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No Ransom To Kidnappers

A poster announcing a reward for the capture of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau. (File)

Every ransom paid to a terrorist organization provides incentives for future kidnapping operations.

Kidnapping for ransom is today’s most significant terrorist financing threat. Over the last 10 years, terrorist organizations including al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb, al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan and the Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf Group have collected well over 120 million dollars in ransom payments, money they use to help fund the salaries, recruitment and training of new terrorists; to acquire weapons and communications gear; and to stage deadly attacks.

No Ransom To Kidnappers
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Every ransom paid to a terrorist organization provides incentives for future kidnapping operations; each transaction encourages another transaction.

On January 27th, the United Nations Security Council made an important step towards breaking this vicious cycle with the unanimous adoption of Resolution 2133, which calls on UN Member States "to prevent terrorists from benefiting directly or indirectly from ransom payments or from political concessions and to secure the safe release of hostages."

It also encourages private sector partners to prevent and respond to terrorist kidnappings without paying ransoms. In this way, the resolution aims to create a united front between public and private actors in rejecting this deplorable tactic.

“The United States commends the Security Council for [the] passage of Resolution 2133,” said U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Samantha Power.

“By identifying and working to counter a key source of funding for terrorist groups, we are taking an important step to undermine the terrorists’ business model by removing the financial incentive for them to conduct future kidnappings”, she said. “We know that hostage takers looking for ransoms distinguish between those governments that pay ransoms and those that do not – and that they make a point of not taking hostages from those countries that refuse to pay ransoms.”

Today’s landmark resolution is a clear signal of our shared commitment to end kidnapping for ransom and to break a vicious cycle that finances further acts of terrorism.”