Ms Zainab Bangura, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General said when stripped of the cover of politics and religion, ‘terrorism is business’.
Bangura told the Security Council ‘Open Debate on Trafficking in Persons in Situations of Conflict’ that terrorism has taken new and previously unseen dimensions and threats.
“These include the use of sexual violence as a tactic of terrorism by groups that traffic their victims internally and across borders, in the pursuit of profit,” she said.
“Seen through this lens, sexual violence represents the very frontline in our battle against violent extremism because it is a battle being waged on – and over – the bodies of women and girls.
“To disrupt human trafficking is to help disrupt the business of terrorism.
“This is critical because when stripped of the veneer of politics and the mystique of religion, we see that the business of terrorism is business.
“It is profitable crime under the cover of war,” she lamented.
According to her, terrorist groups invariably restrict women’s rights, autonomy and freedoms through their reign of terror.
“Indeed, the same litany of horrors echoes across the accounts of Nigerian girls who have fled the grip of Boko Haram, Somali women liberated from Al-Shabaab, and women in Northern Mali who languish in the shadow of Ansar Eddine.”
She gave horrible accounts of many incidences about selling women and girls by terrorists, pointing out Emir Abu Malik who was responsible for trafficking women and girls from Iraq to Syria.
Baguwa said Malik implemented the so-called “Fatwa” issued by Da’esh in April 2015, ordering the separation of children from their mothers, who were sold into sexual slavery.
“There is also the Sheikh in Raqqa who wrote his name on the palm of a Yazidi girl during the ‘purchasing’ process to brand her as his ‘property’.
“There is the militant in Mosul responsible for buying and selling girls along with guns and rocket-propelled grenades.
“And there are women like Umm Sayyaf, who helped to enforce sexual slavery, and Doctor Nawal, who carried out virginity tests and forced abortions at the behest of Da’esh.
“Doctor Nawal was even injecting young girls with hormones, to accelerate their maturation and readiness for sale into sexual slavery,” she said.
According to her, therefore, these atrocities are motivated as much by commercial as by ideological concerns adding, they are not isolated incidents.
“Simply stated, women and children have become part of the ‘currency’ by which Da’esh consolidates its power. The ‘blood money’ is then used to bankroll their actions, and cement their authority.
“Though it is largely invisible, and difficult to quantify, the ‘blood money’ of women and children has become part of the ‘lifeblood’ that sustains this group.”
The UN envoy, therefore, called on the international community to rethink its response and tactics against terrorists and terrorism.
“For instance, we cannot deplore the public face of terrorism – the bombing, killing and property destruction – while ignoring the violence terrorists inflict on women and girls in private, behind closed doors.
“Our efforts to disrupt terrorist financing cannot be limited to oil smuggling and trafficking in antiquities, while ignoring people smuggling and the trafficking of human beings. (NAN)