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Foreign terrorist fighters

The phenomenon

Increasingly, we are seeing terrorist groups work to radicalize individuals and inciting them to leave their homes to become foreign terrorist fighters. These groups leverage the Internet and social media for recruitment, creating a truly global security threat.

Individuals – often young people – are being lured from communities worldwide to travel to conflict zones in the Middle East to join terrorist groups operating primarily in Iraq and Syria, and increasingly in Libya.

These individuals sometimes use fraudulent identity documents to reach their destinations undetected.

Those who return to their countries of origin pose even greater security risks, as they can exploit the military skills they learned abroad to carry out attacks on their home territory.

INTERPOL’s global role

In September 2014, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted Resolution 2178 which recognizes INTERPOL’s efforts against the foreign terrorist fighter threat.

These efforts include information sharing via our I-24/7 secure communications network, global databases and a system of international notices. In addition, we have procedures to track stolen and forged identity papers and travel documents, which form part of our Integrated Border Management Task Force.

The value of sharing information

Information sharing is key to identifying foreign terrorist fighters and preventing them from crossing borders.

INTERPOL’s Counter-terrorism Fusion Centre is a global hub for intelligence on transnational terrorist networks shared by member countries worldwide. A dedicated project on foreign terrorist fighters was established in July 2013 to address this phenomenon.

We maintain a database of suspected foreign terrorist fighters. Data is analysed and insights are shared with INTERPOL’s membership, for example, intelligence on the capabilities, means and emerging trends of foreign terrorist fighters.

Case studies

The success of rapid information sharing is clear.

In December 2014, three individuals – two men aged 18 and 27, and a 15-year-old boy – wanted in Spain on terrorism-related charges were arrested in Bulgaria at a border checkpoint with Turkey, just hours after INTERPOL issued an alert. They were believed to be heading to join insurgents in Syria.

Another individual wanted for terrorist offences was apprehended in Lebanon on his way to Syria in October 2014, thanks to Belgium’s decision to issue an international alert through INTERPOL.

Operational exchange

We bring together investigators for operational exchange in a working group on foreign terrorist fighters. Comprising member countries from all regions and other international organizations, the working group meets regularly to foster international cooperation and exchange information on ongoing investigations.

News
23 July 2018

G5 Sahel police leaders forging closer ties with INTERPOL to combat terrorism


13 July 2018

INTERPOL-led Mediterranean operation closes ranks on foreign terrorist fighters


06 April 2018

Regions underpin our global police architecture – INTERPOL Chief


28 March 2018

Major event security experts meet on cyber threats


22 March 2018

INTERPOL Chief discusses security with Saudi Interior Minister


21 March 2018

INTERPOL operation in Southeast Asia targets movement of bomb-makers


14 March 2018

Intelligence-led best practices to fight terrorism focus of INTERPOL training


08 March 2018

INTERPOL conference highlights role of women leaders in policing


13 February 2018

INTERPOL Chief and Kuwait Interior Minister discuss terrorism at Global Coalition meeting


09 February 2018

Nigerian police getting increased access to INTERPOL information


05 February 2018

INTERPOL and UN chiefs address global security issues


08 December 2017

Biometric data plays key role in fighting crime and terrorism


16 November 2017

Keeping foreign terrorist fighters out of East Africa focus of INTERPOL meeting


20 October 2017

G7 Ministers call for sharing of battlefield data on terrorists via INTERPOL


29 September 2017

INTERPOL General Assembly adopts data processing policy on refugees


26 September 2017

President Xi Jinping opens INTERPOL General Assembly


11 July 2017

INTERPOL to highlight need for military to police terrorism data flow at Global Coalition meeting


10 July 2017

Terrorism intelligence shared via INTERPOL’s Project Kalkan strengthens global ‘early warning system’


09 June 2017

INTERPOL border operation in Southeast Asia nets internationally wanted suspects


21 April 2017

Thousands of police officers across Europe join INTERPOL operation against illicit firearms


27 March 2017

UAE pledges EUR 50 million to support seven key INTERPOL projects


24 March 2017

Huge drugs haul underscores transnational organized crime threat – INTERPOL Chief


12 March 2017

Effective information sharing on violent extremism can save lives – INTERPOL Chief


Statement by INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock on the Paris attacks

Press Conference: INTERPOL Counter-Terrorism meeting on Foreign Terrorist Fighters 2015

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