Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Counterterrorism Coordination (via VTC)

Trina Saha
Acting Political Coordinator
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 23, 2020


Thank you, Madam President. Thank you for your briefings and your leadership to ensure uninterrupted work for the committees and their expert bodies through the pandemic.

Over the last year, the global terrorist threat has substantially evolved. Thousands of suspected foreign terrorist fighters and their families remain stranded in conflict zones. The threat from ISIS will likely increase if the international community does not meet its obligations under international law to repatriate their citizens. We encourage the Counterterrorism Executive Directorate and the Monitoring Team to closely observe this global threat, and continue to guide the UN Office of Counterterrorism’s initiative on the prosecution, rehabilitation, and reintegration of terrorists.

Beyond conflict zones, there is a surge in the threat posed by ISIS affiliates around the world, including alarming new levels of coordination in Africa. We look forward to working closely with our partners to tackle this challenge in the 1267 Committee.

While the world rallies to respond to the serious challenges posed by COVID-19, terrorists are exploiting the pandemic to disseminate disinformation to advance their agenda and garner support for their cause. Terrorist organizations are evaluating the extent to which governments in regions where they operate are vulnerable. Terrorists are adapting their messages to undermine confidence in these governments, threaten legitimate governance, and provoke violence to further their agendas.

The United States, through its partnerships with governments, civil society, and the private sector, is helping to counter COVID-related disinformation by rebutting terrorist narratives wherever they arise.

The fear, anxiety, and isolation caused by the pandemic has created especially fertile ground for what we term racially or ethnically motivated terrorism. This form of terrorism promotes the collapse of society as a precursor to a radical restructuring of political systems to marginalize certain ethnic and racial groups.

With many people now working and socializing online, the pandemic has expanded opportunities for those spreading violent radical views to, recruit, and mobilize sympathizers. We need to counter them globally and systematically.

On the non-proliferation front, Resolution 1540 continues to guide actions taken by states to protect weapons of mass destruction-related goods, data, and know-how from unauthorized use and transfer by non-state actors, especially terrorists. Resolution 1540 complements UN counterterrorism resolutions by requiring under its own provisions that Member States take account of the tangible and intangible technology needed by terrorists to manufacture and use improvised weapons of mass destruction.

This work is all the more important today, as we witness the rising use of WMDs, particularly chemical weapons use in Syria, the UK, and Russia, and the increasing possibility of use of deadly biological weapons by terrorists, due to technical advancements and increased access amid the profound global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Let me be clear: anywhere and at any time, the use of chemical weapons is abhorrent and is an affront to all humanity.

We are therefore pleased with this Council’s efforts to enhance cooperation between the 1540 Committee, the 1373 Committee, and the 1267 Committee. We encourage the committees and their expert bodies to continue to include civil society groups in discussions throughout the pandemic, so we can learn from their experiences and recommendations on how to best to prevent and counter violent extremism.

Thank you.