UN Security Council: Brief: Threats to International Peace and Security caused by Terrorist Acts
Statement delivered by Gerard van Bohemen, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, 27 October 2015.
In my June briefing to the Council (see S/PV.7463), I outlined how the threat from Al-Qaida and its associates had evolved over the previous year. I also addressed how the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1989 (2011), concerning Al-Qaida and associated individuals and entities had responded to this evolving threat.
Since then, the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team has presented two reports to the Committee: the first, pursuant to resolution 2214 (2015), on the threat posed by Al-Qaida and associated groups in Libya, in particular the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as Daesh, and Ansar Al-Sharia; and the second on the impact of the measures introduced in resolution 2199 (2015) against ISIL and the Al-Nusra Front. The findings from these reports form the basis of my briefing today. I will also make some additional remarks on the Committee’s general work.
The Monitoring Team presented its report on the terrorism threat in Libya to the Committee on 12 October. I understand that, due to a delay in translation, the report will be available as a United Nations document at the beginning of November. The Committee has also agreed several actions based on recommendations made by the Monitoring Team in the report.
In advance of the report’s circulation, I will limit myself to a few key observations. The report concluded that while the threat from Al-Qaida and its associates, including ISIL in Libya, is not new, the current situation signals a potentially increasing level of threat. Libya presents fertile ground for Al-Qaida-associated groups to opportunistically exploit and complicate an already difficult situation.
Libya is also strategically valuable to such terrorist groups. Its geographic location in Africa and proximity to Southern Europe is important. It is also a gateway to the African desert, stretching to a number of African countries, and it has significant oil resources, widespread availability of arms and weak internal security. Not surprisingly, Libya continues to attract significant numbers of foreign terrorist fighters from the Middle East and North Africa.
The report concludes that ISIL in Libya has so far been the only known ISIL affiliate that benefits from support and guidance from ISIL in Syria and Iraq. The report further notes that ISIL, with an estimated strength of 2,000 to 3,000 fighters, is an evident short- and long-term threat. ISIL’s central command in Iraq and Syria views Libya as a good opportunity to expand its so-called caliphate. It controls territory in and around Sirte and has terrorist cells in several Libyan cities, including Derna, clearly demonstrating an intention to control additional territory. It has been able to perpetrate attacks in many other parts of the country. Several of the individuals involved in these attacks, and senior ISIL leadership in Libya, have not yet been designated. To extend the reach of the sanctions measures, including to those individuals, we will need Member States to provide further listing proposals to the Committee.
There are some moderating factors on the threat from ISIL in Libya. ISIL currently lacks popular support and is seen by locals as a foreign terrorist organization not embedded in their communities. ISIL in Libya is therefore very dependent on incoming and returning foreign terrorist fighters for support. The Committee would like to remind Member States that advance passenger information, or API, can facilitate detection of the movement of individuals who are on the Al-Qaida sanctions list. Member States should exercise vigilance regarding the travel of individuals to Libya. As Chair, I will raise with the relevant stakeholders the possibility of a joint meeting for analyzing any capacity gaps in Libya, including border-control issues, and for discussing ways to address those gaps.
Finally, as regards Libya, the report notes that longstanding regional terrorist organizations such as Ansar Al-Sharia, and in particular Ansar Al-Sharia Derna, seem to have weakened since ISIL became established. However, they continue to operate and use Libya as a base.
I now turn to the impact of the measures imposed in resolution 2199 (2015). In August, the Monitoring Team presented to the Committee its assessment of the impact of the measures introduced in resolution 2199 (2015). The Chair’s summary of the assessment was circulated to the Council on 25 September and can be found on the Committee’s website. The Committee has also agreed on several actions based on the Monitoring Team’s recommendations. They are largely aimed at raising awareness of the threats posed by ISIL and the Al-Nusra Front, particularly around financing, and suggest ways in which Member States and the private sector could implement the required measures.
The measures introduced in resolution 2199 (2015) to inhibit financing of ISIL and the Al-Nusra Front focused on eliminating their key revenue streams, namely, oil smuggling, antiquities looting and trafficking, kidnapping for ransom and illegal donations. The Monitoring Team considered that resolution 2199 (2015) has had an effect in raising awareness of the need for concerted action by Member States, particularly where ISIL’s smuggling of antiquities and accessing of the international financial system are concerned. However, the Monitoring Team identified a series of major challenges that have complicated effective implementation of the measures, including the difficulty of identifying the origin of seized crude oil and antiquities. The Monitoring Team further noted that it would be premature to make a full assessment of the impact of resolution 2199 (2015), only five months after its adoption.
By way of assistance, the Committee has produced a note, also available on the Committee’s website, which outlines the challenges and suggests some solutions. At the Committee’s direction, the Monitoring Team is currently preparing a technical assistance note for business entities on oil and antiquities smuggling by ISIL. Other agreed Committee actions, such as the production of a voluntary self-assessment tool and outreach with humanitarian actors, are forthcoming.
I would now like to provide the Council with three short updates on the work of the Committee more generally. First, in September, the Al-Qaida sanctions list expanded with the inclusion of 20 more names, most of them related to ISIL. This reflects the growing threat that ISIL poses and efforts by Member States to propose designations. The Al-Qaida sanctions list now contains 247 individuals and 74 entities.
Secondly, the new Ombudsperson for the 1267 sanctions regime, Ms. Catherine Marchi-Uhel, commenced her important responsibilities in early July. There have also been some changes in the Monitoring Team’s composition. I would like to acknowledge the Team’s hard work under the leadership of its Acting Coordinator, Hans-Jakob Schindler, which has been both timely and of high quality.
Finally, I plan to convene another open briefing for interested Member States in November. As with the open briefing held in April this year, I intend it to be an informal, interactive discussion of the Committee’s work. I encourage interested Member States to participate and to contact the Chair or the Committee in advance about issues on which they would like to be briefed. We expect the discussion to be particularly useful ahead of the December mandate review of the 1267 sanctions regime.
In conclusion, it is important that the international community provide support to Libya and its neighbours in the struggle against Al-Qaida, ISIL and their associates. Countering ISIL and the Al-Nusra Front in Iraq and Syria must remain a high priority for the Council and its members. For the success of our common endeavour, it is critical that we encourage all Member States to fully implement, support and promote the measures adopted by this body