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16 November 2017

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

DJIBOUTI, Djibouti ‒ Using biometrics to identify foreign terrorist fighter networks was the emphasis of an INTERPOL Project Baobab working meeting for East African counter terrorism (CT) units.

Co-hosted by the Djibouti Police and funded by the INTERPOL Foundation for a Safer World, the three-day (14 ‒ 16 November) meeting brought together more than 40 officers from the region’s border control, immigration services and national CT units.

Participants discussed new methods for using INTERPOL capabilities to detect potential criminals traveling to East Africa to plan terrorist acts, and how to tackle Sub-Saharan terrorism through improved inter-agency cooperation at national, regional and international level.

With information-sharing key to identifying foreign terrorist fighters and preventing them from crossing borders, giving East Africa’s frontline officers access to the INTERPOL capabilities they need to tackle terrorism more effectively was also high on the agenda, along with deploying INTERPOL’s secure global police communications network I-24/7 beyond INTERPOL National Central Bureaus to enable this access.

“When we give our frontline officers direct access to biometric data such as photos, fingerprints and DNA profiles, we empower them to identify all kinds of criminals, including returning foreign fighters,” commented Colonel Abdillahi Abdi Farah, Djibouti’s police chief.

“This week’s meeting has given East African law enforcement insight into INTERPOL’s database of suspected foreign terrorist fighters and shown us how data can be analysed and shared with law enforcement across the globe, including intelligence on the foreign terrorist fighters’ capabilities, means and emerging trends,” added the police chief.

Countries taking part in the Baobab meeting included Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

Representatives from the following entities also took part in an observer capacity: Djibouti Financial Intelligence Unit, US Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), UNODC, US Embassy Djibouti, United States Africa Command (US AFRICOM).

Part of INTERPOL’s Counter Terrorism programme, Project Baobab is aimed at boosting the exchange of counter terrorism information in the Sub-Saharan region of Africa. It enables countries to identify transnational groups, reduce their mobility, track their illegal weapons and disrupt their financial streams.

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