Mains Marks Booster     3rd August 2023        
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Terrorism is the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims. It is a global phenomenon that affects people from all walks of life, regardless of their nationality, religion, or ethnicity

What is Terrorism?


  • In legal terms, although the international community has yet to adopt a comprehensive definition of terrorism, it is commonly understood to refer to acts of violence that target civilians in the pursuit of political or ideological aims.
  • The Global Terrorism Index defines terrorism as ‘the threatened or actual use of illegal force and violence by a non-state actor to attain a political, economic, religious, or social goal through fear, coercion or intimidation’.
  • The nature of terrorism today is shifting from traditional international terrorism of the late 20th century into a new form of transnational non-state warfare, backed modern warfare & digital technologies.

Recent Context-

  • India is ranked 13th on The Global Terrorism Index (GTI) 2023, indicating its position among the countries significantly impacted by terrorism.
  • The report highlights that Afghanistan remains the most affected country by terrorism, maintaining this status for the fourth consecutive year.

Types of Terrorism


Factors Leading to Spread of Terrorism

  • Political grievances, where individuals or groups feel marginalized or oppressed by their government or society. They resort to violence to draw attention to their cause and force change. 
    • g: Chechen terrorists in Russia.
  • Religious extremism, where individuals or groups believe that their religious beliefs are superior to others and use violence to impose their beliefs on others. 
    • g: Religious persecution of people from Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan.
  • Economic factors such as poverty, unemployment, and inequality can also contribute to terrorism, as individuals may see it as the way to improve their economic situation or gain power. 
    • g: Terrorism in Somalia, which is one of the poorest countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Geopolitical factors such as conflicts between nations or ethnic groups can also lead to terrorism, as individuals may feel compelled to take sides and use violence to support their cause.
    • g: Taliban was formed in the early 1990s by Afghan mujahideen who had resisted the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (1979–89) with the covert backing of the CIA and its Pakistani counterpart, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI).
  • Personal Reasons: Terrorists may act out of pure personal motivations, depending on their psychological states of mind. They might only be driven by hatred or a thirst for power.
    • g: Mass gun shooting incidents in USA.

Terrorism as a competitive industry



Challenges in controlling Terrorism

India specific

  • Hostile neighbourhood which is breeding ground for terrorism
  • Lack of citizen participation and private sector participation in beefing up the security apparatus
  • absence of “bottom up” security architecture.
  • Weak coordination between various security agencies.
  • Presence of antinational element and insurgent group.

Global level

  • Narrow Global War on Terrorism (GWOT): The first challenge is that the “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT), as it was conceived by a post 9/11 United States, is over with the withdrawal of the USA from Afghanistan, as the United States negotiated with the Taliban, and then withdrew from Afghanistan.
  • Divided UN security council: In a polarized world divided opinion in the security council regarding the fight against terrorism.
  • Toothless FATF: The decision of FATF is mostly affected by geopolitical trends around the world. This affects counterterrorism efforts negatively at global level.
  • Linkages with organized crime: We are going study detail about this topic under separate heading

Terrorism & Technology

Use of Technology in propagating Terrorism/Extremism

  • Propaganda
    • Multimedia communications providing ideological or practical instruction, explanations, justifications or promotion of terrorist activities.
    • Modes - virtual messages, presentations, magazines, treatises, audio and video files and video games developed by terrorist organizations or sympathizers.
  • Recruitment, Radicalization & Incitement
    • Internet provides access to global pool of potential recruits, with ‘precise targeting’ of the poor & marginalized, disillusioned youth, minors, gender specific targeting etc.
    • Lone wolf attacks by self-radicalised individuals using sources on the widely unregulated internet. For eg. In New Zealand, Paris, Bangladesh, Australia, UK etc.
    • Modes - Internet chat groups, Encrypted messages of Whatsapp, etc.
  • Financing –
    • Use of digital transactions to raise finances for terror and to launder money.
    • Modes
      • Direct solicitation, e-commerce, Exploitation of online payment tools, Charitable organizations
  • Training
    • On how to join terrorist organizations, construct explosives, firearms or other weapons, and plan and execute terrorist attacks.
    • Modes – detailed online manuals, audio and video clips, information and advice.
    • For eg. Inspire is an online magazine allegedly published by Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula with the stated objective of enabling Muslims to train for jihad at home.
  • Planning, Organising, coordinating, and executing attacks
    • Use of sophisticated Encrypted communication, UAVs, GPS Technology to plan and coordinate cross border terror attacks.
    • For eg.
      • During Uri and Pathankot attacks, GPS was used to infiltrate from blind spots of Border security agencies.
      • Use of IED in Maoist areas with attacks remotely coordinated using mobile and satellite phones.
      • 26/11 attack and use of satellite phones.
      • Weaponized drones used by ISIS in Iraq.
      • 3D printers – In 2019, the attacker of a German synagogue used 3D-printed components of the home-made weapons.
  • Cyber-attack/Terrorism is an emerging threat that can potentially target critical infrastructure like power transmission, banking, nuclear installations etc. India has witnessed 3rd highest number of cyber-attacks in the world.

Uses of the internet for countering terrorist activity

  • Gathering of intelligence- [] proactively prevent, detect and deter terrorist activity.
  • Gathering of evidence for the prosecution of Terrorist acts
  • Counter-narratives & Awareness creation
  • Cross border Anti-terrorism Cooperation & coordination

Global measures to break terrorism - technology nexus

  • Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) – Set up in 2017 by Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube, dedicated to disrupting terrorist abuse of members’ digital platforms.
  • Global Counterterrorism Forum – International forum to reduce the vulnerability of people worldwide to terrorism.
  • Tech Against Terrorism - launched and supported by the United Nations Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate. Aims at supporting the tech industry tackle terrorist exploitation of the internet, whilst respecting human rights.
  • The UN Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact

Counter Terrorism: Institutional & Legal provisions

  • Counter Terrorism and Counter Radicalization (CTCR) Division – set up within MHA. It deals with matters relating to policy and operational issues on terrorism.
  • National Investigation Agency (NIA) as a Central Counter Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency.
  • Multi Agency Centre (MAC) - created as a multi-agency intelligence coordination mechanism for counter terrorism.
  • National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) - A framework that leverages Information Technology to enhance the country’s counter terrorism capability.
  • Combating Financing of Terrorism Cell - in the MHA deals with the policy matters on Combating Terrorist Financing (CFT) and Fake Indian Currency notes (FICN).
  • National Security Guard
  • Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 for dealing with terrorist activities in India.
    • Recent amendments: The Parliament recently passed
  • Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019 allowing the Centre and States to designate individuals as terrorists and seize their property.
  • National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Act, 2019 - to allow NIA to probe terrorist acts against Indians and Indian interests abroad. It also seeks to allow NIA to investigate cases of human trafficking, counterfeit currency or bank notes, manufacture or sale of prohibited arms, cyber-terrorism etc.

Way Forward 

  • Enhance intelligence sharing.
  • Address root causes: socio-economic factors, political grievances, and ideological indoctrination.
  • Strengthen international cooperation.
  • Improve border security.
  • Counter online radicalization.
  • Strengthen legal frameworks.
  • Build community resilience.
  • Invest in capacity building and training.
  • Enhance international humanitarian efforts.
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