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18 September 2012

INTERPOL launches new unit to assist member countries combat chemical and explosives terrorism

TALLINN, Estonia – Criminal investigators, bomb technicians, forensic scientists and other specialists from around the world are gathering at the INTERPOL Chemical and Explosives Terrorism Prevention Global Conference in Tallinn, Estonia.

The two-day conference (18 and 19 September), organized by INTERPOL’s newly created Chemical and Explosives Terrorism Prevention (ChemEx) unit with the Estonian Ministry of Interior and Police and Border Control Board, brings together more than 140 participants from 50 countries, to study past incidents, discuss current prevention programmes and share expertise to help prevent future attacks.

Opening the conference, Estonia’s Minister of the Interior Ken-Marti Vaher, emphasised that no single country can cope with the threat of terrorism on its own.

“Terrorism knows no state borders and the only thing to give us a sense of security and adequate preparation for actual threat situations is international cooperation. The extensive and serious consequences of terrorism have unfortunately clearly demonstrated the critical importance of joint preventative activities and exchange of information,” said Minister Vaher pointing to Estonia’s strong partnership with INTERPOL since becoming a member 20 years ago.

Addressing the participants, Jeffrey S. Muller, Assistant Section Chief from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate said that the key in addressing the challenge of terrorism is coordination.

“The next terrorist attack in one of our countries could utilize a weapon of mass destruction, including a chemical agent, to cause panic, injury and even death. It is imperative that we are doing all that we can to address this chemical threat,” said Mr Muller.

“The goal is prevention, and ChemEx, by its design aims to assist the establishment and enhancement of global countermeasures with the goals of assisting police services worldwide in the prevention of the malicious use of chemicals and explosive materials, addressing such use should it occur and bringing perpetrators to justice,” concluded Mr Muller.

The new ChemEx Unit is part of the INTERPOL Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives (CBRNE) Terrorism Prevention Programme, complementing the existing Bioterrorism Prevention Unit and the Radiological and Nuclear Terrorism Prevention Unit and will provide support to all 190 INTERPOL member countries in three main areas: criminal intelligence analysis; capacity building programmes, such as training courses for law enforcement officers; and operational support.

“By sharing information and working together, we can support the international law enforcement community in engaging the threat posed by chemical and explosives terrorism, which continue to claim lives every day across the world,” said Anthony J. Thomas, INTERPOL’s CBRNE Programme Manager

“INTERPOL created the Chemical and Explosives Terrorism Prevention Unit in order to help all member countries comprehensively address this threat, and in doing so, INTERPOL has built the last pillar in its CBRNE structure, thereby making the programme complete and fully operational to address all aspects of the CBRNE threat spectrum.”

Among the organizations taking part to provide specialist input are the FBI, the Australian Federal Police, Europol, the World Customs Organisation, the European Union, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations.