The possibilities of using weaponized drones for terrorist purposes against strategic, infrastructure and commercial assets are increasing
Citing the use of “benign technology” of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) by Pakistani terrorists during the barbaric 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, India on Saturday reaffirmed its commitment to strengthening international efforts to combat terrorism, including the use of new and emerging technologies for terrorist purposes.
As the Special Meeting of the Counter-terrorism Committee of the UN Security Council moved to New Delhi from Mumbai, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar spotlighted that technologies – from virtual private networks, and encrypted messaging services to blockchain and virtual currencies – have thrown up new challenges for the governments and regulatory bodies due to their potential vulnerability for misuse by non-state actors.
The EAM said that the internet and social media platforms have turned into potent instruments in the toolkit of terrorist and militant groups for spreading propaganda, radicalization, and conspiracy theories aimed at destabilizing societies.
“More recently, these terrorist groups have been using unmanned aerial platforms, such as drones and quadcopters for cross border trafficking of drugs and arms and for carrying out terrorist attacks,” he said.
The risks, asserted the EAM during his keynote address at the plenary session – the first instance of UN Security Council holding a meeting in any format in India – are not just limited to India.
“In Africa, drones have been used by the terrorist groups to monitor movements of security forces and even of UN peacekeepers, making them vulnerable to terrorist attacks.
“A few months ago, terrorists launched cross-border drone attacks on the UAE and Saudi Arabia targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, which led to loss of lives and injuries, including to Indian nationals there,” said Jaishankar.
With possibilities of using weaponized drones for terrorist purposes against strategic, infrastructure and commercial assets increasing, Jaishankar called for “serious attention” by the Member States, mentioning that the use of unmanned aerial systems by terrorist groups and organized criminal networks has become a challenge for security agencies worldwide.
He said that 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.
The minister pointed out that terrorism remains one of the gravest threats to humanity and the UNSC has been very effective in putting those countries on notice that had turned terrorism into a State-funded enterprise.
Despite this, he said, the threat of terrorism is only growing and expanding, particularly in Asia and Africa.
“In recent years, terrorist groups, their ideological fellow-travelers, 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.”
Delivered the keynote address at the plenary session of UNSC special meeting of counter-terrorism committee on ‘Countering the use of new and emerging technologies for terrorist purposes’ in New Delhi today. pic.twitter.com/1rIVnAvSwe
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) October 29, 2022
India, which has been advocating for increased funding for UN organs such as the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, also announced a voluntary contribution of half a million dollars in the UN Trust Fund for Counter Terrorism.
“The ‘Delhi Declaration’ which is to be adopted at this Special Meeting of the CTC will exemplify the commitment of the international community in dealing the threat of use of new and emerging technologies for terrorist purposes,” concluded Jaishankar.
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