Interpol expanding foreign fighter database

AP News
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Posted: Sep 26, 2014 7:47 AM

PARIS (AP) — An international database of foreign fighters that started 18 months ago with little fanfare — and just three countries participating — has expanded to include 33 countries and 1,300 names, the head of Interpol said Friday, detailing new efforts to stem the flow of would-be jihadis joining extremists in Iraq and Syria.

The international police organization is also considering expanding access to its separate system of flagging lost and stolen passports — now available only to governments, border control officers and law enforcement — to banks, hotels, airlines and cruise lines, said Ronald Noble, Interpol's secretary general.

A draft resolution expected to be adopted by the U.N. Security Council would require countries to prevent the recruitment and transport of would-be foreign fighters preparing to join terrorist groups such as the Islamic State. Noble described that as a starting point, and one that could bolster the database of foreign fighters.

"The question is how we can prevent that travel and disrupt that travel," he told The Associated Press on the sidelines of a speech in Paris. "Interpol's idea is to get airlines involved, hotels involved, banks involved, cruise lines involved — to make it more difficult for these terrorists to use stolen documents with different identifies in order to move from one country to the next."

AirAsia has been testing the system since May, and 43 people have been flagged with stolen travel documents, Noble said. In France, Interpol has a small pilot project to see how it could apply in the banking system.

But he cautioned that slowing the flow of foreign fighters require that countries at the least use the systems in place. About 2,000 Europeans are estimated to have joined fighting in Iraq and Syria, but Noble said only a handful of the 26 European countries that have abolished controls at their common frontiers regularly check the Interpol database of stolen documents.

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