The head of the Office of the fight against terrorism of the UN, Vladimir Voronkov, intervened at the beginning of the week before the Security Council. He warned that despite its territorial defeat and heavy losses among its leaders, Daesh continues to pose a threat to international peace and security.
For the UN official, this threat has not stopped growing since the beginning of the pandemic, in the sense that Daesh, also known as ISIL (Was Islamic in Iraq and the Levant) and its affiliates continue to exploit pandemic restrictions and use “digital spaces” to increase efforts to recruit supporters and attract resources.
The group has also significantly increased the use of drones over the past year, including in northern Iraq, Voronkov reported, citing the findings of the latest UN report on Daesh threats. on international peace and security, and the work of the United Nations to help Member States deal with it.
A decentralized structure, a guarantee of EI’s resilience
Daesh’s resilience is partly due to its largely decentralized structure, he said, referring to “offices” operating in Iraq, Syria, but also beyond its bases with some of the most active cells in Afghanistan, in Somalia and the Lake Chad Basin.
In this regard, he recommended a better understanding and continuous monitoring of this structure are essential to counter and prevent the threat posed by Daesh, underlining how crucial in this regard is the strengthening of international and regional cooperation, including by the through information sharing mechanisms.
The threat posed by Daesh and its affiliates remains highest in societies affected by conflict: the case of the Iraq-Syria border illustrates this well with up to 10,000 fighters operating in the region, according to estimates.
From this area, the group launched an enhanced operational campaign in April to avenge its senior leaders killed in counter-terrorism operations.
Expansion in Uganda, DRC, Mozambique
Coming to Afghanistan, Vladimir Voronkov reported that the number of attacks claimed or attributed to the local Daesh affiliate had decreased but that since the Taliban took control of power last year, the presence of the group has increased. extended to the northeast and east of the country.
In Africa, the situation has further deteriorated with an expansion of Daesh in the center, south and west of the continent. A Daesh affiliate in Uganda has expanded its area of operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), while another affiliated group, after being weakened by military action last year, has stepped up its small-scale attacks in Cabo Delgado Province, Mozambique.
This expansion also affects countries until recently largely spared from attacks, such as countries bordering the Gulf of Guinea.
Global warming, catalyst for terrorism
The potential impact of climate-related challenges and global food insecurity is of particular concern in West Africa, particularly in the Sahel where these factors can exacerbate fragilities and further fuel local conflicts, which could catalyze the spread of the terrorism and violent extremism. Although their presence and activity is seen primarily in conflict-affected societies, Daesh and its affiliates also seek to inspire or directly attack non-conflict areas to instill fear, the senior official said.
In Europe, Daesh has called on its sympathizers to carry out attacks by exploiting the easing of restrictions linked to the pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine. Despite the persistence of the threat, the joint efforts of Member States continue to yield positive results, Voronkov noted.
Thus, Daesh and its affiliates continue to suffer heavy losses among its leaders, including that of the leader of Daesh, in February.
On the financing side, the leaders of Daesh still manage to mobilize 3between 25 and 50 million dollars in assets3: a much lower amount than the estimates of three years ago, according to UN estimates.
Repatriation of Foreign Terrorist Fighters
Voronkov also welcomed the Iraqi government’s repatriation of more than 2,500 Iraqis stranded in camps and other settlements in northeastern Syria, as well as Tajikistan and France-led repatriations last month of 146 and 51 women and children.
However, he expressed deep concern over the lack of progress made so far in the repatriation of foreign terrorist fighters and their family members. He recalled that tens of thousands of people, including more than 27,000 children from Iraq and some 60 countries, remained subject to enormous security constraints and humanitarian difficulties.
These children, who have “not chosen to be there”, are deprived of their fundamental rights and run a “real risk of radicalization and recruitment” according to the senior official, who considered it imperative that Member States realize the consequences long-term lack of measures to remedy this “dangerous situation”.