Britain adds four citizens to UN global sanctions list

Britain adds four citizens to UN global sanctions list
The United Nations has imposed sanctions on four British citizens who are allegedly fighting with Islamic State militants in Syria, following a request from the British government on Tuesday.
3 min read
29 September, 2015
World leaders stepped up efforts to find a solution to restore peace to Syria [Getty]

The United Nations is expected to place sanctions on four British extremists accused of fighting or recruiting for the Islamic State group in Syria, the British government said on Tuesday.

The two women and two men would face a travel ban and an asset freeze in a bid to discourage others leaving Britain to join the extremist group, which has seized control of large areas of Syria and Iraq.

"We will do all we can to stop British citizens from going to fight for ISIL," a spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron said, using another term for Islamic State.

"These sanctions are a powerful tool - freezing an individual's assets and imposing a global travel ban on them... sends a clear deterrent message."

At least 700 Britons are thought to have travelled to join extremists in the region where IS has been extending its influence amid the chaos caused by the devastating civil war in Syria that has killed 240,000 and displaced millions.

The British government said it was the first time in almost a decade it had asked the UN to add Britons to its al-Qaeda sanctions list of extremists, adding that it could ask for more people to be included.

One of the women include 21-year-old Asqa Mahmood

The women were named as 21-year-old Asqa Mahmood, a former student suspected of leaving Britain to operate in a religious enforcement unit in the IS stronghold of Raqqa in Syria.

The other is Sally Anne Jones, 46, a former rock musician dubbed the "punk jihadi" by the British tabloids, who is accused of recruiting women online after travelling to Syria with her husband.

Also named were former supermarket security guard Abu-Said al-Britani, or Omar Hussain, 28 - who told the BBC in 2014 he would only return to Britain to "plant a bomb" - and former medical student Nasser Muthana, 21, who has appeared in IS propaganda.

Cameron is meeting US President Barack Obama and other leaders to coordinate opposition to IS.

Britain has joined a US-led coalition of Western and Arab allies conducting airstrikes against IS in Iraq, but not in Syria, as parliament refused to sanction Cameron's plan to join military action there in 2013.

World leaders on Monday stepped up efforts at the UN General Assembly in New York to find a solution to restore peace to Syria, which has been torn apart by the violence of various armed groups and the regime of Bashar al-Assad, causing a severe refugee and humanitarian crisis.

Australia expressed concerns about the ability of IS to "lure citizens to the conflict" as Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that the number of Australians fighting for the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq doubled in the past year.

"We estimate that there are around 120 Australians currently in Iraq and Syria supporting Daesh [Arabic acronym for IS] and other terrorist groups," Bishop told reporters in New York late Sunday.

"That is double the number that I reported here 12 months ago." 

At least 20 nationals are believed to have died there. 

Australia raised its terror threat level to high a year ago and since then has introduced new national security laws and conducted counter-terrorism raids amid concerns about radicalisation.

Canberra has also cancelled passports and prevented a number of people from leaving the country on fears they were heading to the Middle East to join IS.