Interpol has underlined the need for military success against the so-called Islamic State group to be translated into actionable intelligence for police around the world.
With mounting pressure on the group’s former strongholds likely to result in increased numbers of battle-hardened terrorists returning home, fleeing to neighboring countries, or joining other conflicts, it is vital that critical information left by retreating fighters and recovered by coalition forces is quickly shared with the global law enforcement community through a secure multilateral platform.
Details of more than 18,000 Foreign Terrorist Fighters have now been shared via Interpol’s network with an increasing amount being sourced from the conflict zones. Biometric data such as photos, fingerprints and DNA profiles have already led to the positive identification of terrorists around the world, including via facial recognition.
“Although there has been military success in Iraq and Syria, ISIS retains the ability to direct or inspire deadly attacks across multiple continents,” says Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock.
Interpol’s projects Vennlig and Hamah have enabled evidence of terrorist activity collected from Iraq and Afghanistan to be shared with law enforcement, intelligence and defense agencies in more than 60 countries, leading to the identification of previously unknown terrorists and facilitation networks.
“Once terrorist information is shared at the global level, every traffic check, passport control or random search holds the potential for a break in a terrorism investigation or to foil an evolving plot,” says Stock. “However, countries worldwide need to ensure their frontline officers have direct access to our databases in order to make these crucial identifications and prevent terrorists from traveling with ease to conduct attacks.”
With an increasing number of individuals involved in terrorist attacks having a criminal background, there is also a need for the most basic information stored in national police systems to be shared at the global level. Fingerprint checks of arrested foreign nationals by one European country against Interpol’s databases resulted in 11 hits in just one two-week period in June.