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Jaishankar underlines threat posed by terrorism at UNSC meet, seeks global efforts to stop misuse of new tech

Speaking at the Special Meeting of the Counter-terrorism Committee in Delhi, the External Affairs Minister said terrorist groups and "lone wolf" attackers have significantly enhanced capabilities by gaining access to new technologies like encrypted messaging and cryptocurrency.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar (PTI/File Photo)

Underlining that “terrorism remains one of the gravest threats to humanity”, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said Saturday that the UN Security Council has evolved the counter-terrorism sanctions regime which has been “very effective in putting those countries on notice that had turned terrorism into a State-funded enterprise”, in a thinly-veiled referenced to Pakistan.

He also announced that India will be making a voluntary contribution of half a million dollars to the UN Trust Fund for Counter Terrorism this year to augment the efforts of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) in providing capacity building support to member states in preventing and countering the threat of terrorism.

Speaking at the Special Meeting of the Counter-terrorism Committee in Delhi, attended by the UN Security Council members, the external affairs minister pitched for global efforts to stop possible misuse of new technologies such as encrypted messaging and cryptocurrency by “non-state actors” and cautioned that social media platforms have turned into potent instruments in the “toolkit” of terror groups.

He also said terrorist groups, their “ideological fellow-travellers” and “lone wolf” attackers have significantly enhanced capabilities by gaining access to the new technologies.

Representatives from all 15 member nations of the UN Security Council are attending the second day’s meeting. The first day’s events were held in Mumbai.

“Terrorism remains one of the gravest threats to humanity. The UN Security Council, in the past two decades, has evolved an important architecture, built primarily around the counter-terrorism sanctions regime, to combat this menace. This has been very effective in putting those countries on notice that had turned terrorism into a State-funded enterprise,” he said, adding that despite this, the threat of terrorism is only growing and expanding, particularly in Asia and Africa.

He said that technological innovations and breakthroughs of the past two decades have been transformative in the way the world functions in every aspect. “These new and emerging technologies – from virtual private networks, and encrypted messaging services to blockchain and virtual currencies – offer a very promising future for a wide array of economic and social benefits for humankind. However, there is a flip side, especially where terrorism is concerned,” he said.

“In recent years, terrorist groups, their ideological fellow-travellers, particularly in open and liberal societies, and ‘lone wolf’ attackers have significantly enhanced their capabilities by gaining access to these technologies. They use technology and money, and most importantly, the ethos of open societies, to attack freedom, tolerance and progress. 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 destabilizing societies,” he said.

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Another add-on to the existing worries for governments around the world is the use of unmanned aerial systems by terrorist groups and organised criminal networks, he said, “Being a relatively low-cost option and with an increasing ease of accessibility, misuse of these unmanned aerial platforms for nefarious purposes by terrorist groups, such as weapons and explosives delivery and targeted attacks, have become an imminent danger. They are, therefore, a challenge for security agencies worldwide. The possibilities of using weaponized drones for terrorist purposes against strategic, infrastructure and commercial assets call for serious attention by the Member States.”

He recalled India’s experience of the 2008 Mumbai attacks where the technology of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) could be used for organising and directing the barbaric terrorist attack from beyond India’s borders. “More recently, these terrorist groups have been using unmanned aerial platforms, such as drones and quadcopters for cross-border trafficking of drugs and arms and for carrying out terrorist attacks,” he said.

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“A few months ago, terrorists launched cross-border drone attacks on the UAE and Saudi Arabia targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, which led to loss of lives and injuries, including to Indian nationals there. India has strongly condemned these cross-border drone attacks both in UAE and Saudi Arabia,” he said.

First published on: 29-10-2022 at 10:27 IST
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