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Security Council’s Open debate on “Combating the Financing of Terrorism”

Statement by Ambassador Fatima K. Mohammed, Permanent Representative of the African Union to the United Nations

Security Council’s Open debate on “Combating the financing of terrorism”

Mr. President,

Allow me, at the outset, to congratulate you on assuming the presidency of the

Security Council for this month and to thank you for convening this important

open debate on “combatting the financing of terrorism”.

I would like to thank all briefers for their insightful presentations.

Mr. President,

Today’s debate is indeed all the more relevant as it takes place against the

background of ever increasing challenges to international peace and security.

And obviously, terrorism and violent extremism remain the most serious threat to

our world’s stability and development.

I wish to reiterate AU’s strong and unequivocal rejection of terrorism in all its

forms and manifestations as well as its strong condemnation of all terrorist acts,

which cannot be justified under any circumstances. I would like to reaffirm our full

solidarity with the affected countries and victims, whose plight should be fully

acknowledged and addressed. It is also our strong belief that terrorism cannot

and should not be associated with any religion, nationality or civilization.

Likewise, terrorism should not be equated with the legitimate struggle of peoples

under foreign occupation to achieve their inalienable right to self-determination.

In this regard, we note with major concern the growing capacity of terrorist

groups to finance their activities by, among others, running criminal/illicit

economies in areas under their control, engaging in illegal exploitation of, and

trade in, natural resources, kidnaping for ransom (KFR), arms, drugs and human

trafficking, and other types of transnational organized crime.

In our view, this situation gives rise to the following observations:

First, financing remains the major vulnerability of the different terrorist groups.

Indeed, the “success” of these groups in causing more atrocities largely depend

on their ability to adequately and sustainably finance the preparation, planning

and execution of terrorist attacks. Therefore, there is an urgent need for more

concerted and coordinated efforts by Member States to effectively deny terrorist

groups any source of funding, including payment of ransom as well as any form

of military, logistical or political support.

Second, if we are to effectively prevent and suppress the financing of terrorist

acts, we need to take fully into account the terrorist’s continued ability to adapt

their methods and innovate to meet their financing needs.

In this vein, there is increasing evidence that terrorists are turning to

transnational organized crime networks to generate funding and acquire logistical

support to carry out their violent acts. They are taking advantage of existing

financial systems and technologies, which they seek to float in order to transfer

large amounts of cash to intended recipients.

Similarly, corroborative evidence supports that terrorist groups use legitimate

private and nonprofit sectors to channel funding. However, the nonprofit sector

remains largely ill-informed about its vulnerability to exploitation by terrorist and

extremist groups. Nonprofit organizations are often small, informal and not

properly regulated. Terrorist and extremist groups, therefore, take advantage of

these weaknesses to illicitly move large amounts of money under the guise of

implementing nonprofit activities.

Third, continued efforts are required to ensure full compliance with the

international and regional legal frameworks on combating the financing of

terrorism. The African Union is fully committed to supporting its Member States in

implementing the already agreed measures and meeting the international

standards in this regard. It will be recalled that the AU had played a critical role in

raising international awareness about the danger posed by the payment of

ransom to terrorist groups, as illustrated by the decision adopted by the AU

Assembly on the issue in July 2009 and subsequent efforts to enhance the

existing international frameworks.

Fourth, financial intelligence, including from the private sector, has been

instrumental in tracking down terrorists behind most attacks globally, and also in

Africa, and this has contributed to both disruption of terrorist financing and

preventing further attacks. In this context, strengthening of finance intelligence

units remains a major component of the AU strategies to defeat terrorism and

violent extremism. The establishment of the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-

Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG) is a reflection of the importance that the

countries of the region, and beyond, attach to the need for cooperation and

coordinated efforts in ensuring compliance with the regional and international

standards against money laundering and terrorist financing.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, I would like to emphasize once again the critical importance of

cooperation among the Member States, both at the regional and international

levels. Let’s not forget that we are dealing with a borderless threat of global reach

and that in our globalized society, no country is immune to its devastating impact.

The international approach to reverse this scourge must be as comprehensive

and as integrated as possible, while focusing on preventing and disrupting

financial flows to terrorist and extremist groups.

I thank you

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