The practice of kidnapping for ransom and hostage-taking continues to provide the world’s terrorists with a reliable source of income to fund their operations, United Nations Member States were told today at a meeting jointly held by the UN’s Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) and Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) in New York.
Tourists, employees of multinational corporations, journalists, humanitarian relief workers, and local civilians make up the bulk of those targeted by terrorist groups looking to profit from ransoms which – according to UN estimates – brought such groups some $120 million between 2004 and 2012.
In her address to the special meeting on the theme “Kidnapping for Ransom and Hostage-Taking by Terrorist Group”, Permanent Representative of Lithuania and current Chairperson of the CTC, Raimonda Murmokaite, said that even though the Security Council had urged Member States to view hostage-taking as a domestic offense, the practice was expanding rapidly amid a flourishing of extremist groups in volatile regions of the world.
“Over the past few years, however, the use of this tactic for terrorist purposes has increased significantly,” Ms. Murmokaite declared.
In particular, the Chairperson noted that militant groups such as Al Qaeda in the Arabic Peninsula and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb had made kidnapping for ransom and hostage-taking “a strategic modus operandi in funding their operations.”
“Kidnapping for ransom provides terrorist groups with significant sources of funding which enables them to purchase equipment, incite, recruit and train new members, and develop new methods, including through the use of sophisticated technologies,” she warned, adding that such activities provided low risks but high rewards for the terrorist groups.
Jean-Paul Laborde, the Executive Director of the CTED, meanwhile, underscored the importance of confronting the terrorist threat while embracing human rights imperatives in order to avoid exacerbating existing peace and security dynamics while also safeguarding the hostages’ lives.
He pointed out that appropriate responses to kidnapping and hostage-taking incidents can provide “favourable conditions for the release of the victims” but may also affect the victims’ “immediate safety.”
“This concern is central to the decision-making processes involved in attempting to secure the release of the hostages, including through diplomatic and law-enforcement measures, and the use of force.”
As a result, he explained, prevention remained a key mechanism in successfully defeating kidnapping as a terrorism-related strategy but nonetheless required cooperation between all stakeholders – from Governments to media international and regional organizations, and the private sector.