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Terrorism

Protection from Terror: killer bees & ‘queen bees’

Alexander Athos

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This is the great security threat of our age; the radicalization of frustrated Sunni Muslim youth in our homelands by a false narrative that they are under ‘attack’ physically, culturally and religiously from the West and so act aggressively often violently against ‘the West’ (non-Muslim), its sense of superiority and its icons of success whether they be transport systems, capital cities or our cosmopolitan lifestyles and places of recreation.

Many therefore say the West is in a war against global Islamic terrorism. That is not quite accurate and has the danger of slipping into a paradigm of the West is at war with Islam ( the Wahhabi Salafi narrative) and so our revulsion and response may best be channeled not just into bombing their strongholds (akin to killing wasps or bees) but even more importantly “bombing” their ideology (their nest/their ‘Queen bee’). The West doesn’t know there’s a queen bee. For that you have to go to the Muslim world and ask them.

The figures show that both the intensity and breadth of terrorism is increasing at alarming rates and it kills more Muslims in their homelands than people from the West and that it is linked to the extremely fanatical Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri Jihadi sect within Islam.

For example, my heart aches for those school children in Pakistan murdered by the Taliban and the poor people in Nigeria suffering at the hands of the monstrous Boko Haram fanatics. Just this past week they massacred 2,000 mainly Christian innocents ” a senior government official in Borno, said Boko Haram killed more than 2,000 people which, if true, would mean the group equaled its total kill count last year in one attack. More were said to have drowned in Lake Chad while attempting to swim to a nearby island. Some estimates said more than 20,000 people are now displaced as a result of what one reporter called Boko Haram’s “most horrific act of terrorism yet.”

How can we defeat Terror?

First you have to name it, know what it is or else you’ll do more harm than good by attacking everything Islamic.

Prime Minister David Cameron has done (20th July 2015) in his speech what President Obama refuses to do; state that the root of today’s terrorist problem is extremist Islamist ideology.

In what will go down as the seminal speech to unmask the ideological drivers of modern terrorism and social unrest in the West, David Cameron spoke boldly and incisively at the Nonestiles School in Birmingham about the scourge of extremism sweeping the UK’s Muslim communities.

It’s no accident that he chose this school in this are to deliver his speech. It is here where there has been a vipers nest of Wahhabi Salafi extremists that have been the engine room of hate preachers and extremism in the UK including those involved in the: Birmingham 6 Terror plot and the Trojan Horse affair.

The UK government is now going to actively encourage the reforming and moderate Muslim voices in its strategy to wipe out extremism in the UK homeland. The PM understands that in the past, governments have been too caught up with political correctness and cries of Islamophobia to challenge the extremist religious ideology and were too quick to dismiss the religious aspect of Islamist extremism. It is undeniable the PM said that there is a religious justification for terrorism of recent times not just in the UK but globally because these extremists are

“Self-identifying as Muslims. The fact is from Woolwich to Tunisia, from Ottawa to Bali, these murderers all spout the same twisted narrative, one that claims to be based on a particular faith.”

Because the Wahhabi Salafi ideology leads to violence, social unrest and discrimination and hatred is enough to clamp down on those who spread it in our homelands. This is a mega-leap in honesty and the right direction to stop the barbarism of Syria and Iraq continuing to appear on the streets of our Homelands.

Mustafa Kail aka Abu Hamzah al-Masri when he was head of a Wahhabi Salafi front called the Partisans of the Sharia Organization, wrote a book called

Terrorism is the Solution and preached in his Salafi mosques in London and the US that terrorism against the West was a religious imperative for all Muslims because of the false narrative that the West was oppressing Muslims and seeking to humiliate then destroy Islam. (He is now serving life in a US prison for terrorism).

We can detonate their false narratives by and through the majority of moderate Muslims and their intelligentsia/scholars and rational leadership in our homelands and globally who are under attack by the extremists as much as we are. We can give them a voice, protect them from reprisals by Salafi thugs and protect their mosques from the poison pill of Saudi charitable funds by donating money to Islamic Universities and Muslim schools of learning based on moderate Islam.

The war actually is within Islam itself and we are the collateral damage (if you look at total numbers of terrorist incidents, you will see that most are Wahhabi Salafi against other Muslims).

One strategy to consider is to ally and support the moderate Muslims against the puritanical Wahhabi Salafi. We have a common interest. Our only hurdle is prejudice, KSA and politicians aligned with oil.

Unless we help the Muslims resist this Wahhabi Salafi attempt to take over Islam globally, radicalization of 1.5 billion Muslim people spells doom for humanity.

Egypt’s President al Sisi recognizes the “queen bees” are the root cause of terrorism, and joins PM Lee in calling for a ‘religious revolution’ in Islam at Cairo’s Al Azhar University back in January 2015.

David Cameron UK PM thinks the attraction of the ‘caliphate’ can be tackled with counter-narratives that debunk al-Baghdadi’s Islamist interpretation of Islam. The gulf between the brutal reality on the ground and the propagandised fantasy Isil spin on social media can be exposed. The positive things the UK provides for all its citizens can be promoted, in order to show the alternatives to living in a fascistic theocracy.

In a 2003 interview with Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek, Singapore’s former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew warned that Americans are mistaken in seeking a largely military solution to combat Islamic terrorism.

“In killing terrorists, you will only kill the worker bees. The queen bees are the (hate) preachers, who teach a deviant form of Islam in schools and Islamic centers, who capture and twist the minds of the young.”

Retired Malaysian diplomat Dennis Ignatius made the following observations :“Even if ISIS is degraded, Saudi export of Wahhabism will continue to spawn new ISIS type jihadists in Asia, Africa, South America and elsewhere… it is Saudi-exported Islamic extremism. …Young Southeast Asian Muslims from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and elsewhere are radicalizing and joining jihad in Syria and Iraq, with ISIS even forming a military unit for Malay-speaking fighters—Katibah Nusantara Lid Daulah Islamiyyah (Malay Archipelago Unit for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria)….He attributes the sole cause of extremism in Southeast Asia to Saudi Arabia’s aggressive export of Wahhabi ideology, spending more than US$100,00 billion the past few decades to export a culture of “intolerance, hate and violence” to all corners of the globe….”

Ignatius echoes Singapore’s former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew who also pointed to ‘Saudi Arabia as the “queen bee” spawning terrorism in Asia’.

According to Lee, ‘Muslims in Southeast Asia were traditionally moderate and tolerant. But beginning in the 1970s, awash with petrodollars, Saudi Wahhabis began to export this “venomous religion” via thousands of mosques and madrasas that has radicalized Muslims in South and Southeast Asia. As a result of Saudi proliferation of WMDs—or Wahhabis of Mass Destruction—Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Philippines have fallen victim to Wahhabi-driven extremists groups such as Jemaah Islamiah, Abu Sayyaf, MILF, ISIS, Taliban, and others.’

Ignatius views the Saudi-Wahhabi nexus has such a stranglehold on Sunni religious discourse, having polluted thousands of mosques, seminaries, universities, schools and community centers that “unquestionably, the Saudi-Wahhabi nexus has become the greatest single threat to peace and stability in the world today.”

In a September 2014 Indian Defence Review article, retired Indian general Afsir Karim shares Lee Kuan Yew’s concerns that Saudi Wahhabis are trying to exert domination over other strands of Islam (e.g., Sufi, Shia, etc.) and proclaim themselves as the gold standard for what it means to be a “good” Muslim…General Karim exposes how Saudis are using the Wahhabism weapon to dominate India, pumping millions of petrodollars into madrasas and mosques to propagate Wahhabi theology and that “anyone outside the Wahhabi sect is a heretic and will burn in hell.”

This doctrine of intolerance and violence is now polarizing Indian society and radicalizing its Muslims, projected by Pew Research to be the largest Muslim population in the world by 2050, even surpassing Indonesia.

Thus with the double onslaught of potential ISIS bases and Saudi-sponsored radicalization of Asian Muslims casting a long shadow…The growing conflict between the Shia and Sunni sects across the world is a direct result of the increasing influence of Wahhabism.

Above section largely taken from article Dr Christian Lin Fellow at the Centre for Transatlantic Relations at SAIS-John Hopkins University article highlighting the Saudi threat to Asian stability and security, and calls it the “Saudization” of Southeast Asia.

Post Script: The Wahhabi Salafi drivers

Long before ISIS became one of their brand names, one of their leaders Juhayman al Uteybi (Otaybi) and a band of 500 Wahhabi zealots attacked the Grand Mosque in Mecca itself on November 20, 1979. Otaybi, was part of a Salafi group called Al-Jamaa Al-Salafiya Al-Muhtasiba (The Salafi Group That Commands Right and Forbids Wrong). The Salafi group was headed by the Islamic University’s president, Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz . He was a Saudi Arabian Islamic scholar and a leading proponent of theSalafi form of Islam. He was the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia from 1993 until his death in 1999. His “immense religious erudition and his reputation for intransigence” gave him such prestige among the pious population of Saudi Arabia, that his fatwas endorsing government policy greatly strengthened the Saudi Arabian government,endorsement of In Defense of Muslim Lands, principally written by Osama bin Laden’s hero Abdullah Azzam, was a powerful influence in the successful call for jihad against nation states that harmed Muslims or attacked Muslim lands. Source

The seizure of Islam’s holiest site, the taking of hostages from among the worshipers, and the deaths of hundreds of militants, security forces and hostages caught in crossfire in the ensuing battles for control of the site, all shocked the Islamic world. The siege ended two weeks after the takeover began and the mosque was cleared. Following the attack, the Saudi state implemented a stricter enforcement of Islamic code and tried to protect their throne by a deal with the Wahhabi fanatics that they leave the monarchy alone if the Monarchy fund their global Wahhabization of the Ummah.

That event so scared the monarchy (then led by Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al Saud) that they have pandered to the Wahhabi Salafi extremists ever since and allowed them and their Saudi funded extremist mosques free reign so long as they operated far away from the KSA in the hope that they would leave the monarchy alone.

“Saudi rulers, terrified by what Uteybi represented, essentially gave in to his demands that the country’s drift toward liberalization be reversed. Women were taken off television, theaters were closed, and huge amounts of cash were disbursed to the country’s most xenophobic, reactionary preachers and teachers. Therein lie the roots of the terrorism that arose from Saudi Arabia two decades later and brought down the twin towers of the World Trade Center.”

When you realize that in the Wahhabi Salafi mindset:

  • people who talk to members of the opposite sex outside marriage should be killed or
  • girls be allowed to burn to death in a school fire because firemen were barred from entering because the girls were not veiled and
  • a man can be lashed almost to death for tweeting that that Muslims, Jews, Christians, and atheists are all equal,’

you appreciate that support by the rich and powerful in KSA for ISIS and Al Qaeda utopia of enforcing puritanical Islam globally is an easy step to take.

There are many Saudi’s (the last King among them) who have tried to bring this important ally of the US out of certain backwardness and intolerance in it’s society, however the Saudi State must free itself from the extremist Wahhabi clerics who condone terror either directly or indirectly by propounding a false narrative about the West if it is to be a true ally and peacemaker in the Middle East and also free itself from the inevitable clash with the Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri Jihadi ISIS frankenstein they helped create.

Whether or not Saudi Arabia did indeed willingly partake in the creation of IS, it is evident that it contributed to its inception by entertaining the idea of a reactionary Sunni Islam. (Whilst) it did not intend for IS to become the monster we all have learned to fear, IS’s very inspiration, its quest for the establishment of an all-mighty Islamic State over the nations of the world stems back from Wahhabi Islam’s core ideology. Both share the same hatred for Shia Islam, Iran and all faith denominations that do not fall within the realm of Sunni Islam…. While Saudi Arabia plays catch up with the very elements its religious school of thought gave birth to, trying to control the plague it realises it helped unleash on to the world, many wonder if it is not the son rather who will strike down his father, so mighty his reach has become.“ Catherine Shakdam

We in the West must insulate our Muslim populations from this extremism and use all our diplomatic and economic efforts to assist the Saudi’s to break free of the terminal Wahhabi Takfiri embrace for their sake and for ours.

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

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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