Social media platforms enabling radicalization: US Ambassador

Mumbai: Noting that social media platforms are enabling radicalization, US Ambassador to India Richard Verma on Monday said the return of foreign fighters from places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria also casts ominous shadows on security of big cities.

Social media platforms are enabling radicalization, recruitment, and networking among like-minded individuals from afar, Verma said in his address at a two-day conference on Megacity Security, organized by US Consulate General here on Monday.

The return of foreign fighters from places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria also casts ominous shadows. More so than ever before, small groups and individuals have access to lethal and even military-grade technologies that give them the ability to attack a city’s functioning.

Communications and transportation networks essential to the daily livelihood in cities also can serve as enablers that allow groups to recruit and maintain networks with relative anonymity. Even smart cities, which offer the promise of a greener and more sustainable future, can be vulnerable to cyber attacks, he said.

If you look at the world’s top 30 mega-cities a common characteristic among them, regardless of geography or level of economic development, is that they have suffered terrorist attacks. The people of Tokyo, Jakarta, Manila, Karachi, New York, Mumbai, Bangkok, Dhaka, Istanbul, Lagos, Paris, and London have all seen first-hand the horrors terrorists can inflict, he said.

Recent events in Paris, Bamako, and Beirut have sadly focused the world’s attention again on the scourge of terrorism, a tragedy experienced acutely in this city, Verma said.

The Paris assaults were, as President Obama stated, an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share. But as our leaders have pledged, we are united with the nations of the world, and together we can defeat the terrorists and their ideologies of hate.

The US envoy said he was proud to say the United States and India are working closely on these sorts of security issues, as well as livability in cities. In 2011, we created the US-India Homeland Security Dialogue, which was the first comprehensive bilateral dialogue on homeland security issues between our two countries.

The dialogue covers a wide range of activities linked to enhancing homeland security cooperation. Engagement between our Department of Homeland Security and India’s Ministry of Home Affairs has reinforced our strategic homeland security partnership, he said.