Threat to global peace from Islamic State rising, says UN chief Guterres

Prime News, International (New York), August 4:- United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says in a new report that the threat to international peace and security from the Islamic State extremist group is rising, pointing to an “alarming” expansion of its affiliates in Africa and its focus on a comeback in its former self-declared “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq. The report to the U.N. Security Council, which was circulated Tuesday, said IS and other terrorist groups have taken advantage of “the disruption, grievances and development setbacks” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, both on the ground and online.

While lockdowns in non-conflict areas suppressed terrorist activity, in conflict areas where pandemic restrictions have less impact the threat from IS, also known by its Arabic acronym Daesh, “has already increased,” Guterres said.

“As pandemic-related restrictions gradually ease, there is an elevated near-term threat of Daesh-inspired attacks outside conflict zones by lone actors or small groups that have been radicalized, incited and possibly directly remotely online,” he said.

The U.N. chief said this exemplifies a wider and evolving risk from the accelerated use of digital technologies during the pandemic, and the potential for “new and emerging technologies to be used for terrorist purposes.”

In assessing the Islamic State’s threat, Guterres said its leader, Amir Muhammad Sa’id Abdal-Rahman al-Mawla, “remains reluctant to communicate directly with supporters,” and “the group’s command and control over its global affiliates has loosened, even though it continues to provide guidance and some financial support.”

He said the autonomy of regional affiliates has strengthened especially in West Africa and the Sahel, East and Central Africa, Afghanistan and South Asia. This evolution will be an important factor in Daesh’s future global impact, he quoted unidentified U.N. member states as saying. (MR, Inputs: Agencies).

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