January 22, 2020
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    Lankan terror suspects now on Interpol FTF list

    August 28, 2019

    Sri Lanka has received the green light from Interpol to have access to the Interpol Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) list and that from now on, local terror suspects would be included in the list as well.Interpol Secretary-General Jürgen Stock is currently in Sri Lanka and he met with President Maithripala Sirisena, yesterday. He also met with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Acting IGP. Right after the Easter Sunday attacks, a five-member Interpol team arrived in the country to assist the Sri Lankan authorities with the investigations. Interpol has a membership of 194 countries.

    Addressing a media briefing in Colombo, yesterday, Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock said, “Our discussions have been extremely useful as we look toward continued strong cooperation in the future. Immediately after the Easter Sunday bombings, Sri Lanka requested Interpol’s assistance, and an Incidence Response Team (IRT) was deployed. It was the first international team on the ground when they arrived on April 23.”

    “The team included expertise in areas such as counter-terrorism, explosives, analysis, and disaster victim identification. From the moment the IRT arrived, the support received from the Sri Lankan authorities was excellent. The IRT working on the ground with investigators also meant that any international requests for information in relation to the investigation could be made instantaneously, as well as checks against Interpol’s global databases,” he said; “Cooperation beyond the IRT’s deployment resulted in the arrest of one of the alleged ring leaders, Ahmed Milan Ayatul Mohammed, in the Middle East, following the publication of an Interpol red notice.”

    The Interpol Secretary-General said that the threat of terrorism is global and that law-enforcement cannot focus on any one ideology. With any form of extremism, the fundamentals are the same, he added.

    “Attacks are often carried out in a similar fashion: soft targets and high-powered weapons. They are common elements. The individuals are highly radicalised and they gain access to weapons including explosives. They are mobile and have access to resources whether online or through direct contacts. There has been a crime, there is a crime scene, and law enforcement needs to track each of the threats. This is where Interpol can play an important role in supporting its 194 member countries,” Stock added.

    The Interpol network provides a global tripwire, particularly through the use of their global databases, which contain almost 100 million records—including details of more than 50,000 foreign terrorist fighters.He thanked Sri Lanka for the support rendered to the visiting Interpol team during their visit.

    The Interpol team has been operating in several areas and supporting the local investigators in gathering evidence, and also the identification of the remains found at the crime scene.Speaking to the media subsequent to the briefing, Director of the Interpol Office in Sri Lanka, SP Ranjith Wedasinghe said that after the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka, Interpol had offered their assistance to Sri Lanka and, upon approval by the local authorities, five Interpol members had arrived in the country two days after the attacks.

    “There were explosives experts and disaster victim identification experts in the team. In a disaster where there are bodies which are beyond recognition, there are certain techniques which are used to identify the bodies. In addition, a digital forensic analyst was also included in the Interpol team, as well as a counter-terrorism expert.

    When asked if any of the Sri Lankan terrorists had been on the Interpol terrorist list prior to the attacks, Wedasinghe said that until the attacks, no Sri Lankan was on the identified terror list. “Prior to the Easter Sunday attacks, Sri Lanka was not connected to the Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) list. We did not feed our data into the Interpol database. However, now we have requested for access to this database and we have received the green light to join the Interpol Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) database.”

    He also said that the Secretary-General had been impressed with the progress made by the country in a very short time period after the attacks and wanted to use Sri Lanka as a success story where other member countries could follow the Sri Lankan example.“Sri Lanka was the first country in the region to join Interpol on July 18, 1950, as we had the oldest police force in the region,” Wedasinghe noted.











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