United Kingdom

UK says world must condemn use of unmanned drones to ’cause terror’ in Ukraine

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British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly urged the world to condemn the use of unmanned drones to “cause terror” in the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Saturday.

The comments were made in his speech to a UN counter-terrorism summit in India, the first time it was held outside the UN headquarters in New York.

Hosted by Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar, it is also the first UN conference to focus solely on the challenges and threats posed by terrorist groups using new technologies. India announced on Saturday that it would donate half a million dollars to the UN mission to curb global terror.

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Mr Cleverly, who earlier on Friday paid his respects to the victims of the 2008 terror attacks at the Taj Palace Hotel in Mumbai, called on the world to step up efforts to “starve terrorists from finance and emerging technologies” while he also described Russia’s actions in Ukraine as “causing terror”.

“Within two decades, terrorists have moved from distributing cracking voice recordings from the depths of Tora Bora, to global online recruitment and incitement campaigns, to live-streaming attacks,” he said.

“Online incitement has radicalized vulnerable people in distant lands, who have come to use rental vans as weapons of terror.

“So we must continue to work together to fight terrorist ideologies online.”

The British Foreign Secretary and his Indian counterpart both stressed the growing threat of the use of unmanned aerial systems such as drones by terror groups and criminal organizations, calling them a challenge to security services around the world.

Drones are currently being used to attack critical national infrastructure and civilian targets during Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.

“That is why we have sanctioned three Iranian military commanders and one Iranian company involved in the delivery of drones,” Mr Cleverly said.

Mr Jaishankar said: “In Africa, drones have been used by terrorist groups to monitor the movements of security forces and even UN peacekeepers, making them vulnerable to terrorist attacks.”

He also said that new technologies, such as encrypted messaging and blockchain, are increasingly being misused by terror groups and malicious actors, prompting the international community to take urgent action to combat these threats.

“Internet and social media platforms have become powerful tools in the toolkit of terrorist and militant groups for spreading propaganda, radicalization and conspiracy theories aimed at destabilizing societies,” he said in his keynote address.

India has previously expressed regret at the inability of the United Nations to act in some cases when it came to excluding terrorist groups for political reasons, undermining its collective credibility and interests.

Without mentioning China, Mr Jaishankar referred to Beijing’s decision to block UN sanctions against leaders of Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Pakistan-based extremist group that has been designated a terrorist organization by the UN.

India blames the group for a 2019 attack on a paramilitary convoy that killed at least 40 soldiers in Indian-administered Kashmir. The group’s founder, Masood Azhar, is one of India’s most wanted terrorists, but was released more than 20 years ago after the hijacking of an Indian passenger plane.

Both India and the United States demanded sanctions against the terror group earlier this year. But China put the proposed sanctions of the two terrorists on hold on technical grounds, saying it needed more time to study their cases.

Additional reporting by agencies