Terror suspect arrested in Maldives after passport check triggers INTERPOL alarm

10 March 2011

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – A Maldives national wanted in connection with a 2007 terror bombing attack has been arrested less than six hours after his passport triggered an INTERPOL alarm as he travelled from Pakistan to the Maldives via Sri Lanka.

Iqbal Mohamed, the subject of an INTERPOL Red Notice for internationally wanted persons issued at the request of the Maldives National Central Bureau (NCB), was identified by INTERPOL’s Major Events Support Team (IMEST) deployed to Sri Lanka for the Cricket World Cup during a routine check of Colombo airport passenger manifests.

After confirming Mohamed’s identity, the IMEST liaised with Colombo International Airport CID and the NCBs in Colombo and Malé to monitor the 42-year-old’s transit and eventual arrival at Malé International airport where he was taken into custody in the early hours of Thursday 10 March.

INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble hailed the arrest as a ‘model example’ of what can be achieved through police co-operation and information sharing using INTERPOL’s global tools and resources.

“Our National Central Bureau in Malé had ensured that the key elements for this arrest were already in place – he was subject to an INTERPOL Red Notice, his passport details were in our Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database, but what brought this all together, the ‘x factor’, was the presence of our IMEST in Sri Lanka providing support for the cricket world cup,” said the INTERPOL chief.

“That INTERPOL was able check the passport details of passengers arriving, departing and transiting Colombo airport was also essential in this case, and highlights an area for future development in working closely with airlines to help boost passenger safety and security by identifying internationally wanted persons.

“This arrest clearly demonstrates the real added value that INTERPOL brings to each of its member countries and that the more they contribute and use our resources, the more that they and their fellow law enforcement officers across the globe will benefit,” concluded Mr Noble.

As part of its support for the 2011 Cricket World Cup security arrangements, INTERPOL deployed IMESTs to all three sites - Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka - with each team providing on the ground support to national police, including conducting real-time checks of INTERPOL’s global databases.