Info-sharing key to combating parcel bomb threat: Interpol

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It is impossible to check every piece of cargo shipped by air but the threat from parcel bombs can be combated by combining screening with the rapid sharing of information, the head of Interpol told AFP.

Two parcel bombs were discovered en route to the United States in late October, one in Britain and the other in Dubai, in a plot claimed by Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

"It's just impossible to screen every piece of freight or cargo you put on a plane. It would stop the system," Interpol secretary general Ronald Noble said in an interview at the 79th Interpol general assembly in Doha.

"What we need is a combination of checking systems, improving our screening capabilities and make sure that information exchange and intelligence-sharing is as fast as ever," Noble said.

The parcel bomb plot demonstrated the need for good intelligence, he said.

"Al-Qaeda has found another way to get through the detection devices that have been put in place," Noble said.

"If you don't make sure you have good intelligence, you're going to run into a situation of having your borders be threatened by bombs or terrorists."

Noble said Interpol had a key function to play in combating the threat posed by Al-Qaeda's recently demonstrated tactic of posting parcel bombs, especially in distributing information.

"Interpol has a very important role to play, first by sending out the information. We sent an orange notice all over the world with all the information we had about these packages," he said.

Additionally, "Interpol allows police to do name checks, address checks, phone number checks, email address checks, very fast. We had over 400 million consultations of our database last year."

Noble also discussed the creation of a new high-tech anti-crime centre in Singapore, which was approved by the general assembly on Tuesday, saying it was needed to address the rising threat of cyber-crime.

"We had a handful of people to deal with a problem that is increasing by a great magnitude. Right now, there are 2.5 million emails exchanged every second" and there are "35 billion digital portable devices" in use around the world.

"If the police want to get better at investigating crimes and determining how you use technology to identify people, we need to create a centre focused exclusively on that," he said.

That is "what we are going to do in Singapore. This is what I call the new frontier of fighting crime."

The general assembly meeting, which opened in the Qatari capital on Monday under the theme "Connecting Police for a Safer World," is to wrap up on Thursday.

© 2010 AFP

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