Despite Territorial Losses, Terrorists Still Attract Financing, Would-be Fighters
Despite recent territorial losses inflicted upon Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the international community urgently needed “unity and action” to combat the continuing threat posed by the terrorist group, the ranking United Nations political official stressed today as he briefed the Security Council.
Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, presented the 15-member Council with the first report of the Secretary-General (document S/2016/92) submitted pursuant to Council resolution 2253 (2015) on the threat posed by ISIL — also known as Da’esh — to international peace and security. He noted the group’s continuing expansion, including by recruitment on the Internet and social media platforms, and called for an end to protracted conflicts, particularly in Syria and Iraq, that had helped to facilitate its rise.
“ISIL continues to pose one of the major challenges of our time to international peace and security,” he continued. Having benefitted from a flow of financial resources and from its ties with transnational organized criminals, the group was expanding its operations to other regions. Describing ISIL’s global expansion strategy, he said its operations across West and North Africa, the Middle East and South and South-east Asia, as well as the increasing number of terrorist groups pledging allegiance to its cause and the substantial flow of foreign terrorist fighters from around the world, were a source of major concern.
He went on to note that ISIL continued to perpetuate appalling human rights abuses against populations under its control, including mass executions, widespread torture, amputations, ethno-sectarian attacks, sexual violence, enslavement and systematic recruitment and abuse of children. The situation had led to a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented proportions, he said, pointing out that in Syria alone, some 12 million people had been forced to flee their homes and more than 13.5 million people needed humanitarian assistance.
The report further analysed ISIL’s finances, highlighting the group’s capacity to mobilize vast resources rapidly and effectively, he said. Its main sources of financing included the exploitation of oil and other natural resources, “taxing”, confiscation and the looting of archaeological sites, as well as external donations and use of the Internet and social media to raise funds.
Noting that ISIL’s attraction for potential recruits continued unabated, he said an estimated 30,000 foreign terrorist fighters were actively engaged with it and associated groups. ISIL sympathizers, acting alone or in small cells, had effectively expanded the geographical scope and complexity of their attacks in the second half of 2015, as had been seen in the attacks carried out in Paris, Beirut and Jakarta.
He said the second part of the report stressed that, while the primary responsibility for countering the threat of ISIL lay with Member States, the United Nations and other international organizations had a critical role to play in supporting their efforts and had already undertaken a number of measures in that regard. In the third part of the report, he said, the Secretary-General provided a number of strategic responses for Member States and the United Nations in addressing the ISIL threat. They included examining the underlying political and socioeconomic causes of relevant conflicts, particularly in Syria, and strengthening the operational and legal framework needed to choke off ISIL’s funding.
Among other recommendations listed in the report, he said, were those relating to countering the financing of terrorism and recruitment while addressing violent extremism and radicalization, including through preventive efforts focused on education and youth. Member States should criminalize travel by foreign terrorist fighters, in accordance with relevant resolutions, and take measures to strengthen border-management regimes. The United Nations, for its part, should step up capacity-building assistance in that context, he said, urging Member States to strengthen their tools for disrupting ISIL’s capacity to plan and facilitate attacks.
The meeting began at 10:08 a.m. and ended at 10:20 a.m.