“Of all international terrorist groups, ISIL (also known as Da’esh) remains the most likely to carry out a large-scale, complex attack,” said United Nations Assistant Secretary-General Michèle Coninsx in a briefing to the Security Council on 11 February 2019. In her capacity as Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), Ms. Coninsx spoke of the complex challenges still facing Member States in responding to ISIL and its affiliates.
Although ISIL (Da’esh) has transformed into a covert network, including in Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic, it remains a threat as a global organization with centralized leadership. This threat is further increased by returning, relocating, or released foreign terrorist fighters, according to a report from the Secretary-General that was released just ahead of the Security Council briefing (S/2019/103: Eight report of the Secretary-General on the threat posed by ISIL (Da’esh) to international peace and security and the range of the United Nations efforts in support of Member States in countering the threat). The terrorist organization’s senior leadership has been reduced to a dispersed group, the few members of which each struggle to execute tasks like finance, logistics, military, intelligence, and media – without which the network could not survive. ISIL is reported by some Member States to still have access to financial reserves of between USD 50 million and 300 million. Although its territorial losses have removed some sources of revenue, ISIL equally has fewer liabilities and is expected to be able to sustain its operations.
Ms. Coninsx in her remarks stated that while many threats and challenges still exist, we must also recognize our achievements, chief amongst which she highlighted the Counter-Terrorism Committee’s and CTED’s work on the Addendum to the Madrid Guiding Principles. This document, formally adopted by the Committee on 27 December 2018, was developed as a practical guide to assist Member States in addressing the challenges of the foreign terrorist fighter phenomenon. Ms. Coninsx concluded by pledging that CTED will continue to work with its implementing partners and support Member States in developing comprehensive responses to the threats of terrorism, including through the effective use of the Addendum.
Shortly before the Secretary-General’s Eight report was issued, the Security Council’s Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team submitted its Twenty-third report concerning ISIL (Da’esh), Al-Qaida and associated individuals and entities (S/2019/50). This establishes that in addition to ISIL and its affiliates continuing to pose the main and best-resourced international terrorist threat, Al-Qaida remains resilient and active in many regions, retaining the ambition to project itself more internationally.