AQ / ISIL / A - EP 4

Duration: 17-Jun-2011 to 24-Sep-2014

Following changes on the ground and a growing sense that the core purposes of the Al-Qaida and associates regime had become divergent (constraining AQ and persuading the Taliban to cease fire and join peace talks with the government), the regime was separated into two parts. UNSCR 1988 (17 June 2011) focused on measures to induce moderate elements of the Taliban to enter negotiations with the Afghan government, while UNSCR 1989 (also 17 June 2011) was set up as a continuation of the 1267 regime against AQ.

The 1267 regime was institutionally improved in this episode with the strengthening of the Ombudsperson mechanism in UNSCR 1989, which made the Ombudsperson’s decisions final, unless overturned by a consensus in the Committee or a unanimous vote in the Council. This move, which brought the regime’s procedures closer to an independent and binding review process, increased the legitimacy of the regime in the eyes of different member-states. However, the European Court of Justice, which ruled in favor of Mr. Kadi (who claimed that the freezing of his assets under the 1267 sanctions regime was unlawful) in July 2013, judged these changes insufficient and legal challenges to due process continued.

During this episode, Al-Qaida continued its long transition towards having a weaker institutional core and a greater focus on regional and local “franchised” activities. The combination of targeted financial sanctions, military intervention, and continuous drone attacks in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border largely disconnected Al-Qaida’s senior leadership from its ground operators and new recruits.

Al-Qaida’s regional affiliates, such as Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), increased their prominence with local and regional terrorist attacks and (often temporary) control of territories in countries like Somalia, Yemen, and Mali. During 2013, most of the additions to the 1267/1989 list came from the Sahel region and Syria. As the Monitoring Team argued in 2012, however, while these affiliates continue to proclaim an affiliation with Al-Qaida “they pursue local goals and are bound together more by a shared name and occasional expressions of mutual support than by any common strategy or operational cooperation,” which means that while the core Al-Qaida threat persisted it was less capable of mounting attacks on a global scale. The August 2013 Monitoring Team report concluded that “Al-Qaida’s core had seen no revival of its fortunes over the past six months” and that it had shown “little capability to unify or lead al-Qaida affiliates,” some of whom “have been pushed back by military operations in Mali and Somalia.”

Yet, during this episode, a number of other Al-Qaida-related local and regional threats emerged. A transformation in the landscape of global terrorism took place around the emergence of what is now known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The group was established as Tawhid al Jihad (JTJ) in the late 1990s that became prominent in the Iraq insurgency (led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi) following the US invasion in 2003. Following a merger with various local insurgent groups (creating the Mujahideen Shura Council) and with the death of al-Zarqawi, in October 2006 the group declared an Islamic State in Iraq. Having benefited from the Syrian civil war, the group expanded into the country in 2013 through the Al-Nusrah Front (ANF) and added “Levant” to its name. Since then, several jihadist groups worldwide have pledged allegiance to ISIL, and in June 2014 the organization declared itself a worldwide caliphate under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and claimed religious, political and military authority over all Muslims. ISIL was listed by the 1267 Committee as Al-Qaida in Iraq (which was originally listed on 18 October 2004) and the Al-Nusrah front (which had split from ISIL) in May 2014. Both groups were composed of local and foreign fighters, many of whom have fought in Afghanistan and Iraq under the banner of Al-Qaida. However, Al-Qaida itself announced it had cut all ties with ISIL in February 2014.

By the end of this episode, this collective of jihadist organizations, especially ISIL, controlled significant portions of the Iraqi and Syrian territories. They were able to finance themselves through local means, including illicit proceeds from the occupation of territory (including smuggling, extortion and theft), ransom, fees for services, and donations. Throughout the process, the group gained control of much of the oil infrastructure in the two countries and led to a major humanitarian crisis that, by the end of this episode, created over 4 million refugees.

As they gained prominence, these groups became a focus of the work of the Security Council and, as a result, of the 1267/1989 committee. In UNSCR 2170 (15 August 2014), the Council explicitly named ISIL and ANF as a source of instability, terrorist acts causing the death of civilians, the destruction of property and of cultural and religious sites, and reiterated that, as groups associated with Al-Qaida as splinter or derivate groups, they fit within the scope of the 1267 mandate. This episode marked, therefore, a period of transition in the Committee from a focus on the core of Al-Qaida in Afghanistan to what has been termed by the Monitoring Team the “global Al-Qaida movement,” a broader and loser definition of targets that placed the organization’s splinter groups at the core of the regime.




Constrain AQ and associates, including splinter and derivate groups from being able to commit additional acts of terrorism.


Signal AQ and the global community about the unacceptability of acts of terrorism.


Continuation of ongoing asset freeze, arms imports embargo, and travel ban sanctions measures on Al-Qaida and associates (the Taliban-related sanctions were separated into their own sanction regime).

Maximum number of designees during the episode: 253 individuals and 92 entities.

Potential scope of impact


UN sanctions should have little impact on the general population since they are focused exclusively on specific individuals and entities.

Sanctions Committee and Monitoring Team in place. Designation criteria were specified and targets designated. Enforcement authorities specified.



Policy outcome


Sanctions contribution




Policy outcome

While the core of Al-Qaida had been constrained in financial and operational terms, the broader Al-Qaida related movement continued to gain prominence throughout the episode. In spite of the sanctions, they were able to develop new fundraising strategies based on local sources, which were not disrupted during the episode. As a result, these groups were able to commit numerous acts of terrorism and take control of significant amounts of territory (in Mali, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, and Iraq).

Sanctions contribution

Other factors, such as regular drone attacks, multiple military interventions in regions where AQ affiliates operate have played a key role in the disruption of the core of the organization, and the set-backs for its affiliates in East Africa and the Sahel.



Policy outcome

Al-Qaida is strongly stigmatized and isolated globally, as well as locally, in most regions it operates. Yet, the multiple splinter groups that emerged as a result of its various affiliates (also targets in the regime) were able to effectively recruit locally and globally throughout the episode, indicating that it still commands appeal in the regions it operates.

Sanctions contribution

UN designations began to reflect changes within AQ, but the groups’ own actions and their repercussions appeared to play a more important role in their degree of stigmatization of the group (attacks on Muslims, criminal activities, theological differences, destruction of cultural heritage, attacks on soft targets in the developing world in the case of Al-Qaida core and, in the case of ISIL, military victories, and effective use of the media).



Increase in corruption and criminality, increase in human rights violations, humanitarian consequences, strengthening instruments of the security apparatus of senders, harmful effects on neighboring states, increase in international regulatory capacity in different issue domains, increase in international enforcement capacity in different issue domains, significant administrative burden on implementing states, human rights implications for sending states.



  • Separates Taliban sanctions into their own sanction regime in UNSCR 1988 (2011).
  • Reaffirms UNSCR 1333 and 1390 financial asset freeze, travel ban, and targeted arms imports embargo.


  • Specifies criteria for optional additions of account payments and interests.
  • Decides MS shall use standard form for listing, including a narrative summary for listing (publicly releasable parts of which will be published on Committee's website).
  • Decides designating MS shall specify the relevant body that may disclose its status as designating State.
  • Specifies delisting procedures (60 days after request unless unanimous Committee decision, SC decision if disagreement).
  • Clarifies that delisting requests on behalf of the listed cannot come from MS (only from the designees or their legal representatives or estates).
  • Extends and modifies Ombudsperson and Monitoring Team mandates (18 months).
  • Sets sanctions review (18 months).



  • Specifies exceptional unfreezing procedure, not setting a precedence (MS assurances prior to unfreezing that funds not transferred to designees or used for terrorist purposes, unfrozen within 30 days in the absence of objection by Committee member).
  • Decides asset freeze and travel ban exemptions request shall go through UNSCR 1730 Focal Mechanism (agreement of transit and destination MS required for travel exemptions).
  • Extends and modifies Ombudsperson and Monitoring Team mandates (30 months).
  • Sets sanctions review (18 months).



  • Confirms that travel-related funds, assets, or resources may only be provided in accordance with the travel ban exemption procedure.
  • Urges MS to implement FATF recommendations and best practices for combating money laundering and financing of terrorism and proliferation.
  • Decides MS shall exercise vigilance regarding explosives and their components.


  • Extends Ombudsperson mandate (30 months).
  • Extends and modifies Monitoring Team mandate (30 months).
  • Modifies Focal Point mandate.
  • Modifies the listing procedure.
  • Specifies the delisting procedure.
  • Sets sanctions review (18 months).



  • Observes that ISIL is a splinter group of Al-Qaida and recalls that ISIL and ANF are included on the Al-Qaida sanctions list.
  • Calls upon all MS to take national measures to suppress the flow of foreign terrorist fighters.
  • Imposes financial asset freeze, travel ban, and targeted arms embargo on new designees (listed in Annex).


  • Requests UNAMI to assist the Committee and the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team.