‘How do you defeat terrorism? Don’t be terrorized.’
― Salman Rushdie, Step Across This Line: Collected Nonfiction 1992-2002
Terrorism is indisputable a pervasive and pernicious threat to the global security. In order to better tackle terrorism-related issues, the United Nations has become a forum of a unique value and experience. Therefore, he Counter-Terrorism Committee was established by the 2001 Security Council Resolution 1373 which was adopted in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The discussion is presented in this paper in three parts. First, it examines briefly the Syrian conflict and traces the engagements of the combatants. The second part addresses the main aspects of the ISIS terrorist group, such as its financing, recruiting processes and means of communications. Lastly but not least, I will outline the main aspects of UN’s approach to counter-terrorism and evolving strategies.
Syria’s conflict has devolved from peaceful protests against the government in 2011 to a violent insurgency that has drawn in numerous countries. When trying to categorize it, it can be said that it is partly a civil war of the government against its people; partly a religious war where the parties are made of Assad’s minority Alawite sect, alongside Shiite fighters from Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon , against Sunni rebels ; while some have call it a proxy war featuring Russia and Iran against the United States and its allies.
But however we call it, one thing is certain. The conflict facilitated the rise of ISIS.
Experts say ‘Follow the money, disrupt the flow’ – ISIS Financing
Because ISIS has found multiple backdoors into the financial system, the first goal laid out by the Counter-ISIL Finance Group in Rome is to prevent the Islamic State from using the ‘international financial system , including unregulated money remitters’. Yet despite the efforts, the group has ample access to banking services still. This is because in Syria, for instance, the Assad regime besides continuing to allow the banks to continue servicing in the ISIS controlled areas, it also uses them to fulfill its business interest with the Islamic State.
Who joins ISIS and why?
As ISIS keeps growing and expanding, one can only wonder what the future holds. When tackling the recruitment process of ISIS, one must bear in mind that any extremist group wouldn’t be able to function properly without it’s supporters. Recruitment is an important aspect of this lifestyle because people are needed to complete their agenda.
According to the American journalist and political reporter , Andrew Kaczynski, symphatizing with the group’s interests, ‘looking for a thrill’ and ‘looking for an identity’ , the desire of correcting what they believe is injustice and the need for belonging are just five of the numerous reasons one chooses to join ISIS.
Offering a greater inside is the statement made by Abu Ibrahim al-Raqqawi regarding the group’s tactics, ‘ISIS plays with the minds of the kids and gives them private lessons in the ISIS law, and they then persuade the kids to [let ISIS] take them to the camps’ . In general, in the training camps, ISIS provides children with clothing, housing and meals in exchange for their allegiance on the battlefield.
Most of the people identify ISIS as a terrorist group who has done attacks all over the world, making them well-known for their recorded beheadings (such as the beheading of U.S journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley), child soldiers, suicide bombs and lastly but not least, extreme consequences of broken laws.
This is the very reason why unless and until we do not correctly understand and address these reasons, we cannot provide counter narratives that will eventually lead to the disruption of the ISIS recruiting process.
The UN-CTC Approach to Counter-Terrorism
Due to the multifarious causes of terrorism and of its complexity , the main idea remains that the counter-terrorism efforts need to be comprehensive. The 9/11 terrorist attacks basically pushed the UN to focus more on a counter-terrorism strategy. In this regard, the plurality of political and functional organs were such that only one body could not be held responsible. Therefore, the CTC convened special meetings of both organizations and entities towards a more effective cooperation. Some specialists state that given the global character of counter-terrorism , it may not be desirable to push for an institutional set-up outside of the UN.
But whether or not the CTC is capable of promoting the goals of counter-terrorism effectively and meet the great expectations from various quarters remains a moot question.
It is impossible to state the number of people who have died as a consequence of the Islamic State’s rise. Sources such as The Britain-based Syrian Observatory said the group had executed more than 3,000 people in the first year of its self-declared caliphate, while the Iraq Body Count, ISIS killed 4,325 civilians in Iraq in 2014.
Therefore, The Islamic State has undoubtedly added to the refugee crisis that has seen around 9 million Syrians fleeing their homes since the start of the civil war. This makes it crucial to view the problem of the Islamic State as a political problem with a media dimension and not the other way around while bearing in mind that ‘It takes a network to fight a network’.
By Andreea-Lavinia Turcu