Despite Da’esh Leader’s Death, Defeating Threat Posed by Terrorist Group, Affiliates Remains ‘Long-Term Game’, Top Counter-Terrorism Official Warns Security Council
Delegates Highlight Challenges in Africa, Voice Concern over Plight of Children
The global fight against the ever-shifting threat posed by Da’esh and its affiliates remains a “long-term game” for which there are “no quick fixes”, the senior United Nations counter-terrorism official told the Security Council today.
Valdimir Voronkov, Under-Secretary-General for Counter-Terrorism, told the 15-member Council that recent events demonstrate the very real threat still posed by Da’esh, Al-Qaida and their spin-off groups. Outlining the contents of the Secretary-General’s latest report, he also recalled his own recent briefing to the Council on the terrorism landscape in north-east Syria following a Da’esh jailbreak attempt in Al-Hasakah. That event, which resulted in significant clashes and put hundreds of children at risk, was a “shattering and sober reminder of Da’esh’s extreme brutal violence”, he said.
A subsequent targeted attack reportedly resulted in the death of the Da’esh leader, Amir Muhammad Sa’id Abdal-Rahman al-Salbi, widely known as Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi, he said. While that victory marks perhaps the most significant recent blow to the group’s leadership in years, he warned that Da’esh is known for its ability to re-group and even intensify its activities. “We have learned over the past two decades that counter-terrorism is a long-term game and that there are no quick fixes,” he stressed. Citing the need for both military counter-terrorism operations and more comprehensive measures with a focus on prevention, he urged States to use all tools at their disposal, adding: “As we begin a new decade of counter-terrorism, it is time to ask ourselves difficult questions and search for honest answers.”
Also briefing was Weixiong Chen, Acting Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, who spotlighted a shift by Da’esh to the African continent, as well as efforts to exploit recent developments in Afghanistan. Since 2020, he said, the terrorist threat has intersected with many COVID-19 pandemic-related challenges, with Da’esh and other terrorist groups seeking to exploit fault lines arising from social restrictions, political tension and economic downturns. Many States have been forced to divert counter-terrorism resources to pandemic-related efforts, while terrorists became even more adept at using social media and online platforms to pursue their aims, he said.
Da’esh is the official name of the terrorist group which is also known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and ISIS.
As Council members took the floor, most agreed broadly that the threats posed by Da’esh, Al-Qaida and a range of other terrorist factions have not diminished, but instead have shifted to other modalities and other parts of the globe. Many voiced concern about the plight of children caught up in the global battle against terrorism, noting the high numbers of detained children with presumed links to Da’esh in Syria and Iraq. However, speakers diverged over the utility and risks posed by repatriation efforts, as well as over the factors that continue to drive terrorism and allow it to continue proliferating.
Ghana’s representative said more than 170,000 incidents of acts of terrorism have been recorded since 1970, and the estimated annual economic impact stands at $26.4 billion. While gains have been made, more effort is required as the incidence of terrorism has proliferated, and organizations’ networks have become more agile and global in scope. Outlining African regional efforts to push back the threat of terrorism, he went on to call for more international capacity-building assistance, emphasizing the continent’s resource limitations and calling for greater investment in addressing terrorism’s root causes.
Also spotlighting the challenges faced by Africa was the representative of Gabon, who noted that the network of small, shadowy Da’esh cells throughout the continent are diffuse and hard to tackle. Expressing concern over recent attacks by the groups Boko Haram, Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and Al-Shabaab — all of which claim links with Da’esh — he added that the return and reintegration of foreign terrorist fighters pose yet another risk, given the capacity of terrorist groups to carry out attacks remotely. “The face of terrorism is changing,” he stressed, advocating for an adapted global response and more assistance to States that are most vulnerable.
The representative of the United Arab Emirates was among those delegates who spotlighted both the challenges and opportunities presented by technological innovations in the fight against terrorism. Describing online tools as a “double-edged sword”, he called for steps to prevent terrorist groups from exploiting digital tools to finance or carry out operations, while harnessing technology and artificial intelligence to protect societies from extremism and terrorism. “Efforts to bring stability and rebuild the liberated areas in Syria and Iraq must also be intensified,” he said, outlining his country’s support to those ends.
The United States’ delegate agreed with other speakers that the threat posed by the terrorist group has not disappeared. “As we have all seen, ISIS and those inspired by it continue to engage in horrific attacks, wherever and however they can,” he said. Recounting the United States-led attack that killed the group’s leader in Syria last week, he advocated for the repatriation of foreign fighters whenever possible from detention facilities in that country and Iraq, noting that the United States has so far repatriated 30 of its citizens. He also joined others in voicing concern that ISIS and Al-Qaida have metastasized in parts of Africa and grafted onto local conflicts and grievances to further their own aims.
The representative of the Russian Federation — while agreeing that “it is essential that we do not allow Africa to become a caliphate 2.0” — outlined a different view of the drivers of global terrorism. Noting that the failed United States presence in Syria has not contained the threat, he said thousands of women and children remain in appalling conditions in United States-controlled territory, adding that tackling the crisis is a question of “will and intentions”. Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, the panicked flight of the United States and its allies left huge volumes of modern weapons and technology, which fell into the hands of ISIS and helped increase its capabilities. “The imposition by force of cookie-cutter democratic values could not have brought any good to the countries being experimented on,” he said.
Also speaking were the representatives of the United Kingdom, Albania, China, Norway, France, Mexico, Ireland, India, Brazil and Kenya.
The meeting began at 10:01 a.m. and ended at 12:05 p.m.
VLADIMIR VORONKOV, Under-Secretary-General for Counter-Terrorism, United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism, recalled the Council’s decisive adoption of resolution 1373 (2001), just weeks after Al-Qaida terrorists killed thousands of people at the Twin Towers in New York. “International peace and security and support for the victims of terrorist attacks around the world are the core values for the United Nations counter-terrorism efforts,” he said. Noting that Al-Qaida, Da’esh and their various affiliates remain serious threats today, he declared: “As we begin a new decade of counter-terrorism, it is time to ask ourselves difficult questions and search for honest answers.”
Against that backdrop, he drew attention to the latest report of the Secretary-General on the threat posed by Da’esh and United Nations efforts in support of Member States in countering that threat, welcoming the Council’s recent extensions of the Organization’s two counter-terrorism entities, the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate and its Monitoring Team. He also recalled his briefing to the Council two weeks ago on the terrorism landscape in north-east Syria following the Da’esh’s jailbreak attack on Al-Sina’a prison in Al-Hasakah city — one of the group’s most significant operations since its defeat in Syria nearly three years ago — and described it as a “shattering and sober reminder of Da’esh’s extreme brutal violence”. He was particularly disturbed by the use of children as human shields during the intense fighting that occurred in and around the prison.
Following those deeply distressing events, a targeted attack reportedly resulted in the death of the Da’esh leader, Amir Muhammad Sa’id Abdal-Rahman al-Salbi, who was also known as Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi. While that marks perhaps the most significant recent blow to the group’s leadership, he warned that Da’esh is known for its ability to re-group and even intensify its activities. “We have learned over the past two decades that counter-terrorism is a long-term game and that there are no quick fixes,” he stressed, underlining the need for both military counter-terrorism operations and more comprehensive measures with a strong focus on prevention.
He urged the Council and all Member States to use every available tool at their disposal to sustain important gains against the threat posed by Da’esh in order to prevent its regional expansion, curtail its attack capabilities and prevent further recruitment. The group retains between 6,000 and 10,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria and continues to launch attacks at a steady rate, including hit-and-run operations, ambushes and roadside bombs in both countries. Over the period under review, it also continued to attack Government forces and civilians with the apparent aim of instigating panic and increasing pressure on the authorities. “It is crucial to build on the momentum following the recent death of Al-Quraishi,” he said, adding that it is time to address the grievances that Da’esh and other terrorist groups attempt to exploit.
Stressing the need to focus on restoring human dignity, trust and social cohesion, he said that must begin with addressing the desperate situation in displacement camps and detention facilities across Syria and Iraq. Thousands of people, especially children with presumed family links to Da’esh members, remain stranded in those centres in precarious limbo through no fault of their own. Citing the growing risk of their further radicalization and recruitment, he welcomed efforts by Member States that have repatriated their citizens from those camps. However, the current pace of repatriation lacks the needed urgency and is likely to exacerbate conditions conducive to terrorism. Indeed, repatriation is not enough; comprehensive responses are needed in countries of nationality that include protection, prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration, as appropriate.
During the reporting period, he continued, the regional affiliates of Da’esh beyond Syria and Iraq continued to expand at an unsettling scale and pace. Noting the threat of spillover into Central, Eastern, and West Africa — where the expansion of ISIL/Da’esh affiliates could have serious and lasting repercussions — he also noted terrorist activities in the border area between Mozambique and the United Republic of Tanzania. The situation is also deteriorating and intensifying in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Uganda, causing serious concern. In North Africa, activities by Da’esh affiliates declined in Egypt, Libya and Morocco in recent months. Meanwhile, the security landscape in Afghanistan changed dramatically in August 2021 following the Taliban takeover, with many around the world concerned that Da’esh and other terrorist groups are now enjoying even greater freedom in the country.
Pointing out that the Counter-Terrorism Office has been able to maintain business continuity during the COVID-19 pandemic, and even intensified the implementation of its global programmes, he also spotlighted its growing presence in the field, as requested by Member States. That includes its new Programme Office in Nairobi and the Programme Office for Counter-Terrorism and Training in Rabat, Morocco. The broader United Nations system must now nurture the consensus achieved by the General Assembly when it adopted a forward-looking resolution at its latest review of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in June 2021. “We need to … work together towards stamping out terrorism, including groups like Da’esh, who continue to evolve, finding new and malicious ways to spread fear,” he said, emphasizing that the Council remains instrumental in that collective fight.
WEIXIONG CHEN, Acting Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, recalling its creation in 2001 following the terrorist attacks on the United States, said the global terrorist landscape continues to present a range of complex challenges for Member States. The threat of Da’esh persists, as the group and its affiliates continue to recalibrate their strategic and operational approaches in expanded battlefields across Africa and seek to exploit recent developments in Afghanistan. Since 2020, the terrorist threat has intersected with many pandemic-related challenges, with Da’esh and other terrorist groups having sought to exploit fault lines arising from social restrictions, political tension and economic downturns.
Elaborating on these challenges, he said increasing political instability in some States has led to critical governance situations, and a number of nations have understandably diverted counter-terrorism resources to pandemic-related efforts, thereby creating challenges for States requiring assistance in tackling terrorist threats. Meanwhile, the pandemic has influenced existing trends in terrorism and violent extremism, with emerging COVID-19-related challenges having curtailed civil society and humanitarian outreach and counter-terrorism operations. As such, monitoring and suppressing the flow of funds to Da’esh and other terrorist groups remains an imperative for the international community. Terrorists and terrorist groups also continue to exploit social media and online platforms at a time when Member States remain concerned about the global rise in hate speech and misinformation and disinformation, often online.
Against this backdrop, the Committee continues to coordinate closely with key partners, he said. It has recently updated its global survey of Member States’ implementation of resolution 1373 (2001) and other resolutions and continues to work on capacity-building efforts for Member States with the Office of Counter-Terrorism, under the All-of-UN approach and in accordance with Council resolutions 2395 (2017) and 2617 (2021). Combatting the global terrorist threat requires a multilateral approach that involves close collaboration among Member States, United Nations entities, international and regional organizations and civil society, he said, adding that strategies and measures should be tailor-made, gender-sensitive and human rights-compliant.
JEFFREY DELAURENTIS (United States) recalled that, last week, United States forces conducted strikes that resulted in the death of the senior ISIS leader. “As we have all seen, ISIS and those inspired by it continue to engage in horrific attacks, wherever and however they can,” he said, underlining the need to support vulnerable communities in rejecting their appeals. The situation of thousands of people — including children — stranded in camps in Syria and Iraq remains unacceptable, he said, advocating for the repatriation of foreign fighters wherever possible and noting that the United States has so far repatriated 30 of its citizens from northern Syria. He also spotlighted the need to cut off terrorist groups’ financing flows, while expressing concern that ISIS and Al-Qaida have metastasized in parts of Africa and grafted onto local conflicts and grievances to further their own aims. The United States continues to provide its global partners with counter-terrorism assistance, and it will hold the Taliban accountable to their commitment not to allow any terrorists to operate on Afghan soil, he said.
JAMES PAUL ROSCOE (United Kingdom) said recent events including the jailbreak attempt at Al-Hasakah in Syria have reminded the world of the continued threat posed by terrorism. Noting that the United Kingdom provides counter-terrorism and stabilization support to its partners around the world, he also underlined the need to pursue justice for victims through fair trials and due process. Citing an altered global landscape, he noted that the context in Afghanistan has changed dramatically and urged the country’s new Taliban leaders to ensure that Al-Qaida and Da’esh are not allowed to raise funds or carry out attacks from Afghan soil. Meanwhile, the use of social media and encrypted online platforms has only grown, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In that vein, he welcomed the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate’s increased focus on those new technologies, as well as its commitment to engaging more deeply with members of civil society.
MOHAMED ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates) said that despite progress in the war against Da’esh in Syria and Iraq, including the killing of its leader last week, dangerous threats by the group still exist, especially as it spreads across Africa. Afghanistan must not be allowed to be used as a safe haven for terrorists or threaten the stability of neighbouring countries. Noting that no country or region is safe from terrorism, he stressed: “These cross-border threats cannot be eliminated without unity and concerted international efforts.” Calling for zero tolerance for terrorist acts and groups and citing the recent heinous terrorist attacks by Houthi militia in his country, he urged countries to coordinate, exchange information and impose international sanctions on terrorist groups to force them to stop any behaviour that threatens international peace and security. He called on States to continue to develop national and international strategies and laws, taking into account local and regional contexts. In that regard, Hedayah Center collaborates with over 100 countries to prevent extremism and terrorism, including by helping to create national plans tailored to national contexts.
Advanced technology is a “double-edged sword”, he said, calling for steps to prevent terrorist groups from exploiting it to finance or carry out operations, while harnessing technology and artificial intelligence to protect societies from extremism and terrorism. The United Arab Emirates continues developing counternarratives to Da’esh’s narrative, sending a clear message through its co-chairmanship with the United Kingdom and the United States of the Communication Working Group of the Global Coalition against Da’esh. In addition, the Sawab Center in Abu Dhabi continues to counter Da’esh’s false allegations through awareness campaigns, such as the “Africa against Extremism” campaign aimed at preventing the group’s spread across the continent. Promoting the values of peaceful coexistence, empowering women and youth and increasing efforts to achieve sustainable development are crucial to protect people from extremism and terrorism. “Efforts to bring stability and rebuild the liberated areas in Syria and Iraq must also be intensified,” he said, noting that as co-chair of the Stabilization Working Group within the Global Coalition, the United Arab Emirates has contributed more than $170 million to support rebuilding of infrastructure and historical sites, building national capacities and encouraging the safe return of internally displaced persons.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania) expressed concern over the Secretary-General’s assessment that Da’esh continues not only to be active in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan, but has also become stronger outside conflict zones by using online/offline propaganda to radicalize and recruit mostly children. Da’esh’s recent use of children in terrorist acts in Syria, bears testimony of their intact barbarity, he said. While a military response is key, so too are social programmes countering violent extremism and terrorist ideology. That includes addressing the root causes of radicalization, which is all too often extreme poverty and lack of perspective. He expressed concern on the inhuman and degrading conditions in detention facilities in Syria and Iraq, especially for women and children. “We must not allow that such places become recruitment and radicalization centres,” he said, as children are especially vulnerable targets to such ideology. To that end, women and children need to be repatriated in a humane and safe manner, he stressed, highlighting that his country has already repatriated several citizens from Syrian and Iraqi camps and have devised bespoke reintegration programmes.
ZHANG JUN (China) said the long-term fight against terrorism requires united actions, including curbing the new wave of terrorist groups, which are spreading across Africa and other regions. Indeed, the rapid withdrawal of foreign troops in Afghanistan has created a vacuum, he said, warning that “we cannot let our guards down”. Any slack on counter-terrorism or using such efforts for political gains would be an act of betrayal to the victims and will backfire. All efforts must be made to prevent Da’esh from colluding with other terrorist groups, including the Turkestan Islamic Movement, known as ETIM, — designated by the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1267 (1999) — that currently operates and trains recruits in Syria to launch attacks in Asian countries, including China. Turning to other concerns, he said counter-terrorism efforts must consider civilian protection, as military interventions in the name of terrorism are counter-productive and wrong. Assistance is needed to help African nations tackle terrorist activities, including the Sahel region, he said, emphasizing that the Group of Five for the Sahel (G-5 Sahel) should be supported with predictable funding.
TRINE HEIMERBACK (Norway), noting that countries and regions most vulnerable to terrorism are those also facing armed conflict, political instability, poverty, climate change and weak governance, said the threat that ISIL and its affiliates pose — including in numerous country situations on the Council’s agenda — cannot be effectively addressed without recognizing this context. As such, a comprehensive, whole-of-society approach to counter-terrorism must form part of a broader political strategy, address underlying drivers of radicalization and be anchored in human rights and the rule of law. Highlighting three crucial issues, she said prevention is the most effective counter-terrorism strategy, including building resilience to radicalization by ensuring social, political and economic inclusion; providing access to justice and security; and empowering women and youth. Protection is equally important, she said, pointing to recent ISIL attacks as a reminder that more must be done. Finally, prosecution is critical to hold perpetrators of terrorism accountable. While ISIL remains diminished, it is not defeated, she said, stressing that: “To eradicate the group once and for all, we must be clear-eyed about the vulnerabilities it exploits and the contexts in which it embeds itself… [and] recognize that counter-terrorism is not only a technical exercise but also a political one that it is not only intelligence, air strikes and arrests, but also good governance, human rights and the rule of law.”
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France), emphasizing that the fight against Da’esh will continue until this group is vanquished, highlighted several areas for actions. Drawing attention to the recent arrest of an Da’esh leader will hopefully shed light on the group’s financial details. Council resolution 2254 (2015) continues to guide work ahead, he said, noting that Iraq is currently working with partners to address pressing concerns. Turning to the situation in Afghanistan, he said France is closely monitoring it, as it appears that the Taliban has not cut ties with Al-Qaida. In this regard, he noted that Council resolution 2593 (2021) calls on the Taliban to uphold its promises. In the Sahel, France is engaged with regional efforts, he said, citing recent gains and adding that military action against terrorism will continue alongside development initiatives. However, Da’esh is spreading in southern Africa, which could have regional repercussions, he said, noting that the European Union has established a training programme with Mozambique to address this. In the global fight against terrorism, he underlined three areas for action: supporting efforts that respect international law; working to stem the flow of terrorist financing and the full implementation of resolution 2462 (2019); and tackling the diversion and misuse of the Internet for terrorist purposes. To be effective, the fight must be collective, he said.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico) said the attack on the prison in Al-Hasakah, Syria, not only confirmed the threat still posed by ISIL, but also exposed the terrible conditions in which many children associated with the group continue to be detained. In order to limit the capacity of ISIL, the group’s access to small arms and light weapons must be curtailed. Meanwhile, efforts to fight terrorism must prioritize the protection of civilians and their human rights, he said, stressing that an exclusive focus on military operations puts those rights at risk. “We must not violate the collective security system on the pretext of fighting terrorism,” he insisted, underlining the need to tackle the root causes of terrorism through a development strategy that also incorporates a focus on gender and notions of masculinity. Pointing out that the Secretary-General was previously asked to include that topic in his latest report but failed to do so, he reiterated his request for his office to include the issue of masculinity in his next report.
MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon) emphasized that no religion or ideology can serve as a pretext for the kind of terrorist violence being witnessed in parts of Africa and around the globe. While Da’esh has experienced setbacks since 2017, including the total loss of its territory, the global threat it poses remains extremely high. Noting the group’s spread in South-East Asia and across many parts of Africa — including through large networks of affiliated groups and small, shadowy cells that are difficult to tackle — he went on to express concern over recent attacks by Boko Haram, Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and Al-Shabaab, all of which claim links with Da’esh, in Africa. The return and reintegration of foreign terrorist fighters is another risk, given the capacity of terrorist groups to carry out attacks remotely far from the areas where they normally operate. Stressing that “the face of terrorism is changing” around the world, he advocated for an equally adapted international response and revamped assistance to States that are most vulnerable.
BRIAN PATRICK FLYNN (Ireland) said warnings of the past must be heeded. Despite the ongoing degradation of ISIL leadership, recent attacks in Iraq and Syria are a stark reminder of the enduring threat posed by the group in the core conflict area. At the same time, counter-terrorism measures must comply with international human rights law because they are too often misused to silence human rights defenders, political opponents and civil society. Welcoming initiatives to strengthen gender-responsive counter-terrorism policies, he said women’s inclusion in such mechanisms is essential for sustainable progress and reform, with effective efforts requiring a whole-of-society approach. Collective efforts to counter terrorist financing have led to an important reduction in ISIL core finances, but more international cooperation is required. Ending impunity is also critical. The momentum must continue building to close the accountability gap for sexual and gender-based violence. As the Council marks two decades of counter-terrorism action, much progress has been achieved, but shortcomings remain, he said, expressing hope that members can recommit to an effective, comprehensive United Nations framework that is grounded in international law.
HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana) said more than 170,000 incidents of acts of terrorism have been recorded since 1970, with many maimed or killed victims and a recently estimated $26.4 billion in annual economic impact. While gains have been made, more effort is required as the incidence of terrorism has proliferated, and the networks of terrorist organizations have become more agile and global, with adapted disparate leadership and operational structures. Highlighting several ways African nations are tackling terrorism, he said the African Union has established a plan of action and a centre for research in Algiers. Given the current challenges in Africa, he said technical assistance for enhancing national capacities continues to be critical for many countries, complemented by intra-regional and cross-regional intelligence sharing to address the reinforcing effects of cross-border collaboration by terrorist groups. While regional initiatives and the deployment of regional counter-insurgency forces are useful, they can benefit from an enhanced partnership with the United Nations. Action to cut off terrorism financing must be sustained and enhanced, and greater attention and investment is needed to address the root causes of terrorism. He also called for renewed responses to tackle the financial challenges given that the pandemic has further degraded the capacity of many developing countries to keep up with the growing demands of their populations as limited fiscal resources have had to be reallocated towards recovery efforts.
T.S. TIRUMURTI (India), noting that his country has been a victim of terrorist attacks, said a response to terrorism must be unified and unequivocal. The Secretary-General’s report raises serious concerns about ISIL growth and expansion, he said, noting that Afghanistan could become a terrorist safe haven amid reports of links between Al-Qaida, the Hakani network and other groups. However, the report does not take note of these developments. The resurgence of ISIL in Iraq and Syria must be urgently addressed, he said, calling for support for regional efforts. In Africa, terrorist groups with ISIL and Al-Qaida links are growing, with nations responding through national and regional efforts that the international community and the United Nations must support without any caveats. Social media, cryptocurrencies and unmanned aircraft systems are among emerging threats that many States have limited resources to tackle. Further strengthening the counter-terrorism architecture requires, among other things, recognizing the links with organized crime networks and carefully considering entities when listing and delisting terrorist groups.
PAULA AGUIAR BARBOZA (Brazil), expressing concern over the threat posed by ISIL/Da’esh and its affiliates, drew attention to the situation of foreign terrorist fighters and their family members in detention camps in Syria. “When counter-terrorism efforts disregard basic notions of humanity, they tend to reinforce rather than counter the narratives of terrorist groups,” she stressed, underscoring the imperative to respect human rights, humanitarian law and refugee law, and to treat children primarily as victims. Actions leading to statelessness should also be avoided. Expressing concern over the expansion of Da’esh in Africa, she pointed to regional counter-terrorism strategies and integrated policies in tackling the conditions conducive to terrorism. The resilience of Da’esh ideology is also concerning, and it is “high time” to recognize that while security measures may be able to kill terrorists, they cannot kill their ideas. For Brazil, prevention is instrumental in any counter-terrorism strategy. Expressions of xenophobia, discrimination and prejudice, which fuel the extremist narratives, must be countered, as should efforts to associate terrorism with specific cultures, religions or ethnic groups. While there is no agreement on what constitutes terrorism, this lack of clarity should not be “the norm”, nor should the Council circumvent due process when designating new terrorist individuals or entities. She also encouraged the Counter-Terrorism Office and Executive Directorate to take into full account the guidance outlined in the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, adopted in 2021.
MICHAEL KIBOINO (Kenya), noting the Secretary-General’s description of terrorism as a strategic global threat in his Our Common Agenda report, said that despite intense international and regional efforts, the phenomenon continues its dangerous surge in parts of Africa. In the Sahel and West Africa, groups including ISIL, Al-Qaida and their affiliates are exploiting local grievances and weak governance infrastructure to recruit, radicalize and deploy fighters, and are increasingly gaining control of large swaths of territory. Meanwhile, in other parts of the continent, terrorists are exploiting ethnic dynamics and social and economic challenges to engage in destructive and potentially destabilizing activities. A week ago, seven innocent people travelling in a public service vehicle were killed in northern Kenya in an improvised explosive devise ambush. Against that backdrop, he called for an all-system multilateral approach to addressing driving factors, including weak governance and socioeconomic challenges, which allow terrorism to thrive.
Stressing that the Council must apply all its tools in equal force on all terrorist groups with transnational character — as applying double-standards will only prove counter-productive — he called again for the listing of the Al-Shabaab group and its leadership under the organ’s 1267 sanctions regime. The Council and relevant stakeholders must also distinguish between political stabilization and counter-terrorism efforts, as such terrorist groups as Al-Qaida and ISIL seek to destroy the State and replace it with structures that are completely alien to the political and cultural life of the countries they attack. “It is imperative that for a terrorist group to become party to national political stabilization, it must, as a prerequisite, disavow its core ideological aims and renounce the use of terrorism to pursue political or other ideological ends,” he said, also calling for stronger regional partnerships and additional efforts to disrupt and dismantle terrorists’ funding streams.
GENNADY KUZMIN (Russian Federation) agreed with the conclusion of the Secretary-General’s report that, far from defeated, the core of ISIS operations has shifted to the African continent. “It is essential that we do not allow Africa to become a caliphate 2.0,” he said. Meanwhile, the United States presence in parts of Syria had failed to effectively address terrorism in that country, and thousands of women and children are detained in appalling conditions in the Al-Hol and Roj camps, in United States-controlled territory. Emphasizing that the Syrian Government is much better placed to address those challenges, he stressed that “the question is one of will and intentions”.
Indeed, he said, the range of issues connected to foreign terrorist fighters can only be tackled in conjunction with the authorities of the countries in which they are located. To date, the Russian Federation — working with the Governments of Iraq and Syria — has repatriated around 350 minors, while taking steps to ensure their social support. Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, the panicked flight of the United States and its allies in 2021 left huge volumes of modern weapons and technology, which fell into the hands of ISIS and helped increase its capabilities. Emphasizing that the civilian population is now paying the price for those actions, he said such a situation was inevitable, declaring: “The imposition by force of cookie-cutter democratic values could not have brought any good to the countries being experimented on.” Against that backdrop, he encouraged the United States to “begin with themselves” when examining issues of democracy and human rights and drew attention to a gap between that country’s words and deeds.
Mr. DELAURENTIS (United States), taking the floor for a second time, responded to several comments made regarding a counter-terrorism operation in Syria last week. Noting that ISIL had revealed its barbarity, he said that prior to the arrival of the United States forces, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, also known as Hajji Abdullah, had detonated an explosive device, killing himself, a woman and three children at the site of the operation. In the early stages of the operation, one woman, one man and children were safely removed from the site, he added, emphasizing that ISIL has made clear its utter disregard for human life, which was “on display” last week, just as it was during a 2019 operation.