Concerns Include Fear of Returning or Relocating Foreign Terrorist Fighters, Al-Qaida Affiliates Filling Space Vacated by Da’esh
The Security Council must ensure it remains vigilant against terrorist threats by updating the sanctions list of individuals and entities engaging in such activities, members said today during a joint briefing by the chairs of three of the Council’s subsidiary counter-terrorism bodies.
Several Council members expressed concern that Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) is evolving into a covert network despite its territorial setbacks. The Russian Federation’s representative noted that experts of the subsidiary organs agree that ISIL, Al-Qaida and their affiliates are trying to expand their operations to States previously deemed safe from such risk. ISIL’s activities in Afghanistan are driven by foreign terrorist fighters, he said, underscoring the need to continuously include those fighters on the sanctions lists of the relevant Security Council subsidiary bodies. The 1267 Committee, in particular, has proven itself one of the Council’s most effective counter-terrorism mechanisms, he added.
The representative of the United States also applauded the important work of the 1267 Committee in adapting and keeping pace with the threat. Welcoming its designation of Masood Azhar, leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed, and ISIL-Khorasan, an ISIS affiliate operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan, for sanctions, he said Mr. Azhar’s listing demonstrates that the international community can and will hold terrorists accountable for their actions. ISIL and Al-Qaida are dynamic organizations that continue to evolve, he warned.
China’s representative stressed that the listing and delisting of suspected individuals and entities must be conducted with impartiality and on the basis of solid evidence in order to safeguard the sanctions regime.
Some Council members expressed concern about new threats posed by foreign terrorist fighters returning to their home countries or relocating elsewhere. Côte d’Ivoire’s representative said thousands of foreign terrorist fighters are “recycled” in this way, emphasizing that this calls for States to share the relevant information at the regional level.
Germany’s representative, recalling the recent terrorist attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, underlined the need for the Council to pay more attention to extremist groups, urging it to study whether the international components of far-right extremists are interconnected.
South Africa’s representative stressed the need to ensure that counter-terrorism efforts do not have a negative impact on the delivery of humanitarian and medical assistance in conflict situations.
Equatorial Guinea’s representative referred to the work of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004) concerning the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, calling upon the Council, as the defender of global peace and security, to act firmly against the ambition of “new States” to possess nuclear weapons.
Kuwait’s representative called for universal implementation of resolution 1540 (2004), reiterating his delegation’s concern that non-State actors might obtain and use weapons of mass destruction. “We can’t wait until these weapons are used,” he said, emphasizing that “prevention is better than cure”.
The United Kingdom’s representative pledged that his country will continue to support sanctions against ISIL, Al-Qaida and their affiliates to prevent them from increasing their nuisance capacity. He called for the strengthening of responsiveness to the latest terrorist trends, such as attacking places of worship and other vulnerable sites, emphasizing the need to better understand the consequences of these new attacks on humanitarian action.
Delivering the briefings were the representatives of Indonesia, Chair of the 1540 and 1267 Committees, and Peru, Chair of the 1373 Committee.
Also speaking today were representatives of the Dominican Republic, France, Poland and Belgium.
The meeting began 10:04 a.m. and ended at 12:08 p.m.
DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) spoke on behalf of the chairs of three counter-terrorism-related subsidiary bodies of the Security Council — the Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015) concerning Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), Al-Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities; the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1373 (2001) concerning counter-terrorism; and the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004). He said the Committees and their respective groups of experts share a common understanding of the seriousness of the threat that terrorism poses and the challenges that terrorists and their organizations represent. The Committees and their expert groups also share an understanding that despite its military defeat, ISIL remains a global organization with centralized leadership, he said, noting that it continues to resource and instruct its affiliates within its reduced ability.
The Committees continued to raise awareness among Member States of their obligations in relation to effective implementation of the relevant Council resolutions, he said, adding that they also continued to undertake joint visits and to hold joint meetings. They will continue to strengthen their cooperation and effective coordination, where relevant and possible, with the support of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), the Monitoring Team and the 1540 Group of Experts. They will also continue to provide guidance and direction to their expert groups with a view to enhancing collaboration and cooperation in light of the requirements of the relevant Council resolutions, he said. The Committees and expert groups will continue to strive to ensure effective implementation of specific counter-terrorism measures in the areas of sanctions, financing of terrorism, border management and non-proliferation, among others, he added.
Speaking in his capacity as Chair of the 1267 Committee, he said ISIL continues to evolve into a global covert network, a process more advanced in Iraq than in Syria. In the former, it has already begun to organize cells at the provincial level and there is currently a net flow of ISIL fighters from Syria to reinforce the emerging network in Iraq, he said, warning that if they achieve their objective of survival and resurgence in the core area, ISIL may revive its focus on external terrorist operations. For now, however, its core lacks the strength to conduct coordinated international attacks, he added. Al-Qaida, on the other hand, remains active in many regions and there is a concomitant risk of the group growing stronger by taking advantage of the lull in ISIL’s strategic terrorist activity and staging a major attack of its own. The Monitoring Team further reported that there is a possibility that ISIL’s foreign terrorist fighters will choose to join Al-Qaida affiliates in regions where they are the dominant brand, he said. Since the last joint briefing in October 2018, the Committee listed three individuals and two entities, while delisting five individuals and one entity, he reported, noting that it is currently conducting its annual review.
GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru), Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, said terrorist groups, including ISIL, Al-Qaida and their affiliates, still pose a grave threat to international peace and security as they shift their focus towards more localized narratives. The activities of foreign terrorist fighters as well as violent extremism conducive to terrorism have evolved to include individuals or groups that commit violence motivated by racism, intolerance, misogyny, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, he added, citing the escalation of violence against soft targets and places of worship in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and the United States, among other places, in the last six months.
Terrorist groups have demonstrated their intent to exploit new technologies and States continue to express concern over the use of improvised explosive devices in terrorist attacks around the world, he continued. Assessments of national implementation efforts, with the assistance of the Committee and the CTED, have enabled in-depth dialogue through States visits as well as the ability to identify progress and technical assistance needs. Since the last briefing, the Directorate has conducted five assessment visits and will continue to devote its attention to links between organized crime and terrorism, while finalizing guidelines to facilitate the use and admissibility as evidence of information collected and shared by the military.
As terrorists continue to exploit the Internet and social media, the CTED will remain focused on promoting public-private partnerships in support of Member States and the technology industry, he said, pointing out that the Directorate is one of the core partners in the United Nations Countering Terrorist Travel Programme launched on 7 May. Through its dialogue with Member States, academia, and think tanks, the CTED will continue to analyse emerging threats, he added. Emphasizing that respect for human rights is essential to effectively countering the terrorism threat, he said the Committee continues to stress the need to promote a whole-of-society approach by encouraging the participation of civil society, women, young people and religious leaders. He also reported that, pursuant to resolution 2349 (2017), the CTED recently participated in a mission to address the effects of violence perpetrated by Boko Haram.
Mr. DJANI (Indonesia), speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004), said that body’s focus remains on the prevention of the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biologicals weapons, their means of delivery and related materials to non-State actors, particularly terrorist groups. Emphasizing that no State is exempt from that task, he said obligations under resolution 1540 go together with the requisite adoption and enforcement of measures to prohibit non-State actors from manufacturing, acquiring, possessing, transporting, transferring or using weapons of mass destruction. These measures include domestic controls over such weapons, effective border controls, law enforcement, effective national export and transhipment controls as well as control over funding and services. The Committee will continue to enhance the sharing of information, coordination of visits to Member States and technical assistance, he said.
JONATHAN R. COHEN (United States), describing ISIL and Al-Qaida as dynamic organizations that continue to evolve, commended the important work of the 1267 Committee in adapting and keeping pace with the threat. He welcomed its listing of Masood Azhar, leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed, and ISIL-Khorasan, a Da’esh affiliate operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan, for sanctions, noting that Mr. Azhar’s listing demonstrates that the international community can and will hold terrorists accountable for their actions. Emphasizing the importance of designating other ISIL affiliates seeking to replicate in new corners of the world the destruction wrought in Iraq and Syria, he said the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction proliferation is a growing concern and the 1540 Committee’s work is more important than ever before. “We cannot allow the international norm against the use of such weapons to break down.” He went on to stress that the Counter Terrorism Committee is imperative in countering the financing of terrorism, and welcomed the CTED’s recent assessment visit to New York, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C.
GBOLIÉ DÉSIRÉ WULFRAN IPO (Côte d’Ivoire) said his delegation is concerned about the mobility and “recycling” of thousands of foreign terrorist fighters who expand terror, and welcomed the efforts made by the Committees to evaluate the threat and give Member States the support they need to fulfil their obligations. Many remaining challenges are linked to the return and reintegration of foreign terrorist fighters, he said, emphasizing the importance of States sharing information at the regional level. More sustained attention should be paid to measures that prohibit biological and chemical weapons and their transhipment, he said, while underlining the crucial need to combat the root causes of extremism, such as poverty and unemployment.
ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea), welcoming today’s briefing as an excellent opportunity to discuss cross-cutting issues, emphasized that the responses of the United Nations, regional and subregional organizations as well as States must be more effective and efficient. He commended the 1267 Committee’s work in restricting the ability of terrorists to finance their operations, adding that it is also essential to prevent the use of various technologies to launder money. Similarly, the Committees must support State efforts to facilitate the use of such technologies to help fight poverty and economic inequality, he emphasized. Noting with concern the ambition of “new States” to possess nuclear weapons, he called upon the Council to act firmly as the defender of global peace and security. Equatorial Guinea welcomes cooperation with the private sector and civil society, he said, stressing that investing in sustainable development is the most effective way to counter terrorism and extremism.
Mr. DAVIES (South Africa) noted that the African Centre for the Study and Research of Terrorism found that the continent suffered 140 terrorist attacks from mid-March to mid-April, which claimed 841 lives. While emphasizing that the Government of South Africa unequivocally condemns all acts of terrorism, he urged States to avoid the use of unilateral coercive measures in their counter-terrorism measures, and to take all measures to protect civilians. He also stressed the need to ensure that counter-terrorism efforts do not have a negative impact on the delivery of humanitarian and medical assistance in conflict situations. South Africa welcomes the significant progress made towards the effective implementation of resolution 1540 (2004), he said.
JOSÉ SINGER WEISINGER (Dominican Republic), noting that terrorist groups and weapons of mass destruction remain the main threats to international peace and security, expressed concern that ISIL is evolving into a covert network and that foreign terrorist fighters are relocating. Recalling the 28 March adoption of a new resolution on terrorist financing, he urged States to provide updates on listed individuals and entities. On the 1540 Committee, he applauded the work of its Panel of Experts and commended the progress made by a majority of States in implementation of resolution 1540 (2004). Noting that his country and Panama conducted a peer review of implementation, he said the outcome report will be presented to the 1540 Committee soon, and urged other States to emulate that effort.
YAO SHAOJUN (China) emphasized listing and delisting of individuals and entities must be conducted with impartiality and based on solid evidence to safeguard the sanctions regime. Noting that the Government of China supports the work of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, he said it has been working hard to raise awareness in relation to State implementation of counter-terrorism measures. China hopes the Committee increases its cooperation with Member States further, he said. Regarding the 1540 Committee, he stressed that national Governments bear primary responsibility for the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
GENNADY V. KUZMIN (Russian Federation) noted that experts of the subsidiary organs agree that ISIL, Al-Qaida and their affiliates are trying to expand their operations to States previously deemed safe from such risk. Calling upon States to agree to CTED country visits, he stressed the need to study the connection between international crime and terrorism, and to address the illicit use of social media technologies by terrorist organizations. He went on to caution the Committee and the CTED against paying too much attention to attempts to fill their agendas with human rights issues, saying such matters distract States from their primary obligation to counter terrorism. Applauding the 1267 Committee, he said it has proven itself one of the Council’s most effective counter-terrorism mechanisms. He went on to note that ISIL’s activities in Afghanistan have been driven by foreign terrorist fighters, underscoring the need to include such fighters on the 1267 Committee’s sanctions list. Turning to the 1540 Committee and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, he said common positions are essential to rapid headway in this area. Maintaining contact with specialized international, regional and subregional organizations is also vital, he stressed, warning that as things stabilize in Syria, many foreign terrorist fighters will try to flee to new countries.
ANTOINE IGNACE MICHON (France) said that although ISIL has suffered setbacks, the loosening of its territorial grip in no way symbolizes a diminished threat. On the work of the 1373 Committee, he said evaluation visits are a unique tool for the comprehensive audit of national counter-terrorism mechanisms. Describing special meetings of the Committee as an excellent way to discuss specific challenges with different actors. Regarding the 1540 Committee, he emphasized that the risk of weapons of mass destruction falling into the wrong hands is very serious. He went on to express concern about the transfer to the Middle East of materials and goods that could be used to develop weapons of mass destruction, reiterating that States must avoid the possibility of such resources falling into the wrong hands.
MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait), welcoming the cooperation among the three Committees, said they represent one of the most important Security Council tools for countering terrorism. Despite the international community’s victories against ISIL, the group remains a threat and is evolving into a global covert network, he noted, saying that makes it necessary for all to multiply efforts to preserve gains already won. Emphasizing the need for universal implementation of resolution 1540 (2004), the goal must be to make counter-terrorism measures operational at the national level. He reiterated Kuwait’s concern over the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to non-State actors and the possibility of the latter using them. “We can’t wait until these weapons are used,” he stressed. “Prevention is better than cure.”
JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland) said obligations under resolution 1540 (2004) are not a “one-time task” and called upon all States to implement it in full by taking national and international measures to strengthen their capacities in countering threats posed by the possibility of terrorists acquiring weapons of mass destruction. Welcoming the achievements of the 1267 Committee, she said it is vital to keep the sanctions lists updated and focused on current threats. She went on to express appreciation for the Counter-Terrorism Committee’s work, in particular its adoption in 2018 of the Addendum to the Madrid Guiding Principles. “Now it is up to Member States to make the best use of them and come up with the country-tailored response to tackle the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters,” she said.
JONATHAN GUY ALLEN (United Kingdom) emphasized that ISIL remains a threat to world peace and security, noting that, at the same time, Al-Qaida and its affiliates seek to take advantage of the apparent void left by recent victories against ISIL. The United Kingdom will continue to support sanctions against these groups to prevent ISIL, Al-Qaida and their affiliates from increasing their nuisance capacity, he pledged, calling for strengthening responsiveness to the latest terrorist trends, such as attacking places of worship and other vulnerable sites. It is also important to better understand the consequences of these new attacks on humanitarian action, he added. He welcomed the updating of national information on terrorist groups and the maintenance of sanctions lists, while stressing the need to avoid duplication. Concerning the CTED, he welcomed Switzerland’s willingness to make the Directorate’s latest evaluation report public on its own territory for the benefit of all Member States.
MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium) said he shares the analysis of the three committees that the terrorist threat from ISIL has not disappeared but evolved. While welcoming the fact that the threat from the whole spectrum of violent extremism, including far-right-inspired terrorism, should be on the Security Council’s agenda, he warned: “The growing polarization within and between our countries reinforces the development of these phenomena, which seem to encourage individual actions.” He continued: “However, we recognize that in particular the subject of the extreme right remains difficult, Member States having very different approaches and the phenomenon being complicated to define.” CTED must continue to study and define the threat and report on it at the 1373 Committee, he said.
CHRISTOPH HEUSGEN (Germany) stressed the importance of keeping the listing system fair and balanced, noting that the rule of law is integral to this mechanism. The listing of Masood Azhar was a result of efforts to overcome differences among Committee members, he noted, expressing support for the role played by the Ombudsman in the listing and delisting mechanism. Concerning the 1373 Committee, he recalled the attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, emphasizing the need for the Council to pay more attention to extremist groups. He also urged the Council to study whether the international components of far-right extremists are interconnected and to seek inputs from the Counter-Terrorism Committee and the CTED on this matter. He said he looks forward to further discussion in the Counter-Terrorism Committee on the impact of counter-terrorist measures on the work of humanitarian actors, adding that such knowledge can help the Council take appropriate action.
Mr. DJANI (Indonesia), Council President for May, spoke in his national capacity, acknowledging the encouraging developments in advancing common goals with regard to the mandates of the Committees. “But we are far from done,” he emphasized, cautioning that although the threat has transformed, it has not diminished. Continued collaboration and unity among the Committees is a prerequisite for further development of all future efforts, he emphasized. “We need the Committees to be united more than ever before.” Indonesia will continue to facilitate consultations in order to find common ground, he pledged.