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Pursue listing of terrorists, de-politicisation of UN sanctions regime: Parl panel

Feb 05, 2024 03:53 PM IST

The panel said Islamic State and al-Qaeda are “aligned with regional terror groups like LeT and JeM and trying to exploit the opportunity of communal tensions in India

India should pursue the listing of four Pakistan-based terrorists, including Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leader Hafiz Talha Saeed and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) leader Abdul Rauf Asghar, and take steps to “de-politicise” the sanctions regime of the UN Security Council, a parliamentary panel has said.

The report on countering global terrorism was tabled in Parliament on Monday. (ANI)
The report on countering global terrorism was tabled in Parliament on Monday. (ANI)

In its report on countering global terrorism that was tabled in Parliament on Monday, the parliamentary committee on external affairs said Islamic State and al-Qaeda are “aligned with regional terror groups like LeT and JeM and trying to exploit the opportunity of communal tensions in India for instigating attacks in India through [their] misinformation and radical practices”.

Since 2016, Islamic State has been “unsuccessfully trying to extend its territory” into Jammu and Kashmir as part of the so-called Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP). In order to show its presence in Indian territory, Islamic State-Core issued “propaganda of establishment of ‘Wilayah Hind’ in May 2019”, the report said.

The committee’s recommendations come against the backdrop of China persistently blocking efforts by India and its Western partners such as France and the US to sanction Pakistan-based terrorists at the UN Security Council over the past few years.

During its tenure in the Security Council in 2021-22, India submitted the names of five Pakistan-based terrorists – Abdul Rauf Asghar of JeM, and Abdul Rehman Makki, Sajid Mir, Shahid Mehmood and Talha Saeed of the LeT – for listing under the UNSC 1267 or al-Qaeda and Islamic State sanctions regime. The sanctions committee accepted the listing of Makki, a close aide of LeT founder Hafiz Saeed, in January 2023.

The parliamentary committee said India “should continue to pursue the matter of listing the remaining four terrorists under the sanctions regime” to thwart their activities against the country.

China alone has blocked the listing of Asghar, Mir, Mehmood, and Talha Saeed at the Security Council over the past two years using what is known as a “technical hold”, or a measure used by members of the body to seek more information or clarifications regarding the person to be listed.

Without naming China, the parliamentary panel noted in its report that India seeks “de-politicisation of [the] sanctions regime”, evidence-based listing by the UN sanctions committee, and the need for “greater transparency” in the working methods of the UN body.

This issue has also been raised by external affairs minister S Jaishankar in several public statements and speeches.

The parliamentary committee said India believes the UN Security Council’s sanctions regimes, particularly the 1267 sanctions committee, can be an “effective tool in countering the activities of terrorists and terrorist groups by restricting their travel and suppressing their funding avenues”.

India has submitted proposals to list terrorists who were involved in cross-border terrorist attacks, the parliamentary committee said. It noted that Makki was involved in several terrorist attacks on Indian soil, including the 2008 Mumbai attacks. “This was the first listing of a Pakistani terrorist by India, as a designating state to the listing proposal,” the report said.

The parliamentary panel highlighted the continuing threat posed by terrorism across the neighbourhood, including links to a recent blast in Coimbatore that were “traced back to ISIS-inspired Sri Lankan youth”. The report said: “These worldwide incidents of ISIS indicate its global presence.”

It said the “lenient approach” of the Taliban set up in Kabul has enabled al-Qaeda to rebuild its capabilities and renew its propaganda. “Since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, a renewed vigour was observed in Al-Qaeda (AQ) propaganda activities. The lenient approach from Taliban had enabled AQ to rebuild the organisational capabilities along with re-orienting its propaganda strategies through ‘As-Sahab Media’ (official media wing of AQ),” the report said.

The parliamentary committee described al-Qaeda as a “long-term threat because of its radical jihadi ideology-oriented propaganda activities and ability to work with other terror groups”. The attacks of such groups primarily target political and religious personalities, and they pose a threat to large public events, international events, and religious places, the report said without giving details.

The report said Islamic State and al-Qaeda remain major challenges for global security and constitute a “significant terrorist threat” in Central and South Asia. They continue to harbour ambitions to build capabilities to conduct external operations, and Islamic State has “decentralised its approach of waging war across the world through intense radicalising [of] youths” using cyberspace and social media.

The parliamentary committee made several other recommendations, including the stepping up of diplomatic efforts to reach agreement on the draft of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, which was first proposed by India in 1996, strengthening of collective global efforts against global terror groups such as Islamic State and al-Qaeda, especially to counter the use of encrypted messaging platforms and virtual currencies, and evolution of a comprehensive international convention to counter the use of ICT for criminal purposes.

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