Conference 2001: Narayanan Remarks

President of the IACP, Honorable Mr. Bruce Glasscock, honorable members of the Executive Committee of the IACP, honorable delegates to the General Assembly of the IACP, ladies and gentlemen. May I begin by saying how grateful we all are to the host country, the Toronto Police and the IACP for their warmth and hospitality on this occasion of the 108th General Assembly of the IACP. Next, I am more than overwhelmed—as also my wife, who is present here—at the decision of the International Association of Chiefs of Police to confer upon me the honorary membership of the association. It is with the utmost humility that I accept this unprecedented honor, which I understand, has been conferred on only a limited number of persons who have rendered outstanding service to the government, the private sector or mankind. I am grateful to the IACP for the distinction of including me in this very select group. Mr. President, I have had the privilege, once before, of addressing the General Assembly of the IACP. This was in 1991 as the representative of the Indian Police. On two occasions thereafter, I have been privileged to speak at the Asian Regional Forum of the IACP in New Delhi in January 1992 and again in Delhi in March this year. These had been the high points of my official and post-official career till date. They have been eclipsed by this week’s event. I find words highly inadequate to express my feelings, for in moments of pride and happiness such as this, it is hard to give definition to one’s emotions. The honor—bestowed upon me as an individual—is equally, if not more so, recognition of the valiant role played by the Indian Police under highly difficult conditions, and while facing multitudinous problems. The Indian Police have consistently struggled to maintain the highest standards of competence and of ethical conduct. It has sought to combine professionalism with dedication. At the same time, it has tried to project a kindly face, a human face. On a more somber note. I might add, it has made numerous sacrifices: 1418 Indian policeman have lost their lives over the past 12 months alone, in the line of duty, a vast majority being victims of terrorist violence. For police professionals the world over, the International Association of Chiefs of Police is now their inspiration. Those policemen, who dare to dream, feel greatly enthused at the several peaks climbed by the IACP. Many have now the courage to think that there is a whole world to win. Difficulties can be converted into opportunities. The IACP has become an biding symbol of hope and faith as far as police professionals are concerned. In the new millennium, two imperatives, viz., the moral imperative and the multi-lateral imperative, are becoming the main ‘drivers’ of the civilized world. Both aspects and virtues are embodied in the philosophy and thinking of the IACP. The IACP has helped build cross-cultural teams, so critically important in this era of globalization. It has set benchmarks for ethical standards in the enforcement of criminal laws, the measure by which the quality of any civilization is most often assessed. In this respect the IACP has become the lodestar for law enforcement agencies. Let me now turn to another aspect. The moving speeches of Solicitor-General Macaulay, Premier Harris and FBI Director Mueller still ring in my ears. It reinforces my belief that once every few years, there comes a ‘swivel moment’ in the world stakes. September 11, 2001, was one such moment. The world after September 11 seems, looks and feels different. This was the day when a ‘shadow’ network sent terrorists to attach two—among the many—sacred symbols of economic and military power of the United States. There is little doubt that those who thought this out thought it through very thoroughly. It points to a highly sophisticated terrorist network of an operation planned by a group who knew the psychological impact of a strike of this magnitude. Someone with the bio-data of Osama-bin-Laden. Perhaps those who planned this strike were more than aware of the possible fury of the American response. They had, perhaps, hoped that it would provoke an apocalypse. They have not succeeded. This is their monumental failure. This makes a triumph for the civilizational attributes of a democratic society—attributes built on time-honored principles and precepts of law. Nevertheless, for all of us present here and those in the rest of the world, 9/11 is much more than a turning point in the history of the world. It is the day when terrorism becomes the defining threat of the 21st Century—an ugly legacy left over from the 20th. It was the day that ‘asymmetric warfare’ scaled new heights. It was the day that the inherently destabilizing effect, combined with the immense destructive potential, of terrorism became apparent in full measure. It also sobers us to think that ‘asymmetric warfare’ which scaled new heights on this date bids fair to become an even more frequently used weapon. It has enlarged the definition of catastrophic terrorism. It was more than a crime, it was an abominable atrocity. In its long history, terrorism has appeared in many guises. There might have been times when the contours of terrorism were unclear, but this is certainly not the case after September 11. After this date, semantics should not any longer cloud the definition of terrorism. The roots of terrorism may lie in complex historical, geo-political, ethics, socio-political and ethno-religious factors. This cannot, however, be an excuse to indulge in mindless violence against innocent people or society. Arguments about alienation or cleavages cannot be an excuse. We in India have, for many years, been confronted with definitive form of terrorism, viz., religious-oriented terrorism. This has been very different from earlier forms of ideological/secular terrorism that India has had to tackle. This specter is now beginning to haunt the rest of the world. Religious terrorists, especially of the radical Islamist variety are driven by different value systems. Violence for them becomes a sacramental act, a divine duty executed in response to a theological imperative. Terrorism assumes a transcendental dimension, and its perpetrators are undeterred by political morality or practical constraints. The religious terrorist tends to be more sanguinary, since religion acts as a legitimizing force. ‘Jehadi terrorism’ is a variant of radical Islamist terror. ‘Jehad’ exerts a tremendous pull over the Muslim dispossessed, whose numbers seem to be growing. Rootless youth earlier confined to Palestinian camps now embrace a much larger segment of dis-enchanted Islamist youth. Many have little education, even less knowledge, and a bleak future. Their icons may be people like bin-Laden and Sudan’s Iiasain-al-Turabi, but there are several lesser-known leaders who are able to inspire their followers to indulge in unbridled violence. Yet, terrorist profiles are beginning to change, more so in the case of radical Islamist outfits. More and more Islamist terrorists tend to come from professional backgrounds. The distinguishing aspect that sets them apart from their peers is the extent of their fundamentalist beliefs, high levels of motivation and a disregard for human life, when they think their cause is just. Martyrdom sits lightly upon them, making them highly dangerous. An intricate network exists to support these radical Islamist terrorist outfits. The network provides recruits from the Islamist diaspora of more than a score of countries. The network is the conduit for arms and equipment. The same network ensures proper training for the indoctrinated youth in camps as far apart as Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Sudan, and Yemen. Funding is both extensive and elaborate. Funds come from wealthy co-religionists in West Asia, state sponsors, and Islamist religious organizations. These are channeled through bodies such as the Markaz, the Al Rasheed Trust the Rabita, and other bodies in countries such as Sudan, Yemen, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Terrorist outfits such as Al Queda also run various legitimate enterprises from real estate to agricultural activities in more than two dozen countries and siphon the money for terrorist activities. Other activities such as financial and stock exchange manipulations and counterfeiting add to the terrorist coffers. Terrorism today also has as much to do with secret understandings and alliances between select militant outfits and state sponsors as with distorted logic and convoluted thought processes. It is not my intention here to labor on cross-border terrorism of which India has been a victim. Suffice it is to say that to eradicate terrorism both the basic nature of terrorism as well as the agenda of the state sponsors need to be taken into account. The nature of the state sponsors may vary, as do their agendas. Iraq and Libya fall into one category, Sudan into another, Pakistan and Afghanistan into a third category. Apart from ethos-national and now religious-oriented terrorism, the omni-present threat of narco-terrorism also should not be ignored. The potential of narco-terrorism is immense as was so persuasively pointed out by DEA Administrator Hutchinson yesterday. The emergence of the Islamic Mujahideen as ‘scamless warrior’ would not have been possible without the kind of funds generated by the sale and trafficking of drugs and narcotics, especially from the Golden Crescent. Narcotics today complements religion as the staple of terrorism. The September 11 attacks have also succeeded in resurrecting the threat of civil aviation terrorism. The use of aircraft as 'missiles' or 'flying bombs' imitating the September 11 tragedy should be a matter of grave concern for the future. Nuclear, chemical, and biological terror can hardly be ignored. Realistically speaking, however, the principal concern for India is with certain types of low-tech terrorism, often referred to as sub-threshold terrorism. The current anthrax scare in the West is something that we have long feared in our neighborhood. What we today apprehend is the use of other similar biological agents, as well as viruses such as smallpox and e-Coli. There is also the ever-present threat of terrorists utilizing garden-variety pathogens disguised as genetically enhanced agents. We recognize that the easiest option for the more sophisticated terrorists of today would be to engage in cyber-terrorism. Information warfare is an ideal terrorist weapon; reliance on software-oriented disabling technologies has tremendous advantages for terrorist groups. Their targets: telecommunications, air traffic control systems, railways, banks and financial institutions, etc. Sabotaging computer networks is no longer a Star Wars fantasy. Covert intrusion into national security and defense systems to degrade response capabilities has already been accomplished in a few cases. Aviation security, in particular, may well become a major target of cyber-terrorism in the 21st century. Three years ago, addressing the 53rd U.N. General Assembly, Prime Minister Atal Behari, Vajpayee of India, had warned against making any compromise with terrorism. He had observed that terrorism affects all of us equally, that it is the most vicious, most pervasive and most ruthless of crimes; a threat to world civilization and international peace and security. His foreboding has unfortunately proved only too true. We must all work together so that another catastrophe of this magnitude does not occur again. We must share our resources, our intelligence, and our skills to prevent another such occurrence. The unprecedented terrorist attacks of September 11 will severely test the commitment of many democracies to personal freedoms and civil liberties. India has recently adopted an anti-terrorist ordinance, similar in scope to the anti-terrorist legislation of the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada, with ample built-in safeguards. We recognize that despite the nature of the terrorist threat we cannot dispense with civilizational verities. I may be permitted here to draw some analogies from India’s long battle against militants of different kinds. We have faced many a challenge, challenges that would have fragmented nations of lesser will or lesser intrinsic strength. We have tried to find answers from our ancient traditions, often relying upon our spiritual faith. We have not allowed fear to overwhelm fear. Mahatma Gandhi taught us the virtues of non-violence and the importance of following the lead of Abraham Lincoln and Tolstoy. Despite our commitment to non-violence, rooted in the philosophy of the Buddha, we recognize and fully support the right of the State to use force to counter the forces of evil. We have remained believers in, and totally committed to Tom Paine’s affirmation of the Rights of Man. Our policy is anchored firmly in democracy. Our ideas and thoughts which have been substantially shaped by concepts contained in the U.S. Constitution continue to be dictated by civilizational norms. Despite all the violence and mayhem we face, we shall follow this path unflinchingly. Coming back to the present, I believe the seminal message contained in the speeches of the Honorable Solicitor-General of Canada, the Honorable Premier of Ontario and the Honorable Director of the FBI yesterday was that we need to usher in a new order where promoting co-operation, co-ordination, and cohesion along with harnessing the revolution in technology, communication, and information flows has become critical. There can be no doubt that this is the need of the hour. The challenges are immense. The arc of crisis spans many countries—several of whom are members of the IACP. The world looks up to the IACP, which has a well-deserved reputation for channeling thought as raw material for innovative steps and actions. We need to invent new methods to deal with the complex challenges of tomorrow. In this defining moment in the history of the world, the IACP with its wealth of innovative minds and prolific imaginations can make all the difference. When the history books of the period are written, it should be remembered for two Is—the Internet and the IACP. I conclude by laboring a truism that these are not ordinary times. In extraordinary times, we need unusual remedies— religion not excluded. Every religion has a salient mantra. For the Hindus (the religion to which I subscribe) the ‘Gayatri’ is considered to be the supreme mantra. Millions in India and the diaspora worldwide chant this exalted mantra, which has a compelling charm of its own. The ‘Gayatri’ mantra may be summed up as that “mantra, which protects him who chants it.” It is a purificatory mantra believed to create powerful vibrations beneficial for one’s well-being. In these perilous times, may the chanting of the ‘Gayatri’ protect and guide us—and the IACP as an institution—to defeat the many forces of Evil.