LYON, France – An INTERPOL-led operation to identify and disrupt terrorist and other transnational threats across East Africa has exposed the extent of criminal mobility in the region.
Operation Simba took place over 10 days (13-22 March) in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. National police and immigration services, in close collaboration with INTERPOL National Central Bureaus, the INTERPOL Regional Bureau for East Africa, and the Operational Command Unit in Lyon, carried out checks at multiple hotspots including air and land border points.
In total, authorities conducted more than 4 million checks against INTERPOL’s global databases, resulting in 827 positive ‘hits’, including individuals subject to INTERPOL Red, Blue, Green and UN Notices.
The subjects of the Notices were linked to a number of crimes such as terrorism, genocide, fraud and trafficking. So far, three arrests have been made, with that number set to grow in light of numerous follow-up investigations.
The hits also included hundreds of travel documents registered in INTERPOL’s Stolen and Lost Travel Document (SLTD) database. With stolen travel documents considered a key asset for terrorist mobility, the SLTD hits highlight the importance of systematic border checks in strengthening national security.
Operation Simba was also an opportunity for countries across the region to develop cooperation mechanisms both between countries and across administrations such as police, immigration and counter-terrorism.
“This Operation has seen a large number of criminals identified, not only resulting in immediate arrests, but also launching investigations that will produce long-term results,” said the Assistant Director of INTERPOL’s Counter-Terrorism unit, Karel Pelan.
“This is the clear benefit of enhanced cross-border cooperation, one that we seek to develop with all of our operations.”
The operation was conducted under the framework of the INTERPOL Foundation for a Safer World by INTERPOL’s Counter-Terrorism Directorate, supported by its Integrated Border Management Task Force.