Social media and the internet have turned into potent instruments for terrorists to spread propaganda and radicalise citizens, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Saturday.

He made the statement while addressing the plenary session of a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee in New Delhi.

The external affairs minister said that while technologies such as virtual private networks and encrypted messaging services offer a very promising future for several social and economic activities, they also pose new challenges for governments.

“In recent years, terrorist groups, their ideological fellow-travellers, particularly in open and liberal societies and ‘lone wolf’ attackers have significantly enhanced their capabilities by gaining access to these technologies,” Jaishankar said. “They use technology and money, and most importantly, the ethos of open societies, to attack freedom, tolerance and progress.”

The external affairs minister described terrorism as one of the gravest threats to humanity.

“The UN Security Council, in the past two decades, has evolved an important architecture, built primarily around the counter terrorism sanctions regime, to combat this menace,” he said. “This has been very effective in putting those countries on notice that had turned terrorism into a State-funded enterprise.”

Jaishankar said that an additional worry for governments around the world is the use of unmanned aerial systems by terrorists.

“Being a relatively low-cost option and with an increasing ease of accessibility, misuse of these unmanned aerial platforms for nefarious purposes by terrorist groups such as weapons and explosives delivery and targeted attacks have become an imminent danger,” he said.

Jaishankar added that in recent years, terror groups have been using drones and quadcopters for cross border trafficking of drugs and arms. He said in Africa, such outfits have been using drones to monitor the movements of security forces and United Nations peacekeepers.

On Friday, the external affairs minister had said in an address to the counter-terrorism committee had called for effective and sustained efforts at countering terror financing. “Terrorism’s nexus with transnational organised crime, illicit drugs and arms trafficking is now well established,” he had said. “It is important that we recognise these linkages and strengthen multilateral efforts to break them.”

Jaishankar had added that in recent years, terrorists have begun to “exploit the anonymity afforded by new and emerging technologies such as virtual currencies” for raising funds.

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