US may tap Interpol databases for bin Laden search

AP News
Posted: May 11, 2011 7:45 AM
US may tap Interpol databases for bin Laden search

U.S. agencies are likely using Interpol databases to research new information found in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, Interpol's secretary-general said Wednesday.

Ronald Noble said the huge cache of intelligence "has not been shared formally or officially with Interpol" but that does not mean it is not being actively investigated using Interpol information.

"You can do a main check, a fingerprint check, a DNA check, a phone number check, an email address check, without saying it is linked to bin Laden or anti-terrorism," Noble told reporters on the opening day of Interpol's European Regional Conference.

Noble said the United States is one of the most active users of Interpol's databases, and that he expects they are already combing them for clues about past or planned terror activities.

"It is possible, it is very likely, that those consultations are happening right now," Noble said.

Information gathered in one attack may not lead to immediate answers, but can sometimes later help resolve other crimes. He cited the 2003 Casablanca attack, when a string of suicide bombings killed at least 45 people in the Moroccan city.

At the time, Interpol recovered a fingerprint that they could not identify. Later, the same fingerprint came up during the investigation of a terror bombing on coalition forces in Iraq.

"The U.S. consulted the fingerprint in the database, and connected to the two cases," Noble said.

As for the impact of Osama bin Laden's death on anti-terrorism efforts, "I believe the jury is still out," Noble said.

Besides the "classic al-Qaida" led by bin Laden, Noble said the picture is complicated by the fact that there are also groups with close ties to al-Qaida that may use training materials or camps, and other groups merely inspired by al-Qaida.

"We know from what we read, that classic al-Qaida said they will let the world hear and pay in suffering for the killing of Osama bin Laden," Noble said. "We have alerted all major countries to make sure extraordinary care is used to ensure the information is processed as quickly as possible."

Interpol is an international police network with 188 member countries.