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CBRNE Terrorism Prevention Programme

CBRNE terrorism poses a clear threat to public health and safety, national security and economic and political stability on a global level. Accordingly, the prevention of such incidents is of the highest priority.

The threat of CBRNE terrorism is evolving and, with it, the risk of incidents intended to maximize the number of victims on a global scale. We know that terrorist groups are working hard to acquire CBRNE materials and the expertise to use them in their operations. 

At INTERPOL, our CBRNE Terrorism Prevention Programme specializes in the prevention of the different aspects of CBRNE.

Bioterrorism

The possibility of terrorist attacks using biological agents represents a growing concern for law enforcement bodies, governments and public health officials around the world. Biological agents – such as bacteria, viruses and toxins – are significantly cheaper and easier to produce, handle and transport than nuclear or conventional weapons. They are difficult to detect and symptoms from exposure may not appear for days, possibly weeks.

The threats

Recent trends in terrorism show a heightened interest in the use of bio-weapons which are an effective means of instilling widespread fear among the public. There have been numerous historical events involving the use or threatened use of toxins and pathogens and there is clear evidence that, in recent times, a number of individuals and terrorist organizations have carried out research into, or attempted to acquire, biological agents and toxins.

INTERPOL's response

Our strategy for countering the threat posed by Bioterrorism consists of three main pillars:

  • Intelligence analysis for police services;
  • Programmes preventing the dispersal of biological materials in any form;
  • Responding to and investigating any legitimate biological threat or incident.

Intelligence analysis

The INTERPOL BioTerrorism Prevention Unit makes daily assessments of data gathered from open sources, gained from member countries, and from other activities such as conferences and publications. The data is analysed and key issues placed in the INTERPOL CBRNE intelligence report.

The intelligence report covers the areas of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives terrorism. Commentaries are provided for each modality via their respective unit within the CBRNE team. The Bioterrorism Unit provides a commentary on emerging issues based on data gathered and further research conducted with other key international organisations such as the World Health Organization. 

Training courses

INTERPOL’s experience with regard to capacity building and training in the field of bioterrorism prevention and preparedness goes back to the launch of its first Bioterrorism Prevention Programme in 2004. Since then, the Organization has conducted:

  • Regional training workshops in Chile, Oman, Singapore, South Africa and Ukraine have brought together hundreds of participants to reinforce the messages of the international conference.
  • Regional train-the-trainer sessions which help participants develop their own training capabilities and response units, and promote increased collaboration among national agencies in different sectors (law enforcement, public health, customs and prosecution).
  • International tabletop exercises, which assess national capabilities for preventing and help to identify issues critical to a coordinated response to bio-incidents.
  • First Response to a Biological Incident Course, first held in July 2011 at the Irish Police Academy, Garda College.
  • Operational Response to Biological Incidents Course, which took place at the Singaporean Police Academy of “Home Team Academy" in March 2012 and again in January 2013, to address the second level of the bioterrorism prevention curriculum.  

Materials and resources

  • The Bioterrorism Incident Pre-Planning and Response Guide (BIRG) contains information on bioterrorism preparedness activities and operational response. This is to assist member countries in addressing the unique aspects of intentional biological threats and conducting a forensic investigation in a bioterrorism-related case. The second edition is available to INTERPOL’s member countries in all four INTERPOL languages (Arabic, English, French and Spanish) and Russian. The Guide can be consulted by authorized users directly on the restricted INTERPOL website or by contacting the  INTERPOL Bioterrorism Prevention Unit.
  • An online Bioterrorism Prevention Resource Centre assesses bioterrorism-related data that is increasingly available, and provides links to the most useful websites, as well as other INTERPOL resources in this area. 
  • A set of e-Learning modules is available for law enforcement officers. This computer-based training curriculum can be accessed through INTERPOL’s secured training website, or by CD-Roms distributed by bioterrorism training points of contact in member countries.  

Operational support

In the case of an imminent threat or actual incident, INTERPOL will provide operational support to its member countries through:

  • Deploying an Incident Response Team (IRT) with biological expertise to support law enforcement authorities in their criminal investigations;
  • Conducting searches of INTERPOL's databases of nominal data, fingerprints, DNA profiles, and travel documents, upon request;
  • Issuing notices, which are used to alert the international law enforcement community to wanted persons (red notices) or devices and weapons that pose a threat to public safety (orange notices); 
  • Providing strategic and tactical analytical expertise, upon request.

International cooperation

Bioterrorism is a global threat with transnational consequences. Therefore, international cooperation between nations and between international organizations is a crucial element in INTERPOL’s global strategy.

INTERPOL’s Bioterrorism Prevention Unit is ensuring the representation of the global law enforcement community within the different international frameworks that are built to counter the threat of bioterrorism and ensure the establishment of more efficient mechanisms of biosecurity and biosafety.

  • INTERPOL is an actively acting as an observer at the Meeting of States Parties of Convention on the prohibition of the development, production and stockpiling of bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons and on their destruction (BTWC).
  • INTERPOL is among the international organizations that make up the Global Partnership against the spread of weapons and materials of mass destruction (GP), which is an initiative launched by the G8 at the 2002 Kananaskis Summit to prevent terrorists from acquiring or developing weapons of mass destruction. 
  • The Bioterrorism Prevention Unit maintains a close relationship with other relevant international organizations; such as the World Health Organization, International Federation of Biosafety Associations and Europol. 

Useful links

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Project Geiger Report Form for National Central Bureaus

Authorized users can report a nuclear or radiological incident or event, such as a theft, loss, detection or seizure in two ways:

  • Via the  online form. This will be sent directly to the INTERPOL General Secretariat.
  • Via the  offline form. This can be downloaded and emailed to other agencies and organizations as necessary, as well as the INTERPOL General Secretariat. 

All reports must be either copied to or sent by the National Central Bureau.