Africa: Remarks at a UNSC Briefing on Threats to International Peace and Security Caused by Terrorist Acts

press release

AS DELIVERED

Thank you, Mr. President, for hosting this meeting, and thanks to Under-Secretary-General Voronkov, CTED Acting Executive Director Chen, and Mr. Ewi for your briefings.

The United States also thanks Secretary-General Guterres for the combined efforts of the UN system and other international organizations that contributed to his useful report and to this briefing.

ISIS and others continue to take advantage of conflict, governance failure, political turmoil, socioeconomic inequalities, and grievances to attract followers and resources, as well as to incite and organize terrorist attacks. The international community must augment the efforts of vulnerable populations to reject these appeals to violent extremism. We agree with the Secretary-General that the human tragedy resulting from ISIS' so-called "caliphate" includes the tens of thousands of foreign nationals, mostly women and children, currently residing in displaced persons camps.

This situation is an unacceptable humanitarian, human rights, and security crisis. The repatriation of Foreign Terrorist Fighters, and their associated family members, and their subsequent prosecution, rehabilitation, and reintegration, as appropriate, is the best way to hold individuals accountable for their crimes. Repatriation also prevents further radicalization to violent extremism and uncontrolled movements of Foreign Terrorist Fighters and their associated family members.

We applaud the efforts of Iraq and other Member States that have repatriated nationals over the last six months. We urge Member States to utilize or contribute to the Global Framework for United Nations Support of the repatriation of Third Country Nationals currently in Syria and Iraq. The United States remains ready to support Member States that wish to bring their nationals home.

We are also concerned about the increasing terrorism threat across various areas of Africa, outlined in the Secretary-General's assessment. ISIS and al-Qa'ida affiliates continue to exploit Africa's long-simmering conflicts to bolster their illicit activities, providing them heightened lethality. ISIS-West Africa merits particular focus as the group that has become the largest, and one of the most lethal, ISIS affiliates outside the core region. The United States continues to provide our African partners critical counterterrorism assistance to disrupt and degrade ISIS and al-Qa'ida affiliates, underscoring that capable law enforcement and broader security service responses are essential to prevent and counter terrorism.

As the Secretary-General's report highlights, it is critical that the international community continues the fight to deny safe haven for al-Qa'ida and its affiliates, to include in Afghanistan. As Secretary Blinken recently noted: by hosting and sheltering the leader of al-Qa'ida Ayman Al-Zawahiri in Kabul, the Taliban grossly violated the Doha agreement and repeated assurances to the world that they would not allow Afghan territory to be used by terrorists to threaten the security of other countries. In addition to al-Qa'ida, ISIS-Khorasan remains a threat and continues to orchestrate sophisticated attacks that target civilians, including vulnerable ethnic and religious minorities.

Finally, as the Secretary-General's report correctly notes, effective counterterrorism requires an understanding of power structures and gendered practices in society. Therefore, references to gender in Council documents related to counterterrorism are critically important. The Secretary-General's report provides a stark reminder of the evolving ISIS threat and summons all of us to more collaborative, balanced efforts in countering that threat.

Moving forward, we must utilize this report to inform what actions we can take to ensure the Secretary-General's next report on ISIS reflects the fact that our collective pressure is having a greater impact on the group.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis
Senior Advisor for Special Political Affairs
New York, New York
August 9, 2022

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