Iran regional meeting to champion INTERPOL’s Central Asian anti-terror 'Shield'

20 May 2008

TEHRAN, Iran – The need to harness a pro-active, multi-disciplinary approach in terrorism-related investigations is the focus of the fourth working group meeting opening today in Tehran on Project Kalkan, INTERPOL’s on-going anti-terrorism initiative in Central Asia.

The two-day meeting draws together countries from the Central Asia region as well as from Africa, Asia and Europe and will review progress on the collaborative regional project amongst its 19 core countries. Specific issues under discussion include counter terrorism initiatives and operational cases, terrorism financing and the recruitment methods of terrorist groups.

Project Kalkan – meaning Shield in Central Asian countries – is one of several key regional components of INTERPOL’s multi-region Fusion Task Force (FTF) which was created in 2002 to identify active terrorist groups, and to collect, share and analyze information and intelligence on their activities. From just five initial member countries at the launch of Project Kalkan in 2004, following terrorist attacks in Tashkent, a total of 60 INTERPOL member countries are now sharing terrorism-related information as part of the initiative.

INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble, on his first visit to Iran, told the meeting in his opening speech that these results bore out Project Kalkan as an excellent example of a coherent collaborative approach to security in the region, a far cry from 2004 when there had been little knowledge of the value of global tools to regional security, he said.

'Clearly, one of INTERPOL's responsibilities towards its 186 member countries is to maintain and develop strategic alliances with regional groupings and international organizations whose objectives are compatible with INTERPOL's stated aims,' Secretary General Noble said. 'INTERPOL will therefore continually seek to integrate its activities, network and resources with such regional initiatives in order to fight terrorism and global crime.'

In the three-years that followed the launch of the project, there were 176 confirmed international arrests of wanted terrorists from the region for whom INTERPOL notices or diffusions had been issued. Of interest is that 140 of these 176 arrests were made in Europe – a strong indicator that terrorism in the region has an important global reach – and this explains why Project Kalkan now brings together more than 60 countries from all regions of the world, as well as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, a key institutional partner of this project.

Through FTF Project Kalkan (Central Asia), Amazon (Central and South America), Pacific (Southeast Asia), Nexus (Europe), Middle East and Baobab (Africa), a network of nearly 200 contact officers worldwide has been established, exchanging thousands of messages between each other and with INTERPOL on suspected terrorists and developing profiles of suspect individuals in the FTF’s terrorist registry.