By Justin Sink - 09/24/14 03:26 PM EDT
The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a resolution demanding countries toughen their laws to prevent the flow of foreign fighters to terror groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The 15-0 vote was held with President Obama chairing the committee, only the second time a U.S. president had done so and only the sixth time heads of state had participated in such a meeting.
"The historic resolution we just adopted enshrines our commitment to meet this challenge," he added.
Obama said that more than 15,000 foreign fighters from more than 80 nations had traveled to Syria in recent years, and that those terrorists "exacerbate conflicts" and pose an immediate threat to other nations.
Western leaders have expressed concerns that foreign fighters radicalized by groups like ISIS could return to their home countries to carry out terror attacks.
"Around the world, foreign terrorist fighters have been arrested, plots have been disrupted and lives have been saved," Obama said.
The resolution calls for nations to adopt new laws and regulations to prosecute and penalize those affiliated with terror groups, prevent the entry or transit of individuals linked to terrorism, and target funding for terror groups. The nations will also share intelligence through Interpol.
Obama said the need to disrupt the terror networks was underscored Wednesday by reports of "another brutal murder" — the beheading of French citizen Hervé Gourdel by ISIS sympathizers in Algeria. Gourdel's captors had demanded that Paris withdraw from a U.S.-led military coalition that has targeted ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
The U.S. expanded that effort partially in response to the release of videos depicting the beheading of two American journalists and a British aid worker.
Addressing French President François Hollande, Obama said Americans "stand with you and the French people — not only as you grieve this terrible loss, but as you show resolve against terror."
Hollande said Gourdel was "assassinated under terrible conditions" but that France had shown over time it would not bend to the wishes of terrorists.
"We have never given in," Hollande said. "Every time we come out of these things more robust with greater solidarity."
But Obama warned that "resolutions alone will not be enough" to defeat ISIS.
"Promises on paper cannot keep us safe. … The words spoken here today must be matched and translated into action, into deeds, concrete action," he said.
Separately, the Treasury Department announced Wednesday that it was sanctioning 11 individuals and one Indonesian charity organization for aiding the flow of foreign fighters to Islamist terror groups, including ISIS.
The move, intended to coincide with the adoption of the resolution, will freeze any assets the individuals have under U.S. jurisdiction, and prohibit American citizens and companies from any financial dealings with the designees.
“Today’s broadly scoped designations will disrupt efforts by ISIL, al-Nusra Front, al Qaida, and Jemaah Islamiya to raise, transport, and access funds that facilitate foreign terrorist fighters,” said David S. Cohen, undersecretary for terrorism, using an alternate abbreviation for ISIS.
“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.”
This story was updated at 3:42 p.m.