Rajya Sabha TV: Security Scan – Terrorism in South Asia – Ideology & Finance
Terrorism which is used to intentionally create violence to achieve a political, religious or ideological aim has become a talk of international politics. It is originating largely from parts of South West Asia which are affected by political instability most of the time. An account relating to their finance is pointed out by the 2017 Basel AML Index which annually ranks countries risk regarding money laundering/ terrorism financing. It places India’s neighbourhood nations in top 50 – Afghanistan (2), Nepal (14), Sri Lanka (25) and Pakistan (46) – among 146 nations. This is important as terrorism can’t survive only based on ideology; it needs a finance and some state backing to sustain on a large scale.
Terrorism is mainly a political struggle for power by radicalisation of certain people. It arises when there is lack of normal means and freedom to express one’s views. Therefore, other underground and violent means are taken to do so. This happens generally in nations which lack a democratic establishment (though the equation is actually somewhat complex) like some of the West Asian countries and Pakistan.
The Mujahideen engaged in Jihad mainly originated during the 1980s Soviet-Afghan war. It was a proxy war fought by US (to win their own cold war interests). Pakistan, China and Gulf backed the Mujahideen. These groups in 1990s and later, grew as Taliban, Al-Qaida, etc as part of the modern-day terrorism.
People join these terrorist groups when they feel certain alienation and denial of justice in their own home states. This vacuum is utilised by people having their own vested interests and thus, use religion as a tool. These ideological issues cannot be solved by security forces alone who are engaged in counter-fighting, interrogations, etc. Its onus falls on the society and state government.
Financing of terrorism is a mixture of both legal (provided by state support) and illegal money (Hawala channels, counterfeit, donations like from Gulf countries, etc). This needs to be controlled, to counter terrorism.
It is difficult to break the financial connection of these terror groups as money is fungible and has high liquidity. Steps like demonetisation are appreciable to check counterfeit money, black money, etc up to some extent. Moving towards a cashless society can be more helpful to keep a track of all the remittances.
But, in the age of increasing technology, there still exist other payment systems like digital currency (virtual currency, blockchain and cryptocurrency like Bitcoin). They pose challenges for financial regulators and ministries. Some multilateral agreement needs to be made to have a better control over these globally distributed currencies with almost zero barriers.
India has pushed for UN convention on international terrorism after July 1, 2016 Dhaka attack. But, an international law as such like the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism proposed by UN General Assembly to criminalize all forms of terrorism and deny their support of finances, arms and safe havens still exist in a deadlock. If such an international convention comes up, terrorist activities may be controlled better.
Terrorism has grown because it had some state-support in the past which provided finances to terrorists, just to serve their own political interests. To curb terrorism, the onus falls on state and society as well apart from the security forces. The financial support available to them needs to be checked and some international convention on terrorism is the need of the hour to check the increasing rates of terror attacks.