III International Conference on Countering Terrorism in New Delhi

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III International Conference on Countering Terrorism in New Delhi 24.05.2017 14:24

On 14-16 March 2017, the 3rd International Conference on Countering Terrorism, 2017, was held in New Delhi, hosted by the Indian Ministry of Interior, the State Government of Haryana and the Indian Foundation. It was attended by 316 representatives from Australia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Great Britain, Vietnam, Germany, Egypt, Israel, India, Indonesia, Kenya, China, Malaysia, Nepal, the Netherlands, Oman, the Republic of Korea, Russia, Singapore, Somalia, USA, Thailand, the Philippines, Sweden, Sri Lanka and Japan. The work of this conference was actively participated by the Russian Embassy in India. In addition to me, the Russian delegation also included: Vladimir Milovidov, deputy director of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies; and Boris Volkhonsky, deputy head of the Center for Asia and the Middle East, and professor Alexander Nikitin from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO).

The serious level of representation at this conference is evidenced by the fact that at its opening session the Vice-President of India Hamid Ansari, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Ranil Wickremesinghe (via Skype), Deputy Prime Minister of Nepal Bimalender Nidhi, Minister of Railway Transport of India and Director of the Indian Suresh Prabhu Foundation, as well as Chief Minister of the Haryana State Government Manohar Lal Khattar. The meeting was chaired by Indian Foreign Minister Mushabar Javad Akbar.

During their speeches, the strategic importance of the Indian Ocean region was noted, with 65% of the world's oil reserves and 40% of similar natural gas reserves. Through ports in the Indian Ocean about 30% of world trade is carried out, half of the world container traffic is carried out on this ocean.

At the same time, the threat of terrorism for the region under consideration was somewhat exaggerated. Of course, most terrorist organizations (primarily the Islamic State and Al-Qaida) have their representations in the Indian Ocean region. But the leadership of Al-Qaeda is in the Afghan-Pakistani region, and the Islamic state is in Iraq or Syria. In this regard, the region in question is unlikely to become the main arena on which the war against global terror will be won or lost. Although, of course, over 40% of world conflicts are connected with the countries of this region and the conflicts are of a transnational nature.

The theme of terrorism, sponsored by the state, which was implied by Pakistan, was separately raised (this was one of the reasons why the representative of this country came to New Delhi for a conference on terrorism). It was said that this is the most extreme and dangerous form of terror, and terrorist networks continue to expand their sphere of influence. From this, an indisputable conclusion was drawn that all countries of the Indian Ocean region need to unite in order to destroy terrorism.

During the speeches, it was also noted that Nepal is committed to combating terrorism, despite the limited resources available, as well as technical capabilities. Sri Lanka takes a similar position.

During the international conference, seven plenary sessions and two special sessions were held. Thus, at plenary session I "Terrorism in South Asia", Vivek Katiju, the former Indian ambassador to Pakistan, acted as speakers; Hein Kiessling, writer (Germany); Steve Coll, journalist and academician (USA); Yuan Zhibing, general director of the First Bureau of the International Coordination Department of the Communist Party of China. The meeting was chaired by Rajiv Mehrishi, the Minister of the Interior (India).

As noted by speakers, terrorism is based on the promotion of violence. It is especially dangerous when such violence is supported by the state. In particular, India and Afghanistan are concerned about the problem of terrorism sponsored by Pakistan.

South Asia has long been the center of Islamist extremism, although many looked at this region from the angle of nuclear proliferation and the threat of nuclear war. In fact, more attention should be given to the ongoing and targeted activities to prosecute the various forms of terrorism and to assess the extent of its impact on the countries of the region under consideration. At the same time, an effective counter-terrorism strategy must be based on global efforts that complement national and bilateral strategies. Unfortunately, as it was stated, in South Asia, not all take into account the dual position on this issue of Pakistan.

As more and more problems associated with the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) come to the fore, the role of India as the leader of SAARC in the sphere of counterterrorism initiatives significantly increases.

At plenary session II "Terrorism in Africa", Simon Ellison, consultant of the Institute of Security Studies (South Africa); Ruchita Beri, senior researcher at the Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis (India) took part in. This session was chaired by K.T. Parnaik, formerly commander in chief of the Northern Command of the Indian Army.

As noted, over the past few years, there has been a significant increase in terrorist activity in Africa. Thus, in East Africa, the terrorist group Al-Shabaab based in Somalia remains the main terrorist threat. And even with the loss of control over part of the territories and a significant reduction in revenues, the Al-Shabaab group is attempting to delegitimize the federal government of Somalia through murder, suicide bombings and other asymmetric attacks inside the country.

In Algeria, Al-Qaeda in the countries of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) aims to overthrow the national government and create an Islamic state. This radical organization originally arose as a Salafist group created for preaching and fighting. Later, it announced its intention to carry out terrorist attacks in Europe and the United States. Its activists are Algerians, Moroccans and representatives of the local communities of Sahara.

The radical Islamist organization Boko Haram is active in Chad, Niger and northern Cameroon. Unlike Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, it is more concerned with fighting the national government than with the West. Nevertheless, Boko Haram has gradually evolved from a small terrorist organization using partisan methods of struggle to a well-motivated grouping that surpasses the police and national armed forces (Armed Forces) in its armaments. This allows it to seize all new territories.

Within the framework of the plenary session III "Terrorism in Southeast Asia", Bilveer Singh, a senior researcher at the School of International Studies, R. Rajaratnam of the Nanyang Technological University (Singapore); Hamidin Director of Prevention of the National Agency for Combating Terrorism (Indonesia); Dam Phu Cuong, Chief of Asia and Oceania Division of the General Security Department of Vietnam. The meeting was conducted by Takeshi Kohno, a professor at the Social Sciences Department of Toyo Eiwa University (Japan).

Speakers drew attention to the fact that all terrorist threats should not be reduced solely to the organization of Islamic State. Other terrorist organizations operate in the Indian Ocean region, in particular those connected with Al-Qaeda. At the same time, security threats created by Jihadist Salafi groups in the Middle East and South-East Asia are assessed as high. Nevertheless, the Islamic state poses a serious threat to the existence of almost all states of Southeast Asia. This is due to the following reasons:

- the migration of radicals from Southeast Asia to Syria and Iraq, of which more than 70 people have already been killed;

- the unification of Islamist radicals from the countries of South-East Asia in the special military wing of the Islamic state called Katiba Nusantara;

- the accession to the Islamic state of many jihadist groups, such as Jemaah Islamiya;

- the establishment of control of the Islamic state over the province in the south of the Philippines under the leadership of Emir Khapilon, former commander of the Abu Sayyaf group.

The war with the Islamic state in Syria and Iraq may lead to the fact that some of the radicals will return home to Southeast Asia, which will increase the terrorist threat there. Such a situation could be exacerbated by cooperation between the Islamic State and Al Qaeda. For South-East Asia, the transition of many radical leaders from Al-Qaeda to the Islamic state is typical. And the epicenter of terrorist threats is Indonesia. This is a significant problem for Malaysia, where, according to available information, now 11% of local residents sympathize with the Islamic state (in Indonesia, only 4%).

In the course of the special meeting, Baburam Bhattarai, former Prime Minister of Nepal; R. Sampanthan, leader of the opposition (Sri Lanka); Sajad Lone, Minister of Social Affairs of the State of Jammu and Kashmir (India); Hagrama Mohilary, Chief Executive Officer Territorial Council of Bodoland (territory in the state of Assam, which has a special status, India). This meeting was chaired by Kiren Rijiju, the Minister of the Interior (India).

The speakers pointed out that the majority of the armed opposition pursues political goals, so they can unite with political parties. This took place, for example, in Nepal, where the Maoists, together with political parties, were able to put an end to the monarchy and turn the country into a republic. And the rejection of democratic and non-violent means of struggle gives rise to armed opposition. Within the framework of the conference, Avi Dichter, chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense of the Knesset (National Parliament) of the State of Israel, delivered a special report. This meeting was chaired by V.K. Singh, Minister of Foreign Affairs (India).

Avi Dichter noted that suicide terrorists are a big problem in the Middle East, most of which are not members of terrorist organizations. Moreover, they make attacks not only on servicemen, but also on civilians, and sometimes they are a living shield for terrorists. And as a rule, terrorists are not loners, that is, they have accomplices. In the security system, there are two security rings: reconnaissance and a physical security ring, which includes guards, metal detectors, and so on. But you need to add another security ring to contain the threat from the air or in the plane.

I spoke during the plenary session IV "Terrorism in Western Asia". I was accompanied by Daniel Pipes, President, Middle East Forum (USA) and Ilan Berman, Vice President of the American Council on Foreign Policy (USA). This meeting was conducted by Syed Ata Hasnain, former commander of the 15th Corps of the Indian Army.

American speakers believe that the main question is whether the Islamic world will be stronger if it returns to Sharia or Islamic law. However, the Muslim world does not manage to modernize, which now generates jihadism. And in the period of 1800-1920 the idea of Muslim countries was to imitate such liberal states as Great Britain and France. In the 1920-1980 they have already imitated the illiberal states. But later everything was reduced to Islamic principles, that is, it is time for Islamism.

It should not be forgotten that many Islamists came from countries with previously strong authoritarian regimes (Syria, Iraq, Libya), but then turned into weak states with a poor governance structure and lack of border control. In addition, terrorists can easily move in the flow of refugees.

In the US, the following trends in the fight against terrorism are seen. First, the Islamic state is weakening, but it still has access to resources. Therefore, the international community needs to focus on the struggle against the Islamic state, which is still not destroyed.

Secondly, the Islamic state was generated by Al-Qaeda. Then they began to compete among themselves. At the same time, Al-Qaeda was able to remain in Libya, Syria and Yemen as a "moderate" alternative to the Islamic state.

Thirdly, recently a new generation of jihadists has appeared. As a consequence, Syria is becoming more like Afghanistan. But the scale of the problem is completely different, since the Islamic state in just a few years managed to mobilize 1.5 times more militants than the Taliban during the decade of the Afghan war.

Fourthly, Shiite armed groups are being revived. In particular, the pro-Iranian forces control Beirut, Damascus and Baghdad, which is facilitated by the so-called nuclear deal with Iran. During the implementation of the latter, Tehran received additional resources that could be used to arm militants in Afghanistan, Syria and other countries.

In my report, I noted that Russia and India should cooperate in the fight against terrorism in Central Asia. It should be borne in mind that many citizens of the Central Asian states have joined the Islamic state in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Their return home causes a serious problem in the field of terrorism.

Each of the states in question has its own peculiarities. So, Kazakhstan is an open country, which is extremely important for Russia due to insufficient security of common borders. Moreover, terrorist activities in Kazakhstan will continue. In Tajikistan, the problem of terrorism is also relevant, including the proximity of Afghanistan. But in Uzbekistan, where the control over their borders and the security forces are better, terrorist activities are limited. Russia and Uzbekistan have good working relations on this front. The situation in Turkmenistan is much worse because of weak governance structures and resource-rich lands that attract terrorists

During the plenary session V "Cooperative mechanisms for countering terrorism in the Indian Ocean region" were made by Muriel Domenach of the Inter-ministerial Committee to Combat Radicalization (France); Boaz Ganor, Founder and Executive Director of the International Institute for Anti-Terrorism Policy (Israel); G-Ashok Kumar, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Indian Navy; Vladimir Milovidov, Deputy Director of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies. This meeting was held by Preetj Saran, Minister of Railways (India).

Speakers believe that terrorism can be defined as "the deliberate use of violence aimed at the civilian population to achieve political goals." About 16,000 people can be attributed to radicals only in France. Of these 700 people joined the Islamic state, 200 people perished and 200 returned to France. The main factors of such radicalization were the lack of equal opportunities in society and socio-economic difficulties.

It is believed that terrorism includes single-player terrorists, independent terrorist networks and organized terrorism. Among the latter, it is worth mentioning the Islamic state, which established control both over the territories and the population. Moreover, the radicals carry out many activities that are legal functions of any state. And they are deeply connected with civil society, which makes the "Islamic state" very dangerous.

Speakers noted that maritime terrorism covers a very small part of all terrorist acts. The pirates are a big danger. To combat them, the Indian Navy is patrolling the Maldives and Seychelles, as well as Mauritius. In addition, they participate in joint patrols with the fleets of Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia.

Within the framework of the plenary session VI " Left-Wing Extremism in the Indian Ocean Region", K. Durga Prasad, former Director-General of the Central Reserve Police Forces (India) spoke; Aditya Adikari, writer (Nepal); Min Zou Oo, Director of the Joint Cease-fire Monitoring Committee (Myanmar). This meeting was conducted by Mahendra L. Kumawat, former Director-General of the Frontier Forces (India).

Speakers noted that left-wing extremism has taken more lives in India than all the victims of wars that the country has waged since its independence (in particular, mines are used as the favorite weapons of the Maoists). The reasons for the extremism of the left wing were the lack of understanding of the political situation on the part of the country's leadership and the low level of training of the national security forces.

Nowadays left wing extremism takes place in 12 states and 106 districts of India. Under his control are 35 districts of the country. Over the past 12 years there has been a crisis of leadership and a decline in the number of Maoists in India. But they were inspired by the experience of the Maoists of Nepal, where for five years local Maoists were able to control 70-80% of the country's population. And the Maoists of Nepal supported the channel of communication with the political parties of the country.

Today the future of the leftist movement in Nepal is under big question. In particular, the Maoists were unprepared to work in conditions of democracy. As a result, frustrated members of this movement can resume armed struggle in Nepal.

In Myanmar, there are about 40 groups of left wing extremists with a total of 60,000 to 100,000 militants. Democracy and the peace process have led to great expectations on the part of all sectors of society, including leftist extremists. At the same time, their small groups hope that they will get seats in the country's leadership, which will allow them to negotiate better conditions for that part of the society that they represent.

Within the framework of the plenary session VII "The Role of International Organizations in the Fight against Terrorism", Martin Kimani, Director of the National Center for Combating Terrorism (Kenya); Elizabeth Joyce of the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the UN Executive Directorate; Asoka Mukherji, former Ambassador (India); K.V. Bhagirath, Secretary General of the Association of the Indian Ocean; Anaerood Jungnauth, Minister of Defense (Mauritius); Rajnath Singh, Minister of the Interior (India).

Speakers noted that the global counter-terrorism architecture is a complex network, consisting mainly of bilateral state relations.This network responds to current events, but does not provide relevant information. At the same time, it has a strict management system, has an extensive database and an examination institute.

In general, international organizations are poorly provided with resources to fight terrorism, and their officials in most cases are closed from discussions on intelligence matters. At the same time, the UN basically performs "representative functions" and is engaged in "norm-setting". This does little to help those who fight terrorism on a daily basis. Nevertheless, in 2006 the UN adopted a global strategy to combat terrorism, which, in particular, addresses the root causes of terror. This provides a broader approach to combating terrorism through the involvement of organizations such as UNESCO, UNICEF and UNDP. The UN member states are considering the creation of a post at the level of the Secretary General for Countering Terrorism.

Moreover, on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 1373, the UN Committee on Combating Terrorism was established to assist member states. This committee has 12 years of experience working through continuous dialogue with law enforcement agencies of the UN member states. The work is carried out in East Africa, South Asia and the Indian Ocean region. The Committee also finances counter-terrorism operations, border control, countering cyberattacks and protecting human rights in accordance with national legislation.

Members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation advise the Executive Directorate on Combating Terrorism. Judges and police are trained in the use of digital information collection systems. They are interviewed on the use of interrogation methods, ensuring the protection of criminal justice officers and witnesses. In particular, Sri Lanka advises West African countries on combating the terrorist organization "Boko Haram" on the basis of its earlier experience in the rehabilitation and resettlement of local radicals. And Mauritius is cooperating with the African Union to strengthen legislation to combat terrorism.

It should be noted that the UN Security Council proved to be ineffective in the fight against terrorism in view of its use of double standards by the permanent members. An example of this was the bifurcation of resolution 1267 on the reintegration of the Taliban.

Outside the UN Security Council, the International Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Global Forum against Terrorism have an impact on the fight against terrorism. Thus, the FATF has implemented mechanisms to address the financing of terrorism and has developed recommendations adopted at the level of the UN Security Council in the form of relevant resolutions. However, these structures are only sites for expressing different points of view.

India seeks to legalize the national counter-terrorism network, but this can only happen after the adoption of a comprehensive convention against terrorism. In addition, the EU member states do not want to cooperate in the creation of a security system and the exchange of information within the framework of the EU-India mechanism. This is due to the fact that these states reject a multilateral approach in the fight against terrorism.

Thus, III International Conference on Countering Terrorism, 2017, was a major event in the life of the international community, both in terms of the composition of the participants and the level of representation of the executive authorities, and the range of issues under discussion. It reaffirmed India's desire to actively combat the terrorist threat. However, such activities bear the imprint of the Indo-Pakistani armed conflict. As a result, the theme of terrorism, sponsored by the state, was repeatedly raised during the conference, as which Pakistan was understood.