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Mumbai terror attacks likely to figure in Indo-US counter terrorism meet next week

PM Narendra Modi with US President Joe Biden during the G20 Summit, in Bali, last month (Image courtesy: PIB)

India is expected to once again raise the issue of cross-border terrorism and bringing the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks to justice when the 19th meeting of US-India Counterterrorism Joint Working Group takes place in New Delhi, early next week.

Timothy Betts, the US State Department’s Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism, will lead the delegation from Washington at the annual meeting on December 12-13 as both sides review regional and global terrorist threat assessments, collaborative bilateral and regional counterterrorism programming, and initiatives to strengthen law enforcement and judicial partnerships.

Reaffirming counter-terrorism cooperation as an important pillar of their Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership, both countries have, during the past meetings of the JWG, called for concerted action against all terrorist groups in the region.

It includes groups proscribed by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) 1267 Sanctions Committee, such as al-Qa’ida, ISIS/Daesh, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Hizb-ul Mujahideen.

Counter Terrorism
Timothy Betts assumed the position of US State Department’s Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Acting Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS in March this year (Image courtesy: Twitter/@NSPCOE)

The Joint Statment released after the September 2020 meeting specifically underlined the urgent need for Pakistan to take “immediate, sustained, and irreversible action” to ensure that no territory under its control is used for terrorist attacks, and to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of such attacks, including 26/11 Mumbai and Pathankot.

At the 18th meeting of the US-India Counter Terrorism Joint Working Group and the fourth session of the US-India Designations Dialogue held in Washington in October 2021, the US reiterated its commitment to standing together with the people and government of India in the fight against terrorism.

Worried about the situation in Afghanistan, they also called on the Taliban to ensure Afghan territory is never again used to threaten or attack any country, shelter or train terrorists, or plan or finance terrorist attacks.

Betts, who assumed the position of Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Acting Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS in March this year, would also be having close consultations with top Indian officials on developments in Afghanistan and potential terrorist threats emanating from there.

Last week, the US State Department designated four al-Qa’ida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) and Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leaders as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) for their leadership roles in their respective groups.

Interestingly, Betts is currently touring Tokyo where he held trilateral counterterrorism discussions, including persistent threats in the Indo-Pacific, with senior government officials from Quad partners Australia and Japan on Thursday.

He will then travel to the Philippines before landing in the Indian capital.

Also Read: Ahead of 26/11 anniversary, India reminds world of need to root out terror