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.

07 febrero 2019

Rwandan President meets with INTERPOL Chief as African Regional Conference concludes

29 enero 2019

Senior Afghan officials discuss crime and terrorism with INTERPOL Chief

18 enero 2019

Detecting fake travel documents focus of INTERPOL training

17 enero 2019

Ataque a un hotel en Kenia: INTERPOL envía un equipo para ayudar en la investigación sobre el atentado terrorista

17 enero 2019

INTERPOL and UN join forces to counter exploitation of Internet for terrorist activities

15 enero 2019

INTERPOL - African Union agreement to boost fight against terrorism and organized crime

28 diciembre 2018

Strengthening global security through regional training to tackle organised crime and terrorism

14 diciembre 2018

Fugitive investigations: enhancing interregional police cooperation

10 diciembre 2018

Counter-terrorism meeting addresses border security in East Africa

05 diciembre 2018

International experts meet on potential threat posed by new technologies

18 noviembre 2018

La innovación en el ámbito policial, tema central de la Asamblea General de INTERPOL

09 noviembre 2018

Bomb scene investigation focus of INTERPOL training course

29 octubre 2018

Chemical terrorism: developing a global security network

24 octubre 2018

Protecting cultural heritage by disrupting the illicit trade

17 octubre 2018

Mali President pledges support for increased global information sharing via INTERPOL

10 octubre 2018

US Attorney General discusses global security issues with INTERPOL Chief

09 octubre 2018

INTERPOL operation targets terrorist mobility and illicit weapons in Middle East and North Africa

26 septiembre 2018

La delincuencia organizada respalda las actividades terroristas y los grandes conflictos a escala mundial

07 septiembre 2018

INTERPOL a gateway for bridging regional policing efforts says Chief

31 agosto 2018

Enhanced collaboration against crime focus of UK Home Secretary visit

30 agosto 2018

Drone technology: security threats and benefits for police focus of INTERPOL forum

29 agosto 2018

Strengthening security in Southern Africa

16 agosto 2018

Border security across ASEAN region focus of INTERPOL programme

26 julio 2018

Southeast Asia: Countering terrorist use of the Internet

23 julio 2018

G5 Sahel police leaders forging closer ties with INTERPOL to combat terrorism

13 julio 2018

INTERPOL-led Mediterranean operation closes ranks on foreign terrorist fighters

06 abril 2018

“Las regiones sustentan nuestra estructura policial mundial”, afirma el jefe de INTERPOL

28 marzo 2018

Major event security experts meet on cyber threats

22 marzo 2018

INTERPOL Chief discusses security with Saudi Interior Minister

21 marzo 2018

INTERPOL operation in Southeast Asia targets movement of bomb-makers

14 marzo 2018

Intelligence-led best practices to fight terrorism focus of INTERPOL training

08 marzo 2018

INTERPOL conference highlights role of women leaders in policing

13 febrero 2018

INTERPOL Chief and Kuwait Interior Minister discuss terrorism at Global Coalition meeting

09 febrero 2018

Nigerian police getting increased access to INTERPOL information

05 febrero 2018

Los dirigentes de INTERPOL y las Naciones Unidas tratan asuntos de seguridad mundial

Statement by INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock on the Paris attacks

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

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