Amit Shah calls for global action in the fight against terrorism
Speaking at the concluding session of the third ministerial NMFT conference, Union home minister Amit Shah said: “India has sensed the need for permanency of this unique initiative of NMFT in order to sustain the continued global focus on countering the financing of terrorism. Time is ripe for a permanent secretariat to be established.”
India has proposed to set up a “permanent secretariat” for the “No Money For Terror (NMFT)” initiative to ensure continuous global focus on countering terror financing and chalking out a practical and workable road map to fight terrorism, Union home minister Amit Shah said on Saturday, as he urged all countries to share intelligence in a transparent manner.
Shah also asked jurisdictions who support terrorists or those who harbour them – in what was seen as an indirect reference to Pakistan and China – to “think beyond politics” and cooperate with each other.
Speaking at the concluding session of the third ministerial NMFT conference, Shah said: “India has sensed the need for permanency of this unique initiative of NMFT in order to sustain the continued global focus on countering the financing of terrorism. Time is ripe for a permanent secretariat to be established.”
He added that the chair statement issued after the two-day conference “offers to establish a permanent secretariat in India”.
“Shortly, India will circulate a discussion paper to all participating jurisdictions for their valuable comments (in this regard),” he said.
Government officials who were part of the conference said a decision to establish the permanent secretariat in New Delhi is “more or less” finalised as most countries have agreed to it.
The NMFT secretariat will be a multilateral platform to discuss issues related to terror financing and new technologies and mechanisms used by terrorists to raise funds, an official said on condition of anonymity.
“Like the global watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) deals with anti-money laundering measures related to terror financing, the NMFT secretariat will be the base for discussing a future road map and common strategies for countering the financing,” the official said.
At least 450 delegates from 77 countries, other than India, and 16 multilateral agencies such as Interpol, Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and Europol attended the two-day conference and discussed various issues such as use of proceeds of other crimes for terrorist activities, preventing new financial technologies, virtual assets such as cryptocurrencies, wallets, illegal channels, cash, hawala, etc., and non-profit organisations in terror funding.
On the need for cooperation over transparency, Shah said: “Our first commitment should be cooperation with transparency. All countries, all organisations, must pledge complete transparency in sharing intelligence in a better and more effective manner. We have to fight this war against terrorism and terrorist groups, in every geographical space, in every virtual space.”
“No country or organisation can successfully combat terrorism alone. The international community must continue to fight shoulder-to-shoulder against this increasingly complex and borderless threat,” he added.
The home minister also indirectly targeted Pakistan, saying that “some countries and their agencies (referring to the ISI) have made terrorism their state policy”.
In these “terror havens”, Shah said, it is necessary to unshackle their unrestrained activities along with a strict economic crackdown, for which all countries have to make up their minds, rising above geopolitical interests.
Without naming China, which has repeatedly blocked India’s attempts to sanction Pakistan-based terrorists at the UN Security Council, Shah said: “We observe that some countries repeatedly support terrorists and harbour terrorism. I believe that terrorism has no international boundaries, so all countries should think beyond politics and cooperate with each other.”
Shah stressed on the need to crackdown on private and non-profit organisations allegedly prompting terrorism and radicalisation at the national and international level. “It has also been found that these organisations tend to become the medium of financing terrorism. Recently, the Indian government banned an organisation that conspired to radicalise the youth and push them towards terrorism. I believe that every country should identify and take stringent action against such organisations,” he said.
The Popular Front of India (PFI) and its eight affiliate organisations were banned under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) on September 28, after a nationwide crackdown by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) led to arrests and recovery of purported incriminating documents from offices and residences of the outfit’s office bearers.
The Centre alleged the outfit was fuelling radicalisation and was involved in terror funding.
The home minister underlined that agencies and authorities working in areas of counterterror and terror financing have to adopt a long-term strategy.
“All stages of terror financing, such as fund-raising, fund movement, layering through other crimes, and finally, usage for terrorist activities have to be cracked down at each stage and each stage requires a specific but collective approach on a global scale,” he said.
Shah also asked all countries to implement standards and recommendations of FATF, not just on paper but in spirit as well. He said the approach towards combating terror financing should be based on five pillars – establishing a comprehensive monitoring framework involving cooperation, coordination, and collaboration among all intelligence and investigative agencies; strategy of “trace, target, and terminate” to be adopted from low-level economic offences to more organised economic crimes; strengthening and harmonising the legal structures related to terror finance; developing a robust mechanism against the misuse of next generation technology; and strengthening the legal and regulatory framework for asset recovery.
The Chair Statement, issued after the two day conference, said the international meet “underscored the importance of whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach, whereby cooperation in countering terrorism and its financing between relevant stakeholders, including the executive, the legislature, the judiciary, civil society and private sector, is secured”.
“The Chair of the 3rd NMFT conference resolves to encourage the conduct of a ‘no money for terror’ conference on annual basis, with the establishment of mechanisms to share information and best practices between States,” it said.