Need to monitor social media to counter terrorists: India to UN

United Nations: India has said there is a need to monitor social media carefully with due safeguards for freedom of expression as such platforms are being misused “to disastrous effect” by terrorist groups to lure youths to their extremist designs.

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Syed Akbaruddin also voiced concern over the “targeted propaganda of hatred” on such platforms which were created to bring people together.

Given the misuse of social media “to disastrous effect by terrorist groups”, there is a need to monitor social media carefully with due safeguards for respecting freedom of expression, he said at the UN Security Council open debate on ‘Countering the Narratives and Ideologies of Terrorism’.

“The Hydra-like monster of terrorism continues to spread across continents in developing and developed countries alike, aided by the targeted propaganda of hatred over the ever growing social media networks that were designed to bring people together,” added the Indian envoy.

Akbaruddin said the rise of ISIS, which is drawing foreign terrorist fighters, a majority of them being males between mid-teens and mid-twenties from vastly varying ethnicities and economic status, is a sign of the immense complexities of the push and pull factors involved.

“Radicalisation can be prevented only if the youth develop stakes in their mainstream socio-political and economic milieu. Taking long-term care of the de-radicalised is also an important aspect in convincing the possible recruits of alternatives available to them,” he said.

The Council, in a presidential statement, noted with concern that terror groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda crafted distorted narratives based on misinterpretation and misrepresentation of religion to justify violence.

In an apparent reference to Pakistan, Afghan envoy Nazifullah Salarzai blamed the creation of the Taliban in his country in 1994 for opening the current “tragic chapter” of terrorism in the world.

Without naming Pakistan but in a strong criticism of the country, he said the Taliban came before other terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda, Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram and ISIS, and “their backers” had characterised the kind of terror the world was witnessing today, including stoning women to death, closing girls’ schools and introducing suicide attacks that had brutalised Afghanistan’s entire population.

Thousands of men had received training and logistical support in terrorist camps, acting as a precursor of current terrorists staging attacks in Asia, Europe, the US, the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere, he said.