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Fighting Terrorism Online: EU Internet Forum committed to an EU-wide Crisis Protocol

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The participants of the 5th EU Internet Forum, hosted by Commissioners Avramopoulos and King, have committed to an EU Crisis Protocol – a rapid response to contain the viral spread of terrorist and violent extremist content online. The Commission, Member States and online service providers, including Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft, Dropbox, and Snap have committed to working together on a voluntary basis within the framework set out by the Crisis Protocol, while ensuring strong data protection and fundamental rights safeguards. The EU Internet Forum also discussed the overall progress made in ensuring the removal of terrorist content online since its last meeting in December 2018 as well as how to strengthen cooperation on other challenges, such as child sexual exploitation online.

Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “Since I launched the EU Internet Forum 4 years ago, it has gone from strength to strength, offering Member States and online platforms an effective framework to work together to tackle terrorist content online. We have managed to build a strong relationship of trust and mutual understanding with the internet platforms. I am pleased with the progress we are making and the remarkable results we have achieved. Today, we are taking this cooperation another step further with an EU Crisis Protocol. With this, we will be ready to act quickly, effectively and in a more coordinated way to stop the spread of terrorist content.”   

Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King added: “The events in New Zealand earlier this year were a stark reminder that terrorist content spreads online at a tremendous speed. While our response might be quick, it isn’t quick enough. The Protocol is an EU response to contain the havoc created by such events – in a coordinated way.”

In the aftermath of the terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, government leaders and online platforms agreed on the Christchurch Call for Action. On this occasion, President Juncker announced the development of an EU Crisis Protocol in the context of the EU Internet Forum. The EU Protocol will allow Member States and online platforms to respond rapidly and in a coordinated manner to the dissemination of terrorist content online in the event of a terrorist attack.

The EU Crisis Protocol endorsed by the EU Internet Forum today will:

    Provide a coordinated and rapid reaction: Member States’ authorities, together with Europol, the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) and online service providers will be able to respond quickly, in a coordinated manner to ensure that the spread of terrorist or violent extremist content is swiftly contained.

    Facilitate public and private sector cooperation: In the event of a crisis, law enforcement authorities and online service providers will share relevant information on the online content (e.g., URLs, audio-visual media, and metadata) on a voluntary basis, in a secure way and in real time.

    Facilitate a voluntary arrangement: The Protocol does not replace national legal frameworks or existing national crisis management mechanisms. It should apply only to extraordinary situations where those national measures are no longer sufficient to coordinate a rapid and cross-border response.

The EU Internet Forum also discussed the overall progress made in ensuring the removal of terrorist content online since its last meeting in December 2018 and looked at the emerging challenges. This included, for the first time, a discussion on the global threat of online child sexual abuse and exploitation. Cooperation between public authorities and online platforms is key to fight against these horrible crimes effectively. Participants also took stock of the work to tackle the challenges presented by right wing extremism and the radicalising effect of violent political discourse.


The EU Internet Forum was launched by Commissioner Avramopoulos in December 2015 to address internet misuse by terrorist groups. It brings together EU Home Affairs Ministers, the internet industry and other stakeholders who work together voluntarily to address this complex issue. Since its creation, the EU Internet Forum meets annually to take stock of the progress made in removing terrorist content online and to discuss emerging challenges. In 2015, an efficient referral mechanism to flag and remove terrorist content online was created at Europol.

In 2016, at the EU Internet Forum, the industry announced the creation of the “database of hashes” to make removals permanent and irreversible. The database is a critical tool in stemming the spread of terrorist content online. Since its launch, the database has gathered over 200,000 hashes (pictures, videos, etc.) and has helped both large and small platforms to remove such content quickly.

President Juncker announced the development of the EU Protocol in Paris earlier this year when he attended a meeting of government leaders and CEOs of major online platforms that was co-hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

A first exercise to operationalise the Protocol already took place at Europol on 11 September 2019.

The EU Crisis Protocol will contribute to efforts undertaken at global level in the context of the Christchurch call, in particular the Crisis Response Protocol as announced in September at the margins of 2019 UNGA.

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From Extremism to Insurgency: The TTP’s Ideology and Strategy

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The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is an insurgency group operating in Pakistan that has been responsible for numerous terrorist attacks in the country. The group emerged in 2007 as a merger of several Pakistani Taliban groups and has since carried out attacks on civilian and military targets, including schools, mosques, markets, and security forces.

The TTP’s origins can be traced back to the Pakistani Taliban movement, which emerged in the early 2000s as a response to the US-led invasion of Afghanistan. The movement aimed to establish an Islamic state in Pakistan and was initially focused on fighting against the Pakistani government and its security forces. The movement gained strength in the tribal areas of Pakistan, where it established a parallel system of governance and carried out attacks on military and civilian targets.

In 2007, the TTP was formed as a merger of several Pakistani Taliban groups. The group was led by Baitullah Mehsud, who was killed in a US drone strike in 2009. Since then, the group has been led by several leaders, including Hakimullah Mehsud, who was killed in a US drone strike in 2013, and Mullah Fazlullah, who was killed in a drone strike in Afghanistan in 2018.

The TTP has been responsible for numerous terrorist attacks in Pakistan, including suicide bombings, targeted killings, and kidnappings. The TTP’s attacks have resulted in the deaths of thousands of people in Pakistan, and the group has been designated as a terrorist organization by the Pakistani government, the United States, and other countries.

The TTP’s tactics and strategies have evolved over time. Initially, the group focused on carrying out suicide bombings and other high-profile attacks. However, as the Pakistani military launched a series of operations against the group, the TTP shifted its focus to guerrilla warfare and targeted killings. The group has also used propaganda and social media to spread its message and recruit new members.

The Pakistani government has launched several operations against the TTP over the years, with varying degrees of success. The most recent operation, Zarb-e-Azb, was launched in 2014 and aimed to eliminate terrorist groups in the tribal areas of Pakistan. The operation was largely successful in disrupting the TTP’s networks and reducing the number of attacks in the country.

However, the TTP remains a threat to Pakistan’s security. The group continues to carry out attacks, and its networks have shifted to other parts of the country, including urban areas. The TTP’s attacks have also inspired other extremist groups, such as ISIS and Al Qaeda, to carry out attacks in Pakistan.

The TTP’s insurgency has also had broader implications for Pakistan’s relations with its neighbors, particularly Afghanistan. The TTP has used Afghanistan as a safe haven, and there have been concerns about the group’s links to the Afghan Taliban and other terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan. The TTP’s activities have also led to tensions between Pakistan and the United States, which has carried out drone strikes against the group.

The TTP’s insurgency has also had broader implications for Pakistan’s society and economy. The group’s attacks have deterred foreign investment and tourism, and they have also had a negative impact on the country’s social and economic development. The TTP’s activities have also contributed to the spread of extremist ideology in Pakistan and have made it more difficult for the government to implement social and economic reforms.

One of the major challenges facing Pakistan in its fight against the TTP is the group’s use of safe havens in Afghanistan. The TTP has been able to operate from Afghanistan, where it enjoys the support of the Afghan Taliban and other terrorist groups. This has made it difficult for Pakistan to eliminate the group’s networks and disrupt its activities.

Another challenge is the TTP’s use of social media and propaganda to spread its message and recruit new members. The group has been able to use social media to reach a wider audience and to promote its extremist ideology. The TTP’s propaganda has also been effective in recruiting new members, particularly young people who are disillusioned with the government and its policies.

To address these challenges, Pakistan needs to adopt a comprehensive approach to counterterrorism. This should include not only military operations but also efforts to address the root causes of terrorism, such as poverty, unemployment, and lack of education. The government needs to work closely with its neighbors, particularly Afghanistan, to disrupt the TTP’s networks and eliminate its safe havens.

The government also needs to address the issue of social media and propaganda. This can be done by promoting alternative narratives and providing young people with opportunities for education and employment. The government also needs to work with social media companies to monitor and remove extremist content from their platforms.

In conclusion, the TTP is a significant insurgency group operating in Pakistan, and its activities have had a significant impact on the country’s security and development. The group’s tactics and strategies have evolved over time, and the government has launched several operations against the group with varying degrees of success. To address the challenges posed by the TTP, Pakistan needs to adopt a comprehensive approach to counterterrorism that addresses the root causes of terrorism, disrupts the group’s networks, and addresses the issue of propaganda and social media. Only then can Pakistan hope to eliminate the threat posed by the TTP and other extremist groups operating in the country.

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Revisiting Pulwama: Truth Revealed



On February 14, 2019, an explosive-laden car hit a convoy of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in a suicide attack in the Pulwama District of Indian-Occupied Kashmir (IOK) killing 40 personnel and escalating the first air battle between Pakistan and India since 1971. New Delhi claimed that the attack was perpetrated from across the border from Pakistan by Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) and retaliated with massive airstrikes in Balakot district of the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa KP violating the territorial integrity of its neighbor. Pakistan launched Operation Swift Retort and conducted six massive airstrikes at multiple targets in IOK. This tit-for-tat resulted in the shot down of an Indian jet MIG-21 and the capture of its pilot. However, the air blow could not assuage Indian designs. New Delhi continued prevailing a narrative of ‘Terror-sponsoring’ against Pakistan on several fronts. Notwithstanding, Satya Pal Malik, who was the governor of IOK at the time of the attack, revealed that the attack was an Indian administrative mistake, but the Modi Administration gave the onus to Pakistan. 

Malik revealed that CRPF asked for five aircrafts to carry their people since such size of convoys do not move through the land. But the Home Ministry refused to give the aircraft. Malik claims that he conveyed this lack of administrative insight to PM Modi and its National Security Adviser Ajit Doval. The BJP administration replied, as Malik asserts, “Keep silence, all such onus is going towards Pakistan”.   

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan has asserted its stance in a press release saying that India again ‘vindicated’ Pakistan’s stance on the attack and under the pretext of terrorism advances its Hindutva agenda for political gains. India’s false narratives are again exposed to the world, the report says. In addition, Islamabad has also demanded an answer from New Delhi on his duplicity.

The ironic revelations signal three dimensions of India’s mischievous conduct towards Pakistan. First, the political will to solve bilateral issues is missing on the part of India. Successive Indian administrations especially of the BJP do not consent to solve the Kashmir issue and play this card for tightening their grip on Lok Sabha. On the other hand, they refuse a third-party reconciliation peace process. As a result, the region remains the most disintegrated part of the earth.

Second, although India claims to be the largest democracy on the earth and propagates to adhere to the global values of mutual coexistence, fair conduct and mutual non-aggression, it follows them in letter but not in the true spirit. In fact, New Delhi is still motivated by Realpolitik and the policies of Chanakaya based on pure calculations of power, deception and bigotry.

Third, India is an irresponsible nuclear power that designs such defamations and conducts cross-border attacks on other nuclear power in disguise of its designs. There is no denying the fact that the Pulwama incident had the full potential to transform into a nuclear escalation. Having said that, these factors widely contribute to the regional escalations and strategic instability.

Thus, given the power diffusion in international affairs in the wake of China, India will continue portraying such behavior in the foreseeable future too using evolving geopolitical dynamics. Therefore, the region must not be left at the New Delhi’s discretion. The international community must break its silence, and assert its stance on Indian duplicity. If not, the regional politics and escalations will have implications beyond the borders.

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The Development of Tehreek-E-Taliban Pakistan and Their Plans for the Future

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When the Taliban surged back to power in Afghanistan over two years ago, observers warned that their return would also herald the revival of the danger presented to neighboring Pakistan by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

The terrorist assaults carried out by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are still fresh in the minds of many Pakistanis. The TTP, the Taliban movement’s Pakistani affiliate, was founded in 2007. However, it is not a uniform organization; rather, it is a loose association of diverse organizations that sometimes vie with one another for dominance inside the TTP.

In addition to the assaults on the army headquarters in Rawalpindi in 2009, the Ahmadi mosques in Lahore in 2010, and the campaigner and eventual Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai in 2012, this terrorist group is also accountable for hundreds of other attacks with thousands of casualties.

One of its bloodiest assaults occurred in Peshawar in 2014, when 130 students were slaughtered. This heinous assault caused Pakistan’s environment to alter noticeably. The National Action Plan, which outlined a path of strict action to combat the terrorist group in Pakistan aggressively, was adopted by the nation’s political leadership in response to the assault. The government intensified the Zarb-e-Azb military operation, initiated just before the plan was adopted, and targeted terrorist organizations in the remote tribal homelands near the Afghan border.

The Pakistani army eventually succeeded in generally driving out the TTP from Pakistan in the following years, but not without fierce conflict and many casualties. The number of TTP militants and commanders that crossed into Afghanistan steadily decreased due to their departure.

At the same time, internal power disputes and the disintegration of the organization were caused by the assassination of many TTP commanders in American drone operations. The TTP was not totally eliminated, however. It was able to exist because of its deep ideological and historical links to the Afghan Taliban.

The TTP was able to assault Pakistani border stations repeatedly from within Afghanistan, causing friction between the Kabul and Islamabad governments. Pakistan pushed Kabul to take immediate action against the terrorist organization.

Despite the tight relations between the two, Pakistan’s government has made no move to urge the Taliban in Afghanistan to transfer TTP officials to Pakistan. Such extraditions were resisted, in particular by the powerful Haqqani group of the Afghan Taliban, which still has strong relations with the TTP.

In order to use the TTP as a negotiating chip with Pakistan, it is now widely accepted that the old Afghan secret agency, NDS, which was destroyed when the Taliban regained control, had covert links to the group. In a 2017 video, former TTP spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan made the assertion.

Mullah Fazlullah, the TTP commander, was killed by a U.S. drone operation in 2018, and his deputy Noor Wali took over as leader. Within the TTP, a process of consolidation started under his direction. The TTP’s feuding factions were mostly brought together under Noor Wali’s leadership. He is regarded as a seasoned combatant for the terrorist group.

He claimed credit for the 2007 suicide strike in the garrison city of Rawalpindi that assassinated Benazir Bhutto. The TTP was also made stronger by the Afghan Taliban’s military victories.

There was some excitement among Islamist groups in Pakistan when the Taliban swiftly took over Afghanistan in the summer of 2021, and the Afghan army essentially dissolved. Imran Khan, the ex-prime minister of Pakistan at the time, took the Taliban’s win as evidence that there was no way to end the battle in Afghanistan militarily.

Khan said the Taliban were “breaking the chains of slavery” when the hardline Islamists took control of Kabul. Many TTP militants marched into Kabul at the same time as the Taliban. They happily stood in front of Afghan army trucks for photos. Pakistan asked that the Afghan government adopt a tougher stance against its sibling outfit or, at the very least, ensure that Afghan territory would not be utilized to conduct strikes against Pakistan.

The TTP, under pressure from the Taliban, proclaimed a cease-fire in May 2022 and said that it was prepared to engage in negotiations with Imran Khan’s administration, which was headed by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. Some TTP militants returned to Swat and Dir in Pakistan, where they had been driven out in 2007 after a deadly military campaign. Khan’s administration had undoubtedly said that TTP members might return in exchange for a truce, despite claims to the contrary.

Imran Khan acknowledged that his administration has previously expressed a willingness to let the return of up to 5,000 TTP members and their families in early 2023. The radicals’ presence horrified the ordinary populace. Many people dreaded a return to the TTP’s era of terror when it ruled over major portions of Swat.

Thousands of people were compelled to abandon their houses during the following military actions. A further military battle would have devastated the civilian population in a precarious economic climate. The local community in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a border region, has recently protested against the TTP’s return on many occasions.

In November 2022, talks between the TTP and the Pakistani government were unsuccessful. The TTP responded by announcing the termination of its ceasefire. Terrorist assaults have significantly increased in frequency since that time. Armed confrontations between Pakistani security personnel and the TTP are now fairly routine.

To show off its capability to strike, the TTP is striking military outposts and police stations. The most horrific incident in recent weeks occurred in Peshawar in January 2023, when a TTP suicide bomber detonated himself in a mosque primarily filled with law enforcement personnel. The incident claimed the lives of almost 100 people.

Shehbaz Sharif, the current prime minister of Pakistan, said at a National Security Council meeting on April 7 that he wanted to clamp down even harder on the terrorists in light of the security situation. However, little effort is being taken to combat extreme views in the nation. Even today, hardline mullahs are still allowed to express their opinions without worrying about facing severe consequences from the government. These viewpoints appeal to young people because of poverty and dismal prospects.

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