UN counterterrorist chief: The Islamic State is still a global threat
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ISIS remains a global threat to international peace and security despite losing its territory and its leader, said The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Counter-Terrorism Vladimir Voronkov on Wednesday.
“[ISIS] remains a global threat to international peace and security despite its territorial loss and the loss of its leader last year,” said Voronkov, who was speaking at a counterterrorism conference in Abu Dhabi.
ISIS, which declared a so-called caliphate over vast swaths of Iraq and Syria in 2014, lost control over its last bit of Syrian territory in March. The organization received a further blow when its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a US mission in late October.
But Voronkov warned that the group still posed a threat, and may even reestablish itself as a territorial entity.
“According to some experts, [ISIS] is even aiming to gain territorial control of some spaces in the Middle East and North Africa region, taking advantage of local conflicts,” he said.
Voronkov also pointed to the threat from other terrorist organizations, including al-Qaeda.
“Al-Qaeda also remains resilient and its affiliates are in fact stronger than their ISIS counterpart in Syria’s Idlib province, Yemen, and Somalia,” he said.
Likewise, the growing threat from white supremacist far-right terrorist groups and individuals also “poses severe risks,” according to Voronkov.
Voronkov said that the multi-faceted and global nature of terrorism reaffirmed the core assertion of the United Nations’ global counterterrorism strategy: that terrorism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization, or ethnic group.
Based on this principle, he advocated a cooperative and multilateral approach to preventing terrorism, emphasizing the need to combat terrorist propaganda and the importance of young people. Voronkov highlighted the UAE’s counterterrorism initiatives as a positive example, a view echoed by UAE Minister of State Zaki Anwar Nusseibeh.
Both were speaking at the “Empowering Youth and Promoting Tolerance: Practical Approaches to Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism Conducive to Terrorism” conference in Abu Dhabi.
The conference was co-organized by the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and the UAE-based counterterrorism center Hedayah. It brought together 300 representatives from states and civil society organizations and think tanks to discuss counterterrorism strategies, with a focus on youth and tolerance.