Interpol program for fighting terrorism through biometrics deployed in Cameroon
The International Police Organization, Interpol, says it has deployed its Project First to Cameroon to enable law enforcement officers in the country record the biometric data of prisoners convicted of offences related to terrorism.
Project First is an initiative by Interpol which entails collecting ‘Facial, Imaging, Recognition, Searching and Tracking’ data (making up the ‘First’ acronym) to enable countries collaborate on trailing foreign terrorist suspects by sharing such biometric and other vital information with one another.
According to a tweet from Interpol, the biometrics of more than 500 inmates were captured during the Cameroon mission and stored in the organization’s database.
The tweet mentions that Blue Notices were then issued on the persons identified. Blue Notices are international alerts given by Interpol for the collection of additional information about an individual’s identity, activities and location in relation to a reported crime.
In a blog post, Interpol explained that the latest deployment of Project First to Cameroon is part of agency efforts to continue to add up the amount of biometric data and battlefield information available to the police to enable those in the frontline with direct access to terrorism-related data so they can detect and positively identify members of transnational terrorist groups.
Biometric data such as facial images and photos, Interpol explains, are important as they can help law enforcement officers easily identify criminal suspects who use synthetic identity, and track them down for arrest and prosecution.
Per the organization, the project involves the training of law enforcement officers to capture the biometrics of prisoners convicted of terrorism-related crimes using mobile devices, and having the data stored on Interpol’s database. The data can then be cross-referenced when the need arises.
Interpol says it is also working within the context of the Project First to bridge the information gap between the battlefield and police investigations, through a military-to-police information sharing model (Mi-Lex) which it developed.
Interpol has in the past reiterated the need for more biometric data sharing in order to effectively tackle transnational crime. It has also used biometrics in the Sahel of Africa, for instance, to fight jihadist terrorism.
Security during AFCON
Meanwhile, Interpol said in another tweet that as part of its support to Cameroon to ensure maximum security throughout the 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations that kicked off in the country on Sunday, its team has been deployed to work with Cameroonian security officials.
The body said in order to keep fans, teams and citizens safe, its counter-terrorism unit has been on the ground training law enforcement officers to boost CT capabilities and identify improvised explosive devices and other explosives.
The AFCON is unfolding in Cameroon amid some security concerns due to an ongoing armed conflict in the country’s two English-speaking regions.