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23 October 2002 - Media release

'A small-town drug dealer could have links to a terrorist halfway around the world'

Global approach needed for policing the 21st century

The international community faces the threat of terrorism on many fronts, delegates to INTERPOL's general assembly were told. Speakers on the terrorism panel said that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 have made international cooperation on law enforcement more relevant than ever. But they also pointed to the lack of harmonisation within the international law enforcement community and the lack of implementation of international directives. They maintained this means that the fight against terrorism is fragmented and not as effective as it could be.

The 71st INTERPOL General Assembly is meeting this week in Yaoundé, Cameroon, with over 450 police chiefs present representing 139 of INTERPOL's 181 member countries.

'September 11 was a catalyst for police forces worldwide and showed that a global approach is the only way forward, Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli, head of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, told delegates. 'We have not yet reached the level of integration necessary for policing in the 21st century, as we continue to face threats like international terrorism, organised crime and drugs trafficking. As we all know, the small-town drug dealer could have links to a terrorist halfway around he world,' he said.

Commissioner Zaccardelli called too for a change in police culture as well as greater efforts to engage citizens and build public confidence. 'I think we are all singing from the same songbook,' he said. ' We just need a little more harmony, and I see INTERPOL as the conductor.'

Agustin Diaz de Mera, director general o the Spanish police, urged delegates to the general assembly to seek ways to improve police cooperation and to attack the economic and political infrastructures supporting terrorist activities.

He was supported by the director of criminal investigations in Algiers, Mohammed Issaouli, who said: 'The thirst for destruction is manifest around the world, and there are no longer any moral barriers or rules of law. INTERPOL's command and cooperation centre is the best way to meet our concerns, but it must be supplied with data for it to be effective.'

Mick Deats, deputy director of the UK's national high tech crime squad, addressed the assembly on the growing threat of cyber crime. He told delegates that there is a direct correlation between political tension and cyber attacks and that there needs to be harmonisation of legislation to effectively attack this problem.