India has said that terror groups like the Lashkar-e-Tayiba do not "live on love and fresh air", expressing regret that they receive funds despite being slapped with sanctions by the United Nations, as the world body reaffirmed the need to cut the monetary lifeline of terrorists.
India expressed concern that financing to terror groups is supplemented by illegal resources generated through drug trafficking, piracy, kidnapping for ransom and extortion even though the terror organisations are placed on the council's sanctions list and are subject to travel bans, freezing of assets and an arms embargo.
Listing of a terror group should cut off the "lifeline that sustains terrorism. This, unfortunately, does not always happen," India's Acting Permanent Representative to the UN Bhagwant Bishnoi said in an open debate in the Council on terrorism and cross-border crime. He said the LeT was able to orchestrate an attack on the Indian consulate in Heart, Afghanistan in May this year despite being a listed organisation.
"The Lashker-e-Tayiba obviously does not live on love and fresh air. They have more than adequate funding. Regrettably, there seems to be little that the Council's sanction committees can do about such violations of the sanction regime. This is area which would benefit from consideration by the Council," he said. He said apart from generating resources, illicit activities also create conditions for the growth and proliferation of terrorist networks.
He cited the example of the revenue that is generated from poppy cultivation in Afghanistan that has more often that not found its way to the Taliban and other terrorist network in the war-torn country.
Amid a proliferation of well-funded and well-organised transnational criminal activities, the Council adopted a resolution spotlighting its concern over the ties between cross-border crime and terrorism and called for international action to prevent terrorists from benefiting from transnational organised crime, through securing borders and prosecuting illicit networks.
Recalling the Peshawar school massacre that left 148 people dead, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman said the world had been reminded yet again this week "why we must not tire in our efforts to counter terrorism, following the despicable attack on a school in Pakistan by the Taliban." He said terror groups like Boko Haram, the Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and their "sinister peers" make it abundantly clear that the pervasive synergies between terrorism and cross-border crimes foster conflicts, prevent their resolution and increase the chance of relapse. He said that efforts to combat terrorism will not bear fruit unless the international community combines law enforcement actions with measures to strengthen good governance, rule of law and human rights.
Pakistan's representative Sahebzada Ahmed Khan said that his government would prevail in the fight against the scourge terrorism, adding that by killing the young school children in Peshawar, the terrorists had attacked the heart of the nation. In response, "Pakistan will go after their jugular", he said.
Khan said that while there was a difference between cross-border crime and organised crime, terrorists could nevertheless take advantage of a lack of border controls. He said he fully subscribed to the need for border control mechanisms. He said it is vital to build capacities of nations facing challenges of terrorism and all international efforts should also respect national sovereignty and territorial integrity of states.
"Pakistan mourns today but we will ensure the total annihilation of terrorists and their twisted ideologies."
In the unanimously adopted resolution, the 15-member Council said it is "gravely concerned" by the financing obtained by terrorist groups through illicit activities such as the trafficking of drugs, people, arms and artifacts and reaffirmed the international community’s need to suppress the monetary lifeline which keeps the terrorist threats active.
The Council also stressed the importance of good governance and the need to fight against corruption, money-laundering and illicit financial flows. It underscored the importance of greater international cooperation in countering the world drug problem and related crimes, underlining that it must be addressed in a balance and multidisciplinary manner.
Bishnoi said India has been a victim of terrorism for over two and a half decades and terrorism is the most heinous of crimes for which the international community can only have a policy of zero tolerance.
"Terrorism is an international phenomenon; it is international in its organisation and international in its effects. International solidarity is required to meet an international threat. Countries that have been preyed upon by a global network of terrorism simply cannot cope with the challenge alone," he said.
He said all terror groups, including the Islamic State, Al Shabaab, LeT or the Al Qaeda, have an ideological basis that contradicts the basic tenets of humanity. "Ideology alone, however, is not enough to sustain terrorists. They need sustained financing and space to operate. That is, unfortunately, provided to them," he added.
Bishnoi said there is potential for the Council to explore tools that would degrade the ability of terrorist groups to take advantage of cross border crimes. "Given the gravity of the problem, and given its universality, we would urge open and complete consultation with member states who are not member of the council as well."
Bishnoi also drew attention to the "unfinished business" of finalising the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.
"The price that we pay for procrastination is in human lives. That should not be allowed to continue. Terrorism takes away the foremost of human rights, the right to life. It is truly a crime against humanity," he said.
Image: Representation picture