A fresh focus on terrorism

By I. Ramamohan Rao

New Delhi; Feb. 17 (ANI) A conference held in Rajasthan capital Jaipur nearly a year ago on terrorism, which was organised by the India Foundation in collaboration with Sardar Patel University of Police, Security and Criminal Justice has provided a fresh look at the problem of terrorism. President Pranab Mukherjee released the book based on the papers presented at the conference last month.

The conference had focussed on the latest entrant in the terrorism sphere, the ISIS, which has attracted around 20,000 jihadis from around 90 countries. The ISIS has moved away from the traditional jihadi framework established by the al-Qaeda of perpetrating individual acts of terror and moved to a model that espouses conquest, holds and governs territory.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in his inaugural address drew the attention of experts to the ISIS, which has appealed to young and educated people in spite of its medieval ideology. He also asked Pakistan to seriously rethink whether it should use terrorism as a means of carrying out a proxy war.

India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, in his address, pointed out that the global war on terror has cost 8.8 trillion dollars and resulted in 225,000 fatalities. He drew the attention of the participants to the fact that Pakistan has become a fountainhead of terrorism, being both a sponsor of terrorism as well as its victim. He underlined the need for an UN-mandated comprehensive convention on terrorism which defines the term and imposes costs on non-compliance.

The conference dealt with different facets of terrorism in different parts of the world. Besides delving on Indian concerns, papers presented at the conference analysed terrorism in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and West Asia.

The papers also focussed on linkages between weapons, drugs and fake currency in the spread of radical Islam.

Yossef Bodansky, Director of the U.S. Congressional Task Force on Terrorism, pointed out that the establishment of the Caliphate in mid-2014 was a dream come true for the entire Islamdom.

Thomas F. Lynch of the National University of Washington in his paper provided a survey of the Islamic State Caliphate in Iraq and Syria and analysed the difference between Al Qaida and the ISIS. His assessment was that in South Asia, Al Qaida will be dominant and drew attention to the fact that only a handful of Indian Muslim youth have been reported as making the trek to do jihad with ISIS in the Middle East.

Papers presented at the conference gave a broad survey of developments in Afghanistan over the last few decades and its impact on Pakistan.

Rana Banerji analysed the delay in the 26/11 judicial process and we should ask “will the evidence given by David Headley last week as an approver make any difference?”

Scholars also underlined the need for steps to be taken to ensure that terrorists are not able to launder funds. In this context, Amit Kumar disclosed the role played by “D Company” in providing funds to the terrorists. The terrorist today is better equipped, trained, financed and motivated.

The papers also underlined the need for sharing of information between countries to control terror. There is also a need to encourage the ‘de-radicalisation’ of society, particularly in South Asia. Madrasa education has been used extensively and the countries of the South Asian region should take steps to ensure that books are not imported by madrassas.

Sultan Shahin, an alumnus of Patna University, pointed out that “madrasa education is a serious violation of the human rights of Muslim children. It destroys their lives and fills them with xenophobia and intolerance.”

The conference focussed on challenges faced by different countries and the need for global counter terrorism cooperation. The book provides an insight into the problems faced by the world due to the spread of terrorism.

Book Review: Terrorism Today; Aspects, Challenges and Responses; edited by Dhruv C. Katoch and Shakti Sinha; India Foundation; Pentagon Press; pages 200. Price Rs 795.

Mr. I. Ramamohan Rao is a former Principal Information Officer of the Government of India. He can be reached at raoramamohan@hotmail.com (ANI)

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