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

Ambassador Kelly Craft
Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
August 24, 2020


Thank you, Djani. Thank you Under-Secretary General Voronkov, for this informative assessment of the evolving threat posed by ISIS and the ongoing UN efforts to counter it.

Last year, we saw how our collective efforts resulted in ISIS’s loss of territorial control and the death of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. These victories in the battle against ISIS are a testament to the ongoing work of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.

The Coalition continues to pursue four main non-military lines of effort: counter financing; counter messaging; detention, repatriation and accountability for crimes and abuses by foreign terrorist fighters; and stabilization of areas liberated by ISIS. It is critical that the Coalition continues each of these efforts.

The Secretary-General’s report made it clear that ISIS affiliates continue to pose a serious threat, from West Africa to Southeast Asia. The United States seeks to call attention to the vast scale of this threat by identifying, sanctioning, and targeting each ISIS affiliate. Earlier this year, the United States worked with Council Members to list five ISIS affiliated terrorist organizations in the UN Security Council 1267 Sanctions Committee. We thank the many countries who co-sponsored these listings, and encourage Member States to join us in identifying, listing, and countering similar affiliates around the world.

Even though ISIS and its so-called caliphate have been defeated on the battlefield, we must work together to ensure that the population of detained foreign terrorist fighters as well as their family members displaced in Syria and Iraq do not become the nucleus of an ISIS 2.0. We share the Secretary-General’s deep concerns regarding the thousands of foreign terrorist fighters and their family members, most of whom are young children, who are still in camps and detention facilities. Foreign terrorist fighters must face prosecution and accountability for their crimes, and we need to rehabilitate and reintegrate family members so a new generation of ISIS fighters does not emerge.

The United States has led by example, bringing back our citizens and prosecuting them where appropriate. Countries must repatriate, prosecute, rehabilitate, and reintegrate foreign terrorist fighters and their families as appropriate.

We are disappointed that Indonesia’s efforts to draft a meaningful resolution on the Prosecution, Rehabilitation, and Reintegration of terrorists were stymied by Council Members’ refusal to include repatriation. The world is watching. Will the Security Council make efforts to address the situation of foreign terrorist fighers and their family members left in Syria and Iraq? Or – like the Council did two weeks ago with our Iran arms embargo resolution – will Members dismiss this grave threat to international peace and security and bury their heads in the sand?

We would also like to take this opportunity to challenge the Council to refuse to accept countries’ attempts to misuse counterterrorism to pursue their own political ends. We are deeply concerned by the situation in Xinjiang, where more than one million Uyghurs and other Muslims have been detained under the false guise of counterterrorism. Confinement that is imposed on the basis of vague indicators without fair trial guarantees is inconsistent with international law. Counterterrorism and countering violent extremism should never be used as a pretext to silence political dissent or freedom of expression, or to violate religious freedom or repress minority groups.

The United States stands ready to work with our partners to prevent and counter terrorism, while protecting and promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms. We can only hope our partners will rise to the occasion to join us – particularly when it comes to addressing threats emanating from Iran – the world’s number one state sponsor of terrorism.

Thank you.