India has told the UN that it has been a victim of terrorism, especially from across the border, over the last several decades and that there are countries “clearly guilty” of aiding, supporting terrorist activities, and offering safe havens to militants, a thinly-veiled reference to Pakistan.
In his opening remarks to the virtual high-level side event ‘Countering Financing of Terrorism in the Post COVID-19 Landscape’ during the 2nd Counter-Terrorism Week, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti has said that preventing terrorists from accessing financial resources is crucial to successfully counter the threat of terrorism.
“India has been a victim of terrorism, particularly cross-border terrorism, over the last several decades,” Tirumurti said Friday.
He noted that while some states lack the legal-operational frameworks and necessary capacities for countering the financing of terrorism, “there are other States that are clearly guilty of aiding and supporting terrorism, and wilfully providing financial assistance and safe havens to terrorists.
While we must enhance capacities of the former, the international community must collectively call out the latter and hold them accountable.”
The remarks appeared to be an apparent reference to Pakistan.
Tirumurti also emphasized the need for international collaboration to counter financing terrorism, support and strengthen the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and provide greater funding to UN Counter-Terrorism architecture.
India co-hosted the side-event along with the Permanent Mission of France, UN Office of Drugs and Crime, UN Office of Counter-Terrorism and the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate.
Tirumurti voiced concern that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought forth new risks to the efforts of Countering Financing of Terrorism (CFT), with fake charities, fake Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs), and crowdfunding particularly becoming more frequent sources of terror-financing.
“Terrorist organisations have also begun to exploit the anonymity afforded by blockchain technology for fundraising and finances,” he said adding that as part of the National Risk Assessment (NRA), an NPO Risk Assessment in 2020 and 2021 was conducted.
“Identifying linkages between various individuals, NPOs and terrorist outfits active in the region have been given due weightage,” he said.
“While we remain vigilant to the risk posed by the misuse of emerging technologies for terrorist purposes, the benefits of many of these technologies far outweigh the risk and need to be harnessed to strengthen our CFT efforts,” he said.
Tirumurti told the event that India is in process of upgrading its Financial Intelligence Network or FINNET by introducing machine learning or artificial intelligence, chatbots, virtual assistants, natural language processing, locational intelligence and spatial analytics, orchestration and threat intelligence, to perform advanced analysis, strengthen the financial intelligence infrastructure and ensure quicker dissemination of terror-financing cases to law enforcement agencies (LEAs).
India has developed the necessary capabilities to counter-terrorism, including legal and institutional framework and technical capability to combat terrorism in its various forms and manifestations, particularly countering the financing of terrorism, he said.
Tirumurti further said that cash couriers have remained one of the major terror-financing methods to avoid audit trials. Pointing out that India has incorporated the role of cash couriers in its NRA, he said the Government’s steps towards lowering cash transactions through Banks are proving to be effective in containing cash flow through Banks.
“During an investigation of cases of terror funding, earnest efforts are made to unearth the trail of funds and disrupt the entire network so as to give a severe blow to the terrorists and terrorist organisations,” he said adding that India follows international standards for assessment of the risk posed by terrorism to its financial sector and undertakes preventive and mitigation measures.
India has been a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) since 2010 and in line with recommendation 1 of the FATF, National Risk Assessment related to terror financing is undertaken regularly to assess the emerging, and dynamic threats posed by terrorists, to identify methods and instruments used by terrorists or terrorist groups in order to attract, move or use funds for criminal purposes, he said.
India performed National Risk Assessments in 2019 and 2020 and has made “tremendous progress” in implementing the recommendations of FATF commensurate with its Money Laundering and terror-financing risks. Tirumurti said India is gearing up for its upcoming evaluation of FATF.
India has been contributing proactively to further international cooperation to combat the financing of terrorism at the regional and international level. In 2018, India contributed USD 550,000 to the UNOCT’s programmes targeting capacity building of countries in East and Southern Africa. This year too, India has contributed half a million dollars to further strengthen these efforts, Tirumurti said.