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International Counter Terrorism Conference by Global Counter Terrorism Council

(18 January 2022)


Statement by Ambassador T.S. Tirumurti

Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations



I thank Global Counter Terrorism Council (GCTC) for inviting me to this International Counter Terrorism Conference 2022 and provide the opportunity to share my thoughts on counter-terrorism and UN.  I would like to clarify that I speak to you as Ambassador of India to the UN and not necessarily in my capacity as Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee. Allow me at the outset to express my deep appreciation for the tremendous breath of the topics you are covering over the next several days. I commend you and wish you an enriching discussion.


2. In the global counter-terrorism domain, the terrorist attacks of the 9/11 in 2001 had proved to be a turning point in our approach towards terrorism. The attacks highlighted the following:


  • The threat of terrorism is grave and universal and can only be defeated by collective efforts of all UN member states.
  • Terrorism in one place can directly impact peace and security in another. Consequently, the era of classifying terrorists as “your terrorist” and “my terrorist” was over.
  • Terrorism in all its forms and manifestations is to be condemned and there cannot be any exception or justification for any act of terrorism, regardless of motivations behind such acts, and wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed.
  • The menace of terrorism should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group.

3. In 2001, through Security Council resolution 1373, the Security Council established the Counter-Terrorism Committee (or CTC), as its subsidiary body with a mandate to assess implementation of counter terrorism resolutions and decisions of the Security Council as well as General Assembly by member states, as well as identify compliance gaps and facilitate technical assistance to member states through relevant UN bodies to plug these gaps. Our fight against terrorism is as strong as the weakest link in the global chain of member states, and CTC plays very important role in identifying such weak links and strengthening them, including by facilitating necessary capacity building. In 2006, the UN General Assembly adopted its first Global Counter Terrorism Strategy or GCTS, putting in place the counter-terrorism policy framework at the UN. It is in this context that India has tried to strengthen the UN response to terrorism, including strengthening the CTC architecture, and the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.




4. Over the past 2 decades, there has indeed been considerable progress in combatting terrorism.  Elaborate mechanisms have been put in place. Terrorism faced reverses in the face of resolute Counter-Terrorism measures undertaken by countries individually or collectively. Many avenues of support were getting dried up or being plugged by forums like Financial Action Task Force (FATF) etc. However, we are recently witnessing a resurgence of terrorist activities both in their range and diversity as well as geographical space.


5.  As UN Secretary General’s recent reports on threat posed by ISIL have been pointing out, ISIL has changed its modus operandi, with the ISIL core focus now on regaining ground in Syria and Iraq and its regional affiliates strengthening their expansion, especially in Africa as well as in Asia. Similarly, Al-Qaida remains a major threat and recent developments in Afghanistan have only served to re-energize them. Al-Qaida’s linkages with Security Council proscribed terrorist entities like Lashkar e-Tayyiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed has continued to strengthen. It’s regional affiliates in Africa continue to expand.


6. It is in this scenario that the Security Council adopted UNSC resolution 2593 on Afghanistan under India’s Presidency of the Council in August last year. Resolution 2593 took into account some of our collective concerns, in particular on terrorism, where it has noted the commitment of the Taliban not to allow the use of the Afghan soil for terrorism, including from terrorists and terrorist groups designated under resolution 1267. It has underlined that Afghan territory should not be used to threaten or attack any country or to shelter or train terrorists, or to plan or to finance terrorist acts. It’s therefore vital that sympathizers of Al-Qaida in Taliban stop their support to Al-Qaida and ISIL.


7. Further, developments in Afghanistan are being closely watched in Africa by terrorist and radical groups. We need to ensure that they and other regional affiliates of ISIL and Al-Qaeda don’t get emboldened and take advantage of armed conflict situations in and around the Sahel region and Lake Chad Basin area.


8. With this background, allow me to dwell on some counter-terrorism trends and developments at the UN, what impact will they have on the global counter-terrorism discourse and India’s approach towards them.


9. The first trend is what is being referred to as “emerging threats”. This is essentially a move to categorize terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism, based on the motivations behind such acts. In the past two years, several member states, driven by their political, religious and other motivations, have been trying to label terrorism into categories such as racially and ethnically motivated violent extremism, violent nationalism, right wing extremism, etc. This tendency is dangerous for several reasons. First, this goes against some of the accepted principles agreed to by all UN Member States in the recently adopted Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which clearly states that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations should be condemned and there cannot be any justification for any act of terrorism, whatsoever. Second, this will take us back to the pre 9/11 era of labeling terrorists as “Your Terrorists” and “My Terrorists” and erase the collective gains we have made over the last two decades. Third, it is important to understand that in democracies right-wing and left-wing are part of the polity primarily because they come to power through the ballot reflecting the majority will of the people and also since democracy by definition contains a broad spectrum of ideologies and beliefs. We therefore need to be wary of providing a variety of classifications, which may militate against the concept of democracy itself. Fourth, even such labels are being given to so-called threats which are limited to certain national or regional contexts. The extrapolation of such national or regional narratives into a global narrative is misleading and erroneous. Such trends are neither global nor have any agreed global definition.


10. It is with such distortions in mind, and to combat them, that India's External Affairs Minister Dr Jaishanker, when speaking to the Security Council, mentioned inter alia the following: First, we must all summon up the political will to combat terrorism. There must be no ifs and buts in this fight. Nor should we allow terrorism to be justified and terrorists glorified. All member States must fulfill their obligations enshrined in international counter terrorism instruments and conventions. Second, we must not countenance double standards in this battle. Terrorists are terrorists; there are no good and bad ones.  Those who propagate this distinction have an agenda. And those who cover up for them are just as culpable. And third, we must firmly discourage exclusivist thinking that divides the world and harms our social fabric. Such approaches facilitate radicalization and recruitment by breeding fear, mistrust, and hatred among different communities. The Council should be on guard against new terminologies and false priorities that can dilute our focus.




11. Another trend which has of late become prominent is highlighting certain religious phobias. The UN has highlighted some of them over the years, namely, those based on Islamophobia, Christianophobia and antisemitism - the three Abrahamic religions. These three find mention in the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. But new phobias, hatred or bias against other major religions of the world need to also be fully recognised. The emergence of contemporary forms of religiophobia, especially anti-Hindu, anti-Buddhist and anti-Sikh phobias is a matter of serious concern and needs attention of the UN and all Member States to address this threat. It is only then can we bring greater balance into our discussion on such topics.


12. Further, misuse of information and communication technology such as internet and social media for terrorist propaganda, radicalization and recruitment of cadre; misuse of new payment methods and crowdfunding platforms for financing of terrorism; and misuse of emerging technologies for terrorist purposes have emerged as the most serious threats of terrorism and will decide the counter-terrorism paradigm going forward. Internet and social media platforms have turned into indispensable resources in the toolkit of Global Terrorist Groups (GTGs) for spreading terrorist propaganda and conspiracy theories aimed at spreading hatred among societies and communities and offer additional radicalization opportunities which may proliferate globally. The increased use of closed group communications adds to the concern. Covid-19 and the subsequent isolation has further accentuated the impact of internet on people making them vulnerable to radicalization and recruitment by terrorist groups. Continuing advancements in evolving technologies, viz. Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, “Deep fakes”, Blockchain, Dark web, etc., are fraught with the risk of being abused by terrorists. Already, crypto currencies, virtual assets, crowdfunding platforms are helping terror financing, owing to anonymity and the un-traceable nature of these technologies. Added to this is the use of Drones. Being a low-cost option and easily available, utilization of these aerial/sub-surface platforms by terrorist groups for purposes such as intelligence collection, weapon/explosives delivery and targeted attacks have become a challenge for security agencies worldwide. In our context we have witnessed terrorists using UAS to smuggle weapons and drugs across the borders and also launch terrorist attacks. Given the transnational nature of these treats, this warrants a holistic collaborative approach by member states, private sector, civil society organizations etc. as well as to strengthening support to financial watchdogs such as FATF to ensure that member states bring their counter-financing structures at par with international standards.




13. It is also important to point out that the existential threat of terrorism in Africa is rapidly evolving. Terrorism in Africa exacerbates state fragility and increases the vulnerability of communities because terrorism conflates with other pervasive challenges such as poverty, youth unemployment, forced migration, arms trafficking as well as growing cyber and transnational organized crime. As pointed out by our African colleagues in the Security Council, ISIL and Al-Qaeda linked and inspired groups in Africa are embedding themselves in multiple domestic conflicts, particularly in countries seeking to establish democratic institutions, with the terrorists attempting to influence and control the political agenda. Sustained peacebuilding efforts, giving due leadership role to countries of Africa, utilizing African wisdom for conflict resolution, harnessing the strength of Africa's regional and sub-regional organizations are needed to deal with the fragility and insecurities facing the continent on a longer term. There is no doubt that the peacebuilding efforts should be complemented by international community extending support to regional counter-terrorism initiatives. For example, the countries of the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin are giving serious resistance to the terrorist groups. However due to weak economies, lack of financial resources, logistics and equipment shortcomings, they are unable to seriously counter the threat of terrorism. It is therefore important that the regional security initiatives of African countries such as G-5 Sahel Joint Force, and Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) are provided more robust support from the Security Council including through UN assessed contributions. This has been their ask for quite some time. To discourage terrorist groups from any misadventure and drawing inspiration from events in Afghanistan, a united global call denouncing any attempts to hijack legitimate political aspirations of the people by ISIL and Al-Qaeda elements, is need of the hour.






14. The UN sanctions regimes, including the one established by resolution 1267, are pivotal to the international efforts in preventing terror-financing, terrorist-travel, and access to arms by the terrorist organizations. However, implementation of these measures remains challenging. It is critical that all sanctions regimes established by the Council ensure due process in their working procedures and decision-making. The decision-making process and listing/delisting measures should be objective, swift, credible, evidence based and transparent, and not for political and religious considerations. Linkages between terrorism and transnational organized crime must be fully recognized and addressed vigorously. We have seen the crime syndicate responsible for the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts not just given state protection but enjoying 5-star hospitality. Besides, a recent report of the Monitoring Team (MT) regarding asset freeze exemptions procedures pursuant to resolution 2560 (2020), points to the lacunae of asset freeze measures by Member States, partly due to deficiencies in the existing guidelines of the Committee. I am glad to inform that with an aim to removing these deficiencies and further strengthen the 1267 sanctions regime, India constructively participated in the negotiations of the resolution 2610, which was adopted by the Security Council on 17 December 2021.


15. Friends, needless to add there are other priorities in the UN and in the CTC which I have mentioned only in passing due to paucity of time.  However, I would like to re-iterate that India’s action at the UN to address the above trends and developments will be driven by the 8 priorities set by our External Affairs Minister, in the UNSC Ministerial meeting on 20th Anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1373 and the establishment of the Counter Terrorism Committee, held on 12 January.


16. India has made the terrorism as a priority of our two-year tenure in the Security Council. These priorities envisage strengthening the multilateral response to counter terrorism. Equally important is to ensure that combating terrorism remains at the center of “Our Common Agenda” set out by the Secretary General, and not at its periphery. India held a high-level event during our Presidency which was chaired by our External Affairs Minister. Further on the sidelines of the 2nd counter terrorism week in June last year, our Mission in New York co-hosted along with France an event on “Countering the Financing of Terrorism in the post-COVID landscape”. We had robust participation from UN bodies like UNOCT, UNODC, UN CTED as well as FATF.


17. Let me conclude by commending you all once again for organizing an international conference on Terrorism and covering such a wide range of topics.


I thank you.