Terrorism Current Affairs
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United States and Morocco have launched GCTF Terrorist Travel Initiative under auspices of Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF). The initiative brings together stakeholders to share expertise on developing and implementing effective counterterrorism watchlisting and screening tools. It was launched on sidelines of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session in New York.
GCTF Terrorist Travel Initiative
The new initiative will strengthen UNSC Resolution 2396 aiming to stop terrorist travel altogether. It will improve capabilities for detecting and interdicting terrorist travel through enhanced terrorist screening and information sharing.
It will bring together national and local governments, law enforcement and border screening practitioners and international organizations to share expertise to develop and implement effective counterterrorism watchlisting and screening tools.
Under this initiative, series of four regional workshops in 2018 and 2019 will be convened to develop set of good practices that will be endorsed at 2019 GCTF Ministerial. The resulting document will reinforce countries and organizations to use border security tools prescribed in UNSC Resolution 2396 to stop terrorist travel.
UN Security Council (UNSC) had unanimously adopted resolution 2396 (UNSCR 2396) in December 2017 requiring all member states to use various tools, including by implementing systems to collect traveler data and develop watchlists of known and suspected terrorists. One of the most effective tools to counter terrorist travel was through traveler data such as Advanced Passenger Information (API), Passenger Name Record (PNR), and biometrics.
Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF)
GCTF’s is international apolitical, multilateral counter-terrorism (CT) platform of 29 countries and European Union (EU) with overarching mission of reducing vulnerability of people worldwide to terrorism by preventing, combating, and prosecuting terrorist acts and countering incitement and recruitment to terrorism. It was launched officially in New York on 22 September 2011.
GCTF’s goal is to strengthen capabilities to develop strategic, long-term approach to counter terrorism and prevent violent extremist ideologies that underpin it. Its mission is to diminish terrorist recruitment and increase countries’ civilian capabilities for dealing with terrorist threats within their borders and regions.
According to review by Asia Pacific Policy Group on Money Laundering (APPG), Pakistan’s recent action against terror financing, particularly on legal front were found to be “unsatisfactory” despite it was placed on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list in February 2018 for failing to curb terror funding. APPG examines cases of all countries on the grey and black lists and reports to FATF.
It was held in September 2018 in Jakarta, Indonesia. It observed that Pakistan has not achieved much, especially on legal side (like freezing of assets, attachment of funds, militant groups infrastructures etc). It also reviewed Pakistan on its compliance with 26-point action plan, which it had submitted to FATF in Februarys 2018 to choke funding of militants groups. Based on its observations, APPG will report the unsatisfactory performance by Pakistan to the FATF, at its plenary in Paris, France in October 2018. Another APPG review for Pakistan will be held in December 2018 following which final evaluation report will be prepared.
The development comes as major setback for newly elected Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was hoping that FAFT will be lenient in review given Pakistan’s commitment to 26-point action plan spanning over period of 15 months. Grey listing will squeeze Pakistan’s economy and make it harder to meet its mounting foreign financing needs, including potential future borrowings from IMF.
It will endanger Pakistan’s handful of remaining banking links to outside world, causing real financial pain to the economy. It will lead to downgrading of Pakistan’s debt ratings by international banking and credit rating agencies, making it more difficult to tap funds from international bond markets. It will also suspend international funds and aid to Pakistan such as Coalition Support Funds (CSF), money which US owes to Pakistan for military operations.
The process to include Pakistan in list began in February 2018 when FATF approved nomination for monitoring under its International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) commonly known as Grey List. The resolution against Pakistan was moved by US which said that Pakistan is not doing enough to comply with anti-terrorist financing and anti-money laundering regulations. India also had lobbied hard with US for monitoring of Pakistan while highlighting funding of terrorist activities. Pakistan was on watch-list between 2012 and 2015 as well but then it was only for money laundering and not terror financing.
Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG)
It is FATF-style regional body for Asia-Pacific region. It is inter-governmental (international) organisation founded in 1997 in Bangkok, Thailand. It consists of 41 member jurisdictions and number of observer jurisdictions and international/regional observer organisations. It is focused on ensuring that its members effectively implement international standards against money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing related to weapons of mass destruction.