UK-based insurance companies are to be banned from paying ransoms to terrorist groups under new proposals set to be announced by Home Secretary Theresa May.

The government hopes that companies and families of hostages will be less likely to pay ransoms if they cannot claim back the money from their insurance policies, says the BBC.

The proposals come in the wake of a number of high profile ransom demands issued by the Islamic State, which the group has used to fund its activities in Iraq and Syria. Kidnapping has become a major supplemental income source for the group, which makes the majority of its money from black market oil sales, which are reported to generate £1.3 million per day.

While journalists and aid workers from European countries such as Spain and France have been released by IS, nationals from the US and UK have been executed very publicly in front of video cameras and their deaths used in propaganda videos because their ransoms were not paid by their governments.

Ministers claim that paying ransoms encourage groups to continue to kidnapping as a regular and reliable source of income. However, some analysts note that the propaganda value to IS in the beheading videos of US and UK nationals may be worth more to the group the the rumoured $1 million (£640,000) rumoured to be demanded as ransom per hostage.

The move to block ransom payments is one of a number of measures that the Home Secretary is expected to announce during her address at a counter-terrorism event in London later today.

The proposals come as reports of SAS activity in Iraq have emerged in the British press. Small teams of SAS personnel equipped with quad bikes and heavy machine-guns are reportedly behind enemy lines, where they ambush unsuspecting IS militants in the Iraqi desert. This activity is reminiscent of SAS missions during Second World War, when small teams with 4X4 vehicles equipped with heavy machine-guns were air-dropped within German-controlled territory in northern Africa and caused havoc for the Nazi Afrika Korps.

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