INTERPOL and UN publish joint handbook for online counter-terrorism investigations

11 July 2019
Using the Internet and social media to curb the activities of foreign terrorist fighters

Foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) use the Internet and social media for a diverse range of terrorist activities: from recruitment and radicalization to planning and funding.

In response, INTERPOL and the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) have jointly produced a handbook to help investigators collect, analyse and share information found online, particularly on social media platforms.

Social media as an operational tool

Given the immediacy and global reach of online terrorist activities, It is critical for law enforcement officers to understand how best to use the Internet to generate online investigative leads and collect and preserve electronic records – often across international borders – in order to contribute to successful prosecutions.

The handbook, entitled “Using the Internet and Social Media for Counter-Terrorism Investigations” shares good practices in the following areas as well as offering a comprehensive list of practical online tools:

  • Understanding how terrorists have adapted the way they use the Internet and social media and continue to be active online;
  • Good practices in conducting an online counter-terrorism investigation;
  • Steps for requesting the preservation and collection of electronic evidence, including from service providers.

To receive a copy of the handbook, law enforcement officers should contact the INTERPOL National Central Bureau in their country.

Ongoing INTERPOL−UN cooperation

This handbook forms part of a wider project on preventing and combating the FTF phenomenon in the Middle East and North Africa, Southeast Asia and South Asia regions and it complements a series of training workshops delivered by INTERPOL and UNCCT in those regions between July 2018 and February 2019.

As well as building on presentations and discussions held during the regional workshops, the handbook draws on the knowledge and network of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Compact Task Force, including the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) and the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP).

This project was completed with generous contributions from the Governments of Japan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.