Transformed into covert network, ISIL is still not defeated in Iraq and Syria, says UN report

Despite significant territorial losses by ISIL (Da’esh) in both Iraq and Syria, an estimated 20,000 fighters may still be present in the area, according to a new report by the United Nations Secretary-General (S/2018/770). Addressing the Security Council in an open meeting on the Secretary-General’s report and on threats to international peace and security cause by terrorist acts, Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) Michèle Coninsx stressed that the threat stemming from ISIL continues to evolve, thereby posing significant challenges to all actors involved in countering this menace.

ASG Coninsx addressing the Security Council
[UN Photo/Loey Felipe]

Challenges mentioned in the meeting held on 23 August 2018 derive in particular from (i) the ongoing transformation of ISIL into a covert network; (ii) the activities of its regional affiliates throughout the world; and (iii) the potential threat posed by returning and relocating foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs).

Ms. Coninsx mentioned three trends identified by CTED since UN Security Council resolution 2396 had been adopted some eight months earlier: First, difficulties in conducting comprehensive risk assessments of those who return and their accompanying family members. Also various evidentiary and jurisdictional challenges linked to the prosecution of returning and relocating FTFs were mentioned. Second, as a significant number of foreign terrorist fighters have already entered States’ criminal justice systems, new demands were placed on prisons and increasing concerns raised about the potential for in-prison radicalization. Third, the potential risks posed by the forthcoming release of imprisoned FTFs, including the potential for some of these to re-engage in terrorist activities and radicalization to violence.

Because of these and other risks, “there is a need to strengthen the collection of data and information-sharing in this area, including on lessons learned, in order to ensure that rehabilitation and reintegration programmes are based on sound methodologies and are implemented in full compliance with domestic law and international human rights law,” Ms. Coninsx said.

The Executive Director added that foreign terrorist fighters are only one threat emanating from ISIL (Da’esh) and its associates; in country assessments on behalf of the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee, CTED had continued to highlight the importance of the effective implementation by Member States of all relevant resolutions, including 2178 (2014), on stemming the flow of FTFs, and 2396 (2017) on returning and relocating foreign terrorist fighters.

CTED continued to support Member States with the most up-to-date technologies to secure their borders, and had forged new and innovative partnerships with the private sector, including in the area of information and communications technologies (ICT), Ms. Coninsx said.

A webcast of Ms. Coninsx’ intervention can be watched here.
ASG Coninsx’ complete statement can be accessed here.
Photos of the meeting are available at the following link:
UN News’ coverage can be accessed here: in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.