Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at the Security Council Briefing on the 8th Report of Secretary-General on Threats to International Peace and Security Posed by ISIS
We thank you for holding this briefing. We thank Mr. Voronkov and Mm. Coninsx for their briefings. We are convinced that fruitful cooperation between the mechanisms that you run is the basis for progress in UN-led fight against terrorism.
We share many of the assessments made in the 8th report of Secretary-General on the threat posed by ISIS. For our part, we want to point out the following.
We believe that information on the resource base of terrorists and efforts to undermine it should remain the central element of these reports. We repeatedly emphasize that any trade and economic relations with individuals and organizations affiliated with ISIS activities are a grave violation of the Security Council resolutions. All the necessary decisions on that matter have already been adopted. What is required is to implement them in good faith and not think that they are addressed to somebody else.
Despite significant success in countering terrorism in Syria and Iraq, the Middle East remains the chief stronghold for ISIS leadership. ISIS continues to carry out attacks, i.a. against civil facilities. When losing positions, terrorists try to establish a closer contact with their “brothers by spirit” – all the same terrorists who are active – under different names – in the Middle East.
Efforts to suppress ISIS in Syria and Iraq continue. We are pleased to note that stabilization of the military and political situation in both countries led to reduced number of financing channels and total volume of finance flowing to illegal armed formations. In particular, in Syria terrorists have lost control over vast areas and, as a result, have been deprived of such a source of income as various exactions against the population.
Russia has facilitated normalizing the situation in SAR and Iraq by means of counter-terrorism cooperation, i.a. via Baghdad Center for Coordination. There have been positive effects on the Syrian track because of de-escalation efforts of Astana process guarantors.
We are also concerned about the unsolved problem of repatriation of foreign terrorist-fighters (FTF) who have fought with ISIS and remain in Syria, to the countries of their origin and bringing them to accountability.
We would like to point out the need to invite to the relevant briefings of the Security Council on ISIS the representatives of those States who are the greatest sufferers of terrorist activity, first and foremost, Syria and Iraq. We note the importance of receiving information from the conflict zones. For this, we believe, there is a need to work directly with the governments of those countries.
Our close attention focuses on movements of FTFs to other conflict zones, e.g. to African countries, primarily to Sahara-Sahel, as well as Afghanistan in order to set forth their terrorist activity.
The Afghan “wing” of ISIS, despite certain losses that it suffered in the North, remains one of the key factors of destabilization in this country. Extra danger is posed by the spread of ideological, propagandist and recruiting activities with capable use of information and communication technology. ISIS activity in IRA is also nourished by FTFs who gained their combat experience in Syria and Iraq. We are convinced that the lasting presence of ISIS in Afghanistan poses a threat to the neighboring States. Dense quantity of terrorist attacks executed by suicide bombers shows that the terrorist group possesses sufficient human resources.
We can see certain progress in the work of the neighboring States to block channels of terrorist financing.
ISIS incomes from smuggling in hydrocarbons, for obvious reasons, continuously decrease. However, previous autumn, militants captured several deposits in Deir ez-Zor Governorate, which allowed them to resell some energy through a network of intermediaries at a price $30-35 per barrel.
On the whole, since the publication of the latest report key revenue items of terrorist formations of the region have not changed much. Fighters continue to take hostages for ransom, engage in illegal drug trafficking, trade in agricultural products and human organs and sell pieces of cultural heritage at black markets.
The ISIS treasury is also replenished by trading in industrial goods (e.g. sulfuric and phosphate acids, cement), investing in fisheries in Iraq, speculating at stock exchanges, incomes from cryptocurrencies, online casinos, fraud schemes of e-trade, deliveries of counterfeit medical products. Sometimes to support their activities militants have to sell their weaponry and ammunition.
However, we should not think that ISIS and Al Qaida leaders are satisfied with the resources they have. Assisted by accomplices from other organized criminal groups, they are constantly searching for new supply sources. For example, there are attempts to establish control over channels of drug trafficking and mineral resource smuggling from the countries of Asia. We have already mentioned Afghanistan: this country is of special interest for them. Iron, copper, gold, precious and semiprecious gemstones are illegally mined, processed, and delivered abroad in a number of IRA Provinces.
In this context, we would like once again to draw the attention to the studies of ISIS-related financial flows held within Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) since 2016, following Russian initiative. As of now, FATF Secretariat has collected data from more than 40 jurisdictions which makes it possible to build up a comprehensive picture of the financial and economic “machine” behind ISIS.
Unfortunately, despite our repeated calls, a most important issue of cutting the deliveries of military purpose products (MPPs) to terrorist organizations keeps a low profile at the UN platform. It is not a secret that “grey schemes” of arms export have been frequently used to deliver weapons to the fighters. Given relative transparency of the deals, terrorist formations, often under the guise of “opposition” movements, became the recipients of MPPs.
We call upon all the States to pay increased attention to the issues of regulating mediation, criminalization of illicit brokerage, development of flexible system of export-related risk assessment, improvement of inter-State data exchange as well as mechanisms of accountability and monitoring of arms transfers.
For our part, we intend to set forth our active participation in global counter terrorist efforts to support UN activities on this track, i.a. via assisting our foreign partners. We reiterate our commitment to a constructive dialogue with all the interested sides.