Balwan Nagial
Balwan Nagial

COVID-19 Pandemic and Innovations by Terrorists.

Terrorism did not begin on 9/11, but this dreadful day did bring transformation to the world. The terror attacks on the United States claimed the lives of nearly three thousand innocent people. This incident showed us that terrorism had converted into a global phenomenon that could cause colossal pain and destruction anywhere and everywhere. The magnitude of the attacks forced us to think that no one could stand on the sidelines anymore. The fight against terrorism had become worldwide because the effect of terrorism was existence everywhere in this world.

Terrorists scorn the human values which we share and thrive on defending. Values such as peace, equality, tolerance, and dignity are universal that rise above our narrow national differences. They act as an adhesive to hold us collectively. United as nations and the people of this world, we must come together to guard our shared civilisation.

Nevertheless, the substantial advancement in the fight against terrorism, the UN counter-terrorism chief warned on June 28, 2021, that the COVID-19 pandemic had generated increased activities throughout many countries amidst new and more diverse threats. He highlighted the requirement for inclusive, forward-looking, evidence-based approaches to build resilience in the face of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) legacy in Iraq and Syria; terrorist threats in Africa; increasing terrorism in India from across the borders, Terrorism in Israel, etc. for tackling of global risks manifested by various forms of intolerance and radicalisation.  Furthermore, there is a  need to upgrade technology and know-how to counter the scourge.

Challenges posed by terrorism.

Terrorism is a pestilence from which no continent or country is insusceptible. To solve this international threat to peace and security, global collaboration is critical. Over the last few years, a severe development was the emergence of ISIL (Daesh) and its subsequent territorial decline. However, the terrorist organisation’s retreat from the conflict zones of Iraq and Syria poses a range of different challenges for the world, such as

  • foreign terrorist fighters;
  • terrorism financing;
  • threats to aviation security and critical infrastructure, including “soft” targets;
  • terrorists acquiring weapons;
  • trafficking in persons;
  • terrorist narratives,
  • exploitation by terrorists of information and communications technologies (ICT).

One of the more critical challenges related to the evolving landscape of terrorism concerns returning and relocating Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs). Though only a negligible part of returnees and relocators from Iraq and Syria have been involved in terrorist acts, those who did were responsible for some of the most deadly attacks carried out over the past three decades. FTFs have also played a substantial part in making and consolidating terrorist organisations and radicalising, recruiting through terrorist networks.

It is difficult for many countries to assess the threat posed by returning individuals who can act as radicalisers, recruiters or creators of terrorist groups in the future. Even if imprisonment could mitigate, or at least delay, the risk that some are returning or relocating foreign terrorist fighters pose, many nations have resisted securing criminal convictions against them.

One more serious issue is the manipulation by terrorists of the Internet and social media to provoke acts of terrorism and facilitate a range of illicit activities, including

  • recruitment or funding,
  • planning, committing and facilitating terrorist acts.

Although these challenges are not new, scrutiny is growing as companies and governments struggle to balance securing an open environment and preventing abuse.

Countering these Challenges.

The United Nations Organisation (UNO) is a unique organisation to assist countries in thwarting terrorist acts within their borders and regions. The multidimensional approach proposed by the United Nations also offers means for countries to address various but interconnected issues simultaneously.

Among the various measures available to fight a host of worldwide challenges is the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Determined and vital in their own right to tackle serious development-related challenges, a number of these Goals can also directly or indirectly help counter-terrorism by addressing conditions conducive to its spread. Some of these circumstances that have been recognised are

  • lack of socio-economic opportunities,
  • marginalisation and discrimination,
  • poor governance,
  • violations of human rights and the rule of law prolonged and unresolved conflict,
  • radicalisation in prisons. 

1.Preparing for tomorrow 

Over the last few days, deliberations have advanced the Secretary-General UNO’s vision “to promote a networked global counter-terrorism response”, said Mr Voronkov.  However, he added that we also need to change traditional tactics while preparing for tomorrow’s threats.  Noting that hate speech has become “pervasive and self-reinforcing through algorithms and online echo chambers”, he said that countering the spread of terrorist content online “remains high on the agenda”.

  1. Law and human rights 

Upholding the rule of law and human rights is imperative for successful counter-terrorism efforts, he said. “We must preserve and defend these fundamental values and operating principles while we work together to prevent terrorists’ efforts to destabilise our Governments and societies”. He also maintained the need to continue efforts to deliver tailormade, cost-effective capacity-building measures to sustain impact through UN field-based programmes.

  1. Solidary serves everyone 

As many nations continue to face serious capacity difficulties in fighting terrorism, Mr Voronkov pointed out that new technologies add “a layer of complexity”. He maintained that solidarity is in everyone’s common interest and that the international community cannot afford to leave any country behind. It is clear that a terrorist safe haven anywhere is a threat everywhere.


Over the past decade, the road ahead, many countries have tried various strategies to lessen the chances of terrorists’ succeeding in their evil designs. The UNO has provided leadership and sustenance in their endeavours, concentrating on the areas where nations have comparative advantages.

As a leader in the global fight against terrorism, the UNO will endure insisting governments implement complete national strategies that balance hard-end security measures with social, economic, and community-driven policies grounded in the rule of law. The truth is that measures that try to take shortcuts or are not respectful of international human rights norms can undermine the collective effort by bolstering resentment in parts of the community and providing grist for terrorist groups’ propaganda mills.

Countries must improve their internal coordination and their cooperation with neighbours. However, breaking down institutional barriers and building trust between competing agencies and across borders is time-consuming. UNO’s regional and global events aim to facilitate those processes, allowing professionals to meet face to face and brainstorm on good practices. Once back home, they can implement the lessons learned and call on their international network for support.

UNO work with bilateral and multilateral agencies that can share their expertise with countries in need of technical assistance. Services available include drafting national laws, training prosecutors and judges, and linking national databases to border posts. The United Nations can also offer support with, for example, education programmes aimed at building tolerance in communities and development projects directed at improving governance.

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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