At its first ever meeting at Finance Ministers’ level, the United Nations Security Council today stepped up its efforts to cut off all sources of funding for the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIL) and other terrorist groups, including ransom payments, no matter by whom.
In a unanimously adopted resolution at a session presided over by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew of the United States, which holds its monthly presidency, the 15-member body called for enhanced actions, from closing financial system loopholes to stopping the abuse of charitable causes, as well as updating the existing ISIL and Al-Qaida Sanctions List.
It stressed that already existing resolutions mandating States to ensure that financial assets are not transferred to terrorists by persons within their territory “shall also apply to the payment of ransoms to individuals, groups, undertakings or entities on the ISIL [Da’esh] and Al-Qaida Sanctions List regardless of how or by whom the ransom is paid.”
The resolution called for increased international cooperation in sharing information and closer collaboration with the private sector to identify suspect transactions.
The Council also called on Member States to promote enhanced vigilance by persons within their jurisdiction to detect any diversion of explosives and raw materials and components that can be used to manufacture improvised explosive devices or unconventional weapons, including chemical components, detonators, detonating cord, or poisons.
“They (the terrorists) are agile and have been far too successful in attaining resources for their heinous acts,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Council at the start of the debate. “As Da’esh (another name for ISIL) and other terrorist groups disseminate their hateful propaganda and ratchet up murderous attacks, we must join forces to prevent them from acquiring and deploying resources to do further harm,” he stressed.
“We know the challenge before us. Terrorists take advantage of weaknesses in financial and regulatory regimes to raise funds. They circumvent formal channels to avoid detection, and exploit new technologies and tools to transfer resources. They have forged destructive and very profitable links with drug and criminal syndicates – among others. And they abuse charitable causes to trick individuals to contribute,” said the UN chief.
He noted that progress has been made over the years in identifying and limiting various methods of terrorist financing, with Member States ratifying the International Convention on the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and adopting legislation to criminalize terrorist financing and strengthen regulatory systems.
“Still, more needs to be done,” Mr. Ban stated. “Terrorists continue to adapt their tactics and diversify their funding sources. Today, Da’esh runs a multi-million dollar economy in territories under its control. Da’esh terrorists raise money through the oil trade, extortion, undetected cash couriers, kidnapping for ransom, trafficking of humans and arms and racketeering," he said.
“They loot and sell precious cultural property, shamelessly profiting from the destruction of humanity’s common heritage. Social media outreach is exploited by Da’esh, not just for radicalization and recruiting, but also for fundraising. Other terrorist organizations around the world – from Boko Haram to Al-Shabaab to the Taliban – are following suit.”
With terrorists increasingly employing elusive tricks to raise and transfer funds, covering their tracks and leaving little evidence to identify tainted resources, the international community must stay ahead of the curve to combat their ploys, he said, noting that many States have yet to set up the necessary legal regimes and institutions to identify and freeze terrorist assets.
Mr. Ban called for increased international cooperation in sharing information and expertise, especially in stopping the illegal trade of cultural artefacts, and closer cooperation with the private and charitable sectors to identify suspected transactions.