UN General Assembly to focus on war on extremists

A brutal terrorist organization that calls itself a state but lacks recognition from any government will take center stage when more than 140 heads of state and government convene for the annual ministerial meeting of the UN General Assembly this week.

New York: A brutal terrorist organization that calls itself a state but lacks recognition from any government will take center stage when more than 140 heads of state and government convene for the annual ministerial meeting of the UN General Assembly this week.

The head of the so-called Islamic State, a man called Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has not been invited.

But the danger posed by his jihadi army will be the overriding theme for an international community horrified by its atrocities in Iraq and Syria, along with a growing concern about random beheadings or larger terror attacks at home inspired by militants abroad.

"Together, we will address the horrendous violence in Syria and Iraq, where conflict and governance failures have provided a breeding ground for extremist groups," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a news conference last week.

With world leaders grappling to stitch together a coalition and plan of action, Ban said he hopes the General Assembly session will help produce an international consensus to act against the al-Qaida breakaway group, which US intelligence officials estimate has up to 31,000 fighters including some 12,000 foreigners.

On the sidelines of the global gathering, President Barack Obama will lead a summit meeting of the Security Council to focus on one aspect of the threat — foreign terrorist fighters.

A draft resolution expected to be adopted by the 15-member council would require all countries to prevent the recruitment and transport of would-be foreign fighters preparing to join terrorist groups such as the Islamic State. It would also require the 193 U.N. Member states to ensure that their domestic laws and regulations punish their nationals who travel, or attempt to travel, to another country to plan or carry out terrorist acts, and it threatens sanctions against recruiters and financiers for al-Qaida associated groups.

Torbjorn Soltvedt, principal analyst for the Middle East and North Africa at risk advisory company Maplecroft, said the UN General Assembly presents an opportunity for the U.S. To consolidate and expand its coalition against the Sunni extremist Islamic State group.

"But while Obama may be able to broaden the coalition and secure additional commitments from allies, the session is unlikely to fundamentally impact the scope and nature of military operations in Syria and Iraq," he said. 

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