On 12-14 November 2018, Euromed partners gathered on the occasion of a fourth capacity-building action to intensify the work begun in the field of counter-terrorism. Whereas the three previous practical activities dealt with investigations on the internet and digital evidence, Euromed Police is now addressing one of the most urgent and serious threats in the Euro-Mediterranean area: foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) and how to improve their detection at borders.
The idea of organising an exchange on the FTFs’ issue emerged from the discussions previously held in Madrid, Spain, in January 2018 during Euromed Police’s first exchange on counter-terrorism. Back then, experts from Euromed partner countries and Member States of the European Union had considered FTFs as a major concern for the Mediterranean area, while there was a need to improve the capabilities of competent authorities for detecting them. Therefore, an exchange of expertise focusing on this particular topic should be organised.
In close coordination with the Algerian Directorate General for National Security (DGSN) and hosted in the premises of the Command and Control Centre in Algiers, this three-days-programme gathered more than 30 specialists knowledgeable in different fields that are relevant to FTFs’ detection such as sources of information, internet intelligence, the use of Interpol’s database, collaboration with airline companies, identification of counterfeit documents and passports, bilateral police co-operation at borders and operational analysis.
Through a combination of presentations and field visits, the experts discussed the main challenges and proposed an action plan. Each session had a practical perspective, with the ultimate objective of improving operational efficiency of law enforcement grassroot practitioners in detecting FTFs.
Nice examples of how modern technology and strategic thinking combined with international cooperation and support will help to make this world a better place, said one of the participant experts.
The sessions were conducted by specialists from the Algerian DGSN and other South Partner Countries, EU Member States as well as EU and international agencies such as Europol’s European Counter-Terrorism Centre (ECTC) and Interpol. From the Southern shore of the Mediterranean, Algeria but also Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Palestine offered their counterparts to learn from their experience. Spain, France, the Netherlands and Romania have also sent representatives of their respective national counter-terrorism units.
International cooperation and strategic thinking can increase the efficiency of police action: information exchange on emerging trends in the regional criminal landscape combined with quality analyses allows to anticipate and react properly to the evolution of terrorist organisations’ modi operandi. For this reason, the Euromed Police Project has chosen to combine the regular organisation of capacity-building activities with a region-wide threat assessment process, the Euromed Threat Assessment (EMTA).
On this matter, on 15 and 16 November 2018 the Algerian Command and Control Centre was also the scene of the 5th Meeting of the Euromed Analysis Network dedicated to the EMTA.
The EMTA gathers strategic information from Euromed partners from the Southern Mediterranean on the trends of organised crime in their respective countries, offering a vision and a wider regional approach on the interrelations between the various criminal phenomena. Its ultimate aim is to adapt police methods in light of the developments observed in the criminal landscape. The first draft of the EMTA was presented at the Euromed Police High-Level Meeting in September 2018. The EMTA’s second version was presented and examined in Algiers, building upon new contributions from the different delegations.
In addition, the reunion of the members of the Analysis Network, the so-called AnaSpocs, provided the opportunity to reflect on the methodology and the future of the EMTA. The final document, which will constitute one of the project’s flagship product, should be finalised in the first half of 2019.
The EMTA is inspired by modern threat assessment methods developed by Europol, the EU law enforcement agency specialised in handling criminal intelligence. Building upon the idea that police action is more efficient when based on systematic identification and analysis of the threats at the national, sub-regional or regional levels, the EMTA is aimed at defining more targeted and agile operational action plans to tackle criminal activities. Furthermore, convergence between threat assessment methods from the Southern and Northern shores of the Mediterranean is an opportunity for joint actions based on shared interest.