Certain countries support terrorism as part of their foreign policy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at an international conference on terror financing on Friday, noting that “state support” is one of the financial sources of terror groups.
In an indirect reference to Pakistan and China, Mr. Modi said that certain countries offer political, ideological and financial support to terror groups and sometimes, there are indirect arguments made in support of terrorism to block action against terrorists. Pakistan is not participating in the conference while China did not send a delegation.
Exhorting international organisations not to think that the absence of war means peace, Mr. Modi also asked countries to jointly address the problem of radicalisation and extremism, adding that anyone who supports radicalisation should have no place in any country.
“Proxy wars are also dangerous and violent. There must be a cost imposed upon countries that support terrorism. Organisations and individuals that try to create sympathy for terrorists must also be isolated. There can be no ifs and buts entertained in such matters. The world needs to unite against all kinds of overt and covert backing of terror,” Mr. Modi said.
The Prime Minister was speaking at the inaugural session of the third “No Money for Terror” conference being attended by around 450 delegates from 72 countries, as well as other multilateral bodies such as Interpol and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
“It is significant that this conference is happening in India. Our country faced the horrors of terror long before the world took serious note of it. Over the decades, terrorism in different names and forms tried to hurt India. We lost thousands of precious lives, but we have fought terrorism bravely,” Mr. Modi said.
He stated that India considers that “even a single attack is one too many and even a single life lost is one too many”, adding that “we will not rest till terrorism is uprooted.”
Ideally, there should be no need for anyone to remind the world of the dangers of terrorism, said Mr. Modi. However, there are still certain mistaken notions about terrorism in some circles, he added.
“The intensity of the reaction to different attacks cannot vary based on where it happens. All terrorist attacks deserve equal outrage and action,” said the Prime Minister. “Further, sometimes, there are indirect arguments made in support of terrorism to block action against terrorists. There is no place for an ambiguous approach while dealing with a global threat. It is an attack on humanity, freedom and civilisation. It knows no boundaries. Only a uniform, unified and zero-tolerance approach can defeat terrorism.”
Fighting a terrorist and fighting terrorism are two different things, said Mr. Modi. “A terrorist may be neutralised with weapons. Immediate tactical responses to terrorists may be an operational matter. But tactical gains will soon be lost without a larger strategy aimed at hurting their finances. A terrorist is an individual. But terrorism is about a network of individuals and organisations. Uprooting terrorism needs a larger proactive response. If we want our citizens to be safe, then we cannot wait until terror comes to our homes. We must pursue terrorists, break their support networks and hit their finances,” he said.
One of the sources of terror funding is organised crime and the gangs often have deep links with terrorist outfits, said the Prime Minister, adding that the money made in gun-running, drugs and smuggling is pumped into terrorism. “These groups help with logistics and communication too. Action against organised crime is extremely important in the fight against terror,” he said.
Mr. Modi said that rapidly advancing technology is both a challenge and a solution. “New kinds of technology are being used for terror financing and recruitment. Challenges from the dark net, private currencies and more are emerging. There is a need for a uniform understanding of new finance technologies. It is also important to involve the private sector in these efforts. The answer is not to demonise technology. Instead, it is to use technology to track, trace and tackle terrorism,” he said.
The Prime Minister acknowledged that many different nations have their own legal principles, procedures and processes, and sovereign nations have a right to their own systems. “However, we must also be careful not to allow extremists to misuse differences between systems. This can be prevented through deeper coordination and understanding between governments. Joint operations, intelligence coordination and extradition help the fight against terror,” he said.