UNITED NATIONS – The Islamic State group is entering a new phase with an increased emphasis on attacking international civilian targets, according to a United Nations report circulated Thursday.
The report by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to the Security Council says the global threat from the Islamic State group remains high and continues to diversify even though its territorial expansion has been halted or even reversed in Iraq and Syria.
"Recent international attacks perpetrated by members of ISIL demonstrate that the terrorist group is now moving into a new phase, with the increased risk that well-prepared and centrally directed attacks on international civilian targets may become a more frequent occurrence," the report states, using an acronym to refer to the group.
The report notes that in the last six months the Islamic State group has carried out attacks in 11 countries, excluding fighting in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan or Libya, killing more than 500 people and injuring hundreds more.
It also said that an increasing number of "foreign terrorist fighters" were returning to their home countries and that while some had done so after becoming disillusioned with the group, many returned with the intent and capability to "conduct terrorist attacks in their country of origin or residence."
According to the report, the group is seeking to elevate the role of its affiliates and may even be transferring funds to them as they find themselves under increasing pressure in Iraq and Syria.
The report also says that for the first time since the declaration of "so-called Caliphate" in June 2014, the group is under financial pressure with international air strikes reducing oil production by between 30 and 50 percent. Despite this, the report says the group does not appear to be lacking or short on arms or ammunition.