Collaboration in fighting terrorism

On October 28, 2022, India and the US raised the issue of listing terrorists at the special meeting of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee on ‘Countering the use of new and emerging technologies for the terrorists’ purposes’. This meeting was held at the Taj Hotel, Mumbai, one of the 11/26 terrorist attack sites. All 15 United Nations Security Council (UNSC) representatives and five incoming members attended this conference. Several survivors of this heinous crime also attended the meeting. During the presentation, senior officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs of India ran audio tape clips of Sajid Mir, one of those who planned and executed this terrorist attack. It is pertinent to mention that Sajid Mir’s listing as a global terrorist, an initiative of India and the US, was opposed vehemently by China, allegedly to save Pakistan from embarrassment.

Addressing the meeting, S. Jaishankar, Hon’ble Minister of External Affairs of India, said that when it comes to proposing some of those terrorists who planned and carried out various terrorist attacks on Indian soil, it is a cause of concern that politics comes in between in the forum like UNSC. This indeed weakens our united cause against terrorism. Transparency in the functioning of the UNSC is essential and paramount and should not become futile due to political considerations driven by self-interests. The US Security of State also said that we must do more than mourn. We have moral responsibility and obligation to bring the terrorists to justice, but sadly, some countries obstruct this justice process. China has cited technical reasons for not listing the terrorists as per UNSC resolution number 1267.

This world faces many quandaries concerning global collaboration in combating terrorism. The face of international terrorism changed after the 9/11 terrorist attack on the US. The intensity of this terror attack, selection of targets, sophisticated planning, and execution shattered all the laid down conventions. The number of people who lost their lives and the amount of property destroyed indicates that international terrorism has become an abrupt, perceptible, and empirical danger to modern society. Major terrorist attacks carried out after 9/11 are: Bali Bombings (2002), the Madrid train bombing(2004), the Bombing in Ba’qubah, Iraq (2004), the London transport bombing(2005), the Mumbai terror attacks (2008), Bangkok bombing (2015), Brussel bombing (2016), London bridge attack(2019), Sri Lanka Easter bombing (2019), Christchurch mosque shooting(2019), etc.

Terrorism is as old as human history is. However, to comprehend the consequences of the threat posed by modern international terrorism, we have to go back to the situation in Afghanistan (1979-1989), which stands out as a long-term inheritance of the two superpowers of the Cold War era. Internationally, its consequence endures by tormenting global society in the shape of a struggle between the Western liberal democratic order and Islamic extremism. Internally, the effects of the war have reduced the country’s political institutions, economy, and society weak and converted Afghanistan into a battleground for sectarian rivalries and a nurturing place for religious fundamentalism.

Together with the Iranian revolution and the Arab-Israeli conflict, the events in Afghanistan have played a significant role in the growth of Islamist terrorism. For many Muslims, the Afghanistan war implies shifting from nationalism to Islamism. It was a watershed movement in the history of militant Muslim revivalists. Muslims from all over the world came to Afghanistan to fight against USSR. Militants from all over the Muslim world met and interacted for prolonged periods. The joint fight led to strong ties among them. These Mujahadeens were supported by both the US and UK through Pakistan. In turn, Pakistan diverted these funds to carry out cross-border terrorism in India and other parts of the world and rest is history.

With the withdrawal of the USSR from Afghanistan, the war ended on 15 Feb 1989. Mercenaries who had completed their task in Afghanistan were divided into three groups: some militants remained in Afghanistan, united by Osama Bin Laden, and formed a new group called Al-Qaeda. Some people went back to their countries and started various terrorist organizations. A third group comprises those people who were not accepted by their countries and sought asylum in western countries, which ultimately became hotbeds for the propagation of Muslim fundamentalists. The existence of this type of global terrorist network is a new phenomenon. They believe in the divine command instructing the network’s members to spread their ideology of radical Islam through violent extremism worldwide, and this is a dangerous trend. Such a threat demands a united international community in its efforts to combat the menace of terrorism.

There is a need to Create a combined strategy to fight terrorism. Global teamwork is a critical element in dealing with international terrorism. In addition to sharing intelligence, the experience gained by the various nations in fighting terrorism must be shared with other countries that lack the required experience in fighting terrorism. This experience may include one’s punitive policy, security policy, management of emergency services, coordination among various agencies, medical treatment, handling suspicious persons, etc. Such information could be shared by joint training activities, short-term courses and an exchange of officials dealing with terrorism. Another critical area of cooperation could be the sharing of technological know-how. Security forces and terrorist organizations compete to acquire and use the latest technology.

Though a strong military and adequate covert intelligence-gathering competencies must remain at the cutting edge of our efforts to arrest and defeat terrorists, concentrating on these actions alone is inadequate to address a multidimensional and dynamic global threat. Global cooperation on a wide-ranging of methods employing a wide range of tools merits more attention and resources to advance joint efforts to cope with emerging threats such as radicalization and recruitment and to keep counterterrorism squarely on the international agenda. Additional unified coordination and more effective capacity building are essential to safeguard cross-border cooperation in tracking funding, disrupting planning, preventing future attacks, and investigating, capturing, and prosecuting terrorists.

  1. Jaishankar made a five-point suggestion for the UNCTC to consider while making the strategy to counter international terrorism:
  • Constructive and sustained efforts to counter terror financing.
  • There is a need to ensure effectiveness and transparency in the function of the UNSC.
  • International cooperation on punitive actions against terrorists and their sponsors, including dismantling terrorists’ assets.
  • Synergy to break the nexus between terrorists and international organized criminals.
  • Cooperation is needed in countering technology used in fundraising through virtual modes.

Counterterrorism cooperation means that the nations can help shoulder the burden of providing capacity-building and training assistance to those lagging. Multilateral engagement also offers prospects not only to foster bilateral relationships to combat terrorism. But this raises the common knowledge of the threat and builds the trust necessary for sharing information to prevent, detect and destroy the terrorist.

Conclusion: Terrorism threatens citizens’ security, international stability, and prosperity. It is a persistent global threat that knows no border, nationality or religion and is a challenge that the international community must tackle together. Jointly world community will continue to fight this threat with determination and full solidarity. The world today requires more international collaboration in the fight against terrorism. The geopolitical situation which divides the world community on the issue of terrorism is not acceptable. Terrorists are posing a threat globally, and we need global efforts to tackle this menace.

Regrettably, we do not have adequate global cooperation in contesting terrorism and creating conditions to change the global arena. We need further international cooperation with more accountability.

About the Author
Colonel Balwan Nagial retired from the Indian Army in 2019 after serving for thirty years. Managed administration, security, project mgt throughout his service. He loves writing and contributing in newspapers and magazines in India. He loves Israeli culture.
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