctions were first imposed on ISIS following alleged attacks on the Yezidi minority in Iraq, attacks which the ISIS leadership has consistently denied.

“The Yezidi heretics were not killed by our people, but local farmers and tractor drivers who are fed up with Baghdad’s tolerance for heresy,” said an ISIS spokesperson in 2014, when news of the massacre broke.

The initial sanctions targeted key individuals in leadership of ISIS, but excluded family members. The sanctions were expanded later the same year when new allegations of ethic cleansing, sexual slavery, and beheadings of Yezidis and Christians surfaced. Not only was the list of travel bans and asset freezes expanded to include more members of the ISIS leadership, but new measures were put in place to limit ISIS’ access to Western financial markets and oil-drilling technology. Such sanctions are expected to severely limit ISIS’ ability to compete economically.

Yet in spite of the sanctions, many American and European banks and companies still do business with the self-proclaimed Caliphate. Timothy Hedges is a director of a London brokerage who says he still does a lot of business with ISIS.

“I don’t believe in letting politics get in the way of business,” Hedges said.

“Look, we live in a capitalist world, a free market world. These ISIS chaps have got money to invest and we’ve got people here who want to invest money there. You can’t let political rhetoric get in the way of that.”

But it’s not just money that’s changing hands when it comes to trade between ISIS and the West. A recent expose on British television shows how real estate agents in London sell luxury property to ISIS members, promising to protect their clients’ identity. On video one realtor is seen advising the undercover journalist posing as an ISIS official to create a special holding company that will officially own a London flat worth over 4 million pounds.

The ISIS presence is noticeable not only in London, but also in New York, where the son of one of ISIS’ propaganda networks has found himself an upscale apartment in gentrified Brooklyn. Ali, 24, laughed when asked about the sanctions on the Islamic State.

“Sanctions? What sanctions? Here I am living among the infidels in their greatest city,” Ali said.

“There are hundreds of us here. Same in London. The sanctions are a joke!”

Now that the sanctions have been in place for two years, continually renewed every six months, there have been signs of weakening resolve among the European states, many of which carried out lucrative trade with ISIS. Fringe politicians from Italy, Belgium, and France have spoken out against the sanctions, calling for them to be removed. Giovanni Buffone is a member of the Veneto parliament and one of the most fervent critics of the sanctions regime.

“We have carried out very lucrative trade with the Caliphate for many years now,” Buffone noted.

“But now because our weak leaders won’t stand up to the will of Washington, we will surely lose business. Is the safety of Iraq really worth it?”

Buffone’s statement is just one example of a growing number of voices in the business world calling for a removal of the sanctions regime.

It is not clear whether the sanctions will be renewed again in six months, but each time US officials have reminded ISIS that they will remove the sanctions as soon as ISIS fulfills its part of the peace agreement. ISIS, on the other hand, insists that it is not a party to the conflict in Iraq and Syria, and accuses the US and NATO of trying to encircle the “Islamic World.”


12 thoughts on “News from a parallel universe: ISIS Sanctions Renewed for Another Six Months

  1. Mr. Hack

    The analogies between ISIS and Putin’s Russia are clear to see. Aren’t these the same sort of lies that Moscow would like the world to believe about Russia’s role in Ukraine today?:

    ‘The Nazi heretics were not killed by our people, but local farmers and tractor drivers who are fed up with Kyiv’s tolerance for heresy,”

    One wonders how stringent the sanctions on Russia are holding out, as freighters of varying
    national origin are seen skirting in and out of Crimean ports? Western realtors and bankers are to be punished for their practices that enable Putin to prolong his bloody war in Ukraine!

      1. Mr. Hack

        It’s not just greedy lawyers, but prominent US politicians too. Both Trump and Clinton have enriched themselves through various deals and projects that originate in Russia. As fa as the sanctions go, even Ukraine itself it seems is skirting its responsibilities:

        ‘Ukraine’s government maintains a list of vessels calling at Crimea, and OCCRP says that the total comes to over 600 ships. The majority are Russian, but dozens flagged in the EU or owned by European entities have called at Crimean ports, the NGO says.’

        And all along Poroshenko’s factories in Russia are churning out chocolate bars that are no doubt fetching him a nice profit…Say, didn’t he pledge to sell them off over two years ago? I guess he’s been too busy setting up business deals in Panama?…(funny how that fiasco has quieted down almost completely?)

    1. Jamie Peppard

      These are some very serious charges here but virtually no references to the source of them are provided. I googled the two names provided, Timothy Hedges and Giovanni Buffone, without success. Even though NY is known for its lack of transparency in corporate matters, I find it hard to believe that a son of the ISIS propaganda chief is openly living in Brooklyn.

      1. Jim Kovpak Post author


        Also, I realize that the son of an ISIS propaganda minister living in Brooklyn would be big news if one takes the story seriously, but wouldn’t the headline “NEWS FROM A PARALLEL DIMENSION” be a slightly bigger story?

  2. SeanTC

    Rohrbacher is one of the last paleoconservatives that I’m aware of in the United States Congress. He’s one of those people who supported every hawkish approach the Reagan administration took toward the Soviet Union. Now he’s convinced that Russia is a bastion of morality and we’re wrong to “antagonize” Putin. I always thought of him as a run-of-the-mill Paleocon Russophile. Apparently it’s about much more than that.

    What kind of business is he involved in exactly?


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