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16 July 2003 - Media release

INTERPOL warns of link between counterfeiting and terrorism.

Cites evidence that terrorists fund operations from proceeds.

WASHINGTON - INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble has warned governments and law enforcement agencies that there is growing evidence of a link between intellectual property crime and terrorist financing.

In documents prepared for his testimony on 16 July before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on International Relations, Mr Noble said the problem may become more serious in future and he called for enhanced efforts, including a new partnership between industry and police, to combat it.

'The link between organized crime groups and counterfeit goods is well established. But INTERPOL is sounding the alarm that intellectual property crime is becoming the preferred method of funding for a number of terrorist groups,' Mr Noble said.
'There are enough examples now of the funding of terrorist groups in this way for us to worry about the threat to public safety. We must take preventative measures now.'

Mr Noble noted that law enforcement agencies do not generally treat intellectual property crime as a priority area, and there is less funding for such investigations than for counter-terrorism or illicit narcotics.

'Law enforcement agencies have to recognize that intellectual property crime is not a victimless crime,' he said. 'Because of the growing evidence that terrorist groups sometimes fund their activities using the proceeds, it must be seen as a very serious crime with important implications for public safety and security.'

The INTERPOL document presented to the Congressional Committee indicated that a wide range of groups - including Al-Qaeda, Hizbullah, Chechen separatists, ethnic Albanian extremists in Kosovo, and paramilitaries in Northern Ireland - have been found to profit from the production or sale of counterfeit goods.

A range of products is involved, including pirated CDs and DVDs, and counterfeit clothing, computer software, and cigarettes.
'INTERPOL does not believe an investigation into intellectual property crime is over when there is a seizure of counterfeit or pirated goods,' Mr Noble said. 'We think further work needs to be done to trace the proceeds, and to establish links if possible with groups benefiting from these funds.'

The Secretary General called for the establishment of police contact points in each country for the exchange of information about such crime and a partnership between the private sector and INTERPOL to raise awareness of the problem and to facilitate cross-border investigations.

INTERPOL has already established an Intellectual Property Crime Action Group involving industry representatives. Mr Noble said the work of this group should be substantially expanded through a new partnership agreement with the industries affected.