The threat to international peace and security posed by the Islamic State has been rising since the start of the COVID pandemic and continues to persist despite the territorial defeats and leadership losses, the UN’s counterterrorism chief warned on Tuesday, underlining the importance of implementing non-military measures to counter-terrorism.
Vladimir Voronkov, the under-secretary-general for counterterrorism and head of the UN Office of Counterterrorism, told the Security Council that the terror group continues to thrive amid regional instability and social-economic inequality thanks to its newly adapted decentralized internal structure based around a general directorate of provinces and associated offices.
This restructuring made it clear that the terror group has long-term goals and aspirations since these offices are designed to manage and finance terrorist operations around the globe.
Voronkov said that better understanding and continued monitoring of this structure are indispensable for countering and preventing the threat the Islamic State poses.
He stressed the need to prevent children from being indoctrinated by extremists, reiterating his calls for nations to repatriate their citizens from detention camps in Syria because IS affiliates continue to exploit conflicts and social inequalities to incite unrest and plan terrorist attacks.
The UN’s counterterrorism chief explained that IS was given opportunities to intensify its recruitment efforts and attract more funding thanks to the shift to the digital space and the pandemic-related restrictions.
Though the threat remains particularly high in conflict zones, he warned that it might soon spread to more stable areas where the extremist group works to exploit security gaps and conditions to spread terrorism and recruit, organize and execute complex attacks.
For the past year, as Voronkov added, the IS has also increasingly been using drones in attacks, as was the case in northern Iraq.