UN: ‘Islamic State’ remains a threat despite military setbacks

UN experts say the “Islamic State” is still capable of sending funds to supporters and motivating global attacks. “Europe remained a priority region” for IS attacks, they said, despite developments in Iraq and Syria.

Irak - IS Islamischer Staat in Fallujah (picture alliance/AP Photo)

The 24-page report, prepared by a panel of experts for the Security Council, noted that the self-styled Islamic State (IS) was often remitting funds in small sums to avoid detection.

But the group of experts concluded that the military pressure against the group had led to a decline in the number of foreign fighters traveling to Iraq and Syria and a worsening of the financial situation of the core IS.

The would-be “Caliphate” has faced several military reversals in the past few months, most recently losing control of Iraq’s second largest city Mosul to Iraqi and allied forces in July.

An Iraqi flag is seen in MosulIS lost control of Iraqi city of Mosul in July

The experts said that Islamic State leadership was adapting to military pressure in Iraq and Syria by delegating decision-making responsibility to local commanders and switching to encrypted communications.

Despite the recent military blows, IS has been stepping up its international efforts “as demonstrated by the higher pace of attacks in Europe,” the report said.

Read more: Masoud’s list: From IS victim to terrorist hunter

‘IS expanding foothold’

Funding sources are still based on oil profits and the imposition of taxes on local populations in the areas under its control.

Beyond Europe, the extremist group is seeking to establish a foothold in Southeast Asia. The report cited the example of the southern Philippines, where the city of Marawi has been under siege by IS-linked militants for more than two months.

IS was developing the capability to design and construct larger drones for reconnaissance and bombing missions, in far-away regions, the report warned.

The experts expressed concerns about the radicalized minors returning home after undergoing advanced IS training. They said there was a need for “specific attention and strategies that take into account the legal protections afforded to minors.”

The experts said IS’ fellow jihadist group al-Qaida remains resilient especially in West Africa, East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, particularly Yemen, with localized alliances allowing the movement of fighters between the two rival outfits.

ap/msh (AP, AFP)

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