“With Swoop on Islamic State Compound, U.S. Commandos Seek to Disrupt Financing”
Reuters, May 16, 2015
“After weeks of planning and surveillance focused on a compound near the oilfields of eastern Syria, elite American commandos were finally given the green light to swoop in on their target – an Islamic State commander considered to have acted as the group’s ‘chief financial officer.’ Mounting a rare raid in a war-ravaged country where U.S. President Barack Obama has long been reluctant to commit ‘boots on the ground,’ the Delta Force unit flew in from Iraq under cover of darkness in the early hours of Saturday on Black Hawk helicopters and Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. Their objective, according to U.S. officials: to capture alive a Tunisian-born militant leader, Abu Sayyaf, believed responsible for overseeing the group’s black-market sales of oil and gas and other financial operations to help fund a brutal Jihadist campaign that has seized swathes of Syria and Iraq. … The operation was meticulously planned. U.S. commandos spent weeks in Iraq training and poring through reams of video footage from surveillance drones, U.S. officials said. The last thing Washington wanted was the repeat of a failed special forces operation in northeastern Syria last year to rescue U.S. and other foreign hostages held by Islamic State. … The militants appeared stunned at how U.S. forces knew the layout well enough to home in on Abu Sayyaf’s location, local sources said.”
Quickie analysis: Caliphate or not, ISIS can’t fight without money. The US appears to want to hit ISIS where it counts–literally.