ISIS should not be referred to as 'Islamic State', says UAE

Emirates tells UN Security Council that extremists must not be allowed to 'hijack a religion of tolerance'

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UAE diplomat Mohamed Abushahab has called on the UN and its member states to stop using "Islamic State" when referring to the terrorist group ISIS.

Speaking during a joint briefing on Tuesday about the continuing threat posed by ISIS and its affiliates to international security, Mr Abushahab, the UAE's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, said extremists have been using Islam to justify their campaigns of violence.

"We take this opportunity to focus on the exploitation of Islam by terrorist groups to justify their acts of violence and hate to self-proclaimed Islamic appellations," he told the UN Security Council meeting.

The UAE's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Mohamed Abushahab, said terrorist groups have been using Islam to justify their campaigns of violence.  Image: United Nations

"We must not permit Daesh (another name for ISIS) and other groups to hijack a religion of tolerance and give credence to their pretences.

"I want to reiterate, there is nothing Islamic about terrorism.

"Therefore, we call on member states and the UN system to put an end to the use of Islamic State in their reference to Daesh and to apply the same principles to prevent the exploitation of religion by other terrorist groups."

'Global and evolving'

Vladimir Voronkov, the UN's counter-terrorism chief — delivering Secretary General Antonio Guterres's 15th report on the threat posed by ISIS to international peace and security — said the threat posed by the group and its affiliates remains “global and evolving”.

He said tens of thousands of people — including more than 27,000 children — from Iraq and 60 other countries remain deprived of basic rights and are at risk of radicalisation and recruitment.

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If we are to rid ourselves of this scourge, we must also address the vulnerabilities, societal grievances and inequality exploited by the group
Vladimir Voronkov, UN counter-terrorism chief

"Daesh and its affiliates continue to exploit conflict dynamics, governance fragilities and inequality to incite, plan and organise terrorist attacks," he said.

"They continue to exploit pandemic-related restrictions and misuse digital spaces to intensify efforts to recruit sympathisers and attract resources.

"The group has also significantly increased the use of unmanned aerial systems in the past year.”

Mr Voronkov said the border between Iraq and Syria remains highly vulnerable, with an estimated 10,000 fighters operating in the area.

In Afghanistan, although the number of attacks claimed or attributed to ISIS has decreased since the Taliban took power, its presence has expanded into the north-east and east of the country.

Mr Voronkov reiterated Mr Guterres's call for member states to work for the safe repatriation of all those who remain stuck in camps and other centres.

Vladimir Voronkov, UN counter-terrorism chief, briefs the Security Council on threats to international peace and security. Photo: UN

"If we are to rid ourselves of this scourge, we must also address the vulnerabilities, societal grievances and inequality exploited by the group in the first place, as well as promoting and protecting human rights and the rule of law,” he said.

Mr Voronkov said while "the Daesh leadership still manages between $25 million and $50m in assets, this amount is significantly less than the estimates of three years ago".

Overlapping risks

Weixiong Chen, acting executive director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate said the exploitation of conflict-related fragility remains at the heart of the ISIS strategy, particularly in Iraq, Syria and across Africa.

He said the global food crisis could drive the spread of terrorism and violent extremism.

UN Security Council members discuss the threat posed by terrorism. Photo: UN

"Terrorism does not exist in a vacuum. We face a range of overlapping global challenges that risk complicating our counter-terrorism responses and exacerbating the threat posed by Daesh and other terrorist groups.

"Enhanced multilateralism, international co-operation and global solidarity is the only way to counter a global terrorist threat like Daesh."

Martin Ewi, senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, said Africa, where ISIS has expanded across the central, southern and western reaches of the continent, is not only a hub for its activity but could also be the future of a so-called caliphate.

He said at least 20 African countries have directly experienced ISIS activity, and more than 20 others are being used for logistics, and for mobilising funds and other resources.

Mr Ewi said studies have shown evidence that many young people joined ISIS and other terrorist groups because of poverty and unemployment.

The solution lies at the community level, he said, calling on the Security Council to work more closely with the African Union, regional economic communities and civil society.

In May, the global coalition against ISIS gathered in Morocco to co-ordinate efforts to prevent the extremists from staging a revival in the Middle East and North Africa.

Coalition members "reaffirmed their shared determination to continue the fight against ISIS through both military and civilian-led efforts, contributing to the enduring defeat of the terrorist group", a joint statement from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita read.

The coalition was formed in 2014 after the militants seized huge parts of Iraq and Syria. It now includes 84 states and international organisations.

In January, ISIS fighters launched their biggest assault in years — a prison break in the north-east, Kurdish-controlled Syrian city of Hassakeh, sparking a week of intense fighting that left hundreds dead.

Iraqi police sent to protect farmers from ISIS - in pictures

Updated: August 10, 2022, 3:16 PM
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