Exploiting Global Crises, Nations Impacted by Conflict at Heart of Da’esh, Affiliates’ Strategy, Counter-Terrorism Officials Warn Security Council
Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as Da’esh, and its affiliates continue to exploit conflict-related fragility to plan and conduct terrorist attacks while the international community faces a rash of overlapping challenges that risk complicating counter-terrorism responses and fuelling extremism, senior United Nations officials told the Security Council today, as members debated how best to address this proliferating threat.
Vladimir Voronkov, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism, briefing the Council on the Secretary-General’s latest report on the threat posed by ISIL/Da’esh (document S/2022/576), said that the group and its affiliates continue to exploit conflict dynamics, governance fragilities and inequality to organize attacks, as well as pandemic-related restrictions and misused digital spaces to recruit sympathizers and attract resources. The group has accomplished this by partially resorting to a largely decentralized structure to incite followers to carry out attacks and to control the flow of funds to affiliates worldwide.
Against that backdrop, he stressed that better understanding and continued monitoring of this structure is necessary for countering and preventing the threat. However, despite the persistence of this threat, joint efforts by Member States continue to yield positive results, including recent repatriations by Iraq, Tajikistan and France. Still, tens of thousands of individuals from some 60 countries remain deprived of basic rights and are at a very real risk of radicalization and recruitment. He therefore reiterated the Secretary-General’s call for Member States to facilitate the safe, voluntary and dignified repatriation of all individuals who remain stuck in camps and other facilities.
Weixiong Chen, Acting Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, also highlighted how exploitation of conflict-related fragility remains at the heart of ISIL/Da’esh’s strategy, notably in Iraq, Syria and across Africa. The international community faces a range of overlapping global challenges that risk complicating counter-terrorism responses and exacerbating the threat posed by terrorist groups. In addition, the global food crisis could catalyse the spread of terrorism and violent extremism. Enhanced multilateralism, international cooperation and global solidarity are the only ways to counter a global terrorist threat like ISIL/Da’esh, he stressed, adding that a comprehensive, coordinated “All-of-UN” approach remains crucial to developing and implementing effective counter-terrorism measures.
Martin Ewi, Senior Researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, pointed out that Africa is not only a hub for ISIL/Da’esh activity but could also be the future of the Da’esh caliphate. At least 20 African countries have directly experienced such activity, and more than 20 others are being used for logistics and for mobilizing funds and other resources. Africa’s natural resources are being used to finance terrorism, while grievances over the Palestinian problem remain the driver of radicalization. More so, studies show irrefutable evidence that many young people joined ISIL/Da’esh and other terror groups because of poverty and unemployment. Inconsistent State responses and international double-standards further complicate matters. While an international coalition arose to defeat ISIL/Da’esh in Syria and Iraq — driving terrorism downstream to Africa — no similar coalition was mounted to defeat the group on the continent.
Underscoring that the political, economic, social and ideological roots of terrorism must be addressed, he recalled how the Organization of African Unity provided the political centre for the anti-colonial struggle and stressed that a similar centre is needed to win this war. However, the Council is too far away in New York and its resolutions are not implemented in Africa. “Most terrorists that are blacklisted do not know that they are blacklisted”, he said. The solution lies at the community level, he stressed, calling on the Council to work more closely with the African Union, regional economic communities and civil society.
In the ensuing discussion, many Council members offered varied approaches, including tackling the root causes of terrorism and violent extremism, repatriating foreign terrorist fighters and countering terrorist misuse of the digital space. Others focused on the need to adopt a whole-of-society approach to countering terrorism that is gender-sensitive and respects human rights and the rule of law.
“We must not allow Da’esh and other groups to hijack a religion of tolerance,” stressed the representative of the United Arab Emirates, pointing out that “there is nothing Islamic about terrorism”. As such, Member States and the United Nations should end the use of “Islamic State” to refer to Da’esh. Further, he underscored that the Council must urgently prioritize efforts to prevent the emergence of the next generation of terrorists and extremists, spotlighting conditions at the Al-Hol refugee camp in Syria where 25,000 children are at the risk of radicalization.
Brazil’s representative also voiced concern over the detention of foreign terrorist fighters and their families in Syria, emphasizing that the prospect of safe, voluntary and dignified repatriation for these individuals may save them from violent extremism. Noting that the Secretary-General’s report finds that terrorism and armed conflict are mutually reinforcing, he stressed the need to consider the causes of conflict and radicalization conducive to terrorism. “We must also understand why some people are vulnerable to terrorist ideology,” he added.
The representative of Ireland said that effective responses to counter and prevent terrorism demand a whole-of-society approach that addresses the underlying grievances that increase vulnerability to radicalization. Too often, counter-terrorism measures are misused to crack down on civil society and repress human rights and freedoms. Also stressing the importance of a gender-responsive approach across the Council’s agenda, she said: “We want to see more consistent and comprehensive evidence as to how gender considerations inform the United Nations’ counter-terrorism work”.
On that point, Mexico’s representative thanked the Secretary-General, the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism and the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate for heeding his country’s request to incorporate in the report a reference to the role played by masculinities in terrorist groups and the way in which terrorist groups and networks interact with society. That aspect is crucial if the international community is to adopt more-effective approaches to prevent and combat violent extremism that leads to terrorism.
Providing an African perspective, the representative of Ghana said that the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing aggression against Ukraine have degraded the fiscal capacity of many developing countries to address the growing demands of their populations. Therefore, global support must be enhanced to undercut the ideologies of violent extremist groups who exploit long-standing vulnerabilities. Such support, he said, could take the form of debt cancellation and restructuring to enable developing countries to build back better and adequately tackle the security challenges in their countries.
Also speaking were representatives of the United States, Norway, France, Gabon, United Kingdom, Kenya, Russian Federation, Albania, India and China.
The meeting began at 10:04 a.m. and ended at 12:10 p.m.
VLADIMIR VORONKOV, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism, briefed the Council on the Secretary-General’s latest report on the threat posed by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as Da’esh (document S/2022/576). ISIL/Da’esh and its affiliates continue to exploit conflict dynamics, governance fragilities and inequality to incite, plan and organize terrorist attacks. It has exploited pandemic-related restrictions and misuse of digital spaces to intensify efforts to recruit sympathizers and attract resources and has also significantly increased its use of unmanned aerial systems over the past year. It has done so partially by resorting to a largely decentralized structure — centred around a so-called “general directorate of provinces” and associated “offices” — to incite followers to carry out attacks and to control the flow of funds to affiliates worldwide. While the existence of these structures may not be surprising, he said, “it provides a worrisome reminder that Da’esh has long-term goals and aspirations.”
Against this backdrop, he stressed that better understanding and continued monitoring of this structure are necessary for countering and preventing the threat posed by ISIL/Da’esh. In this regard, strengthened international and regional cooperation — including through information-sharing mechanisms — remains crucial. The threat remains higher in societies affected by conflict, including the border between Iraq and Syria which remains highly vulnerable. The group has expanded into north-eastern and eastern Afghanistan, following the Taliban’s takeover, and has also proliferated in Central, Southern and West Africa. From Uganda, a Da’esh affiliate has widened its area of operations into the Democratic Republic of the Congo, while another affiliate has intensified small-scale attacks in Mozambique. The expansion also affects countries, he noted, that had — until recently — been largely spared from attacks, such as littoral countries in the Gulf of Guinea.
Despite the persistency of this threat, however, joint efforts by Member States continue to yield positive results, he continued. ISIL/Da’esh and its affiliates continue to suffer significant losses in leadership and, while the group still manages between $25-50 million in assets, this amount is significantly less than estimates from three years ago. On that point, he underscored that the diversity of sources used by ISIL/Da’esh to finance terrorist activities and exert control over affiliated groups and fighters demonstrates the importance of sustained efforts to counter the financing of terrorism. In this regard, he welcomed that the Financial Action Task Force and the Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by ISIL/Da’esh (UNITAD) joined the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact in April 2022.
While he welcomed recent repatriations by Iraq, Tajikistan and France, he expressed concern that the limited progress achieved so far in repatriating foreign terrorist fighters and their family members is “far overshadowed by the number of individuals still facing a precarious and deteriorating situation”. Tens of thousands of individuals — including more than 27,000 children — from Iraq and some 60 other countries remain subject to enormous security challenges and humanitarian hardship. These individuals remain deprived of basic rights and are at a very real risk of radicalization and recruitment. He therefore reiterated the Secretary-General’s call for Member States to further their efforts in facilitating the safe, voluntary and dignified repatriation of all individuals who remain stuck in camps and other facilities. He added that, while resolving the conflicts in which ISIL/Da’esh and its Al-Qaida forebears thrive is necessary for their defeat, the international community must also address the vulnerabilities, societal grievance and inequality exploited by terrorist groups in the first place.
WEIXIONG CHEN, Acting Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, said the threat posed by Da’esh and its affiliates remains both global and evolving. Despite its recent leadership losses, it continues to take advantage of conditions to recruit as well as to organize and execute complex attacks. Exploitation of conflict-related fragilities remains at the heart of that strategy, notably in Iraq, Syria, and across the African continent. The situation in Africa, notably West and Central Africa and Mozambique, has become more concerning. The international community faces a range of overlapping global challenges that risk complicating its counter-terrorism responses and exacerbating the threat posed by Da’esh and other terrorist groups. Further, the connected global food crisis could act as a further catalyst for the spread of terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism.
In its implementation of its mandate in accordance with resolution 2617 (2021), he said that, following two years of virtual and hybrid assessment formats due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee was able to resume its on-site assessment visits. It has also continued to analyse emerging issues, trends and developments and issued several analytical and research products in that regard. Those included a report on its extensive consultations with African civil society organizations on key trends and developments in relation to Da'esh in Africa; a study on the interrelationship between counter-terrorism frameworks and international humanitarian law; a joint report with the International Peace Institute on the relationship between masculinities and violent extremism conducive to terrorism; and a study of the links between the exploitation, trade and trafficking of natural resources and terrorism financing.
The Committee, in close coordination and cooperation with the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism and other key partners, has also worked to support a range of capacity-building activities, he continued. Enhanced multilateralism, international cooperation, and global solidarity is the only way to counter a global terrorist threat like Da’esh, he stressed, adding that a comprehensive, coordinated, “All-of-UN” approach remains crucial to developing and implementing effective counter-terrorism measures. Those strategies and measures must be tailored, age and gender-sensitive, and human rights-compliant and the Committee remains committed to assisting the Council and Member States in these efforts while accelerating cooperation and collaboration with stakeholders. A forthcoming special meeting of the Committee on the use of emerging technologies for terrorism and counter-terrorism purposes will be held from 28-30 October in New Delhi and Mumbai, he said, expressing hope that the event will serve as a forum to further enhance and strengthen our multilateral and multidimensional counter-terrorism efforts.
MARTIN EWI, Senior Researcher, Institute for Security Studies, stressed that the threat posed by ISIL/Da’esh to Africa is growing by day. The continent is not only a hub but could be the future of the Da’esh caliphate — with a shift in the notion of the Da’esh caliphate to what is increasingly defined in virtual terms. At least 20 countries in Africa have directly experienced Islamic State activity, with more than 20 others being used for logistics and to mobilize funds and other resources. The Lake Chad Basin continues to serve as the group’s biggest area of operation, with the Sahel — particularly the Liptako Gourma region — having become ungovernable. Somalia remains the hotspot for the Horn of Africa, while Islamic State Central Africa has turned some regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique into “human slaughterhouses”. None of the five geopolitical regions as defined by the African Union has been spared.
Terrorism in Africa is a battle over Africa’s natural resources, with groups located at borderlands, almost being self-financing — including through direct extraction of natural resources, especially illicit artisanal gold mining, he continued. A report published in May in South Africa by investigative journalists describes how more than 6 billion rands (about $400 million) was mobilized to finance Da’esh groups in Mozambique, Kenya and Democratic Republic of Congo. Also, lingering grievances over the Palestinian problem remain the rallying cry and driver of radicalization in Africa — while the Institute’s studies show irrefutable empirical evidence that many young people who joined Da’esh and other terror groups have done so due to poverty and unemployment. The splintering of terror groups witnessed after the attacks of 11 September 2001 is now being replaced with alliances, amalgamation, and regrouping of terror groups — irrespective of their ideological creed.
He cited the union of Al-Qaida groups under the umbrella of Jama'at Nusrat al Islam wal-Muslimin in 2017 marking a new era in jihadist terrorism in Africa. That group has teamed up with Da’esh groups, such as Islamic State for the Greater Sahara, to carry out some of the largest and most gruesome terror attacks in West Africa and the Sahel. Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) has demonstrated the potency of such nexus schemes, through recruitment and operational collaboration with herders, bandits, kidnappers and artisanal miners. He further cited inconsistent State responses and international double standards: in Syria and Iraq, the international coalition of countries to defeat Da’esh drove terrorism from upstream to downstream in Africa. Yet no similar coalition was mounted to defeat Da’esh in Africa. He condemned the “ostrich approach” adopted by many African States, ignoring or denying that the threat exists. Sovereignty is used to shield the threat until it incubates into uncontrollable intensity, he said. At that point, countries then call on the international community to help when it has gotten out of hand, as demonstrated by events in Benin, Togo, Mozambique, Nigeria and Cameroon, among others.
The multiplicity of peace support operations to fight terrorism in Somalia, Lake Chad Basin, the Sahel and Mozambique have yet to show concrete result, he pointed out. Instead, these strategies have produced untold human suffering, and human rights abuses. Also needed are military and security strategies that also address the political, economic, social and ideological roots of terrorism. In the past, the Organization of African Unity provided the political centre for anti-colonial struggle. A similar centre is needed to win the war. The strategy must transcend Da’esh and include its alliances with Al-Qaida, and other criminal groups. However, he pointed out that the Council is too far away in New York, and its resolutions are not implemented in Africa. “Most terrorists that are blacklisted do not know that they are blacklisted,” he noted. The solution lies at the community level and to that end, the Council must work more closely with the African Union and regional economic communities. He also called for a meeting with the Council and civil society organizations that will aim to empower them and strengthen their role in implementing Council decisions.
JEFFREY DELAURENTIS (United States) stressed that the repatriation of foreign terrorist fighters and their families — and their subsequent prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration, as appropriate — is the best way to hold individuals accountable for their crimes and prevent further radicalization. Welcoming efforts by Iraq and other Member States that have repatriated their nationals over the last six months, he said that the United States is ready to support Member States that wish to bring their nationals home. However, he expressed concern over the increasing terrorist threat in Africa, where affiliates of ISIL/Da’esh and Al-Qaida continue to exploit the continent’s conflicts to bolster their illicit activity. For its part, the United States provides African partners with critical counter-terrorism assistance to disrupt and degrade these groups, and he called on the international community to continue to deny safe haven to Al-Qaida and its affiliates. On that point, he underscored that, by sheltering Al-Qaida’s leader, the Taliban grossly violated the Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan. Adding that effective counter-terrorism requires an understanding of power structures and gendered practices in society, he underlined the importance of references to gender in Council documents related to counter-terrorism.
ODD INGE KVALHEIM (Norway) said the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine, following the devastation already wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, has further destabilised global supply chains, exasperating inflation, energy shortages, and food insecurity, and creating fertile ground for ISIL/Da’esh to further spread its hateful ideology. The Secretary-General’s report highlights the need for a more robust monitoring and evaluation framework to better assess the impact of the Organization’s counterterrorism activities on the ground. "There is a tonal discrepancy between the concern the report details about the current threat posed by ISIL/Da’esh, and the confidence with which it describes the United Nations’ capacity-building measures,” he added. As such, a clearer analytical connection between the two is necessary to ensure coherence and demonstrate impact. To be effective, the counterterrorism efforts of both Member States and the United Nations should be guided by a preventative, whole-of-society approach that is conflict-sensitive, gender-responsive and human rights-compliant.
SHERAZ GASRI (France) said eliminating the rising threat of Da’esh in Afghanistan and the African continent requires maintaining collective capabilities for intense pressure on the military ground. However, the root causes of extremism and terrorism must also be addressed with a credible, viable and inclusive political solution in Syria and Iraq through stabilization and reconstruction. In Afghanistan, the recent neutralization of the leader of Al-Qaida is a success for the fight against terrorism, “but also confirmation of our fears,” she noted. The Taliban continue to provide refuge and support to terrorist groups, especially Al-Qaida, betraying the commitments they made to the international community. The European Union is studying additional measures to support the efforts of Rwanda and the Southern African Development Community to stabilize that region. In that regard, France has invested €24 million in Côte d’Ivoire, with plans to invest an additional €15 million. The first priority is the fight against terrorism financing, she emphasized, calling for the international community to counter emerging forms of financing such as crypto-assets or neo-bank. All States should implement resolution 2462 (2019). It is also crucial to fight the misuse of the Internet through which terrorist groups spread their propaganda. In addition, France has formed a team with Sweden to investigate crimes committed against the Yazidi population in Syria and Iraq. All terrorists must be tried as close as possible to the place where their crimes were committed, where proof of their acts can be found, and where victims can be granted reparation for the harm done to them.
HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana) said that the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing aggression against Ukraine have degraded the fiscal capacity of many developing countries to address the growing demands of their populations. Therefore, global support must be enhanced to undercut the ideologies of violent extremist groups who exploit longstanding vulnerabilities. He called for appropriate responses, such as debt cancellation and the restructuring of debt repayment, to enable developing countries, which are facing worsening security vulnerabilities, to build back better and adequately tackle the security challenges in their countries. Considering the ascendancy of terrorist threats in regions where conflicts are on the rise, and the global networks they operate, the Council must also extend support for intraregional and cross-regional intelligence-sharing efforts to counter cross-border collaboration by terrorist groups. He called for the continued cooperation and capacity-building support of the Committee and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), as well as regional groups and friendly countries, for Member States that have a need to strengthen their security and counter-terrorism strategies.
MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon) said the international community must remain vigilant to the cascading challenges exacerbated the COVID-19 pandemic, which plunged many countries into economic recession. It was critical those countries’ capacity to tackle terrorism not be diminished. “We should not allow Da’esh from exploiting existing cracks in the international order to further entrench itself and spread its influence, particularly where they can find a breeding ground,” he said. Noting the movement’s capacity to remain active, regroup and mobilize considerable sums of money through criminal networks, he stressed that fighting effectively against terrorism requires a peaceful international order that demonstrates solidarity. The counter-terrorism architecture must remain dynamic, he said, underscoring the need for a strengthened international response through a broader and more effective application of existing international tools, as well as respect for the many standards for counter terrorism that are regularly adapted as the threat evolves.
JOÃO GENÉSIO DE ALMEIDA FILHO (Brazil) said the report finds that terrorism and armed conflict mutually reinforce each other — an overlap that can only be addressed by comprehensive strategies that consider the causes of conflict and radicalization conducive to terrorism. The report also finds that terrorist groups resort to attacks outside conflict. “We must also understand why some people are vulnerable to terrorist ideology,” he said in that regard. Voicing concern over the detention of foreign terrorist fighters and their family members in Syria, he said respect for international human rights, international humanitarian law and refugee law is a legal and moral obligation and must be at the core of any anti-terrorism strategy. The prospect of safe, voluntary and dignified repatriation for these individuals may save them from violent extremism. As ISIL/Da’esh grows its ranks by offering better pay to people in need, counter-terrorism activities must thus tackle social, humanitarian and security concerns together, and be carried out within the limits of international law. The Council should not allow the lack of clarity on issues with criminal repercussions “be the norm”. Nor should it circumvent due process when making designations. It is of paramount importance that decisions on the listing of terrorist individuals and entities be based on evidence.
MOHAMED ISSA ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates) underscored the continued need for the Global Coalition against Da’esh, noting as well that as Al-Qaida enters a leadership vacuum, the international community must maintain momentum. Recalling that Da’esh substantially increased its use of remotely piloted aircraft systems, acquired through front companies and the conversion of commercial drones for lethal use, he called for serious steps to prevent armed groups from such acquisitions. Gaps in the international framework must be addressed, conscious of the essential role that autonomous and remotely operated systems play in counter-terrorism efforts. Pointing out that “there is nothing Islamic about terrorism,” he emphasized: “We must not allow Da’esh and other groups to hijack a religion of tolerance and give credence to their pretences.” More so, Member States and the United Nations should end the use of “Islamic State” in its reference to Da’esh and to apply the same principles to prevent the exploitation of religion by other terrorist groups. In addition, the Council must urgently prioritize efforts to prevent the emergence of the next terrorists and extremists. Conditions at the Al Hol camp put 25,000 children at risk of radicalization; efforts must be made to give them hope and a better vision of the future. He also called for gender-responsive prosecution, rehabilitation reintegration measures that address children’s specific needs. Indeed, the Council must use all tools to address gaps in counter-terrorism architecture, including consideration of practical measures against all individuals, groups or entities involved in or associated with terrorist activities.
ALICE JACOBS (United Kingdom) said that while counter-terrorism pressure has constrained Da’esh, gains are vulnerable and uneven, with the group able to expand in sub-Saharan Africa in particular. In Afghanistan, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant-Khorasan Province (ISIL-KP) continues to target minority communities. “We all have a shared interest in using every lever at our disposal to counter Al-Qaida, Da’esh and other terrorist groups in Afghanistan,” she said, underscoring the importance of the Global Coalition to Counter Da’esh and noting that the United Kingdom hosts its communications cell focused on the group’s propaganda. The United Kingdom supports the fight against Da’esh as it expands to new theatres, she said, noting that its African affiliates account for a growing proportion of its claimed violence and that interconnectivity between branches represents a worrying trend. Da’esh targets those most susceptible to joining their cause, notably the young and the marginalized, meaning that hard security interventions will only go so far. She called for building resilience within communities, in partnership with civil society, and ensuring human rights and the rule of law are promoted through a gender-sensitive approach.
MICHAEL KAPKIAI KIBOINO (Kenya) drew attention to Da’esh networks in Africa, voicing deep concern that Da’esh continues to diversify its revenue streams, enabling it to recruit and radicalize, spread and manage its networks, finance foreign fighters and execute complex attacks in various regions of the continent. In the Sahel, parts of West Africa and Central Africa, it exploits weak governance structures to expand territory. In the Horn of Africa, Al-Qaida affiliate Al-Shabaab, based in Somalia, dominates transnational activities, with Kenya among the countries that has endured its senseless atrocities. Redoubled capacity-building and collaboration are needed to address the conditions conducive to terrorism and violent extremism. In addition, involving vulnerable groups and victims in such efforts will enhance the effectiveness of tools, such as psychological counselling and training. He also called for greater collaboration between the Office of Counter-Terrorism and regional offices and countries, and strengthened cooperation between regional States to disrupt cross-border illicit financial flows. For its part, the Council has a duty to be united and unbiased, deploying tools such as sanction regimes on all terrorist groups alike and avoiding double standards.
VASSILY NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said that his country is on the front lines of the fight against terrorism, takes its obligations seriously and intends to continue assisting States in tackling international terrorism, including through financial contributions to the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism and UNODC. Underscoring the need to eliminate the remaining terrorist strongholds in Syria that are entrenched in areas outside of Government control, he also stressed the need to stop weapons from falling into terrorist hands. Some terrorist groups have called on their affiliates to use the events in Ukraine to obtain weapons, which Western States are delivering to Kyiv unchecked. Highlighting the increased threat of lone-wolf terrorist attacks in Europe as a result of this large influx of Western weapons and ammunition, he pointed out that a similar flow into Iraq led to the creation of ISIL/Da’esh and, in Libya, led to the threat of terrorism spreading over a large part of Africa. On the United States’ claimed neutralization of Al-Qaida’s leader, he said that this action — if true — casts doubt on that country’s statements regarding its military leaving Afghanistan after having successfully met objectives in the fight against terrorism, as Afghanistan is still “teetering on the brink of disaster”.
CÁIT MORAN (Ireland) voiced concern that the global food insecurity in West Africa, particularly the Sahel, may exacerbate fragilities and fuel local conflict dynamics that catalyse the spread of violent extremism and terrorism. Effective responses to countering and preventing terrorism therefore demand comprehensive and whole-of-society approaches, which address underlying grievances that increase vulnerability to radicalization. She noted that too often counter-terrorism measures are misused to crack down on civil society and repress human rights and freedoms. Also too often, accountability for ISIL/Da’esh crimes, including sexual and gender-based violence, is lacking, she added, commending Member State and United Nations efforts in ensuring that perpetrators of ISIL/Da’esh crimes are brought to justice. Stressing the importance of a gender-responsive approach across all aspects of the Council’s agenda, she said: “We want to see more consistent and comprehensive evidence as to how gender considerations inform the United Nations’ counter-terrorism work.” Her delegation looks forward to further discussion of that issue at the Counter-Terrorism Committee’s first-ever dedicated briefing on gender later this year.
ALBANA DAUTLLARI (Albania), noting the threat posed by Da’esh and its affiliates continued to rise in the first half of 2022, stressed that Africa is not the only area of concern. Da’esh and its networks are quite active in Afghanistan; Iraq and Syria face a persistent threat, with the armed group’s ability to carry out complex attacks. Citing the radicalization of people in prisons, camps and detainee centres, she emphasized the importance of repatriation. To that end, Albania has already repatriated dozens of women and children from Syrian and Iraqi refugee camps, with the most recent successful operation taking place just one month ago. The approach to terrorism must also address prevention and countering terrorism narratives. She also spotlighted the impact of food insecurity in Western Africa, which could lead to the spread of terrorism, and advocated for a comprehensive, gender-sensitive and all-of-society approach to the challenges at hand. Stressing initiatives towards inter-religions and intercultural dialogue, she said it is critical to counter the use of religion and hatred narratives by terrorist groups. As the ramifications of violent extremism are global, it is therefore necessary to employ international cooperation in countering financing and the use of new technologies, and she welcomed the involvement of the Financial Action Task Force in the fight.
RUCHIRA KAMBOJ (India) noted her country’s immediate neighbourhood has also witnessed a spate of recent terror incidents, including the attack at the Sikh Gurudwara on 18 June in Kabul, followed by another bomb explosion near the same Gurudwara on 27 July. There has been a significant increase in the presence of ISIL-KP in Afghanistan, continuing to issue threats of terrorist attacks on other countries. The links between groups such as the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed, as well as provocative statements made by other terrorist groups, pose a direct threat to the region’s peace and stability. Given this background, she expressed surprise that the report does not take notice of the activities of several proscribed groups in the region, especially those repeatedly targeting India. “Selective filtering of inputs from member States is uncalled for,” she stressed, calling for future iterations of such reports, to treat inputs from all member States on an equal footing. She cited the growing use of the Internet and social media platforms to spread extremist propaganda, and increasing use of new technologies to move and store funds, including virtual assets, online exchanges and wallets. As the Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, India will host a special session in Mumbai and Delhi on 28-29 October, highlighting the nature of the threat and how to effectively deal with it. Effective functioning of the Sanctions Committees requires it to become more transparent and objective, she noted, and the practice of placing holds and blocks on listing requests without giving any justification must end. India has first-hand experience of a crime syndicate venturing into terrorism and immediately getting State hospitality in a neighbouring country despite being listed under the Council 1267 Sanctions Committee. “Such hypocrisy needs to be collectively called out,” she stated.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico) said figures in the Global Terrorism Index highlight the increasing need to take measures in line to comprehensively tackle the threat posed by terrorism. However, abuses invoking Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations to use force against terrorists is unacceptable and violate international law. Noting that Afghanistan in 2021 was the country with the highest index of the impact of terrorism, he said that country must not be used as a platform or safe haven for terrorist groups. He thanked the Secretary-General and the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism and the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate for heeding Mexico's request to incorporate for the first time in their report a reference to the role played by masculinities in terrorist groups and the way in which terrorist groups and networks interact with society. That aspect is critical if the international community is to adopt more effective approaches to prevent and combat violent extremism that leads to terrorism. He expressed hope that both the Council and the General Assembly can further explore the matter for a more robust preventive agenda leading to a truly cross-cutting gender policy with the protection of human rights as the cornerstone of counter-terrorism efforts.
ZHANG JUN (China), Council President for August, spoke in his national capacity to stress that countering terrorism requires a comprehensive approach that tackles symptoms and causes, using political, economic and judicial means in an integrated manner. Cooperation should address the misuse by terrorists of the Internet and emerging technologies and diversification of financing. Noting that foreign terrorist fighters remain in Syria and Iraq, he said solutions for repatriation should be developed as soon as possible. The Council must vigorously promote counter-terrorism capacity building, especially in African countries, while the Counter-Terrorism Committee should optimize resource allocation. Noting that two of the three most dynamic Da’esh networks are based in Africa, he said double standards must be abandoned. “There are no good or bad terrorists,” he insisted. All countries are obliged to implement relevant sanctions against Council-designated organizations and individuals. The international community should pay equal attention to terrorist attacks everywhere, he said, noting that the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan created spillover effects of terrorist forces on regional security. Counter-terrorism efforts should comply with international law and respect the sovereignty of all countries, with operations carried out in line with the Charter. Military intervention in the name of countering terrorism will only provide breeding grounds for the growth and spread of terrorist forces, he added.