India, in the third ‘No Money for Terror’ conference concluded recently at New Delhi, has not only set alarm bells ringing but also resolved to lead from the front by proposing to establish a secretariat that will deal with anti-money laundering and combat the financing of global terrorism issues. India, after taking over the reins of G-20 nations and emerging as strongest economies has established itself as an important ally of world bodies, which in the given situation cannot afford to let terrorism spread its tentacles anymore or anywhere. So direct global action is the need of the hour and is being taken strenuously.
India’s demonetisation might have irked many but it is a fact that the move proved to be a big blow to terrorism, cracked its whip on black money and also nailed the circulation of fake currency that was being used for anti-India operations by terrorists and white-coloured hybrid militants. India, by hosting delegates of over 70 countries and international organisations at the third ‘No Money for Terror Ministerial Conference on Counter-Terrorism Financing’ hosted by the Union Home Ministry, made it known to all that the world had adopted a ‘Zero tolerance’ policy against militants and those nations that are aiding, abetting or harbouring them.
Nations across the world had seen enough of terrorism yet tried to pass on the buck or sit like a mute spectator for the reason that it was not happening on their soil. But ever since terrorism has taken an enormous shape and started affecting every nation in one or the other way, the only first and best way to counter it is by nailing terror funding. Terrorism is no longer a localised issue as it has weaved a cross-border and multi-nation network which needs to be dismantled by the collective effort of world bodies.
Take the case of Jammu and Kashmir and you will come across a terror network that’s spread across the borders and has the hands of white-collared people, over the ground militants and banks where their money is parked. In order to break their nexus, the UT as well as the central agencies since past few years are working hard to nail them all. Moles have been fished out from the system that were operating as government employees, politicians, businessmen and even exporters and are now facing the music.
This is the reason that both, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, while being host to countries against ‘No money for Terror’, revealed that while some nations still aid and abet terror, others block stringent actions if ever initiated against them and thus, they called for a uniform, unified and zero tolerance approach besides economic crackdown against terror-haven nations. This, they believe, will not only crush terrorism but also pull to pieces their networks spread across the globe.
History has witnessed some of the worst terror strikes that shook nations to the core and finally forced them to act against terrorism. Prior to 9/11, the United States of America (USA) fished in deep troubled waters and always advised India and Pakistan from a distance to settle their disputes, Kashmir being primary, through bilateral talks, but when the twin towers of World Trade Centre (WTC) were brought down by terrorists, POTUS realised how terrorists have percolated deep into its territories to harm it. The NATO council declared it was an attack on NATO nations and in October 2001, Afghanistan was bombarded and in 2011, Osama Bin Laden was killed after a ten years hunt.
The fact is, unless those nations and organizations that promote terrorism and radicalization don’t come onboard anti-terror group nations, this fight will be one-sided though it will still reach its logical conclusion in no time. In the words of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, terrorism is the biggest enemy of democracy, human rights, economic progress and world peace, which cannot be allowed to succeed. This is the reason many affected nations are coming together to fight radicalization by initiating a strict economic crackdown against terror-haven countries, a resolution passed in the recent meeting.
How can Israel forget its 11 athletes who were abducted and killed in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany; eleven terrorists were behind 9/11 attack that shook the world, more than 3,000 people were killed in this attack; scars of Lashkar-e-Taiba Mumbai attack are still fresh in the minds of Indians and handlers of this attack are still at large; while Taj Mahal Hotel was burning in 2008 terror attack, terrorists were busy shooting guests, killing 164 people and injuring over 300.
This was the reason India took a lead and resolved to establish a secretariat that will coordinate with other nations to nail terrorism. Since it is going to be a collective attack on terrorism, economic crackdown will be the first assault which will surely break its backbone. Amit Shah dropped enough hints to the world that even organisations that on the face apparently look to be philanthropic, support terrorism in its garb. He also cited example of how India banned an organization that conspired to radicalize the youth and push them towards terrorism. The world needs to be united against terrorism.
Strange are the ways of certain hostile nations that openly support terrorism, provide its land to train militants, help in their launch to other nations, fund them, make their military stand behind them and even shelter global terrorists. Amit Shah also asserted that such nations whose governments and their agencies have made terrorism as their state policy must be the first ones to face economic sanctions. Terrorism is such a menace that it needs a collective fight but first by blocking all its resources of getting funds. Demonetisation, end of currency notes, payments through cheques, e-transactions and phone payments must all be encouraged to end the free and unaccounted flow of money, which ultimately lands in the hands of terrorists.
To cite some more shocking attacks on different nations, one needs to recall how in 2022 mosque bombing, 63 people were killed in Peshawar, Pakistan. This was done by a suicide bomber. Way back in August 2021, 182 people were killed in another suicide bombing at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan. It was in April 2019 when people were celebrating Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka that three churches and three luxury hotels in Colombo were bombed leaving 258 people dead.
Barcelona also witnessed the killing of 14 people in 2017 when a van drove over pedestrians in Las Ramblas. How can London forget 2017 August, when a van ran over pedestrians on London Bridge and Borough market. The attackers also stabbed many people before being killed by police. Christmas celebrations were going on in a market near Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church at Breitscheidplatz in Berlin in 2016, when a rashly driven truck deliberately mowed down 12 people. Baghdad witnessed about 350 people die in a series of coordinated bomb attacks. Similarly, a series of attacks in central Paris left dozens dead.
When the Prime Minister Narendra Modi said ‘No Money for Terror’, he meant that we must hit the finances of terrorists or their groups or the ones who support them clandestinely. Nations who agree to the move must make a beginning by checking NGOs that stealthily fund terror groups. Secondly, the secret funds which nations use to back up terrorists to cause damages in other nations must also be checked and thirdly, a check on smuggling of drugs and arms will automatically nail organisations which make money out of contrabands and then fund terrorism.
The world economy is growing so fast that there’s no room for terrorism. In this era of globalisation, when every nation is dependent upon each other for socio-economic reasons, neither war nor any act of terrorism can be sustained or tolerated for long. Individually, every nation is protecting itself from terrorists in their own way but by blocking funding of these organisations, that too collectively, final nail will be hit in their coffin. India, in particular, had been facing a proxy war launched by hostile neighbour Pakistan since 1947 and it was for the first time in 2016 that the nation led by a strong Prime Minister gave it a befitting reply, by dismantling terror camps in Pakistan through its surgical strike.
When several events of international importance are going on across the length and breadth of world, be it sports, fashion, global meets, economic conferences, G-20 nation like meetings or industrial and IT based seminars besides climate change events, a considerable amount of money goes into security related expenditures just because everyone fears terrorists. Once the fight against terrorism or their modus operandi is taken to a logical conclusion, we will not only be saving money but also protecting precious lives as well.
As suggested, all countries must implement the standards and recommendations of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and finally, ‘Trace, Target, and Terminate’ those organisations and individuals who aid or abet terrorism as had been done by India to set an example before the world.
(The writer is Bharatiya Janata Party J&K Executive Member)