Terrorists using technology to harm society: Jaishankar

Terrorists using technology to harm society: Jaishankar

Focus on online recruitment, drones, crypto currency as CTC highlights terrorists use of new technologies.

Terrorism is still one of the “gravest threats” to humanity, said External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, on the concluding day of the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee’s special meeting in India that sought to focus on the misuse of emerging technologies by terrorist groups. He called for “zero tolerance towards terrorism”.

The meeting, which was addressed by all members of the Security Council, and included ministerial-level participation from Albania, Gabon, Ghana, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom, committed to ending safe havens for terrorists and countering new technologies being used for terrorism. However, the final “Delhi Declaration” did not include the concerns of the U.S. and India concerns over China’s block on terrorist designations at the UNSC. The U.S. and the U.K. sparred with Russian diplomats over references to a “massive” drone attack attempted in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, which the Russian army claimed to have thwarted.

“The U.N. Security Council, in the past two decades, has evolved an important architecture, built primarily around the counter-terrorism sanctions regime… This has been very effective in putting those countries on notice that had turned terrorism into a State-funded enterprise,” Mr. Jaishankar said in a veiled reference to Pakistan, adding that the threat of terrorism is “growing and expanding” nonetheless. Mr. Jaishankar’s statement came a day after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had referred to India-U.S. joint efforts to designate several Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorists through the UN’s 1267 sanctions committee, and in a message aimed at China for placing a hold on five such nominations in the past few months, said at the conference, “no nation should stand in the way”. Mr. Jaishankar also spoke to Mr. Blinken on Saturday in a telephone call, thanking him for his “strong and clear message” on accountability for the Mumbai 26/11 attacks.

However, the strong statements from New Delhi and Washington on the 1267 committee and terrorist designations were not included in the final outcome document. 

“All Member States must cooperate fully in the fight against terrorism in order to identify safe havens, deny terrorists access to them and bring to justice… any person who supports, facilitates, participates… in the financing, planning, preparation or commission of terrorist acts,” stated the final “Delhi Declaration on countering the use of new and emerging technologies for terrorist purposes”.

The 35-para “Delhi Declaration” focused on the threat from Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) including drones, online radicalisation and recruitment as well as terrorist financing through cryptocurrencies and other virtual means, with members noting “with additional concern the increasing global misuse of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) by terrorists to conduct attacks against, and incursions into critical infrastructure and soft targets or public places, and to traffic drugs and arms.” In particular, the CTC members referred to attacks in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, as well as cross-border drone activity into India. Mr. Jaishankar said that new and emerging technologies had enhanced capabilities of terror groups, “particularly in open and liberal societies”.

“Internet and social media platforms have turned into potent instruments in the toolkit of terrorist and militant groups for spreading propaganda, radicalisation and conspiracy theories aimed at destabilising societies,” he added.

Drawing parallels between 26/11 and 7/7

Drawing parallels between the 2008 26/11 Mumbai attacks and the 2005 7/7 London suicide bombings, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the terror strikes had claimed victims from across the world, and called on the international community to “starve” terror groups of financing.

“Within the space of two decades, terrorists have gone from circulating crackly voice recordings from the depths of Tora Bora [Afghanistan], to global online recruitment and incitement campaigns, to live-streaming attacks,” Mr. Cleverly said at the conference. Mr. Cleverly, who is the first member of U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Cabinet to visit India, also held bilateral talks with Mr. Jaishankar, and discussed India-U.K. ties as well as the situation in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, at the conference, the representatives of the U.S. and the U.K. took exception to the Russian envoy’s accusation over the drone attack on the Russian naval fleet in the Black Sea off Crimea, where Russia has accused Ukraine, assisted by the U.K., of orchestrating an attack that damaged a minesweeper. Representatives of the U.S. and the U.K. denied Russia’s claims, while making interventions at the concluding session at the CTC conference in Delhi.

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