India’s decision to host the United Nations Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) is an important marker of the Government’s ongoing effort to highlight terrorism issues at a time the global body has been more focused on the Ukraine war. Held in Mumbai and Delhi, it brought UN officials, and ministers and diplomats from all members of the Security Council (UNSC), to discuss challenges to the global counter-terrorism architecture. In Mumbai, the spotlight was on the 26/11 attacks. Despite the global nature of the terror targets, India has had an uphill battle since 2008 in international cooperation to pursue the case, and in bringing the lone surviving attacker, Ajmal Kasab, through a full trial and execution. After a brief period of information sharing, Pakistan has dragged its feet on prosecuting even LeT commanders Hafiz Saeed, Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi and others that its Federal Investigative Agency held responsible for the attacks. During the UNSC conference, the attendees heard not only from victims of the attacks but also voice samples of LeT recruiter Sajid Mir directing terrorists during the attacks; even so Mir, now in a Pakistani prison on terror financing charges, after Pakistan’s grey-listing at the Financial Action Task Force mandated action, has not been tried. The U.S., which has cooperated in many other ways with India on terrorism, convicted conspirators David Headley and Tahawwur Rana for the attacks, but has refused to extradite them. Meanwhile, China continues to block designating LeT leaders on the UNSC 1267 terror list, a problem External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken specifically mentioned at the conference.
In Delhi, the CTC focus was on online radicalisation and terror recruitment, terror financing through crypto-currency and virtual assets, and unmanned aerial system use including drones for terror strikes, transporting drugs and arms. The deliberations led to the “Delhi Declaration on countering the use of new and emerging technologies for terrorist purposes”. While India has only two months left in its current elected tenure at the UNSC, the Government appears to be making efforts to keep up the momentum from the CTC meet; it will host an international “No Money For Terror” conference (November 18-19), and a UNSC special briefing on challenges to global counter-terrorism efforts (December 15-16). As the Indian experience with 26/11 has shown, the global community has often been long on statements but short on cooperative action, and New Delhi will have to keep pressing the point that terrorism remains, in Mr. Jaishankar’s words, amongst the “gravest threats to humanity”.
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