Interpol Says That Al Qaeda Continues to Be the Largest Global Threat

By Dialogo
June 08, 2011

Al Qaeda and groups associated with its network continue to be the largest threat to global security, despite Osama bin Laden’s death, the head of Interpol said.

Airlines and other forms of public transportation are at the greatest risk, and terrorists’ use of false passports in order to travel undetected has therefore become a topic of special concern, Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble told reporters on the sidelines of an aviation industry meeting in Singapore.

“Even before bin Laden was captured and killed, the biggest threat was not only Al Qaeda, but Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist groups around the world,” he declared. “I think that remains the biggest threat now, as it was before his death,” he added.

“The airline and air industry continues to be a prime target for terrorists, but we’ve seen from recovered intelligence (…) that they are also focusing a lot on mass transit, but airlines continue to be a special target,” he declared.

A major concern, he maintained, is the use of lost or stolen passports and the fact that many countries do not check passengers’ passports against a database of lost documents.

“One out of every two international air arrivals is not being screened. That’s almost half a billion each year not being screened,” Noble said.

“We know (that) if terrorists can move from country to country without being detected, that’s a risk to all countries, and from Interpol’s perspective, that is a number-one risk affecting all countries throughout the world,” he affirmed.

He said that security agencies screened 490 million passports in 2010 and identified 40,000 that had been reported as lost or stolen. Interpol’s database, he declared, contains the details of 16 million lost passports and 12 million missing national identity documents.

“Each country should focus on those individuals they know the least about, which tend to be non-nationals,” Noble said.