Need to monitor social media to counter terrorists: India to UN

Need to monitor social media to counter terroristsIndia to UNUNITED NATIONS: India has said there is a need to monitor social media carefully with due safeguards for freedom of expression as such platforms are being misused “to disastrous effect” by terrorist groups to lure youths to their extremist designs.

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Syed Akbaruddin also voiced concern over the “targeted propaganda of hatred” on such platforms which were created to bring people together.

Given the misuse of social media “to disastrous effect by terrorist groups”, there is a need to monitor social media carefully with due safeguards for respecting freedom of expression, he said at the UN Security Council open debate on ‘Countering the Narratives and Ideologies of Terrorism’.

“The Hydra-like monster of terrorism continues to spread across continents in developing and developed countries alike, aided by the targeted propaganda of hatred over the ever growing social media networks that were designed to bring people together,” added the Indian envoy.

Akbaruddin said the rise of ISIS, which is drawing foreign terrorist fighters, a majority of them being males between mid-teens and mid-twenties from vastly varying ethnicities and economic status, is a sign of the immense complexities of the push and pull factors involved.

“Radicalization can be prevented only if the youth develop stakes in their mainstream socio-political and economic milieu. Taking long-term care of the de-radicalized is also an important aspect in convincing the possible recruits of alternatives available to them,” he said.

The Council, in a presidential statement, noted with concern that terror groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda crafted distorted narratives based on misinterpretation and misrepresentation of religion to justify violence.

In an apparent reference to Pakistan, Afghan envoy Nazifullah Salarzai blamed the creation of the Taliban in his country in 1994 for opening the current “tragic chapter” of terrorism in the world.

Without naming Pakistan but in a strong criticism of the country, he said the Taliban came before other terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda, Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram and ISIS, and “their backers” had characterized the kind of terror the world was witnessing today, including stoning women to death, closing girls’ schools and introducing suicide attacks that had brutalized Afghanistan’s entire population.

Thousands of men had received training and logistical support in terrorist camps, acting as a precursor of current terrorists staging attacks in Asia, Europe, the US, the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere, he said.
Salarzai asked how the Taliban and its brutal practices had come into being whereby they knew how to drive tanks and fly jets while staging conventional warfare and capitalizing on prolonged political conflict in Afghanistan.

He said the most cost-effective and easiest recruit methods stemmed from religious outfits, sloganism and preying on weaknesses emerging from a prolonged conflict.

He questioned the continued motivation to use violence through proxies to pursue political goals and said the three main causes were a negative State rivalry in the region, tensions between military and civilian control in politics and trust deficits among States that had prevented constructive dialogue.

“In our case, it is not the ideology, but the initiation, enabling and facilitation role of political actors and their use of radical ideology for short-term gains that need to be addressed,” he said.

Targeting the promoters and drivers of such policies that used violence to pursue political goals within State structures was crucial in dealing with threats of violent extremism, Salarzai said.

The differentiation between good and bad terrorists by a few actors was futile since all forms of terrorism must be condemned, he said.

Using Afghanistan as an example of how terrorists had taken advantage of a prolonged conflict, he said the world was now in dire need of reducing State rivalries and addressing trust deficits.–PTI