The murder in Toulouse and Montauban France this month of 7 innocent people including three school children was committed by a Wahhabi-Salafi-Jihadi-Takfiri cult member Mohamed Merah.
Even though known to authorities to be an extremist and being ‘watched’ and even though the Americans also knew of him and put him on a no-fly to US list, he could not be arrested authorities say because French Prime Minister Francois Fillon argues, “Belonging to a Salafist organisation is not an offence in and of itself…We cannot mix up religious fundamentalism with terrorism, even if we know there are elements that unite them.”
Perhaps Monsieur Fillon would do well to (take a leaf out of his mother’s book and) study history. Who was behind most of the terrorist attacks in the West since 1990? The media made it look like ‘nutters’ like the underpants bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and ‘freaks’ like Richard Reid the Shoe bomber were ad hoc potential criminals who just so happened to have a background that included coming from an Islamic background. However if one looks carefully at the global Jihadi attacks for the past 20 years and Mohammed Merah’s path into the cult behind his motivation for the attacks one will see that the same cult was behind many others radicalization that lead to terrorist attacks in the West. Then Prime Minister Fillon will know what France is up against and understand that their new foe is no less organized committed and lethal than the Nazi’s were and that their Republic is in great danger unless they deal with the extremist conveyor belt of this cult at its source and help strengthen traditional Islam which is in as much mortal danger as the French State. If Fillon does not ‘join the dots’ Toulouse will only be the beginning.
Mohamed was born in France from Algerian parents and grew up with his three brothers and two sisters in a troubled high-rise estate called ‘Les Izards’, home to a large North African population, in Toulouse, South West France. He was first arrested at 16 for stealing and again at aged 18 and 20. Even though he had a reputation for extremist tendencies on his own housing estate in Toulouse and his brother Abdelkader Merah, had links to jihadists in Libya, Mohamed’s path to radical Islam began when he was 18 in Toulouse in 2007 while serving a prison sentence for robbery.
He was like so many troubled Muslim youths approached by Salafist groups like Forsane Alizza (FA- The Knights of Pride) and encouraged to progress his study their cult which was their brand of militant Salafi ‘Islam’ from their radical mosques or private ‘prayer groups’ and if suitable for mission training Al Qaeda operatives then arranged for the acolyte go to Pakistan for deeper indoctrination into the cult and specialist weapons and bomb training when he got out.
Forsane Alizza aka ‘Sharia4France’ is ostensibly an anti-Islamophobia group but authorities say it is a terrorist organization that used the mantra of anti-Islamophobia to mask its deeper purpose of radicalizing disenchanted youth from Islamic backgrounds. They followed the rhetoric of fellow terrorists like Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki to recruit disillusioned youth from Islamic communities in the West away from the traditional Islamic faith of their parents who immigrated to the West and instead adopt their cult. Their cult made everything from their plight to the perceived injustice of Muslims around the world easily understood in a populist way and in the vernacular. The converts were shown a way out of their sin and into heaven by taking the express lane of radical militancy to attack all enemies of the Wahhabi-Salafi Jihadi’s (the only true Muslims) whether they be Crusader-Zionists in AF-PAK, Shia Muslims, Sufi Muslims or Moderate Sunni Muslims (all apostates in the cults eyes to be excommunicated (Takfiri) and worthy of death) or non-Sharia democracies in the West. The ultimate goal of the cult is establishing a kind of ‘Third Reich’ Salafist caliphate stretching from Chechnya to the Philippines that will restore pride and power to “Muslims” (the ones that are left after the bad Muslims have been enlightened as to the true ‘path’ or eliminated); hence their name Forsane Alizza -The Knights of Pride.
Forsane Alizza has links to other radical Islamist groups in Europe, such as al-Muhajiroun / ‘Islam4UK’ in Britain and ‘Shariah4Belgium’, ‘Muslims Against Crusades’ as well as ‘Revolution Muslim’ in the United States. Al-Muhajiroun means “the Emigrants”. The name comes from their ‘target market’, the children of traditional Islamic parents who immigrated to the West. These Islamo-Fascist cult’s modus operandi is not unlike the Hitler Youth movement of the Nazi’s, brainwashing the youth with magazines, and sending them to specialized indoctrination schools and camps with their ‘brothers’ and SS style (Mujahedeen) elite training, how to be ‘good Muslims’ just like the Nazi’s did in the 1930’s by teaching the ‘jugend’ how to be ‘good Germans’. The devotees would then have no qualms about the war ahead and what had to be done to the ‘untermench’ (Jews, Crusaders and Takfiri or moderate/traditional Muslims). The allies upon liberating Eastern Europe could not believe how civilized people could commit the atrocities that the Einsatzgruppen did especially against women and children. These Hitler Youth graduates were formed into heartless death squads responsible for the murders of over 1,000,000 people, mainly Jews including women and children in occupied Eastern Europe between 1939 and 1944.
It is no surprise then that when today’s Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri Jihadi’s strike whether its Bali, Beslan or Toulouse, they do so without mercy and show no remorse afterward if they survive. Indeed they often laugh and smile chanting “Allahu Akbar” like the Bali mass murderer Amrozi bin Nurhasyim did when sentenced by an Indonesian Court rejecting his defence that his actions in 2002 planting bombs that indiscriminately killed 202 tourists because he was seeking to ‘strike at America and its allies, especially Israel’ were justified under Islam.
Similarly, the Chechen war of nationalism against Russia turned into an Islamist cause and with it came the Islamo-Fascist propaganda that could justify any form of atrocity on ideological grounds. From the mid 1990’s Saudi charities like Al-Haramain , Benevolence International Foundation (BIF was started by OBL’s brother-in-law Mohammed Jamal Khalifa who also funded 9/11’s precursor the Bojinka Plot), and Wahhabi extremist commanders like Ibn al-Khattab poured millions of dollars and thousands of human resources into establishing several military training and religious indoctrination camps in Chechnya. After the US launched its war in Afghanistan even more Mujahedeen troops and preachers poured into Chechnya subsidizing and thereby taking over traditional Chechen Sufi mosques and Islamic schools spreading Wahhabi-Salafi extremism. This culminated in the 2002 Moscow theatre siege and then the even more devastating and heartless 2004 Beslan massacre in which Wahhabi-Salafi-Takfiri-Jihadi’s took hostage and murdered 335 innocent Russian school children. The message sent by the terrorist cult is that there are no moral boundaries for them.
Groups like AF and Al- Muhajiroun have apart from their proselytizing role for the Wahhabi-Salafi-Takfiri-Jihadi cult have also been involved in many public confrontational incidents including wild demonstrations against the West.
In the UK al Muhajiroun has many modern incarnations/name changes to stay out of the slow moving UK Terrorist Legislation definitions of proscribed Terrorist Organization (such as al-Ghurabaa (AG), the Saviour/Saved Sect (SS), Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’aah, Call to Submission, Islamic Path, London School of Shiria, Muslims Against Crusades, Supporters of Sharia and Islam4UK and has been closely linked with Hizb ut-Tahrir). Al Muhajiroun has been associated with the radicalization of Muslim communities away from their traditional moderate beliefs to the Wahhabi-Salafi-Takfiri-Jihadi cult.
Abu Hamza (al-Masri)
Prominent figures include ex-Imam of the radical Finsbury Park Mosque, Abu Hamza al-Masri who discipled the shoe bomber Richard Reid and Anjem Choudary al-Masri’s successor.
It was Finsbury Parks 2ic Choudary who in 2006 arranged a notorious demonstration in London against the Danish cartoons stating “Behead those who insult Islam…Europe take some lessons from 9/11…you will pay demolition is on its way.”
According to surveys carried out by respected Centre for Social Cohesion (CSC), a significant number of UK nationals convicted of Al-Qaeda related terrorist offences had links to FA’s British ‘sister group’, al Muhajiroun (Islam4UK) as a ‘gateway’ into terrorism, providing ideological indoctrination at the beginning of the Salafist extremist “path” and later access to Al-Qaeda recruiters in their Wahhabi funded Mosques who would then prepare them for terrorist ‘finishing schools’ in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, North West Pakistan and ‘blooding’ in FATA with Afghanistan insurgents.
In France it can be about the French laws banning women from wearing a full veil (niqab) in public places and posted a number of well-produced videos of its protests in French cities. Forsane Alizza promoted on its website the Wahhabi- Salfai-Takfiri-Jihadi group Al Qaeda’s English-language magazine ‘Inspire’ which has a section dedicated to helping terrorist sympathizers in the West carry out attacks on Western targets.
AF has since been banned by French Interior Ministry for inciting racial hatred in January 2012.
FA’s Mohammed Achamlane, aka Abu Hamza
FA’s leader Achamlane then simply changed its name to ’Force de Défense Musulmane sur Internet’, which says its only mission is to have so called “Islamophobic” material removed from French websites.
The main thing to note about the Islamic Clerics that propagate the Wahhabi-Salafi-Takfiri-Jihadi cult’s beliefs is that they legitimize notions of murder as acts of divine Islamic ordinance and so are direct causal links to the acts of terrorism that follow.
Mohamed Merah’s ‘path’ in the cult was not unlike his fellow countryman, Zacarias Moussaoui (involved in 9/11). He too was from parents who had a traditional Islamic faith from their homeland (Morocco for the Moussaoui family). Unlike Merah, Zacarias Moussaoui had intellect having a master’s degree in International Business from South Bank University in London, having enrolled in 1993 and graduated in 1995. However that intellect did not stop Moussaoui from being proselytised by al Muhajiroun who radicalized him as thoroughly as Forsane Alizza messed with Mohamed Merah’s mind.
Mohamed Merah went to Afghanistan and Pakistan several times between 2008 and 2011 to further his ‘studies’, as they all do. On his first trip in 2008, Mohamed went to Pakistan to be further radicalized before being sent to al Qaeda insurgency operations group in Afghanistan under the leadership, Hamza el Alami, a French Moroccan.
In fact in 2008 he was captured fighting against the US and coalition forces with Al Qaeda insurgents and imprisoned in Kandahar but escaped in a mass breakout in 2008.
In 2011 he may have met with Umar Patek, an Indonesian Salafist terrorist involved in the Bali bombings just before he was caught in Abbottabad Pakistan (the same town OBL was killed later that same year by US Navy Seals). If so then what happened in Toulouse may well have had direct Al Qaeda support and sanction in addition to local sign off from the Wahhabi-Salafi-Takfiri-Jihadi’s in France.
Upon his return it was obvious that he had been brainwashed AF-PAK, he tried to indoctrinate Muslim youngsters in his neighbourhood by showing them video footage of men being decapitated (perhaps it was the beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan in 2002 by the self-confessed fellow Wahhabi Salafai Takfiri Jihadi, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed the 9/11 mastermind).
Mohamed Merah went about his killing in Toulouse school playground without remorse and in fact filmed all three attacks as he was doing them (just like his hero Khalid Sheikh Mohammed did when he gruesomely videotaped beheading Daniel Pearle).
Mohamed Merah despite the fact that both he and his brother were on the police ‘radar’ for involvement with Jihadist causes was not put under surveillance and so was able to amass a huge stock pile of weapons and began to plot his ‘glorious heroic martyrdom’ by murdering school children.
In 2008, the Frenchdomestic intelligence service, the DCRI (Central Directorate of Interior Intelligence) was formed as a merger between the Central Directorate of General Intelligence (RG) and the Directorate of Territorial Surveillance (DST). The Toulouse massacres just goes to show that merely creating a bureaucracy without addressing the legal definitions of who a terrorist is, will not stop these atrocities in the future.
French authorities (including Bernard Squarcini chief of domestic intelligence service, the DCRI (Central Directorate of Interior Intelligence) faced justifiable criticism as to why the convicted Jihadist had not been more closely watched and allowed to amass such a large arsenal of weapons. Perhaps it was Mohamed’s close association with a so-called ‘anti-Islamophobia’ group that used the media that caused ‘political correctness’ to turn their gaze away in fear that they may unleash controversy in an election year.
Anti-terrorism chief Francois Molinssaid Mohamed Merah had trained with Al Qaeda terrorists in the Pakistani militant stronghold of Waziristan, and had been planning to kill two soldiers and a policeman. Merah, described himself as an “Islamic warrior” who wanted to take revenge for what was happening to Muslims in the world.
His first murder was on March 11 in Toulouse where he killed an off duty soldier Sgt Imad Ibn Ziaten outside a gym.
Then on March 15 in nearby Montauban he killed two off duty but uniformed soldiers, Corporal Abel Chennouf, 24 and Private Mohamed Legouad, 26 and seriously injured a third 28-year-old Corporal Loic Liber who is still in a coma. In the attacks on the two soldiers in Montauban after shouting out “Allah Akbar”, he acted calmly, stopping to change the magazine of his pistol. Witnesses described how he had turned over one of the wounded men who was trying to crawl away, and fired three more shots into him.
Then on March 18 he dined out with his brother Abdelkader (who as well known to police because in 2007 he was arrested for supporting Salafi jihadists travelling to Iraq to push out Christians and Shia’s and establish their own Islamic Republic based on their cult. But there was insufficient evidence to charge him). One wonders what topics were discussed on the eve of the horrors that were to befall the children at the local Jewish school the next day.
The next day March 19 this self-professed ‘Islamic warrior’ decided to “bring France to its knees” as he later told police during the siege at his flat and so he set off for a Jewish school in Toulouse.
Reminiscent of what his Wahhabi-Salafi-Takfiri-Jihadi ‘brothers’ did in Beslan with such monstrous lack of feeling for children, he set upon a killing spree at the school. Mohammed Merah casually killed Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, 30, who tried in vain to shield his sons from Mohamed. Their father dead, Mohamed took his time and murdered at close range Mr Sandler’s two young sons, 4 year old Gabriel and 5 year-old Arieh. He actually had only wounded Arieh with his first shot so walked after him as the five year old was desperately crawling away and then came up to him and shot him.
Then he turned his attention to a beautiful little eight year old girl Miriam whom he chased into the courtyard, caught her by her hair and raised a gun to shoot her. The gun jammed at this point and Merah changed weapons from what the police identified as a 9-mm pistol to a .45 calibre gun, and having time to think about what he was doing to this poor little girl nevertheless shot 8 year old Miriam in her temple at point-blank range.
Mohammed Merah was shot dead by Police after a two day siege in his flat on March 22, 2012.
During the siege he wanted “to die as a mujahedeen with a weapon in his hands and he would therefore go to paradise. Whereas if it was policemen who were killed, for them it would be too bad…. he had expressed no regrets other than “not having claimed more victims” and was proud of having “brought France to its knees.”
The French authorities need to see this tragedy in context of how the Wahhabi-Salafi-Takfiri-Jihadi’s operate at source and upon execution and change their laws to interdict terrorist instigators before these tragic mass murders take place.
Stateless and Leftover ISIS Brides
While the World is busy fighting the pandemic and the economic devastation caused by it, one of the important problem that has been pushed to dormancy, is the status of the ISIS(Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) brides. The Pandemic has crippled the capacity of the law enforcement and exploiting this the ISIS executed attacks in Maldives, Iraq, and the Philippines. The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that terrorists are exploiting the COVID-19 Pandemic. Albeit the ISIS has been defeated, approximately ten thousand of them are in ISIS detention centres in Northern Syria under Kurds. Most of these detention centres are filled by women and children, who are relatives or widows of the ISIS fighters. With their native states denouncing them, the status of the stateless women and children is unclear.
As it stands today states’ counter-terrorism approach has been primarily targeting male militants but women also have played a role in strengthening these terrorist organizations. Women involvement in militant organizations has increased as they perform several activities like birthing next-generation militants/jihadists, managing the logistics and recruiting the new members to the organizations. The world did not recognize women as key players in terrorist organizations until the 1980s when females held major roles in guerilla wars of southern America. Women have either willingly or unwillingly held a variety of roles in these extremist organizations and Islamist terrorist organizations like Hamas and al-Qaeda women do simply provide moral support.
According to the media reports since the US withdrawal from Iraq in 2006 female suicide attacks have been increased and they have been extensively part of ISIS. The ISIS had a female brigade which they called as Al-Khansaa which was established to perform search activities in the state. Both foreign and domestic recruits in the Islamic state have participated in brutal torture. A recently acquired logbook from a guesthouse in Syria provides important information about 1100 females who joined the organization, the western women who are called as ‘the muhajirat’.
When the people from rest of the world joined organizations such as ISIS, they burnt their passports and rejected their national identity. Especially women from western countries who were radicalized online based on their phenomenon ‘ISIS brides/Jihadi brides’ to marry terrorists. Since Islamic State isnot recognized by the world these marriages are not legally valid, apart from this a number of these brides have experienced sexual torture and extreme violence.
While the erstwhile members of the extremist organizations like ISIS and others are left adrift the one challenging question remaining is should states and their societies keep them and reengage or rehabilitate or prosecute them. How firmly the idea of their erstwhile organization is stuck in their minds and especially the followers who crossed the world to join remains a concern to many. The U.S backed Kurdish forces across turkey border hold thousands of these left-behind women and children in their centre. Hundreds of foreign women and children who were once part of an aspirant state, The caliphate are now floating around the concentration camps in Syria, Turkey and Kurdish detention centres and prisons. Many are waiting to return to their origin countries. They pose a unique challenge to their native states like whether to include them or not and even if they include how to integrate adults who at least for a time part of these terrorist organizations and what to do with children who are too young to understand the politics and obstacles keeping them in camps and detention centres where resources are scarce. Women present a problem because its hard to know what kind of crimes they have committed beyond the membership of the terrorist organization.
It is no secret that women also have been part of insurgency across the world, like in ISIS,LTTE,PIRA and PFLP. The responsibility of women in ISIS includes wife to ISIS soldiers, birthing the next generation of jihad and advancing ISIS’ global reach through online recruiting. The International Center for Study of Radicalization (ICAR) estimates that out of 40000 people joined ISIS from 80 different countries nearly 8000 are women and children. After the defeat of ISIS and such extreme organization those who are left behind possess the ideological commitment and practical skills which again a threat upon return to home countries.
The states across the world are either revoking the citizenship or ignore their responsibility. The most famous case of Shamima Begum a UK citizen married to an ISIS fighter whose citizenship was revoked by the UK government. In other cases like HodaMuthana of the USA and Iman Osman of Tunisia have been the same case. As recently as Tooba Gondal an ISIS bride who now in a detention camp in northern Syria begged to go home in the UK in a public apology.
The American president Donald Trump issued a statement saying women who joined ISIS cannot return. The NATO deputy head said “…returning ISIS fighters and brides must face full rigours of the law”. Revoking the citizenship and making someone stateless is illegal under international law and it is also important to know how gendered these cases are because the UK have successfully prosecuted Mohammad Uddin and the USA has also done it so. Stripping off their citizenship itself a punishment before proper trail and the only good out of it would state can take their hands off in dealing with cases. Samantha Elhassani the only American who repatriated from Iraq so far and pleaded guilty for supporting ISIS. Meanwhile, France is trying to route its citizens who joined the ISIS and extradited few who are under trial in Bagdad.
As experts and political analysts say “countries should take responsibility for their own citizens” because failure to do so will also make the long term situation more dangerous as jihadists will try to a hideout and turn into militant groups for their protection. The children, the second-generation ISIS need cultural centres and rehabilitation centres and this is an international problem. These women known as jihadists brides suffer from a post-traumatic stress disorder and many are pregnant or multiple children born in ISIS territory.
In some countries travelling abroad to join the insurgencies in North Africa and Syria was not always a criminal act, Sweden criminalized such act recently but to prosecute them proof of offences committed in the conflict zone is difficult to collect and most countries in the world do not allow the pre-trial detention for more than 14 days. With problems of different national Lawson extradition and capital punishment and to prosecute them in conflict countries is also a challenge for states. Since Kurdish forces have signalled that they cannot bring all the prisoners into justice the home countries will have to act or else it might create a long term dangerous situation. With the civil war in Syria is about to end it is time to address these issues because since there are more ISIS fighters in Kurdish prisons and detention centres they could be influenced to join rebels who are fighting the regime of Assad in last standing province of Idlib.
If the governments reject the repatriation applications then they will be signalling that their action is essential for national security and thus asserting that failed or poorly resourced states are better equipped to handle potential extremists. The criminal system in Iraq is corrupt and human rights violations have been reported and which creates the risk of further radicalization. One should not forget that even citizenship of Osama bin laden was also stripped but which did not stop him from forming al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. If the citizens commit crimes and forget their responsibility then the states must bring them to justice instead of stripping citizenship. The states must come with a solution for this problem before its too late, setting up an international tribunal to deal with these cases would be a great start but these tribunals are time-consuming and expensive.
States must act as a responsible actor in the international system. Jihadist terrorism is a global problem and states must act together to deal with it because with nearly 40000 fighters joining caliphate from across the world it only shows how global and deeply rooted the phenomenon is. Instead of stripping their citizens’ citizenship, states must find a way to act together for the peace and security of the international community.
COVID-19: Game-changer for international peace and security
The world has “entered a volatile and unstable new phase” in terms of the impact of COVID-19 on peace and security, the UN chief told a virtual meeting with world leaders on Wednesday.
Speaking at one of a series of international meetings among heads of State to enhance global cooperation in fighting terrorism and violent extremism, as part of the Aqaba Process, Secretary-General António Guterres said the pandemic was more than a global health crisis.
“It is a game-changer for international peace and security”, he spelled out, emphasizing that the process can play a key role in “promoting unity and aligning thinking” on how to beat back the pandemic.
Warning lights flashing
Mr. Guterres maintained that the coronavirus has exposed the basic fragility of humankind, laid bare systemic and entrenched inequalities, and thrust into the spotlight, geopolitical challenges and security threats.
“The warning lights are flashing”, he said, pointing out that as the virus is “exacerbating grievances, undermining social cohesion and fueling conflicts”, it is also likely to “act as a catalyst in the spread of terrorism and violent extremism”.
Moreover, international tensions are being driven by supply chain disruptions, protectionism and growing nationalism – with rising unemployment, food insecurity and climate change, helping to fuel political unrest.
A generation in crosshairs
The UN chief also noted that a generation of students is missing school.
“A whole generation…has seen its education disrupted”, he stated. “Many young people are experiencing a second global recession in their short lives.”
He explained that they feel left out, neglected and disillusioned by their prospects in an uncertain world.
Wanted: Global solidarity
The pandemic has highlighted vulnerabilities to emerging threats such as bioterrorism and cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure.
“The world faces grave security challenges that no single country or organization can address alone”, upheld the Secretary-General, “there is an urgent need for global unity and solidarity”.
Recalling the UN’s Virtual Counter-Terrorism Week in July, he reminded that participants called for a “reinvigorated commitment to multilateralism to combat terrorism and violent extremism”.
However, a lack of international cooperation to tackle the pandemic has been “startling”, Mr. Guterres said, highlighting national self-interest, transactional information sharing and manifestations of authoritarianism.
‘Put people first’
The UN chief stressed that “we must not return to the status quo ante“.
He outlined the need to put people first, by enhancing information sharing and technical cooperation “to prevent terrorists exploiting the pandemic for their own nefarious goals” and thinking “long-term solutions rather than short-term fixes”.
“This includes upholding the rights and needs of victims of terrorism…[and] the repatriation of foreign terrorist fighters, especially women and children, and their dependents to their countries of origin”, he elaborated.
Meanwhile, the risk of COVID-19 is exacerbating the already dire security and humanitarian situation in Syrian and Iraqi camps housing refugees and the displaced.
“The window of opportunity is closing so we must seize the moment”, the UN chief said. “We cannot ignore our responsibilities and leave children to fend for themselves and at the mercy of terrorist exploitation”.
He also expressed confidence that the Aqaba Process will continue to “strengthen international counter-terrorism cooperation, identify and fill capacity gaps, and address evolving security threats associated with the pandemic”, and offered the UN’s “full support”.
The Secretary-General also addressed the Centenary Summit of the International Organization of Employers (IOE) on how private and public sector cooperation can help drive post-COVID change.
He lauded the IOE’s “significant contributions” to global policymaking for economic and social progress, job creation and a mutually beneficial business environment, calling it “an important pillar of the International Labour Organization (ILO) since its earliest days”.
“Today, our primary task is to defeat the pandemic and rebuild lives, livelihoods, businesses, and economies”, he told the virtual Summit.
In building back, he underscored that workers and small business be protected, and everyone be given the opportunity to fulfil their potential.
The UN chief urged businesses to engage with the multilateral system to create a “conducive global environment for decent work, investment, and sustainability”; and with the UN at the national level, to help ensure that multilateralism “works on the ground”.
He also encouraged them to actively participate in national and global public-private dialogue and initiatives, stressing, “there must be space for them to do so”.
ILO chief Guy Ryder highlighted the need for “conscious policy decisions and tripartite cooperation to overcome transformational challenges”, such as technological change and climate change, as well as COVID-19.
Mr. Ryder also flagged that employers must continue to collaborate in social dialogue and maintain their commitment to both multilateralism and the ILO.
The IOE represents more than 50 million companies and is a key partner in the international multilateral system for over 100 years as the voice of business at the ILO, across the UN, the G20 richest countries and other emerging forums.
Traumas of terrorism cannot be erased, but victims’ voices must never be forgotten
In remembering and honouring all victims of terrorism, Secretary-General António Guterres said the UN stands by those who grieve and those who “continue to endure the physical and psychological wounds of terrorist atrocities”.
“Traumatic memories cannot be erased, but we can help victims and survivors by seeking truth, justice and reparation, amplifying their voices and upholding their human rights”, he stressed.
Keep spotlight on victims, even amid pandemic
This year’s commemoration takes place against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, when vital services for victims, such as criminal justice processes and psychosocial support, have been interrupted, delayed or ended as Governments focus attention and resources on fighting the pandemic.
Moreover, many memorials and commemorations have been cancelled or moved online, hampering the ability of victims to find solace and comfort together.
And the current restrictions have also forced the first-ever UN Global Congress of Victims of Terrorism has to be postponed until next year.
“But it is important that we keep a spotlight on this important issue,” stressed the UN chief.
“Remembering the victims of terrorism and doing more to support them is essential to help them rebuild their lives and heal”, said Mr. Guterres, including work with parliamentarians and governments to draft and adopt legislation and national strategies to help victims.
The Secretary-General vowed that “the UN stands in solidarity with all victims of terrorism – today and every day” and underscored the need to “ensure that those who have suffered are always heard and never forgotten”.
General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande saluted the resilience of terrorist survivors and called the day “an opportunity to honour the memories of the innocent civilians who have lost their lives as a result of terrorist acts around the world”.
“Terrorism, in all forms and manifestations, can never be justified”, he stated. “Acts of terrorism everywhere must be strongly condemned”.
The UN commits to combating terrorism and the Assembly has adopted resolutions to curb the scourge while working to establish and maintain peace and security globally.
Mechanisms for survivors must be strengthened to safeguard a “full recovery, rehabilitation and re-integration into society through long-term multi-dimensional support”, stated the UN official.
“Together we can ensure that you live a full life defined by dignity and freedom. You are not alone in this journey. You are not forgotten”, concluded the Assembly president.
Closing the event, Vladimir Voronkov, chief of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, maintained that victims represent “the very human dimension of terrorism”.
While terrorists try to depersonalize victims by reducing them to mere numbers or statistics, Mr. Voronkov maintained that “we have a responsibility to do the exact opposite”.
“We must see victims’ hopes, dreams and daily lives that have been shattered by terrorist violence – a shattering that carries on long after the attack is over”, he stated. “We must ensure their human rights are upheld and their needs are met”.
While acknowledging the “terrible reality of terrorism”, Mr. Voronkov flagged that the survivors shine as “examples of resilience, and beacons of hope, courage and solidarity in the face of adversity”.
In reaffirming “our common humanity”, he urged everyone to raise awareness of victims needs and rights.
“Let us commit to showing them that they are not alone and will never be forgotten”, concluded the Counter-Terrorism chief.
At the virtual event, survivors shared their stories while under lockdown, agreeing that the long-term impacts of surviving any kind of an attack is that the traumatic experience never really goes away.
Tahir from Pakistan lost his wife in attack against the UN World Food Programme (WFP) office in Islamabad.
“If you have an accident, you know how to cope with it. Terminal illness, you know how to cope with it. But there is no coping mechanism for a person who dies in an act of terror”, he said.
Meanwhile Nigeel’s father perished in the 1998 US Embassy attack in Kenya, when he was just months years old.
The 22 year-old shared: “When you are growing, it really doesn’t have a heavy impact on you, but as life starts to unfold, mostly I’ll find myself asking if I do this and my dad was around, would he be proud of me?”
And Julie, from Australia, lost her 21-year-old daughter in the 2017 London Bridge attack.
“The Australian police came to our house and said ‘we have a body, still not confirmed’, so they recommended that we fly to London”, she recalled. “I can’t describe how devastating as a parent to lose a child in these circumstances is for the rest of your life”.
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