The aim of this project is to promote the effective use of INTERPOL policing capabilities in the member countries of the Sahel region to combat terrorism.
A Joint Response
The Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) was founded in 2014 as a regional, intergovernmental organization. It provides an institutional framework to promote development and security within its five member countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.
The Sahel region has experienced a devastating surge in terrorist attacks against civilian and military targets. Terrorist groups are present across borders and repeatedly target communities and national institutions through coordinated attacks, taking advantage of porous and extensive borders.
It is essential to identify terrorists, their movements and means of action, in order to prevent and disrupt their activities.
As part of its security mandate, the G5 Sahel created the Joint Task Force in 2017 to strengthen the fight against threats to peace and security and bolster development. Its main objectives are to collect, process, exploit and share relevant criminal information among a diverse range of actors in a complex environment.
It is structured around Military and Police Components, which are connected through the national and regional Security Cooperation Platforms (PCMS, in French “Plateformes de Cooperation en Matière de Sécurité”).
The Project: Integration for Impact
INTERPOL supports the Police Component of the G5 Sahel Joint Task Force (FC-G5S PC) through a three-year project (2019-2022), implemented under the umbrella of the Regional Counter-Terrorism Node for West and Central Africa (RCTN WCAF) initiative, and funded by the German Government.
The main purpose of the project is to ensure effective use of INTERPOL policing capabilities in the member countries of the Sahel region by the FC-G5S PC, along with INTERPOL National Central Bureaus (NCBs) and relevant specialized units and border agencies. This will help increase the exchange of police information and intelligence in the region.
INTERPOL’s support is built around three strategic objectives:
- Ensuring military to law enforcement information exchange (Mi-LEx) Bringing battlefield information to frontline officers who can crosscheck it against INTERPOL databases, and share it with the global law enforcement community through the PCMS and INTERPOL’s network of NCBs.
- Providing specialized assistance to relevant units of the Joint Task Force and NCBs
- Biometric data (Project FIRST) – sharing facial images and digital data on foreign terrorist fighters and other individuals linked to terrorism;
- Chemicals and explosives (Project WATCHMAKER) – increasing knowledge on known or suspected entities involved in the unlawful use of chemicals, explosive materials and improvised explosive devices;
- Data processing and Criminal Analysis – developing an intelligence model and setting up a cross-country network of analysts.
- Connecting and maintaining INTERPOL I-24/7 access – in the field and at strategic ports of entry in all G5 Sahel countries to ensure access to INTERPOL databases for frontline officers.
Member countries retain control over their data at all times, and define which other countries can access it.
INTERPOL’s unique role
INTERPOL facilitates exchanges between its 196 member countries to compile and compare information and identifiers of suspected foreign fighters.
This goal is enshrined in numerous Security Council resolutions, in particular UNSCR 2178 (2014) and UNSCR 2396 (2017), as well as the G7 Ministers of Interior Joint Communiques in 2017, 2018 and 2019, and the Counter-ISIS Coalition Guiding Principles 2018.
In addition, ongoing cooperation with military operations in the Middle East (e.g. Counter-ISIS Coalition Forces) to share battlefield information via INTERPOL channels means the Organization is uniquely placed to provide insight, expertise and support, as connections develop between the Military and Police Components of the G5 Sahel Joint Task Force.