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04 November 2008 - Media release

Arrest and extradition of Tunisian terror suspects from UK underlines need for combined regional and international policing efforts

LYON, France - The successful extradition to Italy from Britain of three Tunisian terror suspects who were the subject of European Arrest Warrants and INTERPOL global alerts has highlighted the need for countries to use regional and international policing tools to prevent wanted fugitives from evading arrest.

Habib Ignaoua, Mohamed Khemiri and Ali Chehidi, who are accused by Italian authorities of plotting to recruit volunteers ready to commit acts of terror, arrived in Milan on Saturday. They were arrested in England last year as part of co-ordinated raids across Europe against an alleged Italian-based network recruiting fighters for Iraq and Afghanistan.

European Arrest Warrants for the three Tunisians were among a series of 20 issued by Italy. INTERPOL’s National Central Bureau in Rome also issued a global diffusion – or international wanted persons alert – for nine of the individuals including the three Tunisians, which ensured that all the Organization’s member countries, both European and non-European, were alerted to their wanted status.

Checks by officers within the Fusion Task Force (FTF), INTERPOL’s primary anti-terrorism initiative, revealed that a number of the suspects were already known within the Organization’s databases and the officers were able to provide Italian police with additional information on these individuals.

 “This case is a model for how the integrated approach of using a European Arrest Warrant, backed by an INTERPOL diffusion can trap suspects within Europe where they face quick extradition,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble.

“Not only does this severely limit a target’s ability to travel internationally, but this two-tier approach also ensures that information can be gathered and shared on a global scale, which in turn can lead to potential links being made with other international investigations.”

Launched in 2002 in response to a rise in the scale and sophistication of international terrorist attacks, INTERPOL’s FTF assists each of its 187 member countries in all aspects of terror-related investigations, including the identification of organizational hierarchies, training, financing, recruitment methods and motives.

Information exchange via the FTF’s network of more than 200 contact officers throughout the world has seen a massive increase in the number of names of suspected terrorists in the project’s database which now contains details of more than 12,000 individuals compared to just 2,000 at its launch in 2001.