Middle East

Islamic State threat remains despite military blows: United Nations report

Islamic State threat remains despite military blows: United Nations report
Islamic State fighters in the Iraqi city of Mosul in 2014. Photo: AP
Published: 6:30 PM, August 11, 2017

NEW YORK — The Islamic State (IS) group continues to “motivate and enable” global attacks, as well as channel funds to supporters despite military blows to its so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq, according to a United Nations (UN) report released on Thursday (Aug 10).

The 24-page text, prepared by a panel of experts for the UN Security Council, noted that remittances sent abroad – often in small sums, making them difficult to detect – comes as IS steps up its international efforts “as demonstrated by the higher pace of attacks in Europe”.

Funding sources are still based on oil profits and the imposition of taxes on local populations in the areas under its control.

Beyond Europe, the group is seeking to expand its footprint in South-east Asia, the report said, citing the southern Philippines where the bloody urban siege in Marawi city has killed almost 700 people in more than two months fighting.

It noted that the number of foreign terrorist fighters traveling to Iraq and Syria has continued to fall. In addition, the financial situation of the (IS) core continues to deteriorate, mainly due to military pressure against the group.

Special care, however, should be given to radicalised minors returning home after undergoing advanced IS training. This group requires “specific attention and strategies that take into account the legal protections afforded to minors”.

The report added that stiff resistance in Mosul – Iraq’s second largest city which was declared “liberated” by the government in July – shows that the IS command and control structure “has not broken down completely”, and remains “a significant military threat”.

In addition, IS has learnt to modify commercially available drones and even build its own drones for reconnaissance and bombing missions.

Fellow jihadist group Al-Qaeda meanwhile maintains powerful networks in West Africa, East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, particularly Yemen, with localised alliances allowing the movement of fighters between the two rival outfits.

The expert panel called on the Security Council to remind member states that paying ransom for hostages was illegal in view on UN sanctions on both groups. AFP