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Terror Downunder

Alexander Athos

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Sulayman Khalid (aka Abu Bakr) is an Australian of Iraqi and Italian decent, aged 20, from Regents Park a suburb in Sydney’s western suburbs. He has just been charged with offences related to an immanent terror attack in Australia.

Like many Wahhabi Salafi’s Mr Khalid, prefers to show his religious piety by calling himself Abu Bakr after father-in-law of Islam’s prophet Mohammed. Also like many Australian born Muslim boys he is drawn to the glory promised by militant Wahhabi Salafi extremist groups like Al Qaeda and its offshoots like Al Nusrah and ISIS. The narrative of the Wahhabi Salafi ideologues paints a picture of the global suffering of Sunni Muslims at the hands of the US and its allies (Israel and the West) and its Muslim ‘puppets’ in the Middle East. The narrative ignores the US-NATO intervention in Kosovo against Christian Serbia and also the antipathy the West has with the Assad regime (and the likely indictment of that regime’s leaders for war crimes absent Al Qaeda and ISIS involvement in the civil war) and its Russian supporter. No matter. Truth cannot get in the way of a good terrorist narrative.

Khalid appears to be a thoroughly brainwashed by the militant Wahhabi Salafi ideology and is a self-professed ISIS supporter. He arms himself with illegal weapons and dreams of creating with his Wahhabi brothers a Caliphate to humble the Zionist Crusader alliance. He appears to be prepared to see Australia and his fellow countrymen who are not Wahhabi Salafi’s as his enemy because they are enemies of his God. It is to be sure a political form of radicalism but one with a religious base. One cannot in the Wahhabi Salafi world separate religion (as they interpret Islam) and politics (which can only be legitimate if expressed religiously through Sharia, Allah’s law). In the Wahhabi Salafi mind there is no separation of Church and State. God is sovereign over all. Accordingly all acts in society must be measured by their version of religion. No acts are barbaric if the means justify the ends of making the world submit to God and His rule though His servants who obey His word as revealed by their prophet as interpreted by the strong men of the Sunni (only true) Muslims. All opposition to God’s laws as so revealed and interpreted are untewrmensch and to be eliminated without mercy just as the Nazi’s who gained control of the German State viewed the peoples they conquered and subjugated. Also like Nazi thugs militant Wahhabi Salafi men in the West like the power of their gangs and are prepared to use intimidation and threats and violence to protect their honour or that of their group or religion.

So it was that during an Australian national television show ‘Insight’ about why Aussie Muslims wanted to abandon their land of milk and honey and go and fight in the deserts of Syria and Iraq (aired on the SBS channel on 12 August 2014) he wore an ISIS flag (of the type fellow Wahhabi Salafi, Man Haron Monis called for during his siege in Martin Place Sydney). Khalid stormed off the set with his Muslim lawyer Zali Burrows. Ms Burrows, treated the TV chat show like a court room and stopped the TV presenter asking her client questions when ISIS brutality was raised and advised Khalid to not answer certain questions about whether he supported ISIS brutal inhuman methods (1)
Apparently Channel 7 (the station that appears to have been the original target for Wahhabi Salafi “Brother’ Monis(2) was going to air a television show in which Australian Sunni’s like Khalid was going to be featured but the show was stopped by an injunction brought by Zali Burrows. It would be interesting to know what was going to be shown in that show.

Khalid was also charged for in August this year for threatening and intimidating 43-year-old Christian Iraqi cleaner Petrus Matlub at Bankstown (Sydney) shopping centre as part of an alleged ‘religious hate crime’. Apparently the cleaner challenged Khalid’s wearing an ISIS motif. Given what ISIS has been doing to Christians in Iraq this is not surprising. Rather than react with dialogue Khalid became aggressive and threatening. Khalid’s lawyer Ms Burrows told Daily Mail Australia that Khalid is simply a ‘young kid who is passionate about injustice’. The Bankstown Court back in September granted bail but ordered that he stay away from the shopping centre and not go out at night unaccompanied by a parent. It is unclear whether those charges have ever been heard as the new terrorism charges (and no doubt soon to be added illegal weapons charges) have overtaken this young Australian man whose heart is set on pursuing the ISIS path.(3)

Culturally in some parts of Sydney dominated by Wahhabi Salafi’s it has become common practice to display radical jihadist motifs such as the black flag associated with militant Jihadism since the 1990’s by groups such as Al Qaeda. This prompted the Australian Prime Minister to say on radio in September that the Muslim community should join ‘Team Australia’ and fight extremism as represented by ISIS and their radical ideology as symbolized by their motifs (including not only the ISIS flag but also the white on black Shahada that represents radical militant Islam), propaganda and brutal methods of political and religious violence.(4) Tragically it’s what Australians saw earlier this month when frightened hostages in Martin Place were forced by another Wahhabi Salafi to hold up the black Jihadist flag.

It may be time for Australia to follow what has happened here in Europe recently when Austria enacted new laws banning ISIS glorification. As a result of the Wahhabi terror grooming, funding and propaganda campaigns by the likes of Misrad Omerovic aka ‘Imam Ebu Tejma’(5), the Austrian Parliament on 10 December 2014 passed wide sweeping Anti-Terror laws(6) that included banning ISIS and AL Qaeda flags as terror symbols and takes away Austrian citizenship from Austrian Muslims who go to Syria to join ISIS. These laws mirror similar laws passed in Germany on 5 September 2014 that were based on the 1960 anti-Fascism laws called Abzeichengesetz (Badge Law)– which outlaws Nazi symbols, flags, uniforms and insignia. Other European countries like Denmark are said to be following suit.(7)
As an aside it is interesting to note that Khalid’s new lawyer Zali Burrows also represents 39 year old Hamid Alqudsi a Sunni Muslim man from St Helens Park SW Sydney who is charged with 7 counts of organizing Australian Sunni Muslims to join ISIS and other Wahhabi Salafi terrorist organizations in Syria like Al Qaeda offshoot Al Nusrah and Dawla Islamieh. He is on a disability pension paid for by the Australian government and allegedly has two wives.

Alqudsi was alleged to have had communications with notorious Australian (now deceased) terrorist Mohammad Ali Baryalei.

Alqudsi’s case is being heard in the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney. One of his co-accused is Fatima Elomar (wife of notorious ISIS fighter who proudly posed for photos of him holding up decapitated heads of ISIS victims in Syria and Iraq, Mohamed Elomar).

Mrs Elomar She was stopped at Sydney Airport earlier this year as she was boarding a plane with her four children and allegedly found to have terrorist materials on her.(8)

Some of the Australian fighters the late Ali Baryalei allegedly recruited include, Amin Iman Mohamed, Mehmet Biber, Tyler Casey (from Redcliffe and husband of Gold Coast private school girl Amira Karroum, both of whom are now deceased), Khaled Sharrouf (who took a picture of his 9 year old son holding up the severed head of an ISIS victim), Mohammed Elomar, Yusuf Ali, Amira Karroum and the late Caner Temel. (9)

It is also alleged that he was in regular phone contact with Guildford apprentice Omarjan Azari, 22, and he was allegedly intercepted in one phone call telling Azari to behead a random member of the public in Sydney’s CBD sometime before Christmas this year in an act intended to “shock, horrify and terrify the community”. Azari was arrested during counter-terrorism raids in Sydney in September (2014) and charged with conspiring to commit a terrorist act. The pair met through the Street Dawah movement (pictured here with Ali Baryalei), a volunteer initiative in which Muslims proselytise on the streets of Sydney. Many of the men detained during the September counter-terrorism raids knew each other through the group.” (10)

Hamid Alqudsi is no stranger to controversy. In 2010 Alqudsi as husband of Muslim woman Carnita Matthews (one of his two wives) was seen in a melee outside a court-house in Sydney Australia. Carnita was convicted (and sentenced to 6 months jail) for making a false statement that a NSW police officer was a racist and tried to remove her veil during a random breath test (the Magistrate saying the lady was acting maliciously in making the false allegations). (11)

The group of men acted in a most aggressive and violent manner toward media outside the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney. Notice the cordon of male supporters (who appear to be Wahhabi Salafi) surrounding Carnita Matthews in a militia style and chanting ‘Allahu Akbar” as they scuffled with reporters and police outside the courtroom.(12)

Zali Burrows has received praise even from supporters of (Jabhat Al Nusrah) Al Nusrah Front the Australian extremist political group Hizb ut Tahrir. One of their leadership Ulthman Badar on his Facebook page he and many fellow travellers like Rayan Yaqub Al Bikaadi from Auburn NSW who works for UNSW Global Institute in Kensington and Randwick, Abdur Rehman, Ahmed Annous, Hafiz M Wassem Naeem, several Abu Hamza’s (meaning Muslim ‘lion’) Doureihi, Ibrahim Salih, Razwann Ahmed, Umm Asad, Laelaaha Ellal Laah and Bilal Baydar bemoan the unfairness of the travel bans on Australian Sunni men wishing to fight the Assad regime in Syria (not necessarily joining ISIS to do so but rather groups like Al Nusrah). Presumably they (or the real men behind the Facebook pseudonyms) all wish to do so.

Zali Burrows (also a political aspirant) like many Muslims who oppose the Syrian Regime has challenged the Australian government’s anti-terror laws(13) and especially those that prohibit Sunni men fighting against the Assad regime in Syria. Under the Autonomous Sanctions Act 2011(14) and Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Act 2014(15)  and the it’s illegal for any person in Australia or any Australian citizen (including dual citizen), anywhere in the world  to provide any kind of material support to any armed group in Syria government or opposition; Syrian or foreign. This includes providing weapons or raising funds to support armed groups active in Syria, offering to fight, or recruiting or training others to do so.

Mr Khalid’s passport was cancelled by the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) in December 2013 because of his likelihood of breaching those Acts. ASIO has had him and 20 other extremists on a watch list.
Following counter terrorism raids around Australian as part of as part of a large Counter Terrorism investigation that has been ongoing since 2013, ‘Operation Appleby’. 11 individuals with a jihadist ideology were charged with terrorism related offences after the September 2014 raids.

‘Operation Appleby’ is the largest counter terrorism probe in Australia. It is investigating the conveyor belt from fanaticism to terrorism. It commenced with ASIO’s surveillance of Alqudsi and revelations that came from them of the ‘terror tourism’ that was happening between Australia and Syria via Turkey. It continued after his arrest as there was a ring of about 17 alleged co-conspirators including 24 year old Marsfield man Milad Bin Ahmad-Shah Al-Ahmadzai(16) and 23 year old Amin Iman Mohammed involved in this terror tourism. “But the group’s recruitment efforts were frustrated by ASIO, which on several occasions cancelled the passports of the person Azari’s group was trying to recruit, preventing them from leaving Australia… Then, early last month, came the game-changer. As Islamic State was conducting its murderous rampage through northwest Iraq, the group received a phone call from Baryalei in which he asked the group to carry out an attack in Australia. Authorities listened in as some of the group discussed packing a vehicle with explosives and detonating it. One of those to visit the group in Sydney was Omar Succarieh, 31, brother of Australia’s first suicide bomber in Syria, Ahmed Succarieh. Succarieh, from Logan, south of Brisbane, was arrested on raids across southeast Queensland (in September this year) authorities monitored a call between Baryalei and Azari in which Baryalei allegedly demanded that Azari go out and kill a random non-Muslim as a demonstration of Islamic State’s intent…. In the intercepted conversation the actual word “behead” was not used but it was allegedly implied by a suggestion that a flag be draped around the victim’s head and that their death be videoed and placed on social media, similar to the recent beheading executions by Islamic State of two US journalists and a British aid worker… They discussed the murder by Islamic extremists of British soldier Lee Rigby on a London street in May last year. It was clear they could not guarantee there would be no repeat of such an attack on the streets of Sydney. There really was no choice; they had to go in immediately. In barely 24 hours, about 870 police officers were mobilised and raids were planned on more than 27 homes in two states with the aim of detaining and questioning 17 men.”(17)

Islamo-Fascism seen as a type of Nazi sickness by European parliaments
Just this month in Austria similar nationwide raids as those that happened in September in Australia netted a huge Wahhabi Salfi terror ring. (18) The Austrian police and national security officers (WEGA) have been conducting mass nationwide raids to weed out Wahhabi extremists who have been funding ISIS and luring hundreds of young Muslims aged between 15 and 30 either as Wahhabi concubines to ISIS fighters or to their death as cannon fodder in Syria and Iraq. There are estimated to be 150 Austrian citizens who have gone to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS fighting or sex brigades. The Austrian anti-terror sweeps were the culmination of a 2 year investigation and involved 900 police and intelligence operatives in which they allegedly monitored phone calls between Misrad and the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The nationwide raids were the biggest in Austria since WWII. Many centres of Wahhabi extremism were uncovered in mosques, so called ‘prayer rooms’, private homes of Wahhabi’s and Islamic Centres in key Austrian cities like Graz, Linz and Vienna.[xv] The raids found proof of recruitment for ISIS, terrorist propaganda, cash and other terrorist paraphernalia. 13 arrests were made.
Khalid was arrested Tuesday 23rd December 2014 on Terrorism charges after a raid on his house on Thursday 18 December. This was only days after the Lindt chocolate shop siege in the centre of Sydney where it is alleged Ali Baryalei had ordered a kidnapping and beheading should take place for ISIS.
In the process of executing the search warrant, the Australian Federal Police seized:
•    a rifle,
•    a shortened shotgun and
•    a double-barrelled shotgun and
•    significant documents that police allege were “designed to facilitate a terrorist attack” (on  government buildings).

Khalid, appeared in Parramatta Local Court Wednesday 24 December with another (un-named 21 year old man who had allegedly breached a control order) and (given what ‘Brother’ Man Haron Monis (pictured) did whilst he was out on bail), Khalid was unsurprisingly refused bail.(19)


 

  1. http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/zali-burrows-claims-sbs-insight-duped-her-client-abu-bakr-20140813-103m07.html
  2.   http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/network-seven-original-target-of-terrorist-man-haron-monis/story-fnii5s3y-1227162488511?nk=17463ad57a41a4b7e822ec721c55093c
  3.   http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2750114/The-19-year-old-Australian-wore-flag-banned-terrorist-organisation-national-television-faces-court-charges-intimidating-stalking-shopping-centre-cleaner.html
  4.   http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2729517/Meet-teenage-Muslim-firebrand-passport-seized-prompted-outrage-wore-Islamic-State-flag-TV-faces-charges-hate-crime.html
  5.   http://www.linkedin.com/pulse/isis-death-cult-brides-misrad-omerovic-aka-ebu-tejma-alexander-athos?trk=prof-post
  6.   See December, 11, 2014 http://www.thelocal.at/20141211/austria-passes-anti-terror-law
  7.   See December, 11, 2014 http://www.thelocal.at/20141211/austria-passes-anti-terror-law
  8.   http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/alleged-jihadist-recruiter-alqudsi-to-mount-high-court-challenge-against-foreign-incursion-laws-20141014-115pb5.html
  9.   http://shoutout2day.com/2014/11/21/intercepted-phone-calls-between-alleged-terrorist-recruiter-and-isis-chief/
  10.   http://www.smh.com.au/national/australian-islamic-state-kingpin-mohammad-ali-baryalei-dead-reports-20141029-11ditn.html
  11.   Ironically, the Magistrate could not identify the woman as the same woman who made the complaint because she would not unveil and so the conviction had to be ultimately overturned on a technicality. What should have been a victory dance however turned to ugly violence due to the extreme nature of the groups reactions to reporters.
  12.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuA55MyeapM
  13.   Zali Burrows, lawyer for Hamid Alqudsi is trying to challenge the constitutional validity of the legislation but International law expert Ben Saul said there were no obvious avenues to challenge the legislation because it is covered by the “external affairs power”, a robust and broadly applied power to legislate matters involving governments outside Australia or to implement international obligations. http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/alleged-jihadist-recruiter-alqudsi-to-mount-high-court-challenge-against-foreign-incursion-laws-20141014-115pb5.html
  14.   http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2011A00038
  15.   http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014A00116
  16.   Ahmadzai, who has been under ASIO surveillance for four years, has also been convicted of stealing $100,000 during an ATM ram raid. Senior police sources have expressed concern money stolen from ATM raids has ended up being transferred to Syria to fund terrorism. Born and bred in Sydney, Ahmadzai is associated with Bukhari House, a bookstore and prayer hall in Auburn and is believed to be passing on directives to the group from inside jail. http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/terror-raids-target-family-homes-of-convicted-criminals-20140919-10jhw9.html
  17.   http://www.theaustralian.com.au/in-depth/terror/the-order-to-kill-that-triggered-operation-appleby/story-fnpdbcmu-1227063420619?nk=17463ad57a41a4b7e822ec721c55093c
  18.   http://www.aljazeera.com/news/europe/2014/11/austria-arrests-recruiting-syria-fighters-20141128111654517206.html
  19.    http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/nsw/two-men-arrested-in-sydney-in-counterterrorism-operation-20141224-12d8kt.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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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

Newsroom

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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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