UN moves to curb ransom payouts benefiting terrorist groups

Weapons seized by the Algerian authorities following the January 2013 hostage crisis at a gas plant near In Amenas, Algeria. Eighty people including seven Britons died.

Weapons seized by the Algerian authorities following the January 2013 hostage crisis at a gas plant near In Amenas, Algeria. Eighty people including seven Britons died.

The UN Security Council has passed a resolution demanding that countries not pay terrorist ransoms which the British backers of the move said have reaped al-Qaeda and its allies more than $100 million. Britain’s UN ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said: “It is imperative that we take steps to ensure kidnap for ransom is no longer perceived as a lucrative business model.”

 

 

The resolution, passed unanimously on January 27 by the 15-member council, calls on UN members “to prevent terrorists from benefiting directly or indirectly from ransom payments or from political concessions and to secure the safe release of hostages.”

The resolution also calls on governments to press businesses not to pay ransoms to terrorists. Britain has made it illegal to pay terrorist ransoms.

Kidnap for ransom “has become the most significant terrorist financing challenge and remains a terrible threat to the nationals of all countries,” said Lyall Grant.

“While numbers vary, we estimate that in the last three and a half years, al-Qaeda-affiliated and other Islamist extremist groups have collected at least $105 million,” he told reporters after the vote.

Lyall Grant said attacks such as the Amenas gas complex siege in Algeria one year ago highlighted “the lengths that terrorists will go to take hostages.”

“It is therefore imperative that we take steps to ensure kidnap for ransom is no longer perceived as a lucrative business model.”

The resolution does not impose any punishments and is based on a statement agreed by the Group of Eight powers at a summit last year but has been several months in preparation at the UN. Several governments are suspected of having paid ransoms to militant groups in recent years.
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