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U.N. Security Council Passes Resolution Targeting ISIS Revenue


The self-proclaimed Islamic State is reported to raise more than a million dollars a day from its sale of illegal oil alone. That may soon change. This past week, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution aimed at choking off funding for ISIS, as well as other al-Qaida-linked groups. The resolution was co-sponsored by more than 35 countries, and it targets the three key areas of revenue for militants - oil, antiquities and ransom from kidnappings. NPR's Jackie Northam reports.

JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: This latest effort to crack down on terrorist financing gained momentum after a string of grisly killings of American, Jordanian and Japanese hostages at the hands of the self-proclaimed Islamic State. The resolution is a show of force by member nations to fight militants by going after them where it hurts - their cash. That includes oil, a huge moneymaker for the Islamic State.

A U.N. report published in November says illicit oil trafficking nets militants up to $1.65 million a day. Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. says this resolution calls for sanctions on individuals and companies trading oil produced by the Islamic State, also known as ISIL.


SAMANTHA POWER: But this resolution also presses states to step up their efforts to prevent and disrupt the movement of vehicles going to and from ISIL to stop the flow of assets traded by the groups, whether oil, precious metals and minerals or refining equipment.

NORTHAM: The resolution also prohibits the increasing trade with militants in Syrian antiquities and other items of historical, cultural or religious significance. A similar ban on trading in Iraqi antiquities is already in place. The resolution reaffirms an earlier ban on donating to terror groups and paying ransom for hostages. Many countries have ignored the ban. Ransoms alone bring militants roughly $100,000 per day, according to the U.N. report. U.S. Ambassador Power says the resolution builds on a comprehensive strategy, including military operations to destroy the militant group.

POWER: As a result of these and other efforts, ISIL is having a harder time generating new funds needed to carry out its operations. Today's resolution aims to make that effort even more challenging.

NORTHAM: The resolution is a rare show of unity between the U.S. and Russia, which is the measure's primary sponsor. Russia's ambassador to the U.N., Vitaly Churkin, speaking through an interpreter, said the resolution was an important step to suppressing the terrorist threat that's felt far beyond Syria, Iraq and other nations in the Middle East.

VITALY CHURKIN: (Through interpreter) We believe that this is a type of case which clearly shows the need for the use of collective efforts to resolve issues we are facing.

NORTHAM: The resolution does play some countries under the spotlight. Turkey, for example, has long been suspected of allowing trucks to move oil produced by ISIS across its border with Syria. The resolution is legally binding, and it gives the Council authority to enforce decisions with economic sanctions or force. Jackie Northam, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jackie Northam is NPR's International Affairs Correspondent. She is a veteran journalist who has spent three decades reporting on conflict, geopolitics, and life across the globe - from the mountains of Afghanistan and the desert sands of Saudi Arabia, to the gritty prison camp at Guantanamo Bay and the pristine beauty of the Arctic.