24 November 2015

Interpol on the frontlines against terrorism?

Middle East Eye

From 18-20 November, the Spanish city of Seville hosted the sixth Interpol Counter-Terrorism Working Group Meeting on Foreign Terrorist Fighters. Interpol is the world’s largest international police organisation.

According to the Interpol website, the encounter was meant to enable participants from approximately 40 countries “to exchange best practice on how to address and neutralize the threat posed by ISIS and other terrorist groups using expertise gained in the wider conflict zone as a platform to train and plan attacks against Western and other targets”.

Of particular concern are terrorists who, having departed from Europe itself to join the fight, later bring their expertise back home.

An article about the meeting in Spain’s El Pais newspaper reports Interpol’s calculation that, of an estimated 25,000 international fighters, less than one-fourth have been identified - the majority of them in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Hence the apparent need for ever-tighter collaboration and information-sharing between countries fighting on behalf of “civilization,” as Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz characterised the showdown at his inaugural address in Seville.

Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock stressed in his own speech that “information is key to the police battle”. Two days later, it seemed a key battle had already been won on that front; an Interpol news brief announced that Stock had “welcomed the decision by European Union ministers for all EU external border control points to be connected to Interpol’s global databases and for automatic screening of travel documents to be introduced by March 2016”.

In other words, welcome to the age of Even Bigger Brother - and even smaller spaces in which human rights and civil liberties may be asserted. READ MORE AT MIDDLE EAST EYE.