Statement delivered by Gerard van Bohemen, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, 29 May 2015.

Since Ambassador Gary Quinlan of Australia briefed the Council in November 2014 (see S/PV.7316), the Committee established pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1989 (2011) concerning Al-Qaida and associated individuals and entities has continued to devote special focus to the issue of foreign terrorist fighters, as mandated by paragraph 21 of resolution 2178 (2014). The threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters is serious and affects all States and societies. The response to this threat to international peace and security must be comprehensive and coordinated and employ a range of tools. The Al-Qaida regime’s targeted sanctions are an important part of the toolbox.

The Security Council has established a framework through its resolution 2178 (2014) to address foreign terrorist fighters and their networks. That exists alongside Council resolutions on the threat to international peace and security posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as Daesh, and the Al-Nusra Front. Resolution 2178 (2014) sets out a number of obligations and measures for Member States. Two of those obligations in particular intersect with the work of the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee. First, Member States are called upon to prevent the movement of foreign terrorist fighters across their borders. Secondly, Member States shall prevent the recruiting, facilitating or equipping of individuals who travel to a State other than their States of residence or nationality to carry out or prepare for terrorist acts or training and the financing of such activities.

The measures imposed upon individuals and entities designated by the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee are threefold: an assets freeze, a travel ban and an arms embargo. In addition, any individual or entity that provides financial or material support to those designated, including arms or recruits, is eligible to be added to the Al-Qaida sanctions list.

The Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee has approved several designations this year aimed at the foreign terrorist fighters threat. In January 2015, the Committee designated Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili and noted that he led approximately 1,000 foreign terrorist fighters for ISIL. In March 2015, the Committee designated the Hilal Ahmar Society Indonesia and three of its leaders based upon their recruiting, funding and facilitating travel of foreign terrorist fighters to the Syrian Arab Republic. In April, Ali ben Taher ben Faleh Ouni Harzi, a member of Ansar al Shari’a in Tunisia, was designated partly due to his efforts to recruit foreign terrorist fighters. Further ISIL-related designations are expected in the near future. As with all designations, INTERPOL-Security Council Special Notices have been issued. Cooperation between the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee and INTERPOL is key to improving the implementation of the sanctions measures. That is particularly true for foreign terrorist fighters, given the need for timely information sharing about cross-border movement.

On 26 May 2015, the report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team established pursuant to Security Council resolution 1526 (2004), which supports the work of the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee, on foreign terrorist fighters (S/2015/358) was published pursuant to resolution 2178 (2014). The headline conclusion from that report is there are now more than 25,000 foreign terrorist fighters from over 100 countries. Many have travelled to fight for terrorist entities associated with Al-Qaida, especially ISIL, and the main movement has been into Syria and Iraq. The report addresses three main areas concerning foreign terrorist fighters: first, the analysis of the threat, including the scale, predictions for growth and ancillary risks; secondly, the trends, including demographics, recruitment and financing; and thirdly, the challenges, including information-sharing and border control. As directed in resolution 2178 (2014), the Monitoring Team made a number of detailed recommendations on the basis of which the Committee has now taken decisions, and will be following up and facilitating including with the Security Council and Member States. This will be reflected in a position paper from the Committee.

The Monitoring Team concluded that there are three essential elements in the international response to foreign terrorist fighters. First, Member States should share actionable information on potential and known foreign terrorist fighters, such as advanced passenger information and material from national watch lists. Secondly, at the national level Member States should build capacity to disrupt foreign terrorist fighter networks. This capacity can be enhanced through legislative frameworks and national strategies that allow Governments to act quickly and nimbly. Thirdly, the Monitoring Team considers countering violent extremism at every stage of an individual’s involvement to be at the heart of any successful policy response. Member States need to develop strategies to counter violent extremism that aim to prevent, assess and reintegrate foreign terrorist fighters into society.

In resolution 2178 (2014), the Security Council called on Member States to propose foreign terrorist fighters, and those who facilitate or finance their activities, for designation on the Al-Qaida sanctions list. Some progress has been made since September last year, but there is more work to be done. I take this opportunity to recall that any Member State may propose an individual or entity for inclusion on the list. The Monitoring Team can advise any Member State considering proposing designations, and the Team takes part in regular outreach and training. I encourage Member States considering designation proposals to make early contact with the Team and the Chair of the Committee.

To encourage proposals for listings, on 24 April my predecessor as Chair of the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Jim McLay, organized an open briefing for all Member States on the Committee’s work. This briefing provided an informal opportunity for interested Member States to interact with the Committee and its work through the Chair and the Monitoring Team coordinator. A variety of issues were discussed, including the procedure for adding names to the Al-Qaida sanctions list. I intend to continue to hold such open briefings periodically throughout my chairmanship.

We need intelligently targeted and well-implemented sanctions as part of our toolbox to counter the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters and the harm they cause to Member States, their societies and peoples.