8460th Security Council Meeting: Threats to International Peace and Security

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11-Feb-2019 02:03:27
ISIL/Da’esh continues evolution into covert global network enjoying access to millions of dollars, top anti-terrorism official tells Security Council at 8460th meeting.

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Counter-Terrorism Directorate Chief Concerned That Group Exploits Mobile Money Payments, Anonymity of Blockchain Technology
Despite the decline in the number of international terrorist attacks in 2018, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) continues to evolve into a global covert network, with access to hundreds of millions of dollars and the demonstrated ability to exploit new technologies, the top-ranking United Nations counter-terrorism officials told the Security Council today.

Vladimir Voronkov, Under-Secretary-General in the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism, briefed the 15-member Council on the eighth “Report of the Secretary-General on the threat posed by ISIL to international peace and security and on the range of the United Nations’ efforts in support of Member States in countering the threat”. He said the threat has been increased by the presence of returning, relocating or released foreign terrorist fighters.

With ISIL’s centre of gravity in Iraq and Syria, where it is reported to control between 14,000 and 18,000 militants, the group remains intent on undermining any form of stabilization, he emphasized. Despite its loss of revenues, ISIL sustains its operations through accessible reserves or investment in businesses ranging from $50 million to $300 million. “Recent ISIL losses should not lead to complacency at any level,” he stressed.

He went on to outline efforts undertaken by the United Nations in countering the financing of terrorism, border control enforcement and countering terrorist narratives. Noting that ISIL continues to target Libya’s police stations and oil facilities, he said approximately 1,000 foreign terrorist fighters are also reported to have travelled from the western Balkans to conflict zones in Iraq and Syria. ISIL is also reported to control training camps in Afghanistan and is increasingly recruiting women and youngsters in its South-East Asia terrorist operations.

In a second briefing, Michèle Coninsx, Executive Director of the Counter‑Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, cited with concern ISIL’s use of mobile payment services in West Africa and its possible exploitation of the anonymity afforded by blockchain technology. On advancing justice and accountability, she emphasized the fundamental need to collect and preserve evidence, pointing out that Governments can also establish special investigative and prosecutorial entities to support criminal justice efforts, welcoming the establishment of the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da‘esh/Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (UNITAD) in that context.

She went on to state that the Directorate continues its extensive work with the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee in adopting the Addendum to the Madrid Guiding Principles in order to help Governments reduce the flow of foreign terrorist fighters. The Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate will also intensify efforts to develop, with Member States, comprehensive responses to terrorism, she said, noting that Governments in the Lake Chad Basin area are developing strategies to prosecute, rehabilitate and reintegrate persons associated with Boko Haram, with strategic support from the Directorate.

In the ensuing discussion, delegates noted that, despite progress in the fight against ISIL, countries must remain vigilant against the group’s increasingly covert nature, continue working together to bring terrorists to justice, implement policies that support rehabilitation and reintegration, curb use of the Internet to spread terrorist propaganda used to radicalize and recruit, and include civil society, women and young people in all such processes.

The representative of the United States said that, while the global coalition has significantly degraded ISIL’s finances, the group continues to evolve. Noting the steps taken by the Government of the United States to prevent travel by foreign terrorist fighters, he called upon the United Nations to continue to guide Member States on comprehensive prosecution of such fighters. “We cannot relent in this fight,” he stressed.

Peru’s representative warned that “the possibility of resurgence cannot be discounted”, reiterating the importance of financial intelligence units and monitoring flows of cash, the vehicle through which terrorists mobilize resources. He stressed the need to deepen knowledge of the connections linking money‑laundering, trafficking in weapons and human beings, and the financing of terrorism.

The Russian Federation’s representative described any economic relations with individuals or organizations involved in ISIL activities as a gross violation of relevant Security Council resolutions. He went on to cite kidnappings, as well as trade in agricultural products, human organs and cultural items, as ISIL’s main sources of income. He also called attention to terrorist groups that pass themselves off as opposition movements in order to receive weapons.

Indonesia’s delegate said that, with the defeat of ISIL/Da’esh in Syria, the group’s propaganda, radicalization and recruitment have shifted to South-East Asia, where there is an alarming trend of recruiting and radicalizing women and children. A holistic approach to fighting terrorism is needed at every stage, he reiterated, stressing the importance of “soft measures” to steer people away from extremism, including by giving voice to moderation.

Also speaking today were representatives of Poland, China, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Kuwait, South Africa, Côte d’Ivoire, Belgium, Dominican Republic and Equatorial Guinea.

The meeting began at 10:04 a.m. and ended at 12:07 p.m.

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