APS : Wednesday, 18 July 2018
PARIS-Officers of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) have been deployed at eight Mediterranean ports including Algeria with a view to assisting local authorities screen travelers and detect potential terrorists during the summer tourist season,
announced the Lyon-based organization in a communiqué.
Codenamed “Operation Neptune”, the counter-terrorism sea border operation addresses the threats posed by the travel of foreign terrorist fighters using Mediterranean maritime routes between North Africa and Southern Europe, as well as by people, drugs, or firearms traffickers.
Algeria, France, Italy, Morocco, Spain, and Tunisia are leading Operation Neptune with the support of INTERPOL, the World Customs Organization and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX).
In the first week of Operation Neptune, more than 350,000 searches of INTERPOL databases resulted in the detection of four suspected foreign terrorist fighters and the localization of a missing person. Countries are checking travellers’ identity and passport information against INTERPOL’s criminal databases via its I-24/7 secure global police communications network.
Stolen travel documents are a “key asset” for terrorist mobility, particularly foreign terrorist fighters returning from conflict zones.
“While much of the world’s focus on border security has been on air and land borders, potential security threats from the sea receive less attention,” said INTERPOL’s Counter Terrorism Director Patrick Stevens, stressing that “the issue of traveling foreign terrorist fighters is of concern to all INTERPOL member countries who continue to monitor the departure and return of their nationals to fight in various conflict zones.”
“Regional and global police cooperation has never been more essential against terrorism and transnational organized crime, which is why Operation Neptune is so important,” affirmed the INTERPOL official.