Africa: Security Council Urges Cooperation to Tackle Kidnapping for Ransom By Terrorists

The United Nations Security Council today strongly condemned incidents of kidnapping and hostage-taking committed by terrorists for any purpose, including raising funds or gaining political concessions, and called for international cooperation to tackle this scourge.

In its first-ever resolution devoted specifically to kidnapping for ransom by terrorists, the 15-member body called on all Member States to prevent terrorists from benefitting directly or indirectly from ransom payments or from political concessions and to secure the safe release of hostages.

Speaking to reporters after the Council's action, Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, of the United Kingdom, which drafted the resolution, said it has been estimated that in the past three and a half years, al Qaeda-affiliated and other Islamist extremist groups have collected at least $105 million.

"It is therefore imperative that we take steps to ensure that kidnap for ransom is no longer perceived as a lucrative business model and that we eliminate it as a source of terrorist financing," he said, adding: "We need to break that cycle."

The resolution noted that "ransom payments to terrorist groups are one of the sources of income which supports their recruitment efforts, strengthens their operational capability to organize and carry out terrorist attacks, and incentivizes future incidents of kidnapping for ransom."

It called on Member States to encourage private sector partners to adopt or to follow relevant guidelines and good practices for preventing and responding to terrorist kidnappings without paying ransoms.

In addition, States were called on to cooperate and engage in dialogue with all relevant UN counter-terrorism bodies, as appropriate, to improve their capacities to counter the financing of terrorism, including from ransoms.

Further by the text, the Council recognized the need to continue expert discussions on kidnapping for ransom by terrorists, and called on Member States to continue such expert discussions within the UN and other relevant international and regional organizations.

It also encouraged the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) to hold a Special Meeting with the participation of Member States and relevant international and regional organizations to discuss measures to prevent incidents of kidnapping and hostage-taking committed by terrorist groups to raise funds or gain political concessions.

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