French troops based in Abidjan and a soldier from Ivory Coast's Republican Forces carry a soldier during a military exercise (AFP Photo/Issouf Sanogo)
French troops based in Abidjan and a soldier from Ivory Coast's Republican Forces carry a soldier during a military exercise (AFP Photo/Issouf Sanogo)

The UN political chief warned on Tuesday that the terrorist Islamic State is adapting to increasing military pressure by shifting to the “dark web.”

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Jeffrey Feltman, the UN under-secretary-general for political affairs, made the remarks when he was briefing the UN Security Council on the UN chief’s latest report on the threat posed by the IS to international peace and security.

Feltman said that IS, also known as the ISIL or Daesh, is adapting in several ways to military pressure by resorting to increasingly covert communication and recruitment methods, including by using the “dark web,” encryption and messengers.

The report, circulated here on Monday, stressed that IS is on the defensive militarily in several regions.

“Although its income and the territory under its control are shrinking, ISIL still appears to have sufficient funds to continue fighting,” Feltman said.

Feltman noted that ISIL relies mainly on income from extortion and hydrocarbon exploitation, even though resources from the latter are on the decline.

UN member states are concerned that the ISIL will try to expand other sources of income, such as kidnapping for ransom, and increase its reliance on donations, he said.

While the previous reports on the subject have focused on Southeast Asia, Yemen and East Africa, Libya and Afghanistan, the report, which is the fourth on this subject, zeroes in on Europe, North Africa and West Africa.

It noted that the ISIL has conducted a range of attacks in Europe since declaring in 2014 its intent to target the region.

Some of these attacks were directed and facilitated by ISIL personnel, while others were enabled by ISIL providing guidance or assistance or were inspired through its propaganda.

While the military offensive in Libya has dislodged ISIL from its stronghold Sirte, the group’ threat to Libya and neighbouring countries persists.

Its fighters — estimated to range from several hundred to 3,000 — have moved to other parts of the north African country.

The ISIL has increased its presence in West Africa and the Maghreb, though the group does not control significant amounts of territory in the region.

The reported pledge of loyalty to the ISIL by a splinter faction of Al-Mourabitoun led by Lehbib Ould Ali may elevate the level of the threat.

ISIL-affiliate Boko Haram is attempting to spread its influence and commit terrorist acts beyond Nigeria, and remains a serious threat, with several thousand fighters at its disposal.

It is, however, plagued by financial difficulties and an internal power struggle, and has split in two factions, Feltman reported.

While the latest UN report also noted some of the measures taken by member states and the United Nations, it stresses the need to develop sustained, coordinated responses to the grave threat posed by the ISIL and associated groups and entities.

Feltman said that there are 19 universal counter-terrorism conventions and protocols, as well as related regional instruments on international terrorism, and relevant UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions.

“But we need to do more, as member states continue to face significant challenges to ensure effective international cooperation,” he said, warning that foreign terrorist fighters leaving the conflict could pose a grave risk to their homeland or to the countries they are travelling to or transiting through, such as Iraq and Syria’s neighbors, as well as countries in the Maghreb.

“Ultimately, it is the spread and consolidation of peace, security, development and human rights that will most effectively deprive terrorism of the oxygen it needs to survive,” he said.

The ISIL has been reported to raise money by selling oil from captured production facilities in Libya and using the country to distribute money to other groups around the world.

A report indicated in June 2016 that armed group has suffered setbacks in Syria and Iraq but is trying to use Libya to expand in Africa. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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