Responding to the growing terrorist threat in Iraq and Syria, the U.N. Security Council imposed sanctions on Friday on six men for recruiting or financing foreign fighters and threatened additional sanctions against those supporting terrorist groups.
The U.N.’s most powerful body, in a resolution adopted unanimously, also demanded that the Islamic State extremist group and all al-Qaeda-linked groups end violence and disarm and disband immediately.
The British-drafted resolution follows the recent offensive by the Islamic State group, which has taken control of a large swath of eastern Syria and northern and western Iraq, brutalising civilians and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee, as well as increasing terrorist activity by other al-Qaeda-linked groups including Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria.
British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said the resolution sends a clear message that the international community condemns the Islamic State group’s “brutal and mindless terrorist acts, rejects its violent extremist ideology and is united in its resolve to oppose and confront it”.
The six men now subject to a global travel ban and asset freeze include four who either recruited or helped finance al-Nusra — Abdelrahman Mouhamad Zafir al Dabidi al Jahani, Hajjaj Bin Fahd Al Ajmi, Said Arif and Abdul Mohsen Abdallah Ibrahim al Charekh.
Another man, Hamid Hamad Hamid al-Ali, was blacklisted for helping finance both al-Nusra and the Islamic State group. Abou Mohamed al Adnani was blacklisted for financing and perpetrating acts supporting the Islamic State group.
al Jahani and al Ajmi are already subject to U.S. sanctions.
According to the U.S. Treasury Department, al Jahani was participating in fighting in Syria and working with counterparts in Pakistan to acquire heavy weapons and trainers to support al-Qaeda efforts. The department alleges that Mr. al Ajmi agreed to provide financial support to al-Nusra in exchange for installing Kuwaitis in the group’s leadership positions.
al Adnani is the spokesman for the Islamic State who was seen on video proclaiming the establishment of a caliphate on captured territory in Syria and Iraq on June 29, according to U.N. diplomats. The chosen caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is an Iraqi militant with a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head.
Arif, an ex-Algerian army officer, escaped house arrest in France last year and is reportedly a key recruiter of foreign fighters for al-Nusra in France and northern Africa. Al Charekh, from Saudi Arabia, is allegedly a leader of al-Qaeda operations in Syria, and al-Ali, a Kuwaiti, allegedly purchased arms and equipment for al-Nusra and paid for travel for foreign fighters, according to U.N. diplomats.
“The numbers of foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq, as well as their source nations, are unprecedented,” U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said. “Reportedly as many as 12,000 participated in the conflicts. And the return of radicalised battle-hardened jihadists to their home countries or other vulnerable destinations has the potential to widen the scope of the violence.”
The resolution was adopted under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, meaning it can be militarily enforced. But Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Petr Iliichev, stressed that “this cannot be seen as approval of the use of military actions.”
Syria’s Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari reminded the council that Damascus had repeatedly warned of the Islamist threat. He said the Syrian government is a “necessary partner in the fight against terrorism.”
Syria’s Western-backed opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, called the resolution “the first concrete step towards tackling the threat of extremist groups” but said more needs to be done.
Iraqi Ambassador Mohamed Ali al-Hakim said the Islamic State terrorist group “needs to be defeated,” and he urged the United States to widen its attacks.
The resolution adopted on Friday urges all countries to meet their obligations under a resolution adopted immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. It demanded that all 193 U.N. member states adopt national laws to combat terrorism.
It notes “with concern” that oil fields controlled by the Islamic State group, Jabhat al-Nusra and other al-Qaeda-linked groups are generating income that is supporting their recruitment efforts and ability to carry out terrorist operations.