SPECIAL: Delhi Meet on Terror Financing

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Terror financing is now making use of not only the Hawala system of laundering money but also using darknet and cryptocurrencies to mobilise funds for terror activities.  The No Money for Terror conference in New Delhi provides an opportunity to deliberate the ways and means to counter these traditional and emerging mechanisms of terror financing. Delegations from 72 countries in 15 international organisations attended the conference

A two-day Ministerial Conference – No Money for Terror (NMFT) on Counter-Terrorism Financing was organised in New Delhi last week. This was the third edition of this conference after the first one in France in 2018 and the second conference in Australia in 2019.

The conference, involving delegations from 72 countries in 15 international organisations, offers a platform for participants to deliberate on the effectiveness of the present global regime on counter-terrorism financing and the necessary measures required to address pressing challenges.

Delhi Meet on Terror Financing @Asian Lite

The conference holds salience against the backdrop of rising terrorist attacks and the funding and transfer of terror funds at much greater speed and scale than hitherto witnessed. As per the Global Terrorism Index 2022, the number of terror attacks has increased by 17% to 5,226 over the previous year. South Asia alone registered over 1,829 casualties in terror attacks. Peter Neumann, an expert on terror studies, posits that since 2001 the fight against terror financing has been largely ineffective. In his report “Don’t follow the money”, Neumann argues that low-cost terror attacks are easy to carry out and noted that jihadist groups are easily transferring money without using the international financial and banking system.

 Terror financing is now making use of not only the Hawala system of laundering money but also using darknet and cryptocurrencies to mobilise funds for terror activities.

The No Money for Terror conference provides an opportunity to deliberate the ways and means to counter these traditional and emerging mechanisms of terror financing. Security and law enforcement agencies need to improve the regional and global understanding of the risks posed by such informal financial mechanisms as hawala and their role in supporting terror groups. To counter cryptocurrency usage for terror finance, law enforcement and intelligence agencies need to rigorously track and monitor blockchain transactions of suspect groups. This requires better forensics, improved surveillance mechanisms and capacity building and training to check nefarious designs of terrorists in mobilising funds using advanced technologies.

Delhi Meet on Terror Financing @Asian Lite

Itself being plagued by frequent terror attacks, India is perhaps amongst the worst sufferers of state-sponsored terrorism by its neighbour. Terrorist groups emanating from Pakistan such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad have been carrying out regular attacks on Indian soil and Indian citizens. These terrorist groups are receiving support from the Pakistani state by way of funds, weapons and other logistical supports. Numerous attempts made by India to enlist such groups in the UN’s List of Designated Terrorist Groups have been in vain because of barriers created by China which keeps on blocking any such attempt to blacklist global terrorists. Several Pakistani-based terrorists such as Masood Azhar of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Sajid Mir of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Abdul Rauf Azhar of JeM, Abdul Rehman Makki of LeT, Shahid Mahmood of LeT, and recently Hafiz Talah Saeed – son of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack Hafiz Saeed, have been protected by China on frivolous excuses such as technical hold.

In drawing attention towards countering terror financing, India is playing a pivotal role. While addressing the conference, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly advocated for eliminating any ambiguity with respect to curbing the menace of terrorism as well as keeping away from using terrorism as a foreign policy tool. The conference emphasized that there shall be no distinction between good terrorism and bad terrorism. Any act of terrorism is an attack on humanity, freedom and civilisation. Indian Prime Minister, Modi highlighted the evil of state-sponsored terrorism which acts as a major source of political, ideological and financial support to terrorism. The linkages between terror funding and organised crimes was also underscored. For instance, money made in gun-running, drugs, arms dealing and smuggling is pumped into terrorism. Terror groups are also facilitated by organised crime groups via logistics and communication.

This conference was a continuation of India’s robust effort to sensitise countries regarding the issue of terrorism. The United Nations (UN) Security Council’s special meeting of the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) on 28-29 October and the 90th INTERPOL General Assembly on 18-21 October in India also brought forth the gravity of the issue to be dealt with urgency. The Delhi Declaration passed at the CTC conference also emphasized the need to choke terrorist financing as it remains a persistent challenge to national security.

Such global meetings provide India with the opportunity to not only highlight its concern in battling cross-border terrorism but also strengthen counterterrorism cooperation with other security and intelligence agencies. It also strengthens support for Indian initiatives such as the Comprehensive Convention on International terrorism, a Resolution that has been languishing in the UN for decades now.

Joint effort and cooperation is the need of the hour. Highlighting the complex environment, the conference stressed the UN Security Council, Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Financial Intelligence Units, and the Egmont Group areenhancing cooperation in the prevention, detection and prosecution of illicit funds that are being used for terror financing.

In recent times, efforts by FATF and other bodies have yielded positive results. For example, the pressure of blacklisting by FATF forced Pakistan to roll back its support to anti-India terrorist groups. The UN Resolutions 1267 and 1373 enforced by governments also played a critical role in checking criminal networks involved in terror financing.

The world needs to unite against all forms of terrorism, extremism or radicalisation be it overt or covert. Moreover, costs must be imposed upon states that support terrorism and help in its perpetuation and widespread across the world.It is high time that the clarion call made by India for a uniform, unified and zero-tolerance approach towards terrorism must be heeded by all countries for the safety and security of the entire global population and humanity.


 

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