West and Central African police meet to counter escalating terror threat

1832

With Central and West Africa combating some of the world’s deadliest terrorist organisations Interpol brought police chiefs and counter-terrorism experts from the regions together to help streamline and enhance ongoing law enforcement efforts.

A two-day high-level meeting earlier this month in Yaoundé, Cameroon – the first of its kind – gave delegates from 21 countries an opportunity express their needs and be briefed on areas where Interpol can provide additional support.

This includes assistance in identifying and locating members of known transnational terrorist groups and supporters; helping countries bolster security at national and regional borders; preventing and combating the use of cyberspace for terrorist purposes; monitoring and detecting trafficking of weapons and chemical and explosive materials; and tracking and curbing the financial flows of terrorist organisations.

Opening the conference, René Emmanuel Sadi, Cameroon Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation said no region was immune to the threat of terrorism which required a unified and global response.
“The complexity of the challenges, the consequences of security gaps and exploitation of loopholes by terrorists requires a new kind of cross-border preparedness and response by police,” Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock said.
“The terrorist threat faced by central and west Africa is not only severe, but is escalating in frequency and impact.
“We must build on national and regional expertise to further strengthen global security architecture if we are to develop a unified and effective response,” added the Interpol Chief, who highlighted the development of Interpol’s Regional Counter Terrorism Nodes (RCTNs) to achieve balance.

Based in Interpol offices, the RCTNs will enable counter-terrorism experts to sit side-by-side, enabling direct information exchange and rapid response capabilities to terrorist threats, backed by the Global Counter-Terrorism Centre at Interpol General Secretariat headquarters in France.

As part of a project to expand and modernise I-24/7, Interpol’s global communications network, Stock announced a EUR two million project to renew equipment in Interpol National Central Bureaus (NCBs) across Africa.

The results which can be achieved when frontline officers have access to Interpol global databases were recently highlighted by the arrest of two foreign terrorist fighters who were the subject of Red Notices, following checks against Interpol databases by West African border officials.

Increased exchange of identifying information is also a key issue for discussion. Biometric data, such as photos, fingerprints and DNA profiles, shared via Interpol have already led to positive identification of terrorists around the world, including via facial recognition.