UNSC demands tough global laws to stop foreign extremist fighters

In the wake of the rise of the Islamic State the UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution demanding all member states to make it a serious criminal offense for their citizens to travel abroad to fight with extremists or support them.

The resolution targets fighters traveling to conflicts anywhere in the world.

While expressing concern that "foreign terrorist fighters increase the intensity, duration and intractability of conflicts, and also may pose a serious threat to their states of origin, the states they transit and the states to which they travel," it does not mandate military force to tackle the foreign fighter issue.

It also condemns violent extremism and sectarian violence while demanding that all foreign extremist fighters withdraw immediately from all armed conflict zones.

States are required to prevent any further such movements by foreign fighters - by means of tougher border controls. Travel data and screening can be used for risk assessment.

The document is legally binding for all the 193 UN member states and gives the UNSC authority to enforce decisions with economic sanctions or force.

The US-drafted resolution was passed Wednesday at the special meeting of the 15-member council chaired by US President Barack Obama. Prior to the meeting, Russian representatives said they would support the document and that Moscow also took part elaborating it.

“Terrorism penetrates the fiber of regional conflicts,” Russia’s FM Sergey Lavrov told the council, adding that regional terrorist groups are gaining additional capacities for their criminal activities due to assistance and support of varying outside sponsors.

“Having gained in strength extremist groups jeopardize the future of entire states, as is clearly seen in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Mali and Central African Republic.”

“Russia has consistently advocated building up international cooperation to curb terrorism in any form, and abandoning double standards in dividing terrorists into good and bad,” Lavrov added.

“We propose to convene a representative forum under the auspices of the UN with the participation of countries in the region, the African Union, the League of Arab States, the permanent members of the UN Security Council, and other interested parties,” the Russian minister said.

US president Barack Obama urged more action from the international community.

“Resolutions alone will not be enough. Promises on paper cannot keep us safe. Lofty rhetoric and good intentions will not stop a single terrorist attack. The words spoken here today must be matched and translated into action, into deeds. Concrete action within nations and between them, not just in the days ahead but for years to come,” Obama told the UN’s most powerful body.

Syria, which is now attacked by US-led airstrikes, in an interview with UNifeed stressed that they have been fighting the jihadist threat for 3 years now and “were alone” in their efforts.

“We are doing that on behalf of the international community and nobody was listening to us. Until everybody woke up suddenly and said guys something is wrong in our calculations. We were right. And nobody could launch a genuine war against terrorism without Syria being aboard,” Bashar Ja'afari, Permanent Representative of the Syria said.

Syria insisted from the very beginning of the conflict that terrorist groups fighting in Syria were gathered from all over the world.

“Could you explain to me how can an Australian terrorist cross all these borders to arrive in Aleppo and Damascus. Where did he get the visas? Who gave him the money? Who funded his trip?” Ja'afari wondered.

British Prime Minister David Cameron says the UK is ready to tackle the international terrorist threat.

“For our part in the United Kingdom, we’re introducing new powers to strengthen our ability to seize passports and stop suspects from traveling, to allow us to temporarily stop some British nationals getting back in the country,” he told the UNSC.

Cameron says “one of the most disturbing aspects” is how the conflicts are “sucking in young people,” claiming that at least 500 Brits have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight along jihadists.

French President François Hollande called for a global, rapid and lasting response. France, in this respect, is “debating legislation in parliament that would prevent the departure of individuals in order to stop them when we have serious grounds to believe that they are departing the country for terrorist purposes.”

To put theUNSCresolution into immediate practice, the US Treasury Department announced sanctions on 11 individuals and one Indonesian organization for aiding the flow of foreign fighters and funding to Islamist terror groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), al-Nusra Front, al-Qaida and its affiliates, and Jemaah Islamiya.

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Among the individuals targeted by the sanctions is a Syria-based Georgian national Tarkhan Batirashvily who “has held a number of top military positions within ISIL and has led a number of attacks."

The US also sanctioned the Hilal Ahmar Society Indonesia (HASI) for sending "multiple groups of JI terrorist fighters to Syria for military training" and helping "raise funds and recruit" for IS militants.

These steps, taken the same day as the adoption of a new United Nations Security Council Resolution, affirm the commitment of the United States and our partners to degrade and destroy terrorist access to financing,” David S. Cohen, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said in a statement.