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12 July 2013

‘Foreign fighters’ threat focus of INTERPOL counterterrorism meeting

LYON, France – The threat posed by transnational fighters travelling to conflict zones in the Middle East to gain combat experience and training was the focus of an operational working group meeting at the INTERPOL General Secretariat headquarters.

Organized by INTERPOL’s Fusion Task Force (FTF) at the request of European member countries, 25 specialist counterterrorism officers from 13 countries met to exchange information on current and recently closed cases, threat assessments, suspect profiles, recruitment networks, travel routes and the process of radicalization and incitement.

With an increasing number of transnational or ‘foreign’ fighters joining terrorist-affiliated factions in Middle East conflict zones, the two-day (2 and 3 July) meeting enabled participants to gain a better understanding and overview of this developing threat and the required multilateral response.

Among the recommendations from the meeting was the production of analytical reports by INTERPOL studying the scope of transnational fighter activity in Middle Eastern conflict zones, facilitating factors, incitement and recruitment.

Project members also agreed to share threat information about imminent travel by transnational fighters, with information exchange and distribution to ‘at risk’ countries supported by the FTF.

Increased use of INTERPOL’s global tools and services, such as diffusions and Notices – in particular Blue Notices which request information about an individual’s location and activities – was also recommended by participants.

Created in 2002 and composed of experienced counterterrorism officers, INTERPOL’s FTF offers a multidisciplinary approach to assisting member countries in investigations related to terrorism working collectively through regional and threat-based projects.

Countries represented at the meeting were Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the USA.