U.S. President Barack Obama chairs a special meeting of the U.N. Security Council during the 69th session of the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 24, 2014, in New York City
Timothy A. Clary—AFP/Getty Images
September 24, 2014 3:21 PM EDT

President Barack Obama convened a U.N. Security Council summit Wednesday to push for efforts to curtail the movements of extremist fighters who have played a substantial role in the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

“These terrorists believe our countries will be unable to stop them,” Obama said Wednesday. “The safety of our citizens demands that we do.”

The rare move — only the sixth time the council has met at the head-of-government level — reflected the U.S.’s commitment to leading a global effort to prevent radicalism, share information about potential fighters and prevent potentially dangerous actors from committing acts of terrorism, U.S. officials said. The Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution defining so-called foreign terrorist fighters, and providing an international legal framework for their prosecution.

The resolution calls on member states to criminalize the travel, or attempt to travel, of individuals for the purpose of “the perpetration, planning, or preparation of, or participation in, terrorist acts, or the providing or receiving of terrorist training,” as well as raising funds or recruitment of fighters.

The National Counterterrorism Center estimates that 15,000 fighters from 80 countries have or are currently fighting inside Syria, many alongside ISIS and the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, including 2,000 Europeans and over 100 Americans. Some of the Americans, officials said, have returned to the U.S.

Senior U.S. administration officials said the resolution would create a framework for other countries to share passenger-name records and other identifying information for suspected fighters, preventing them from traveling to conflict zones and from returning to their home countries if already there.

In conjunction with the resolution, the U.S. designated 10 individuals and two groups, many tied to ISIS, as Specially Designated Global Terrorists, subjecting them to U.S. sanctions.

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