The (EU)-India Track 1.5 Dialogue on Countering Terrorism
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 17 Feb , 2024

The (EU)-India Track 1.5 Dialogue on Countering Terrorism is a welcome step as it would strengthen cooperation and enhance mechanism dealing with myriad challenges posed by the ever increasing tentacles of trans-national terrorism.

The Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) technology is increasingly used for commercial purpose due to its easy availability and affordability. This has posed major question as how to identify the possibility of its misuse by the extremists. Repeated misuse of drones by terrorists across the globe has posed severe threats to the security of all the countries world over. This  is a first ever dialogue dealing with the misuse of drone technology between India and the EU. Though the background for shaping a common partnership between the two had already startedduring  July 2020 in “EU-India Strategic Partnership: A Roadmap to 2025” and another conference of cooperation in developing the EU-India Strategic Partnership during 2021. In the backdrop of ongoing West Asian Crisis, Russian-Ukraine Conflict and simmering unrest in Pakistan and Afghanistan there is every likelihood of its misuse by non-state actors. Hence, efforts towards creating a common understanding and platform for encountering terrorism via European Union Project on Enhancing Security Cooperation in and with Asia remains very vital.

The up coming challenge will be to develop  a perfect regulatory processes and modern way of intelligence gathering and sharing of  paramount informations helpful in anticipating the forebodings of sporadic attacks by non-state actors. The India-EU partnership on encountering international terrorism would certainly depend on how a  foolproof risk management system is developed to address the security challenges emanating from the possibilities of new biological, nuclear and chemical attacks either by individual terrorist or a group of distraught people. During last few years there has been desperate attempts by the terrorists to attack sensitive public areas and places of worships. India has already witnessed the twin drone attacks on its Air force station in Jammu during June-2021 as a part of ongoing low intensity insurgency perpetuated from across the western border. The modus operandi particularly the use of Drone, IED, battery operated improvised explosive device by terrorists over the years suggest that the most recent terrorist plans across the globe have been a part of the earlier pattern though with an element of surprise as they have been updating and shifting their strategies quite swiftly.

The recent incidents such as the twin drone attacks by Houthi militants on Saudi Arabia’s Aramco crude oil production during 2019 and another twin done attacks by terrorists on Indian Air Force base in Jammu during 2021 demonstrated the audacity and level of coordination among the present day terrorists. The use of automatic weapons like AK 47 assault rifles, grenades and low intensity bombs demonstrated the well thought out plan which was effectively executed. The rapid international transportation and use of plastic explosives (RDX) have helped to facilitate the expansion of terrorist networks around the world. European nations are basically concerned about their security as they have witnessed more than 8670 terrorist incidents since 1992, representing about 29 per cent of the total global incidents. The situation has become even worst and more vulnerable since 2016 with the increasing rise in the cases of illegal migration.

The new suicide squads have left the entire security apparatus shocked. The serial blasts in Paris that killed 120 people during November 2015 was a clear  indication that even highly modernised and advanced societies are likely to face wrath and dagger of terrorist onslaught on one pretext or another mainly hovering around the issue of bigotry and intolerance as it was a reaction of France’s air strikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq then. Since Charlie Hebdo attack France has been repeatedly targeted by Non-State actors .

The war torn Syria and the chaotic scene around refugee camps near Hungary border have created quagmire in the entire Europe. The rising tide of immigration and human smuggling across the borders in Europe has posed serious logistical and security challenges to the European countries particularly for France and Germany. The recent efforts by EU such as preparation of the interoperability in dealing with crime and terror spread by illegal migrants would enhance the intelligence information systems to have a vigil around border areas.

The idea of Europol with a solid European Counter Terrorism Centre and Schengen Information System would be helpful in sharing information among various police departments.The rise of modern terrorism with frightening ramifications has resulted in a demand for strengthening the national law and order machinery. Of late, the pressure on their  police and security agencies has been mounting. But the existing laws in most European Countries are not much in coherence with each other. Therefore, the present summit is going to be a milestone in the direction of finding a common and comprehensive mechanism. There are certain complications while framing an encountering strategy as sometimes the use of police and paramilitary forces for combating terrorism created an apprehension in the minds of a few that it might lead to the oppression of the general populace. Surprisingly, a proper legal definition of terrorism is yet to be agreed.

The widening gap between the various governments regarding evolving a common strategy for suppression of terrorism needs to be viewed in the context of the potential for threat that it holds. Even the European convention on suppression of terrorism was restricted by Article 5 and Article 13, which refused  extradition of a terrorist on many grounds. In an environment where terrorist violence is endemic and the world stands hopelessly divided on various laws, countries should shun their national prerogatives for dealing with terrorism. Many efforts have been made by a number of nations to control State-sponsored terrorism, such as through economic sanctions, but so far they have not reached a consensus either at the national or global level.

During the last two decades, increasing drug smuggling and the unholy nexus between drug smugglers and terrorists have posed a serious problem to the internal State-security networks and compelled various nations to organise themselves and wage a relentless war against such a nexus. But mere implementation of vigorous drug laws cannot become effective unless the final outcome and speedy decisions are ensured.

The continuing uncertainties with regard to terrorism have encouraged various countries to launch psychological warfare against terrorism. The London Economic Summit Conference, organised by NATO States and Japan  a few years ago, proved to be another major breakthrough for the eradication of terrorism, which decided that unless we attack the roots of terrorism, only superficial relief could be seen but violence would increase in the total quantum of its impact. Creation of general awareness and organisation of public support against terrorist acts could be of immense use. While it is desirable to allow police and the armed forces to employ better and clinical  informed judgment about local problems, there is, of course, a chance of critical evaluation by a few interested people that this attempt of the Government could dilute the benefits to those deemed deserving and, thus, any possibility of peace and negotiation.

As societies globalise and the curtains of opacity are raised through increased inter-societal and  inter-action at the international level, people in the underdeveloped countries started holding the advanced powers responsible for their inferior status and in such a confusion certain groups and people are always ready to create terror. During the last few years, there have been closer ties of India with France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands in the field of defence and trade. Further negotiations may lead to the creation of a strategic mechanism to provide a shield against terrorism, international crime, drug dealing, smuggling and cyber threat unleashed by non-state actors. This may also accelerate maritime-friendly ties and bolster security around the Indian Ocean and Indo-Pacific areas which have lately become areas of concern.

The Prime Minister’s call for coming together and close cooperation in fighting international threats including cybercrimes, poaching, corruption, and international terrorism exhibits the need to develop international strategies for the establishment of an extremely capable international intelligence system in close cooperation to ensure such threats can be encountered at early stage. In such a scenario the EU-India Track 1.5 Dialogue will provide the much-needed impetus to work out a new security roadmap in dealing with the most obnoxious forms of modern terrorism. It is highly desirable development as it would provide a platform for multi-layered security cooperation to deal with various other issues like funding terrorist activities, policing cooperation and dealing with cyber threats through enhancing technological innovation and tightening border and maritime security information-gathering exercises and most importantly stopping the misuse of drone technology by terrorists.

International cooperation through such platforms may further provide help in tracing the roots of the problems. It is already getting clear that nations across the globe and more so in Europe and Asia need to diversify their strategies to counter the numerous challenges they face. Our strategic policies should be able to adapt to the challenging environment as well as efficiently implement recommendations. Since today threats are more severe and enemies more organised than ever before, new concepts of safety and security should be followed. These are changing times and many changes have occurred in international relations recently.

The cooperation between India and the European Union may also develop a fool proof mechanism to put an end to the accessibility to the misuse of drone technology, RDX, Erythritol Tetranitrate (Penta) and sophisticated weapons like AK-56 and AK-47 assault rifles and develop and cooperation in intelligence and policing while dealing with the menace of drug trafficking  leading to creation of a strong mechanism to crack the nexus between terrorists, smugglers and drug dealers. However, the main challenge will be how to frame a strategy to deal with suicidal squad of religiously-motivated terrorists.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Dr Sudhir Hindwan

is Chandigarh based professor of Political Science and an expert on strategic affairs.

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