Michele Coninsx (front), executive director of UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, addresses a Security Council meeting on foreign terrorist fighters, at the UN headquarters in New York, Nov. 28, 2017. UN officials have warned that foreign terrorist fighters who are returning home or being relocated in third countries as a result of major military defeats of the Islamic State (IS) pose a global threat. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)
UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- UN officials have warned that foreign terrorist fighters who are returning home or being relocated in third countries as a result of major military defeats of the Islamic State (IS) pose a global threat.
RETURNING TERRORIST FIGHTERS POSING GLOBAL THREAT
"There are at least 5,600 fighters from 33 countries who have returned home. Many returnees are very well trained and equipped to carry out attacks in their own countries; others hope to radicalize and recruit new followers to their cause; there is a number of those who have rejected terrorist ideologies and pose no threat to society," Vladimir Voronkov, UN undersecretary-general for counter-terrorism, told the Security Council on Tuesday.
"This is a truly global challenge that demands an urgent and concerted multilateral response," he said.
UN member states need to enhance cooperation and exchange information, develop effective border controls and strengthen their criminal justice systems, in accordance with the rule of law and human rights standards, suggested Voronkov.
Returning foreign terrorist fighters pose an enormous challenge with no easy solution, he said, adding that full compliance with international law is vital to combat the threat.
"Ultimately, addressing the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters requires addressing the underlying conditions that are conducive to young men and women being lured by violent extremism."
There is an urgent need for governments and security agencies to collaborate far more effectively in fighting terrorism, while respecting human rights, he said.
MORE TERRORISM WITH EVOLVING METHODS
Briefing the Security Council at the same meeting, Michele Coninsx, executive director of UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, also said that over the past two years, the rate at which foreign terrorist fighters have returned home or relocated to third countries has accelerated.
Over roughly the same period, the percentage of terrorist plots resulting in fatalities has increased significantly, owing in part to the activities of returnees, but also to terrorists' evolving methods, she said.
Of particular concern is the increasing trend toward attacks carried out by lone terrorists, who are often guided by handlers located in other parts of the world, she warned. Attacks by individuals inspired by the IS and other terrorist groups often require few resources, but can have devastating consequences.
Many recent attacks that appear to have been inspired by the IS, conducted in its name, or claimed by the IS, were initially reported as "lone actor" attacks. Subsequent investigations have shown, however, that those individuals received support or resources from elsewhere, often via the Internet or social media, she said.
Terrorists are also increasingly using new technologies to transfer funds to such individuals, she said.
UN member states have made progress in many areas, but major challenges remain, she said, citing the example of fewer than 60 states having so far introduced measures requiring airlines to provide advance passenger information.
This means that it remains very difficult for over 190 UN member states to check for the possible presence of foreign terrorist fighters on board aircraft flying into or out of, or transiting through, their airports, she told the Security Council.
Many states require assistance in establishing the necessary connectivity between national databases and border posts. They also continue to face legal challenges relating to transfer of data, protection of data privacy, and the establishment of the necessary legal and administrative frameworks, she noted.
International cooperation continues to be undermined by practical and political challenges, as well as by inconsistent compliance with human rights obligations. States should also do more to downgrade and share intelligence on foreign terrorist fighters and those who return to their countries of origin or relocate to third countries, she said.