LYON, France – A US Homeland Security Committee task force report which recognizes INTERPOL’s systems as ‘crucial global tools for combating terrorist and foreign fighter travel’ has been welcomed by the world police body.
The ‘Combating terrorist and foreign fighter travel’ report, published following an extensive, six month review to assess the severity of the threat from individuals who leave home to join jihadist groups overseas and to identify potential security gaps, makes 32 key findings and accompanying recommendations.
The report states: “The closest the international community has come to centrally tracking foreign fighters is through a database created last year by INTERPOL…. Thousands of these fighters are returning home, and this database has the potential to become the global “tripwire” to detect their movements.”
With the report also highlighting how data from INTERPOL enabled US law enforcement to identify hundreds of previously unknown terrorist suspects and foreign fighters, the task force recommends ‘the US must work with international partners to designate INTERPOL as a central repository for foreign fighter identities.’
Other key recommendations include;
The US government should make it a top diplomatic priority to ramp up foreign partner use of INTERPOL systems, including the regular provision of information to the organization’s databases, and as a screening mechanism at borders and ports of entry, especially for counterterrorism purposes.
The Administration should consider granting State and local law enforcement the ability to quickly submit INTERPOL notices for wanted subjects in their jurisdictions. Aspiring foreign fighters often leave for the conflict zone with little or no notice, and giving state and local partners the ability to expedite notices to INTERPOL’s 190 member states could help stop extremists in their tracks on the way to terrorist safe havens, especially in cases where local authorities are tipped off to a suspect who was not previously on federal law enforcement’s radar.
Welcoming the report, INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock said its findings once again underlined the absolute necessity for countries to share information on foreign terrorist fighters.
The report was published on the same day as Secretary General Stock addressed the Leaders’ Summit on Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism on the sidelines of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, hosted by US President Barack Obama.
The INTERPOL Chief updated the Summit on INTERPOL’s implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2178 which recognizes the Organization’s role as a global, neutral information sharing platform against foreign terrorist fighters.
The Summit heard that with 52 countries now contributing to INTERPOL’s FTF database, information shared through its channels had increased six-fold in the last year, with some 5,000 foreign terrorist fighters identified so far in INTERPOL’s systems.