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Islamic militancy

Global war on terror must be maintained, US diplomat says as UN passes new resolution

Terrorist threat ‘is an evolving one and an adaptive one’, Nathan Sayles, coordinator for counterterrorism on UN Security Council, says

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 December, 2017, 10:44pm
UPDATED : Monday, 08 January, 2018, 5:36pm

The United Nations’ latest measures to restrict the movement of foreign terrorist groups are necessary to tackle the evolving global threat following the dismantling of Islamic State strongholds in the Middle East, a senior US diplomat said on Friday.

Nathan Sayles, US ambassador-at-large and coordinator for counterterrorism on the UN Security Council, said the international community needed to take concrete steps – such as collecting the names of airline passengers and maintaining terrorist watch lists – to counter a changing environment.

“Terrorists don’t stand still, the terrorist threat that we all confront is an evolving one and an adaptive one,” he said during a telephone press briefing from Washington. “We can’t stand still either.”

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His remarks came after the UN Security Council passed new measures, including tightening global aviation security, designed to prevent the movement of both terrorist fighters returning from conflict zones and home-grown extremists.

The latest move, which builds on a 2014 UN resolution mandating states to criminalise the activities of foreign terrorist fighters, also requires member nations to collect biometric data for all known and suspected terrorists.

Sayles said the threat from terrorism had transitioned since 2014, when terror groups such as Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and al-Qaeda were in the ascendant. In recent months, IS has seen significant defeats, including the loss of its stronghold in the Syrian city of Raqqa, prompting the leaders of Iran and Iraq to declare the group’s military defeat in Iraq and Syria.

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But an additional challenge was the threat from home-grown terrorists, radicalised or inspired to engage in violence not from the battlefield, but by social media, Sayles said.

“The threat today is different … We’re worried about the rise of IS affiliates globally. We are always on the lookout – our intelligence services, our military agencies are always vigilant in trying to detect plots that these groups are planning not only against the US, but against other members of the international community.”

He said that the US was pleased with the results of the counterterrorism campaign in the Philippines, which saw the defeat of IS-inspired terrorists after a more than four-month siege in Marawi.

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China, which is a member of the UN Security Council, said it was ready to work with other countries in “countering terrorism and building international safety and stability,” according to a UN press release.

In a foreign ministry briefing on Thursday, spokesperson Hua Chunying said China would do all it could to support the global fight against terrorism.

“We are willing to continue enhancing counterterrorism and security cooperation at the UN Security Council and other platforms so as to jointly uphold the peace and security of the region, and the world at large,” she said.