External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on Saturday said the internet and social media platforms have turned into potent instruments in the toolkit of terrorists and militant groups for spreading propaganda, radicalisation, and conspiracy theories aimed at destabilising societies.
The Minister was speaking at a special meeting of the UN Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee.
“In recent years, terrorist groups, their ideological fellow-travellers, particularly in open and liberal societies and ‘lone wolf’ attackers have significantly enhanced their capabilities by gaining access to these technologies. They use technology and money, and most importantly, the ethos of open societies, to attack freedom, tolerance and progress. Internet and social media platforms have turned into potent instruments in the toolkit of terrorist and militant groups for spreading propaganda, radicalisation and conspiracy theories aimed at destabilising societies.”
Terrorism, he said, remains one of the gravest threats to humanity. The UN Security Council, in the past two decades, has evolved an important architecture, built primarily around the counter terrorism sanctions regime, to combat this menace. This has been very effective in putting those countries on notice that had turned terrorism into a state-funded enterprise.
“Despite this, the threat of terrorism is only growing and expanding, particularly in Asia and Africa, as successive reports of the 1267 Sanctions Committee Monitoring Reports have highlighted,” he added.
The Minister said that the technological innovations and breakthroughs of the past two decades have been transformative in the way the world functions in every aspect. These new and emerging technologies from virtual private networks, and encrypted messaging services to blockchain and virtual currencies offer a very promising future for a wide array of economic and social benefits for humankind. “However, there is a flip side especially where terrorism is concerned. These very technologies have also thrown up new challenges for the governments and regulatory bodies due to their potential vulnerability for misuse by non-state actors, given the very nature of some of these technologies and the nascent regulatory environment,” he added.
Another add-on to the existing worries for governments around the world is the use of unmanned aerial systems by terrorist groups and organized criminal networks. “Being a relatively low-cost option and with an increasing ease of accessibility, misuse of these unmanned aerial platforms for nefarious purposes by terrorist groups such as weapons and explosives delivery and targeted attacks have become an imminent danger. They are, therefore, a challenge for security agencies worldwide. The possibilities of using weaponized drones for terrorist purposes against strategic, infrastructure and commercial assets call for serious attention by the Member States,” the EAM said.