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.

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

06 December 2017

Enhancing fugitive investigations focus of INTERPOL meeting

30 November 2017

Strengthening border security through enhanced frontline collaboration

24 November 2017

INTERPOL training aims to strengthen investigative capacity of maritime agencies in Southeast Asia

16 November 2017

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

08 November 2017

Building a security framework for major events focus of global experts

07 November 2017

INTERPOL and Qatar shape major event security via global network

20 October 2017

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

04 October 2017

INTERPOL meeting gathers counter-terrorism experts to enhance regional cooperation

29 September 2017

INTERPOL General Assembly adopts data processing policy on refugees

26 September 2017

President Xi Jinping opens INTERPOL General Assembly

11 September 2017

INTERPOL training targets border security in Southeast Asia

28 August 2017

INTERPOL operational training aims to boost ASEAN border security

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’

26 June 2017

Security issues focus of INTERPOL Chief meeting with Russian Interior Minister

09 June 2017

INTERPOL border operation in Southeast Asia nets internationally wanted suspects

08 June 2017

Transnational terrorism focus of INTERPOL meeting

23 May 2017

INTERPOL assisting UK coordinate international response after Manchester terrorist attack

17 May 2017

OSCE Secretariat and INTERPOL launch joint action plan to combat transnational crime

16 May 2017

Terrorist and cybercrime threats to European security focus of INTERPOL meeting

12 May 2017

Shaping border security focus of INTERPOL workshop on ASEAN common visa

28 April 2017

INTERPOL training looks to enhance border security in Southeast Asia

21 April 2017

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

10 April 2017

INTERPOL programme aims to foster maritime security in Southeast Asia

05 April 2017

INTERPOL Chief outlines support to Arab Interior Ministers Council in combating terrorism

04 April 2017

Cybersecurity experts meet on the future of major event security

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

22 March 2017

INTERPOL reaffirms support to Global Coalition as international policing partner

16 March 2017

Enhancing Southeast Asian capacity to respond to terrorist threats focus of INTERPOL exercise

12 March 2017

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

08 March 2017

INTERPOL National Central Bureaus essential in enhancing global security

10 February 2017

INTERPOL operational exercise targets smuggling of chemical explosive precursors

06 February 2017

Countering terrorist use of social media focus of INTERPOL training

01 February 2017

INTERPOL and Gulf Cooperation Council unite efforts in combating crime and terrorism

18 January 2017

Strengthening policing capacity across Asia focus of INTERPOL meeting in Nepal

Statement by INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock on the Paris attacks

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