Multi-pronged approach to countering Islamic State threat

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Singapore's PM Lee Hsein Loong (L) at a lecture in Singapore on Monday.  

Against the growing tide of Islamic State violence and concerns about its possible domestic repercussions, India toughened its posture on terrorism with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday asking that countries be held accountable for providing terror sanctuaries.

The contours of India’s multi-pronged response to the IS threat emerged even as the post-Paris global response was firming up despite fear writ across the world, from Brussels to the U.S. mainland, of fresh attacks.

New Delhi’s multi-layered stand on terrorism comes against the backdrop of reports indicating that almost 150 Indian youths may have been enticed by the IS ideology, about two dozen Indians are in the Syrian battlefield, and many others have been intercepted while trying to reach the IS sanctuary.

“The world must speak in one voice and act in unison. There will be political, legal, military and intelligence efforts. But, we must do more. Countries also must be held accountable for sanctuaries, support, arms and funds,” Mr. Modi said in Singapore on Monday, delivering the 37th Singapore Lecture.

In India, officials said Mr. Modi would spend almost three days with top intelligence and police officers in December, discussing all security threats, especially those rising from the influence of the IS, the role of social media in violent crimes and left-wing extremism.

Addressing a seminar in New Delhi, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, meanwhile, highlighted potential new risks as the armed forces transformed into digital militaries at a time when terrorist organisations were aggressively exploiting the Internet and social media. “ISIS is using the Internet to ensure lot of recruitment and support. They are one of the best users of internet technologies for promoting their cause,” Mr. Parrikar said.

Indians inferior: IS

Meanwhile, Indian intelligence agencies said the IS did not consider South Asian Muslims, including Indians and Pakistanis, good enough to fight in the conflict zone of Iraq and Syria, and they were treated inferior to Arab fighters, often being tricked into suicide attacks.

Sources said that of the 23 Indians who are believed to be fighting alongside the IS, six have died, an unusually high casualty rate. Intelligence officials claimed Arab fighters with better battle experience are mostly positioned behind South Asians and hence their casualties are proportionally less.

PM wants accountability for providing sanctuaries

In his address in Singapore, Mr. Modi cautioned that terrorism was a “global challenge, and a force larger than individual groups. Its shadow stretches across our societies and our nations, both in recruitment and choice of targets. It does not just take a toll of lives, but canderail economies.”

“Nations must cooperate more with each other. Societies must reach out within and to each other. We must delink terrorism from religion, and assert the human values that define every faith,” he said, delivering the 37th Singapore Lecture on Monday night at the Shangri-La hotel.

According to an intelligence report, purportedly prepared by foreign agencies and shared with India, fighters from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh as well as certain countries like Nigeria and Sudan are considered inferior to Arab fighters.

“The fighters from South Asia are usually housed in groups in small barracks and are paid less than the Arab fighters and are given inferior equipment,” the foreign input said.

(With inputs from Vijaita Singh and Dinakar Peri in New Delhi, Mahesh Langa in Ahmedabad, and agencies)

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2021 9:14:30 AM |

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