Biometric data from terrorist suspects arrested in joint operations involving Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso is being shared via INTERPOL to identify potential links with other terrorist attacks and suspects across the region and beyond.
On May 24, Operation Comoé took place northeast of Ferkessédougou, Côte d’Ivoire, and at the Alidougou terrorist base south of Banfora, Burkina Faso resulting in the arrest of 24 suspects in Burkina and 16 individuals in Côte d’Ivoire, who were then handed over to the intelligence services. Following a terrorist attack in Kafolo, Côte d’Ivoire on June 11, in which several soldiers were killed, a second counter-terrorism (CT) operation was conducted.
Nearly 30 suspected terrorists were arrested, including Ali Sidibe Ali aka ‘Sofiane’ who lead the attack, in addition to the seizure of weapons, ammunition, USB keys and mobile phones.
Further to a request for assistance from Côte d’Ivoire, between 12 and 17 June, specialized officers from INTERPOL’s Regional Counter Terrorism Node for Western and Central Africa (RCTN WCAF) in Abidjan trained officers from the INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB), the forensic and penitentiary services on using biometric data collection equipment.
Digital forensic support was also provided in order to analyze data collected from the seized USBs and telephones. To date, biometric data on 37 of the suspects arrested in the counter-terrorism operations has been entered into INTERPOL’s databases and circulated to all 194 member countries to identify potential links with other attacks and individuals.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is not stopping terrorist activities, which means law enforcement operations must, and will, continue to address these threats,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock.
“INTERPOL’s Regional CT Nodes mean that we can provide direct and immediate support following an attack, as well as help national authorities in charge of collecting biometric data of suspected terrorists.
“Sharing that information with our member countries then reinforces INTERPOL’s role as a global early warning system, enabling police to make connections which would otherwise not be detected,” added the INTERPOL Chief.
Biometric information gathered and shared through INTERPOL’s global network in recent years has resulted in matches between previously unconnected individuals within the Sahel and beyond.
INTERPOL’s Counter-Terrorism Criminal Analysis File (CT CAF) currently holds more than one million entities linked to terrorism (suspects, bank accounts, ID documents, weapons, means of transportation and communication, etc.), including more than 85,000 foreign terrorist fighter profiles.
The CT CAF assists member countries better identify patterns of terrorist activity, modus operandi and communication networks to assist them in building stronger CT strategies and detect new operational leads.
INTERPOL’s RCTN in Abidjan has also offered its assistance to NCB Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, to support the collection of biometric data on the other terrorist suspects arrested in the counter-terrorism operations.