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.

23 juillet 2018

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

13 juillet 2018

INTERPOL-led Mediterranean operation closes ranks on foreign terrorist fighters

06 avril 2018

Regions underpin our global police architecture – INTERPOL Chief

28 mars 2018

Major event security experts meet on cyber threats

22 mars 2018

INTERPOL Chief discusses security with Saudi Interior Minister

21 mars 2018

INTERPOL operation in Southeast Asia targets movement of bomb-makers

14 mars 2018

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

08 mars 2018

INTERPOL conference highlights role of women leaders in policing

13 février 2018

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

09 février 2018

Nigerian police getting increased access to INTERPOL information

05 février 2018

Les chefs d’INTERPOL et de l’ONU se saisissent des questions de sécurité mondiale

08 décembre 2017

Biometric data plays key role in fighting crime and terrorism

16 novembre 2017

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

20 octobre 2017

G7 Ministers call for sharing of battlefield data on terrorists via INTERPOL

29 septembre 2017

L’Assemblée générale d’INTERPOL adopte une politique en matière de traitement des données sur les réfugiés

26 septembre 2017

Le Président Xi Jinping ouvre l’Assemblée générale d’INTERPOL

11 juillet 2017

INTERPOL to highlight need for military to police terrorism data flow at Global Coalition meeting

10 juillet 2017

Terrorism intelligence shared via INTERPOL’s Project Kalkan strengthens global ‘early warning system’

09 juin 2017

Une opération de sécurisation des frontières menée par INTERPOL en Asie du Sud-Est permet l’arrestation de suspects recherchés au niveau international

21 avril 2017

Des milliers de policiers dans toute l’Europe participent à une opération d’INTERPOL contre les armes à feu illicites

27 mars 2017

Les Émirats arabes unis annoncent le versement de 50 millions d’EUR pour financer sept projets phare d’INTERPOL

24 mars 2017

Une énorme saisie de drogue révèle l’ampleur de la menace que constitue la criminalité organisée transnationale, selon le chef d’INTERPOL

12 mars 2017

Effective information sharing on violent extremism can save lives – INTERPOL Chief

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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