Al Qaeda, Islamic State emerged as major challenges after August 2021: Amit Shah

Shah met Bangladeshi Home Minister to raise concerns about attacks on temples, Hindu minorities, according to a government source

November 18, 2022 01:57 pm | Updated November 19, 2022 12:09 am IST - NEW DELHI

Union Home Minister Amit Shah during the third ‘No Money for Terror’ Ministerial Conference on Counter-Terrorism Financing, in New Delhi, Nov. 18, 2022

Union Home Minister Amit Shah during the third ‘No Money for Terror’ Ministerial Conference on Counter-Terrorism Financing, in New Delhi, Nov. 18, 2022 | Photo Credit: PTI

The growing influence of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State have emerged as major security challenges after the regime change in South Asia in 2021, Home Minister Amit Shah said at an international conference on terror financing on Friday, without specifically mentioning the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

Highlighting another aspect of security challenges in the region, Mr. Shah also met his Bangladeshi counterpart on the sidelines of the conference and raised the issue of attacks on temples and on the Hindu minority community in that country, according to a government official.

In its official statement on Mr. Shah’s meeting with Bangladeshi Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that “both sides had productive exchanges on border management and common security-related issues.” Mr. Shah also met Ministers from Ethiopia and the Maldives on the sidelines of the conference.

At the third “No Money for Terror” conference, Mr. Shah chaired the session on “Global Trends in Terrorist Financing and Terrorism”, attended by Ministers from 20 countries and representatives of 72 countries and multilateral bodies.

Regime change impact

Addressing the conference, the Home Minister said that after August 2021, the situation in the South Asian region had changed. Without naming Afghanistan or its new rulers, Mr. Shah identified the regime change and the growing influence of terrorist organisations as major challenges in the region, adding that these new equations have made the problem of terror financing more serious.

“Three decades ago, the whole world has had to bear the serious consequences of one such regime change, the result of which we all have seen in the horrific attack of 9/11. In this background, last year’s changes in the South Asian region are a matter of concern for all of us. Along with Al Qaeda, organizations in South Asia like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed continue to spread terror,” he said.

The Home Minister said that terrorists’ safe havens or their resources should never be ignored and the double-speak of such elements who sponsor and support them should be exposed. “Unfortunately, there are countries that seek to undermine, or even hinder, our collective resolve to fight terrorism. We have seen that some countries protect and shelter terrorists. Protecting a terrorist is equivalent to promoting terrorism,” said Mr. Shah.

“Therefore, it is important that this Conference, the participating countries, and the organisations, should not take a selective or complacent perspective of the challenges of this region,” he added.

Terror financing more dangerous

Mr. Shah emphasised that the threat of terrorism cannot and should not be linked to any religion, nationality, or group. He added that the financing of terrorism is more dangerous than terrorism itself, because the “means and methods” of terrorism are nurtured from such funding. Furthermore, the financing of terrorism weakens the economy of countries of the world.

“India condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and we believe that no reason can justify an act, such as taking innocent lives,” the Home Minister said.

Reiterating Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement earlier in the day, Mr. Shah said that India has been, for several decades, a victim of terrorism sponsored from across the border. He said that Indian security forces and civilians have had to deal with incidents of extremely serious terrorist violence perpetrated in a sustained and coordinated manner.

The Minister said that India has strengthened the fight against terrorism and its financing by amending the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), strengthening the National Investigation Agency (NIA), and giving a new direction to financial intelligence. He stated that it is the result of such continuous efforts that terrorist incidents in India have come down drastically, which in turn, has also resulted in a drastic reduction in the economic losses caused by terrorism.

Dynamite to Metaverse

Terrorists and terrorist groups understand the nuances of modern weapons and information technology, and the dynamics of the cyber and financial space very well, and use them, said the Home Minister. He said that this transformation of terrorism from “dynamite to Metaverse” and “AK-47 to virtual assets” is definitely a matter of concern for the countries of the world, and a common strategy is required to fight it.

Mr. Shah said that although significant progress has been made to confront terrorism by fortifying the security architecture, legal and financial systems, “terrorists are constantly finding new ways to carry out violence, radicalise youth and raise financial resources.” He added that the dark net is being used by terrorists to spread radical content and conceal their identities. Additionally, there is an increase in the use of virtual assets like cryptocurrency.

The emerging trends of the illegal trade of narcotics, and the challenge of narco-terror, have given a new dimension to terror financing, said the Home Minister. In view of this, there is a need for close cooperation among all nations, he said, pointing out that virtual assets are being used by terrorists for financial transactions. To crack down on the use of virtual asset channels, funding infrastructure and the dark net, a “robust and efficient operational system” is required, he added.

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