416 who gave money to ISIS identified in France, says top anti-terror prosecutor

A two-day conference on combating the financing of terror groups brought together around 80 ministers and 500 experts.
A two-day conference on combating the financing of terror groups brought together around 80 ministers and 500 experts.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PARIS (AFP) - French authorities have identified 416 people who gave money to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, France's top anti-terror prosecutor said on Thursday (April 26) as dozens of ministers met to discuss how to cut off funds for extremists.

Mr Francois Molins said that French security services had identified 416 French donors to ISIS and had also detected 320 fundraisers mainly based in Turkey and Libya who transferred the money to the militants.

A two-day conference on combating the financing of terror groups began on Wednesday at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), bringing together around 80 ministers and 500 experts.

French President Emmanuel Macron will close the event with a speech later on Thursday.

Attacks on Western targets have become increasingly low-cost since the 9/11 atrocities in the United States in 2001, particularly in recent years when followers of ISIS have often used only vehicles or automatic weapons to kill people.

But Mr Molins estimated that attacks in France in January 2015 targeting the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish supermarket would have cost €25,000 (S$40,348.57).

More deadly assaults by teams of ISIS extremists in Paris in November of that year, including against the Bataclan concert hall, would have cost an estimated 80,000, he said.

A French presidential official briefing journalists ahead of the terror funding conference this week said that ISIS income was estimated at about US$1 billion (S$1.33 billion) a year between 2014 and 2016.

Most of this was from local taxation, oil revenues and looting, with far smaller amounts flowing in from overseas donors.

French officials are concerned that the money has been transferred out of Syria and Iraq and could be used to rebuild the organisation.

"It has been moved since, at least in part. It's probably somewhere," the official said on condition of anonymity. "These groups are very skilful in using sophisticated techniques to move financial resources around."