UN Photo/Manuel Elías

UN Under-Secretary-General warns of growing terrorism threat in Afghanistan

The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Counter-Terrorism, Vladimir Voronkov, has warned that the situation in Afghanistan is growing increasingly complex, with fears of weapons and ammunition falling into the hands of terrorists now materializing.

Presenting the Secretary-General’s seventeenth report on the threat posed by Daesh to international peace and security on Friday, Voronkov said that the in-country operational capabilities of Daesh’s so-called Khorasan province (ISKP) have reportedly increased, with the group becoming more sophisticated in its attacks against the Taliban and international targets.

“Moreover, the presence and activity of some 20 different terrorist groups in the country, combined with the repressive measures put in place by the Taliban de facto authorities and a dire humanitarian situation, pose significant challenges for the region and beyond,” Voronkov said.

He also said that the Daesh affiliate in the Sahel is becoming increasingly autonomous and is intensifying its attacks in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger.

The UN Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, Natalia Gherman, echoed Voronkov’s concerns, saying that Daesh remains “agile and ambitious” despite its diminished territorial control.

She said that the Counter-Terrorism Committee and the Executive Directorate are working with partners to explore how new technological tools and applications, such as generative artificial intelligence (AI), can be used to enhance States’ counter-terrorism capabilities.

The Russian delegate, Maria Zabolotskaya, criticized the Western countries for their “intervention in the affairs of sovereign developing States” and said that to realize their geopolitical ambitions, the West uses all means, going so far as to support terrorists.

She said that the situation in Afghanistan is also a “vivid example” of the West leveraging counter-terrorism issues to serve their “selfish geopolitical interests.”

The representatives of Ecuador and the United States also spoke at the Security Council meeting, expressing their concerns about the situation in Afghanistan. The Ecuadorian delegate voiced concern over the ability of ISIL-KP [Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant—Khorasan Province] to carry out attacks in the region, such as those that recently occurred in Pakistan and Iran.

The US delegate, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said that the US continues to provide essential assistance to its African partners in the fight against ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

The withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and the collapse of the previous government in 2021 resulted in the Taliban gaining control of a vast amount of military equipment. This has raised concerns about the potential for weapons smuggling and the acquisition of these weapons by terrorist groups.