Amid growing fears that terrorists will again nest in Afghanistan and increase attacks in Africa, India’s foreign minister called today for the adoption of a comprehensive convention on international terrorism.
“Let us always remember that what is true of COVID is even more true of terrorism — none of us are safe until all of us are safe”, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Minister for External Affairs and Security Council President for August, told members.
He spoke in his national capacity, outlining an eight-point action plan that he proposed to the Council in January. It calls for measures to discourage exclusivist thinking and guard against new terminologies and false priorities, he said, also emphasizing the need to list and delist terrorists objectively rather than on the basis of political or religious considerations.
Noting the need to recognize the links between terrorism and organized crime, he called for strengthening the Financial Action Task Force and for greater funding for the United Nations Office of Counter Terrorism (UNOCT). He also urged the adoption of a treaty on international terrorism, which “India has championed for so long”.
Today’s meeting — one of the highlights under India’s presidency — featured three briefers.
Vladimir Voronkov, Under-Secretary-General for Counter-Terrorism, said the evolving situation in Afghanistan has far-reaching implications for peace and security. Echoing the Secretary-General’s appeal earlier this week to prevent that country from becoming a haven for terrorists, he noted that Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) extended its presence there, emphasizing that Afghanistan must never again be used as a launching pad for global terrorism.
Citing the Secretary-General’s latest report on ISIL (document S/2021/682), he described that group’s spread in Africa as the most alarming development over the past six months, pointing out the spill-over from Mali into Burkina Faso and Niger, incursions from Nigeria into Niger, Chad and Cameroon, and from Mozambique into the United Republic of Tanzania. A global response is urgently needed to support the efforts of African countries and regional organizations to address the interplay of terrorism with conflict, organized crime, governance and development gaps, he stressed.
Michèle Coninsx, Executive Director of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, said terrorist groups around the globe are currently exploring new and alternative methods to move and raise funds amid the pandemic, including by use of social media campaigns. Against that backdrop, the Directorate, alongside the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre, has provided strong support to the Eastern and Southern African Anti-Money Laundering Group, including on enhanced intelligence collection, she said.
“Da’esh and its affiliates remain a significant concern and a threat to international peace and security,” especially on the African continent, she stressed, reiterating calls for the strengthening of multilateral counter-terrorism efforts grounded, as always, in a foundation of “do no harm”.
Davood Moradian, Director General of the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies, said the world has witnessed a collective failure in dealing with terrorism, 20 years after the 11 September terrorist attacks. The Islamic world also failed to own its share of responsibility, remaining a passive observer although the bulk of terrorist perpetrators and victims have been Muslims.
The intellectual and political stagnation of religious, culture, and educational institutions have also contributed immensely to the rise of extremism and the failure of efforts to combat the threat, he said, pointing out the inability of the United Nations to confront Members States that engage in proxy wars and apply terrorism as State policy.
Recalling his own experience at the Kabul airport some 48 hours ago, he told of witnessing the desperation, helplessness and fear of the passengers, and emphasized that the United Nations must initiate urgent deliberations with a view to declaring Kabul a safe zone.
In the ensuing debate, several Council members emphasized the need to cut funding to terrorist groups, with the representative of the United States pointing out that undercutting ISIL’s financing is one of the most effective ways to defeat the group.
Sounding the alarm over ISIL’s expansion in Africa, Kenya’s representative emphasized that the threat posed by that group and its affiliates remains real and potent. Urging the Council to revitalize the global counter-terrorism architecture, he asked that groups like Al-Shabaab be placed under the 1267 sanctions regime. Expressing concern over that group’s financing activities, he said the need to criminalize the funding of terrorism cannot be overemphasized.
Also voicing concern about the spread of Da’esh to Central and Southern Africa, France’s delegate stressed that cutting off the flow of resources to terrorist groups — including by ensuring that measures to combat money laundering apply to virtual as well as non-virtual financial institutions — must be the first pillar of collective action, he said.
Mexico’s representative drew attention to the expanding use of crypto-currencies and other new funding tools by terrorist groups, as well as their growing ties to illicit weapons trafficking networks. He called upon States that have not yet done so to adopt the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons.
Several delegates echoed calls to ensure Afghanistan never again becomes a haven for terrorists, stressing the need to address the root causes of terrorism. The Russian Federation’s representative underlined that Moscow will deal only with Afghan political forces that have no ties to terrorism.
Viet Nam’s delegate said the recent developments in Afghanistan necessitate enhanced vigilance and cooperation in the region, underscoring the need to address its underlying causes, build cohesive, resilient societies, and promote sustainable socioeconomic development, culture of peace and tolerance, national reconciliation and harmony.
Also speaking were representatives of Tunisia, Norway, United Kingdom, China, Ireland, Niger, Estonia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
The meeting began at 10:03 a.m. and ended at 12:15 p.m.
VLADIMIR VORONKOV, Under-Secretary-General for the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism, said the evolving situation in Afghanistan has far-reaching implications for peace and security. Echoing the Secretary-General’s appeal to prevent that country from becoming a haven for terrorists, he noted that Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) extended its presence in Afghanistan, which must never again be used as a launching pad for global terrorism. He pointed out that the threat posed by Da’esh to international peace and security during the reporting period has remained significant and steady over the past six months, raising serious international concern.
Da’esh has continued to exploit the disruption, grievances and development setbacks caused by the pandemic to regroup, recruit new followers and intensify its activities both online and on the ground, he said. Its core in Iraq and Syria still has access to significant hidden financial reserves, estimated at between $25 and $50 million, he said, adding that Da’esh has also decentralized its governance further. The additional autonomy, capacity and confidence gained by its regional affiliates could provide the group with new options, including to orchestrate international attacks, and shape the future global impact of Da’esh, he warned.
COVID-related lockdowns in many areas were more comprehensive in early 2021 than in 2020, he said, cautioning that it is conceivable that attacks have been planned for when restrictions ease. There is an increased, near-term threat of attacks by lone actors or small groups inspired and possibly directed remotely by Da’esh, including online, he said, emphasizing that only through cooperative measures between and within countries, including civil society and the private sector, will it be possible to counter the terrorist threat online.
Warning that Da’esh remains focused on reconstituting its capabilities in Iraq and Syria, he said the group is organized in small cells hiding in deserts and rural areas. They wage an insurgency against security forces while moving across the Iraq-Syria border to avoid capture, he added. Citing the Secretary-General’s report, he described the spread of Da’esh in Africa as the most alarming development over the past six months, pointing out the spillover from Mali into Burkina Faso and Niger, incursions from Nigeria into Niger, Chad and Cameroon, and from Mozambique into the United Republic of Tanzania. A global response is urgently needed to support the efforts of African countries and regional organizations to address the interplay of terrorism with conflict, organized crime, governance and development gaps, he said.
The Office of Counter-Terrorism has worked with all partners to address the needs of Member States, supported by its new field presence in Morocco and Qatar, he continued. Describing 2021 as the year of milestones in the international fight against terrorism, he cited an initiative to share best practices, a mechanism to record the names of air-travel passengers, and virtual study visits to Member States. Twenty years ago, in the wake of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks by Al-Qaida, the Security Council united in adopting a landmark resolution that established the Counter-Terrorism Committee, he recalled. Terrorist groups have since adapted to new technologies, he said, calling for the same level of unity in countering threats as the Council demonstrated in 2001.
MICHÈLE CONINSX, Executive Director of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, noted that the world is collectively witnessing the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan and echoed the Secretary-General’s appeal that the Council take all possible steps to ensure that country is not used as a safe haven for terrorists. Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact most policy areas related to counter-terrorism, with a mixed impact overall, she said, cautioning that while pandemic-related restrictions have helped to restrict terrorist activities in most non-conflict zones, threats from terrorist groups have increased in conflict zones, including parts of West, East and Central Africa as well as Afghanistan and Syria.
Spotlighting the plight of family members of foreign terrorist fighters, many of whom have been left behind in conflict zones, she said women and children with presumed links to terrorists in particular remain stranded in crowded camps with limited access to due process. “These concerns have only been exacerbated by the pandemic.” Citing instances of forced disappearances and discriminatory treatment, she emphasized the need for full respect for human rights and the rule of law, as well as the crucial need to strengthen international counter-terrorism measures.
The Directorate recently approved a revised set of analytical tools, which will help enhance its capacity while better supporting Member States in adopting effective counter-terrorism frameworks, she continued. Among other recent efforts, it has increased support, in cooperation with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and others, for investigations and prosecutions at the national level in Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin region, she said. Meanwhile, the Directorate has held training sessions in Maldives and the Philippines on use of the Internet in counter-terrorism approaches.
She went on to cite recent analysis revealing that terrorist groups around the globe are currently exploring new and alternative methods to move and raise funds amid the pandemic, including the use of social media campaigns. Against that backdrop, the Directorate, alongside the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre, has provided strong support to the Eastern and Southern African Anti-Money Laundering Group, including on enhanced intelligence collection, she said. “Da’esh and its affiliates remain a significant concern and a threat to international peace and security,” especially on the African continent, she stressed, reiterating calls for the strengthening of multilateral counter-terrorism efforts grounded, as always, in a foundation of “do no harm”.
DAVOOD MORADIAN, Director General of the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies, said the world has witnessed a collective failure in dealing with terrorism 20 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, in spite of the abundant resources invested. The Islamic world’s failure to own its share of responsibility is one of the reasons, he said, noting that it remained a passive observer although the bulk of terrorist perpetrators and victims have been Muslims. The intellectual and political stagnation of religious, culture, and educational institutions have also contributed immensely to the rise of extremism and the failure of efforts to combat the threat, he noted.
Sadly, the United Nations system protects Members States that engage in proxy wars and apply terrorism as State policy, he continued, pointing out that the Organization’s analytical reports and political actions demonstrate the inability of the United Nations to confront State-sponsored terrorism. He went on to compare global anti-terrorism efforts to the global struggle against COVID-19 pandemic, saying the phenomenon of vaccine nationalism resembles the choice by many Governments to focus on their own terrorist threat. He also pointed out the contradictory approach to anti-terrorism efforts in Afghanistan, suggesting that the political means of dealing with the Taliban should be extended to other groups, such as Al-Qaida, the Pakistani Taliban and the ETIM.
Describing the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul on the eve of the twentieth anniversary of 9/11 as a “historic benchmark and a turning point”, he called for a greater focus on the humanitarian dimension and the unfolding catastrophe. He went on to recall his own experience at the Kabul airport some 48 hours ago, saying that he witnessed the desperation, helplessness and fear of the passengers, who represent millions of Afghans. The world must intervene and mitigate the humanitarian tragedy, he said, emphasizing that the United Nations must abandon its usual approaches to initiate urgent deliberations with a view to declaring Kabul a safe zone.
SUBRAHMANYAM JAISHANKAR, Minister for External Affairs of India and Council President for August, spoke in his national capacity, warning that ISIL-Khorasan has become more energetic in its own immediate neighbourhood and is constantly seeking to expand its footprint. Events unfolding in Afghanistan have naturally enhanced global concerns about their implications for both regional and international security, he said, adding that the heightened activities of the proscribed Haqqani Network justify the growing anxiety. Whether in Afghanistan or against India, groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed continue to operate with both impunity and encouragement, he noted, emphasizing that it is, therefore, vital that the Council does not take a selective, tactical or complacent view of the problems. “When we see State hospitality being extended to those with innocent blood on their hands, we should never lack the courage to call out their double-speak.”
He declared: “Let us always remember that what is true of COVID is even more true of terrorism — none of us are safe until all of us are safe.” He went on to outline an eight-point action plan that he proposed to the Council in January, calling for the political will never to justify and glorify terrorism, and never to allow double standards. It is crucial to discourage exclusivist thinking and to be on guard against new terminologies and false priorities, as well as to list and delist terrorists objectively rather than on political or religious considerations, he said. Noting the need to recognize the links between terrorism and organized crime, he called for the strengthening of the Financial Action Task Force and for greater funding for the United Nations Office of Counter Terrorism. He urged the adoption of a comprehensive convention on international terrorism, which “India has championed for so long”.
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States) said it is deeply worrying that ISIL continues to expand in Africa, where her country is strengthening the counter-terrorism capacity of partner nations through tactical training, mentoring and the provision of equipment. Recalling the June attack by Islamic State-Khorasan Province on Halo Trust demining workers in northern Afghanistan, she said the United States is monitoring the situation in that country very closely, emphasizing: “We all must work together to ensure that Afghanistan cannot ever, ever again be a base for terrorists.” Noting that the Secretary-General’s report says ISIL’s financial reserves are decreasing, she said undercutting the group’s financing is one of the most effective ways to defeat it. The United States continues to believe in the strength of the 1267 sanctions regime, she added, stressing that it must evolve to remain a credible counter-terrorism tool. She went on to state that the repatriation and, where appropriate, prosecution of foreign terrorist fighters is the best way to hold individuals accountable for their crimes. “No child should suffer for their parents’ crimes,” she said, pointing out that the United States is repatriating its own citizens.
TAREK LADEB (Tunisia) said that the financing of terrorism remains a great threat. Moreover, the situation in Afghanistan is worrying, with many terrorists being freed from prison. He called on the international community to continue to address the financing of terrorism through the exchange of experiences and the close monitoring of the use of cybercurrencies. He also warned of the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic over the short, medium and long-term, including the potential for attacks as health care restrictions are lifted. Furthermore, international efforts to recover from the pandemic should address the root causes of terrorism, in addition to strengthening the framework of international law, international human rights law and international humanitarian law.
ODD INGE KVALHEIM (Norway) expressed his delegation’s full support for the Global Coalition against ISIL/Da’esh, emphasizing that the fight against terrorism must continue on all levels. “Experience shows that ISIL and other terrorist groups exploit existing conflicts and vulnerabilities in States and populations, including gender inequalities and sexual and gender-based violence,” he said, echoing calls for a gender perspective in all national and global responses. Spotlighting core principles of Norway’s national counter-terrorism strategy, he underlined the need for prevention — as manifested in education systems, the provision of basic services and proactive outreach — as well as the obstruction of terrorist attacks by building proper physical infrastructure. He also called for efforts to disrupt terrorist plots through effective investigation and surveillance by police and security institutions, as well as information from the public. In addition, he said, more efforts are needed to address the financing of terrorism, including through collaborative efforts in the Security Council and other multilateral forums.
ALICIA GUADALUPE BUENROSTRO MASSIEU (Mexico), echoing concerns raised about the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan, stressed the importance of Council unity in swiftly condemning any violations of humanitarian or human rights law committed there. Noting the most pertinent finding of the Secretary-General’s report — namely, the expansion of ISIL/Da’esh activities in Africa — she said COVID-19 has created conditions in which terrorist groups are able to provide food, charity and other support to needy people, while using disinformation to expand their operations and recruitment. She also voiced concern about terrorist groups’ expanding use of crypto-currencies and other new funding tools, as well as their ties to illicit weapons trafficking networks, and called on States that have not yet done so to adopt the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons. A truly cross-cutting gender agenda — which includes issues related to masculinity — is needed to address terrorist groups’ significant impact on women. Meanwhile, she said, the international community should reflect on lessons learned during its failed so-called “war on terror” and take steps to confront the real structural drivers of terrorism.
VASSILY NEBENZIA (Russian Federation), recalling that Afghanistan was full of United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces after the 11 September terrorist attacks in 2001, noted that colossal human and financial resources were expended. However, 20 years of such efforts were wiped out for nothing, he said, emphasizing that the new Afghan authorities and neighbouring countries will have to deal with that situation. The Russian Federation will work only with those political forces in Afghanistan that have no ties with terrorists, he emphasized. In Syria, the Russian Federation worked with the national authorities to weaken terrorist groups, especially ISIL, he recalled. Concerning the human rights aspects of the fight against terrorism, he cautioned against torture as well as inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo, pointing out that the United States has repeatedly expressed its intention to close that institution. He went on to urge Western States to consistently fulfil their international legal obligations, including under the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the Convention against Torture.
JAMES KARIUKI (United Kingdom) noted that his country is a leading member of the coalition against Da’esh and provides humanitarian assistance in Iraq and Syria, where the group is active. The United Kingdom also provides an additional 2.6 million pounds in aid to north-eastern Syria, he added. Deploring events in Afghanistan as a tragedy, he expressed hope that it will not become a haven for terrorists. Pointing to growing terrorist threats in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere, he expressed concern over the use of social media and new technologies by terrorist groups. Terrorism is global and therefore requires a global response, he said, emphasizing that the United Kingdom will remain steadfast in the fight against terrorism through the multilateral system.
DAI BING (China), acknowledging the upcoming twentieth anniversary of 9/11, said the situation remains complex and severe, as ISIL/Da’esh regroups in Iraq and Syria while infiltrating Africa during the first half of 2021. COVID-19, meanwhile, poses economic and social challenges, which could generate a new wave of terrorism. Emphasizing that terrorism is a common enemy, he called for strengthened cooperation at the national, regional and international levels, while noting that terrorist organizations designated by the Security Council have caused a record number of deaths in Africa throughout 2021. He went on to caution against double standards, the application of a political basis in identifying terrorists, and linking them to a specific country, Government or religion. The focus should be on prevention, elimination of root causes and long-term solutions, through economic, political and social means, including youth education, employment, vocational training and community correction measures, he said, adding that abuse of digital technology by terrorist groups must also end. He went on to point out that the number of terrorist groups in Afghanistan has increased from single digits to more than 20 in the past 20 years. The country must never again be a haven for terrorist groups, he stressed.
GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) noted that the Secretary-General’s report reveals the increasing threats posed by terrorist groups, including ISIL-Khorasan in Afghanistan, emphasizing: “We cannot overlook the risk of ISIL-K strengthening its position as the situation evolves.” She recalled that Council members have previously spoken with one voice to condemn attacks by that group. “The challenge, as always, is moving from rhetoric to implementation,” she said, welcoming efforts by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Burkina Faso and Kenya to address the differential impact of the threat of ISIL and its affiliates on women and girls. She went on to spotlight the particular threat of money laundering, which fuels terrorism and organized crime, and outlined Ireland’s robust domestic framework to counter terrorist financing. However, counter-terrorism measures must never impede the delivery of principled humanitarian assistance or infringe upon the legitimate activities of humanitarian and civil society organizations carrying out vital work, she emphasized.
NIANDOU AOUGI (Niger), describing Africa as the epicentre of global terrorist activities, said more than two thirds of Da’esh terrorist attacks around the world have taken place on the continent since the end of 2019, mostly in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin regions. Since the beginning of 2021, he said, Niger has been experiencing an increase in atrocities committed by terrorist groups affiliated with Da’esh and, to a lesser extent, with Al-Qaida. Nearly 500 people were killed in a dozen armed attacks during the first half of 2021, and 37 people in the most recent one, on 16 August. Aside from continuing to battle terrorism amid the coronavirus pandemic, all African regions already face such other challenges as poverty, famine, youth unemployment and intercommunal conflicts, all of which facilitated the rapid expansion of the terrorist threat, he said, also citing weak defence systems and political instability. Besides military forces, he added, development programmes and measures are also needed to eradicate the underlying causes of terrorism, including corruption, the illicit trade in natural resources and money-laundering. He went on to call upon States to fight the financing of terrorism, combat violent extremism and address the emergence and online dissemination of terrorist ideas and discourses.
ANDRE LIPAND (Estonia) expressed concern about the persistent and increasing threat of terrorism in conflict zones, particularly the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, noting the number of civilians killed and injured there, and that half the population are in need of humanitarian aid. Recognizing the threat posed by Da’esh to local communities in the tri-border area of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, he called for greater attention to lowering intercommunal tensions and nurturing political reconciliation. He commended UNOCT’s coordination on the protection, voluntary repatriation, prosecution, rehabilitation, and reintegration of individuals with suspected links to terrorist groups returning from Iraq and Syria. Emphasizing that States must ensure that their counter-terrorism measures comply with their obligations under international law, he condemned all attempts to misuse the counter-terrorism agenda as a pretext to violate human rights.
NATHALIE BROADHURST ESTIVAL (France) said that while ISIL/Da’esh no longer controls territory or people in liberated areas of Iraq and Syria, it remains a serious threat. Moreover, the Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan could aggravate the threat in that region, given that it has not severed ties with some terrorist groups. The spread of ISIL/Da’esh to central and southern Africa is another source of concern. Going forward, the first pillar of collective action must be cutting off the flow of resources to terrorist groups, including by ensuring that measures to combat money laundering apply to virtual as well as non-virtual financial institutions. The root causes of terrorism must also be tackled, including through a political solution in Syria and reconstruction in Iraq. Ideological indoctrination and use of the Internet to spread propaganda must be countered. She also emphasized the need to respect international law, human rights and international humanitarian law when fighting terrorism. She went on to underscore the unbearable impact of terrorism on youngsters. Children, orphans and unaccompanied minors should be promptly repatriated while foreign terrorist fighters should be put on trial in places close to where their crimes were committed.
MARTIN KIMANI (Kenya) sounded the alarm over ISIL’s expansion in Africa, emphasizing that the threat posed by that group and its affiliates remains real and potent. He also expressed concern at Al-Shabaab’s terrorist financing activities, saying it now exceeds the ability of the Federal Government of Somalia to collect revenue. While most Governments are currently focused on battling COVID-19, law enforcement agencies must remain vigilant of the ISIL threat and constantly monitor Internet chatrooms, he said, adding that the Council must revitalize the global counter-terrorism architecture and place such groups as Al-Shabaab under the 1267 sanctions regime. Member States should enhance cooperation to address the misuse of information and communications technologies, he urged, stressing the need for greater support for the efforts of African countries to boost counter-terrorism capacity and halt the spread of terrorist ideology. The need to criminalize the financing of terrorism cannot be overemphasized, he added, underlining the need to support countries with unstable public financial management systems to close any loopholes that terrorist groups might exploit to mobilize resources.
HAI ANH PHAM (Viet Nam), describing solidarity and cooperation as the most effective responses to terrorism, emphasized the importance of international cooperation and technical assistance in enhancing regional and national capacity to “leave no weakest link to be exploited by terrorists”. Operational cooperation enables better monitoring of terrorists’ movements, detecting and responding to imminent attacks and countering terrorist financing and money laundering, he said. The Security Council must remain firmly committed to detecting and averting new threats of terrorism, such as use of the Internet and new technologies to raise money, recruit and propagate their agendas, he stressed. Recent developments in Afghanistan necessitate enhanced vigilance and cooperation to fight terrorism in the region, he added. Comprehensive strategies should focus on addressing its underlying causes, building cohesive and resilient societies, while promoting sustainable socioeconomic development, a culture of peace and tolerance, national reconciliation and harmony. A whole-of-society approach involving all actors, including non-governmental organizations, the private sector and technology companies, remains relevant, he said.
DIANI JIMESHA ARIANNE PRINCE (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) noted with concern the findings in the Secretary-General’s report regarding Africa, where regional affiliates of Da’esh have been further strengthened, especially in West Africa and the Sahel as well as in East and Central Africa. Particularly troubling are reports of a spillover from Mali into Burkina Faso and Niger, incursions from Nigeria into Niger, Chad and Cameroon, and from Mozambique into the United Republic of Tanzania, she noted. ISIL–Khorasan has expanded its presence in several provinces of Afghanistan while Da’esh affiliates in South-East Asia continue to disturb counter-terrorism operations with a steady pace of attacks, she said. For its part, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has in place an anti-terrorism strategy that aims to prevent violent extremism by denying terrorists the means and opportunity to carry out their activities while improving defences against terrorist attacks.