CBRNE Terrorism Prevention Programme
Terrorism that makes use of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives (CBRNE) materials is commonly conceived as the worst case scenario of all terrorist attacks.
Although CBRNE terrorism is a low incidence crime, national and global implications of a successful attack are tremendously disturbing. Not only does this type of terrorism pose a clear threat to large-scale public health and safety, but such an event would have alarming ramifications for 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.
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 fungi – 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 hours or days.
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.
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.
We register the major biological incidents occurring around the world in a “Biocrimes Database”. The recording goes from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day. The data is analysed through threat and risk assessment methodologies in order to reach concrete and real results that help INTERPOL’s member countries prevent and respond more efficiently to biological attacks.
The result of this process is the production and distribution of robust and reliable analytical products that help INTERPOL’s member countries preventing and responding more efficiently to biocrimes.
- A “BioT Quarterly Report”, summarizing and analyzing the most remarkable bio-incidents that have taken place, is being published on INTERPOL’s secured website and distributed to an exclusive network of national and international contact points. The report constitutes of two main parts. The first is dedicated to the state of the threat, covering both bio-crimes (intentional) and bio-risks (non-intentional). The second is dedicated to the state of preparedness (national and international initiatives that intend to counter bioterrorism).
- An ad-hoc regional/national analysis provided upon request from member countries and /or other organizations/agencies interested.
- A joint Biological threat/risk analysis and assessments in coordination with other international organizations for major events and mass gatherings.
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 organisation 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 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). From 2007 to 2011, nine sessions were organized covering most regions of the world and including nearly 400 participants.
- International tabletop exercises, which assess national capabilities for preventing bio-crimes and help to identify issues critical to a coordinated response, have been organized in France, Malaysia, Poland and Argentina, with 120 participants from more than 30 countries.
- A fellowship programme, for active police officers working in the field of counterterrorism and bioterrorism preparedness enhances their ability to develop, implement and/or integrate a bioterrorism prevention and response strategy in their country of origin. Five fellowship sessions have been completed by law enforcement officers from the Czech Republic, Mauritius, Oman, Peru and Vietnam.
In late 2010, a major event took place that considerably reshaped INTERPOL’s perspective with regard to capacity building and training in the field of bioterrorism prevention and preparedness. It was the INTERPOL CBRNE Terrorism Prevention workshop in October 2010 that gathered experts from 23 countries, and marked the launching of an innovative common curriculum for bioterrorism prevention training to be used at police academies worldwide. The curriculum addresses three different levels that are concerned with responding to bioterrorism threat and incidents: law enforcement first responders level, CBRNE specialist responders level, and strategic management level.
In July 2011, the Bioterrorism Prevention Unit successfully conducted the first “INTERPOL Bioterrorism Prevention First Responder’s Course” organized at the Irish Police Academy, Garda College, followed by “INTERPOL Operational Response to Criminal Biological Incidents Pilot Course” that took place at the Singaporean Police Academy of “Home Team Academy" in March 2012 to address the second level of the bioterrorism prevention curriculum. The Bioterrorism Prevention Unit is currently working on the production of a curriculum addressing the strategic management of biological incidents.
In parallel to these structured efforts, the Bioterrorism Prevention Unit continues to fulfill its commitment by answering to specific requests through well-tailored training implementation modalities. Between 10 and 14 October 2011, with the financial support of the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), a “Regional Biosecurity Course” was conducted in Almaty, Kazakhstan, to address the biosecurity issue in the Central Asia and Caucasus region.
Materials and resources
- The Bioterrorism Unit has produced the Bioterrorism Incident Pre-Planning and Response Guide (BIRG) that contains information on bioterrorism preparedness activities and operational response, in order 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 of the Guide is now 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 the vast amount of 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 are available for law enforcement officers. This computer-based training curriculum that can be accessed through INTERPOL’s secured training website, or by CD-Roms distributed by bioterrorism training points of contact in member states. The e-learning package consists of several modules that cover CBRN materials, biological agents, law enforcement response and personal protective equipment, with basic awareness information for police officers.
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.
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 partnering 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.
- On an institutional level, the Bioterrorism Prevention Unit maintains a close relationship with other relevant international organizations; such as the World Health Organization and EUROPOL.
Bioterrorism | PDF 1 MB
News & media releases
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.