Significance: India and United States reached a new milestone with the inaugural of the bilateral Counter-terrorism Designations Dialogue. The establishment of this mechanism reflects shared US and Indian commitments to strengthen cooperation against terrorist threats. Both sides highlighted the importance of working together in combating terror threats.
Growing threat of terrorism: The 2017 Global Terrorism Index, published today by the Institute for Economics and Peace, offers a guide to the countries hit hardest by terrorism – and most at risk from a future attack. Iraq, which was the location of seven of the 10 deadliest attacks in 2016, tops the ranking. It received a score of 10, where zero represents no impact from terrorism and 10 represents the highest measurable impact.
Iraq is followed by Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia – none of which are on the radar of most ordinary travellers. Several popular holiday destinations, however, do make the top 20, including Turkey, Thailand, Egypt, India and Philippines.
- Sophisticated Attacks: Strikes against a range of targets that have high concentrations of people – such as those witnessed in Brussels – will be the more likely attack scenarios. Such attacks can be devastating on an individual level and might lead to significant casualties, but attacks involving knives, small weapons or using a truck as a battering ram lack the symbolic horror of a major attack.
- Far Right Militancy: While the bulk of the global terror threat will come from Islamist groups, political violence from far-right militant groups is on the rise. Many populist mass movements have resorted to political violence to express their objectives. Countries in Europe, as well as the US, have experienced a revival of militant right-wing extremist groups.For example, in Britain, the authorities reported a 40 percent increase in hate crimes in the month following Brexit.
- Reduced Deaths: The yearly report of Global Terrorism Index developed by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP) based on the Global Terrorism Database by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) as well as other sources, provides the most comprehensive resource on global terrorist trends. Four of the five most severely affected countries, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria, registered significant reductions in the number of deaths. Together, Boko Haram, the Taliban and al Qa‘ida killed 6,000 fewer people in 2016 than in 2015.The decline of BokoHaram in Nigeria is having a positive ripple effect with Cameroon, Chad and Niger collectively recording 75% fewer deaths.
- More Geographic Spread: More countries in the past 17 years experienced at least one death from terrorism. In total 77 countries experienced at least one terrorism death, up from 65 in 2016 – resulting in the increase in overall global GTI score registering the impact of terrorism.
- Evolution into Lone Wolf Attack: A lone wolf attack is undertaken by a very small group or an individual in support of a larger cause, but without the overall supervision or support of a terrorist organisation. The potential for such attacks in various parts of the world is evident from the call given by the terrorist groups encouraging its supporters and sympathisers to adapt the new style of terrorism. The 2014 Sydney hostage crisis and Boston Marathon bombing are among the prominent incidents.
Countering Terrorism in India: Boundaries do not restrict terrorism and it will have to be tackled at the national level. That requires a body to do the strategic planning, coordination and application of all instruments of national power to thwart terrorism. It will involve the collection, collation and analysis of intelligence from all the sources within and outside the country.
- National Counter Terrorism Centre can be an ideal intelligence agency for handling all Counter Terrorism related intelligence. The proposal arose after the 2008 Mumbai attacks where intelligence and operational failures revealed the need for a federal agency with real-time intelligence inputs of actionable value specifically to counter terrorist acts against India. The proposal has however met with much criticism from the Chief Ministers of various states who see this as a means of weakening India’s federalism.
- Export bodies, intelligence grids can be joined together to analyse the overall threat of terrorism. For example, NATGRID intelligence-sharing network that collates data from the standalone databases of the various agencies and ministries of the Indian government can be used for this initiative. It is a counter-terrorism measure that collects and collates a host of information from government databases including tax and bank account details, credit card transactions, visa and immigration records and itineraries of rail and air travel.
- The suitable legislation is used to tackle the multidimensional threats arising from terrorism. Foreign contributions to persons are strictly put under the scanner, illegal currency notes are curbed and put under offence for illegal violations. For example, UAPA Act and FCRA Act are used to curb terrorism in India.
- Multilateral declarations are also under the initiative to fight against the global enemy. Recently, India played a major role to fight against the state-sponsored terrorism of Pakistan by getting together all the major leaders of BRICS to sign and condemn such activities in Xiamen declaration.
- India is also trying to utilise the global platform of United Nations to counter terrorism. It put forward Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism to develop a norm under which terrorists shall be prosecuted or extradited. CCIT could give legal teeth to prosecute terrorist acts.
- Setup an Agency at the Central level for investigation of offences related to terrorism and certain other Acts, which have national ramifications. Several experts and Committees, including the Administrative Reforms Commission in its Report, had made recommendations for establishing such an Agency. Hence, India formed a National Investigation Agency to counter the state-sponsored terrorism.
Conclusion: Terrorism is largely sponsored by multiple non-state actors mainly by Pakistan and China in case of India which has utilised terrorism as an instrument of state policy. Nevertheless, India’s external policies have been dictated by a desire to have a supportive neighbourhood. To counter the grave threat posed by cross-border terrorism at the national level, measures like economic development, strengthening the Administrative Institutions, improving governance and improved border management etc. can be adopted.