The UN Office of Counter-Terrorism says Daesh has gained momentum once again, leaving different parts of the world in 2021 at risk.
As the world tries to fight off the coronavirus pandemic which has claimed the lives of more than two million people, the Daesh terrorist group is trying to turn the global catastrophe into their strategic advantage, a UN report reveals.
Vladimir Voronkov, head of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), urged member states to remain focused and united in thwarting terrorism.
“While ISIL (Daesh) has not developed a purposeful strategy to exploit the pandemic, its efforts to regroup and to reinvigorate its activities [has] gained further momentum,” he said.
Especially in Iraq and Syria, Daesh has maintained the ability to move and conduct terrorist activities.
The report underlined that the pandemic’s socio-economic toll and political fallout could create fertile recruiting ground for “individuals receptive to radicalisation.”
The UNOCT chief Voronkov said approximately 10,000 Daesh fighters are mostly in Iraq pursuing a ‘protracted insurgency’, posing a “major, long-term and global threat”.
“They are organised in small cells hiding in desert and rural areas and moving across the border between the two countries, waging attacks”, he added.
“Nearly two years after the territorial defeat of ISIL(Daesh), some 27,500 foreign children are still in harm’s way in the camps in northeast Syria, including about 8,000 children from some 60 countries other than Iraq.”
Daesh and Daesh-affiliated groups staged attacks in West Africa last year, and have started to strengthen in Central Africa.
The report also emphasised that there are more than 2,000 Daesh members in Afghanistan.
Voronkov pointed out that young people in particular are at risk of radicalisation like never before. Due to an increased amount of time spent at home and on the internet due to the pandemic, they are more susceptible to being influenced.
The report says that Daesh could “regain the capacity to orchestrate international attacks over the coming year.”
The UN’s Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Director (CTED) Head, Michele Coninsx, pointed out that the pandemic has diverted energy and resources away from combatting the spread of violence and extremism.
Turkey strikes big blow on Daesh in 2020
Turkey continued its fight against the Daesh terror group in 2020. Its security forces maintained pressure on the group with operations throughout the country and on its borders, particularly in Istanbul and capital Ankara, as well as other major cities.
Turkish authorities detained 2,343 suspects, including senior members of the group seizing large amounts of documents, weapons and ammunition.
Of those detained, 333 have been arrested and many others deported, while proceedings continue for several suspects caught in the last week of December. Others were handed prison sentences after being convicted.