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02 September 2015

Tackling global threat of improvised explosive devices focus of international forum

CANBERRA, Australia ‒ The first global meeting to address the threat of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), which kill and injure tens of thousands of people around the world each year, has opened in Australia.

Organized by INTERPOL, the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Department of Defence, the three-day (2 – 4 September) International Counter-Improvised Explosive Device Leaders’ Forum is gathering more than 300 key representatives from government, law enforcement and military services from some 70 countries.

A key aim of the Forum is to enhance cooperation between government, law enforcement and military communities by developing stronger links between counter-terrorism (CT) and CIED efforts to ensure more effective sharing of actionable intelligence.
 
The ability to manufacture IEDs has spread far beyond conflict zones with the Internet greatly facilitating the spread of this knowledge. Since the beginning of 2015, there have been an estimated 10,000 civilian casualties from IED attacks around the world, with almost half of these resulting from suicide attacks.
 
Recent incidents include an explosion at a shrine in Thailand in which 20 people were killed, a bomb attack at a mosque in Abha, Saudi Arabia, which killed 15 people , and an attack on the Amara Cultural Centre in Suruc, Turkey, near the Syrian border, which saw more than 30 people killed and many others injured.
 
On 20 March 2015, the most deadly attack of the year was carried out when suicide bombers targeted two mosques in Yemen’s capital Sanaa, resulting in 137 deaths and a further 345 injured.

All of the above occurring against a backdrop of regular IED attacks by Boko Haram in Nigeria, as well as attacks in Chad and Cameroon with recent targets including United Nations peacekeepers in Mali and African Union troops In Somalia.

Welcoming delegates on behalf of the Australian Minister of Defence, Government Whip Andrew Nikolic said it was a privilege to host the forum, which he said stood as testament to Australia’s resolve in addressing the IED threat.

“We must focus on the very thing that terrorist networks have relied upon – and that is the sharing of information. Our weakness has become their strength and this must be reversed,” said Mr Nikolic.

“As the world’s largest police organization, INTERPOL plays a vital role. It has a unique ability to facilitate international police cooperation where diplomatic relations don’t exist.

“We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with worldwide military and law enforcement agencies in the fight against IED proliferation and the disruption of networks that use them,” added Mr Nikolic.

INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock said the forum provided a unique opportunity to identify a global and coordinated response to the danger of IEDs and the wider security challenges.

“With the terrorist threat reaching unprecedented heights, urgent international action is needed,” said Secretary General Stock.

“Recognized by the United Nations Security Council as the global channel for information sharing against foreign fighters, INTERPOL can also provide a neutral and trusted platform in combating the threat of IEDs which are killing and injuring thousands of people each year.

“We now need to work together to ensure that vital intelligence and information is in the hands of the officers on the ground so that they can take effective action,” concluded Mr Stock.

Launched earlier this year, INTERPOL’s ‘Project Watchmaker’ builds on the world police body’s Foreign Terrorist Fighter database by assisting member countries identify and track known or suspected individuals involved in the illicit manufacture or use of explosives.

In addition to providing analytical and operational support, the project has already resulted in the circulation of more than 600 INTERPOL Notices and warning messages on individuals manufacturing or using IEDs.

With growing calls for greater collaboration among international stakeholders, the Forum will also provide a platform for the creation of a global coordination mechanism to reduce the threat of IEDs and potentially save thousands of lives around the world.

#CIED2015 Press Conference, Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL Secretary General

#CIED2015 Press Conference, Andrew Nikolic, Australian Government Whip