Algeria leads effort against terror financing
By Walid Ramzi in Algiers for Magharebia – 13/02/2014
Algeria's initiative to criminalise ransom payments to terrorists is winning international and regional support.
Meeting in Algiers on February 4th, African and foreign officials agreed to implement the "Algiers Memorandum on Good Practices on Preventing and Denying the Benefits of Kidnapping for Ransom (KFR) by Terrorists".
The Group of Eight in the United Nations Security Council had already adopted the Algerian memorandum, presidential advisor Kamel Rezzag-Bara said. The Security Council also gave a directive to work on expanding international support for the initiative.
For his part, African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (CAERT) Director Ambassador Francesco Jose Madeira said that more than 35 per cent of abductions committed by terrorist groups for ransom were recorded in Africa.
"International terrorism has taken a new form with the split of al-Qaeda into several independent branches, each trying to find its own sources of funding," he noted.
"Terrorist groups are in control of entire regions," he added, describing "the proliferation of this activity as a lucrative industry".
He attributed the prevalence of kidnappings in Africa to rampant corruption and criminality, the disruption of the distribution of resources, political instability and lack of development.
Although there is international consensus for an end to the payment of ransom to kidnappers, the measure's translation on the ground is still hampered by the absence of enforcement mechanisms.
Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra told Afrique-Asie last month that the international consensus with regard to the condemnation of hostage-taking and ransom had not yet been codified in an international legal form.
"Algeria intends to launch a new initiative, aimed at expanding the mechanisms of trapping the payment of ransoms to kidnappers, be they terrorist groups or drug traffickers. This came about after it became clear that there are strong links between terrorism, organised crime, and smuggling groups," the minister said.
Algeria will continue co-operation with its partners to start new talks at the United Nations on the ratification of restrictive tools and mechanisms, he added.
Analysts confirm that drying up the sources of terror financing requires international co-operation.
Military expert Tahir ben Thamer said, "The fight against terrorism has become an international issue due to the expansion of the scope of activity of terrorist groups and the emergence of dozens of groups that embrace extreme takfirist ideologies."
"The transmission of abductions from the Sahel to other African countries stresses the need to adopt a unified approach that can be implemented on the ground," he added.
"Paying ransoms encourages terrorist groups," he said.
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