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Terrorism

It is wrong to say terrorism of the ISIS kind has ‘nothing’ to do with ‘religion’

Alexander Athos

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It is often said that Terrorism has nothing to do with religion. That is patently not true at least to the extent that a cult can be termed a religion. Certainly without fail, all terrorists acknowledge a religious motivation for their acts whether it’s blowing up their underwear or shoes in planes over the US or hacking to death infidels on the streets of our homelands.

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Hate preacher Anjem Choudary foments discord based on Salafi Takfiri religious dogma.Choudary said even if they arrest him (which the UK authorities did today September 2014), “I will carry on in prison. I’ll radicalise everyone in prison.’

What the authorities mean to say (laudably) is that Terrorism does not equate with Islam for fear of tarring the whole Islamic community with the same brush. I have written an interesting article on the need to be accurate in describing the terrorist threat: https://www.moderndiplomacy.eu/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=134:islam-the-religion-vs-the-wahhabi-salafi-takfiri-cult&Itemid=487
Not all Muslims are terrorists but some of them clearly are. What’s more worryingly is that many millions (not just hundreds) are potentially terrorists with very little radicalizing and indeed some have become terrorists very soon after ‘conversion’ to ‘Islam’.
Look to any Islamist street demonstration or riots against the West over the past 14 years (see picture as example of protests over the Danish cartoon incident) and you see similar hatred of the West based on the fingers pointed to Allah and the slight against their religion as a justification for their outrage.

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Notorious ISIS terrorist Khalid Sharrouf pointing to Allah as his Raison d’être

A convert after saying that there is only one God, Allah and that Mohammed is his prophet must then try and be a good Muslim. However how Muslim ought to live his life (especially in the West) is where the problem of identity, self-esteem and civic responsibility to adhere to the laws of the land arise. That’s where the extremist Salafi cult comes in and creates a tear in the social fabric and poisons the mind of some Muslims and where counter terrorism and anti-radicalization measures must interdict future terrorism mindsets.

 

The extremists Muslims (those that want to follow a literal and strict adherence to the warrior ways of the first Muslim caliphs) give the young Muslim men the ideological blueprint on how to be a good Muslim. These extreme fundamentalists are called Salafis/Whabbi’s (or in Indian sub-continent Deobandi/Taliban). Whilst there is a quietest branch of these religious Islamic fundamentalists, at the extreme end of the spectrum are the ‘Takfiri’ (those who see any deviation from their ideology as apostasy and all who practice falsity deserve death. Therefore the Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri Jihadi glories in terrorism (especially if by Allah’s providence they can be also martyred at the same time) and the barbaric acts we have all witnessed in the deserts of Syria and Iraq and on the streets of New York, Boston, Toulouse and Woolwich, Train stations in London and Madrid, bars in Bali, the primary schools of Beslan or the concert halls of Moscow.
ISIS like the Woolwich slayer, Michael Adebolajo is just following the Salafi Takfiri script as written by its ideologues like The Blind Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, Anwar al-Awlaki, Omar Bakri Mohammed, Abu Hamza (al-Masri) , Anjem Choudary, Trewvor Brooks (Abu Izzadeen), Mizanur Rahman, Mohammed Achamlane, Mohammad Ali Baryalei, and Abu Musab Al Suri, al-Bagdadi etc .

 

It is good and admirable that leaders make a distinction between mainstream Islam and the Islamists but it is wrong to say terrorism of the Jihadist kind has “nothing to do with religion” or religious ideology. The population will switch off this narrative as it’s obvious that Jihadist terrorism is inspired by something in Islam. What the people do not understand however is that it’s an extreme sect within Islam. When the next horrific Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri terrorist attack happens, like the planned random beheading of person on the Streets of Australia, there will be a backlash against the Muslim community as a whole, especially those that are ostensibly fundamentalist (such as men with beards and long white robes and women in black burqas).Also there will be little hope in tacking the extremist pro-terrorism ideology of the Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri’s if security agencies monitor potential terrorists too broadly which will only tend to alienate the Muslim community who will feel under siege.

World leaders have finally come to the conclusion that civilization must not only attack ISIS on the ground but also its ideology. President Obama, Australian PM Abbott and UK PM Cameron have come to call ISIS a ‘death cult’. This too whilst an accurate descriptor is not helpful in the degradation of their ideology and ability to radicalize homegrown terrorists or fighters for their land wars in the Middle East. Now how does one attack a ghost death cult that has nothing to do with Islam? It is not possible. There is no ‘Death Cult’ website, bookshop or headquarters. The leader of ISIS al-Bagdadi, has a PHD in Islamic studies and would but for his barbaric methods in Syria and Iraq be considered as an ‘Islamic Scholar’. So it’s not about Islamists having a shallow understanding of Islam. It’s about a sect within Islam itself.
Al Qaeda too, once a formal and structured terrorist group has become after years of degradation, more of an ideal and an enabler than a formal group. Again you won’t find an Al Qaeda bookshop or HQ. However you find the same ideology behind their motivation and justification for terrorism against the West.

The ideology of all the terrorist organizations or lone wolves that have or want to commit terrorist acts against the West whatever they call themselves is a cult of Islam that can be correctly and accurately described and called the Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri Jihadi. That is the one ideology that is behind all the fronts and brand names like: Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab and ISIS ‘al Muhajiroun’,  ‘Islam4UK’, ‘Sharia4Belguim’, Forsane Alizza,  ’Force de Défense Musulmane sur Internet’, ‘Sharia4France’, Al-Haramain , Benevolence International Foundation, Wafa al Igatha al Islamia , Hizb ut-Tahrir, al-Gheraba, Muslims Against Crusades, et al.

aa2Underscoring this point is the life sentence for terrorism this week handed down by a New York court of Osama bin Laden’s son in law, Sulaiman Abu Ghayth (pictured far left next to OBL).

Abu Ghayth was jailed for life September 2014 for conspiring on a planned second wave of 9/11 attacks. What was his previous occupation and driving motivation when planning more 9/11 attacks on the West? He was a religious instruction teacher at school and an imam at a Kuwaiti Mosque. He was a ’religious’ man but of a fanatical Salafi sect of Islam, the Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri sect. In court Abu Ghayth denied he was an al-Qaida recruiter and claimed his ‘role was a religious one aimed at encouraging all Muslims to rise up against their oppressors’. Speaking in Arabic through a translator, Abu Ghayth also told the New York court, “today when you are shackling my hands, and intend to bury me alive, you are unleashing the hands of thousands of Muslims and they will join the rally of free men.” In his March 2014 trial prosecutors showed jurors a 50-second clip of a five-minute videotape of Abu Ghaith from October 9, 2001, in which he threatens that “America must know that the storm of airplanes will not abate, with God’s permission.” Alluding to martyrdom, he said there were “youths who are yearning to death just as Americans yearn to live…. “We strongly advise Muslims in America and the Britain, the children and those who reject unjust American policies, not to board aircraft and we advise them not to live in high-rises and tall buildings.”
When you see pictures of ISIS fighters what are they gesturing with their hands? They are pointing with a finger toward heaven/Allah, in whose name they slaughter the innocents. In fact they are brainwashing their children from a very young age to equate submission to God with terrorism as the picture of ISIS children shows.

 

aa3What is on their black flag but religious symbolism that all Muslims would easily recognize?
What is the essential message of ISIS and all such Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri groups and individual fanatics? That Islam is ISIS, God inspired, God sanctioned and God predestined to rule over all with their version of Sharia law. What did Mohamed Merah say just before he gunned down little Jewish children in Toulouse France: “This will bring France to its knees before Allah”:

https://www.moderndiplomacy.eu/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=136:islamo-fascist-terrorism-now-in-france-what-must-be-done-to-stop-its-spread&Itemid=487

What do they do before they blow themselves up, execute someone or fire a weapon but a religious salutation Allahu Akbar (Arabic: الله أكبر meaning “God is greater” and in context of the salutation before committing violence…’ (their ideology, their God, their faith’ is greater than the infidel non-believer/apostates or their errant religion or man-made democracies).

The Islamists whether they are ISIS fighters or lone wolf be-headers on the Streets of our homelands are brainwashed by the Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri Jihadi cult to believe their barbarous acts are sanctioned by the Quran and the example of their Prophet, Mohammed in the way in which he went about securing temporal power in the Middle East and North Africa in the seventh century creating the First Islamic Caliphate. To deal with the terrorist threat humanity has to deal with their ideology. The people best placed to do that are the vast majority of Muslims. To engage with that community, we should not speak for them when terrorism happens. We should give the Muslim majority a voice.
George Bush or President Obama saying Islam is a religion of peace is not the best way to go about the PR war on ISIS Al Qaeda or other Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri terrorists. They must call the terrorists by name of their ideology. Islamism is not accurate appropriate or helpful. It is the Wets lazy shorthand. When Western leaders refer to them they should use their correct descriptor Wahhabi Salafi Takfir Jihadi or WSTJ…that will cover the fighters and supports of ISIS, Al Qaeda ,Boko Haram, etc. and also the hate preachers, supporters and potential fifth column terrorists in our homelands. Our leaders and media should also let the voice of moderate (and majority) Islam be heard immediately after the terrorist attacks occur as we need to empower the Muslim community to inoculate their people from the WSTJ Ebola type contagion and be seen to condemn these attacks and also be seen by the non-Muslim fellow citizens as not condoning terrorism against their fellow citizens by apparent silence.

Until the Western leaders and media appreciate that one cannot understand (let alone defeat) ISIS or Al Qaeda without defeating their ideology, there is little hope. Their implacable hatred of the West is based on their genuinely and fanatically held religious views. There will be no end to terrorism of the Jihadist/Islamist kind, in fact it will only get worse,(especially in our homelands) even if ISIS is bombed back to the stone age unless the West recognizes the terrorist problem as associated with the extreme Salafi sect of Islam and their ambition to hijack that religion for the imposition of Sharia and world domination by WSTJ Muslims as the vanguard of an Islamic ‘Third Reich’ type Caliphate.
Wahhbai Salafi preachers like The Blind Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman have been at the forefront of radicalization and terrorist plots in the Middle East and the West for decades.

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Abu Izzadeen 2 IC to Anjem Chodary and Islam4UK arrested

Choudary, Izzaden and other Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri’s praised the September 11 terror atrocity and the July 7 London bombings which killed 52 innocent people in 2005. Choudary has preached that jihad,  or holy war, is an ‘obligation  upon Muslims’ – an interpretation rejected by moderate Muslim scholars – and has called for a draconian  form of Sharia law to be imposed across Britain.

The arrests this week of Choudary and his ilk are long overdue and should be repeated around the world against all radicalizers and advocates and supporters of terrorist ideology irrespective of their protests that they are ‘religious men’. What is needed now is a microphone and camera in front of Muslim leaders welcoming the arrests of these evil men who threaten their communities as well as the countries within which they live. The Islamic leaders will speak the truth and say these men are from a minority sect Islam which they and most Muslims find abhorrent and against their principles and beliefs as ‘good Muslims’. Unless this happens neither we nor the Muslim youth can recognize what being a good Muslim is or is not and our security in the West will remain precarious. Counter rsadicalization in civil society is therefore more important than Counter Terrorism laws in defeating ISIS and Al Qaeda. Choudray’s 2IC, Abu Izzadeen told then UK home secretary John Reid he was an ‘enemy of Islam’ after the minister asked Muslims to step in if they thought children were being radicalised.
This is where the real war on terrorism needs to focus. Had the UK and other Western nations acted earlier to clean out the vipers den of al Muhajiroun’,  ‘Islam4UK’ etc, ISIS may never have had the support of foreign fighters recruited from the West. Ideology is important. Politicians and the media must act responsibly and honestly in reporting the religious sect ideology behind terrorism so that it can be interdicted and the fabric of our multi0cultural societies not be rent by a backlash of the community who no longer listen to their leaders rhetoric.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2769098/BREAKING-NEWS-Nine-men-arrested-counter-terror-police-London-suspicion-encouraging-terrorism.html
https://www.moderndiplomacy.eu/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=136:islamo-fascist-terrorism-now-in-france-what-must-be-done-to-stop-its-spread&Itemid=487
http://www.homelandsecuritynewswire.com/dr20140925-former-alqaeda-spokesman-obl-s-soninlaw-sentenced-to-life-in-prison
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/11/shoe-bomb-witness-suleiman-abu-ghaith-trial
http://www.deccanchronicle.com/140924/world-americas/article/osama-bin-laden-son-law-sulaiman-abu-ghaith-gets-life-jail-terror
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sulaiman_Abu_Ghaith
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2584374/Ex-al-Qaida-spokesman-recalls-9-11-bin-Laden.html

Alexander Athos is a writer and businessman.He was awarded a Bachelor of Arts (European History) Personal background Alexander was christened Orthodox brought up Catholic and now Evangelical Christian with an acceptance of the best in Christian tradition and a respect for genuine people of faith from other cultures. Political inclinations: Christian intellectual who has an eclectic predisposition to understanding global and national political and social trends and seeking to influence them for good by thoughtful and persuasive discourse.

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Terrorism

Stateless and Leftover ISIS Brides

Sagar N

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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.

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Terrorism

COVID-19: Game-changer for international peace and security

Newsroom

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In Iraq, children look over a wall at clouds of smoke from burning oil wells, the result of oil fires set by ISIL. © UNICEF/Lindsay Mackenzie

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.

Closing window 

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”.

Post-COVID rebuilding 

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. 

Businesses input

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”. 

Tripartite cooperation

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.

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Terrorism

Traumas of terrorism cannot be erased, but victims’ voices must never be forgotten

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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”.

Terrorism unjustifiable

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. 

Strengthen assistance

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.

‘Human dimension’ 

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”.

Reaffirming humanity

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.

Survivors remember

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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