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Terrorists ‘taking advantage of COVID-19 upheaval to lure new members’

If not handled properly, the challenge may further aggravate, says the OIC

The outgone Secretary-General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Dr Yousef Al-Othaimin has warned that terrorist groups are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic challenges it posed to lure more youths into their folds.

He raised the alarm on Saturday while speaking at the 47th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of the OIC holding in the Nigerien capital Niamey.

“Terrorist groups, especially in the Sahel region and Lake Chad basin have devised new ways of luring youths into their midst, and, if not handled properly, the challenge may further aggravate and lead to loss of more lives and property,” he said.

Al-Othaimin added that the sanity of the two regions form the basic ideas of OIC’s decisions, stressing that the organisation will support the regions especially on issue of insecurity and combating terrorism.

Sahel region which covers countries of Northern and Western Africa has been suffering from the security challenges of Boko Haram, Islamic State in West Africa (ISWAP) Alqaeda among many other terrorist groups over the years.

Immediate past OIC, Secretary General, Yousef Al-Othaimin

Earlier speaking, the OIC CFM Chairman and Nigerien foreign affairs minister Kalla Ankourau said the region has been able to rally forces to address the issue that resulted in establishing the Sahel Task Force and the Multi-Nation Joint Task Force (MNJTF) in the region.

He however lamented that the partnering countries have been very slow in responding and contributing to the success of the two task forces, which, according to him gave the terrorists access to continue to penetrate.

Foreign Ministers of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Pakistan, Morocco, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey, Bangladesh and Libya all reiterated the need for robust and holistic international synergy to defeat the terror activities.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada has said that the Boko Haram terrorist group has been seriously decimated as it no longer holds any territory.

“As a result of the effort we have made so far, more than one million Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s) have returned to their homes,” Dada said.

The Minister also called on the OIC and other countries in the international community to support them both financially and security-wise in the fight, adding that no nation can independently defeat terrorism without collaboration.

Daily Trust reports that the session which brought together the 57 Foreign Ministers of all the OIC member-states focuses more attention on issues of terrorism and other security challenges affecting Muslim countries.

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