UK asks U.N. for ransom resolution

The U.K. estimates that over the last three years, more than $70 million has been provided to terrorist groups

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Britain has urged the U.N. Security Council to adopt a resolution asking nations not to pay ransom to kidnappers who will use the proceedings to finance terrorist groups.

The U.K. government estimates that over the last three years, more than $70 million has been provided to terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda, from ransoms paid to kidnappers, Mark Lyall Grant, the UK’s ambassador to the U.N. said on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.

Lyall Grant said that he circulated a draft resolution to U.N. Security Council members on Tuesday calling on the U.N.’s 193 member states “to prevent terrorists from benefitting directly or indirectly from ransom payments.”

All countries were already banned from financing terrorism weeks after the Sep. 11 attacks over a decade ago.

However, the proposed new resolution highlights “the increasing threat” from kidnapping for ransom to benefit terrorists.

The ambassador said he hopes the Security Council will approve the resolution this month, with support from all 15 members.

UK pushing for the resolution was after a communique issued by leaders of eight major industrial powers at their summit in Northern Ireland in June.

The G-8 communique expressed concern at “the increasingly fragmented and geographically diverse threat posed by terrorist groups including al-Qaida and its affiliates,” and “the threat posed by kidnapping for ransom by terrorists.”

While the international community has made “significant progress in combating the flow of funds to terrorist organizations,” the G-8 estimated that al-Qaeda-affiliated and other Islamist extremist groups worldwide have collected tens of millions of dollars in ransoms since 2010.

“Payments to terrorists from Sahel to the Horn of Africa helped fuel instability in the region, and contributed to large scale attacks,” the communique said, adding that ransom money also supports recruitment efforts and improvements in the operational capability of terrorist groups.

The leaders of the U.S., Russia, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan said they “unequivocally reject the payment of ransoms to terrorists” and welcome efforts to prevent kidnapping and secure the safe release of hostages without paying ransom.

The G-8 urged the Security Council to consider a new resolution “to increase international awareness of the threat of kidnapping for ransom, and ... to address and mitigate the threat.”

According to U.N. diplomat, there has been an upward trend in the overall number of kidnappings by terrorist groups, and an average of over $2 million is being paid per foreign hostage.

(With the Associated Press)

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