Kampala. Police chiefs from Interpol and Eastern Africa countries are meeting in Kampala to build a database to identify, profile and disrupt terrorists entering the region after fighting in foreign countries such as Iraq and Syria.
The Inspector General of Police, Martins Okoth-Ochola, said in his speech read by Assistant Inspector General of Police Fred Yiga, that police should ensure that foreign fighters are apprehended before they join local extremist groups.
“The activities of foreign fighters isn’t localised in Syria and Iraq, but global in nature. A number of individuals travel across the borders to join violent extremist groups while others seek military training and return to join local groups. This region isn’t exceptional to these kinds of activities and it is critical that the movement and identities of such individuals are established in order to check their movement and activities,” Mr Ochola said.
The meeting centred on border control challenges in the fight against terrorism in the eastern Africa region, was attended by police chiefs from 11 Eastern Africa countries, including Sudan and Mozambique.
It comes at the time when Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in Democratic Republic of Congo and al-Shabaab in Somalia are gaining momentum. United Nations reports indicate that both get funding outside the eastern Africa region.
After the meeting, the police chiefs will have established a database to track the funders of terrorist groups in the region, where they get logistics and how they can disrupt their propaganda machinery and network.
Experts from Interpol, International Organisation for Migration and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime are helping in the forming of the counter terrorism initiative.
Mr François Perrenoid, the head of Interpol East Africa, said Interpol has set up tools to track terrorist fighters and urged countries to use them.
“We have foreign fighters’ analysis file and we have over 40,000 entries of possible terrorists. Uganda is one of the first countries in Africa to participate in these analytical database. There is also a blue (Interpol) notice for locating terrorists travelling,” Mr Perrenoid said.
Mr Perrenoid said they are using the same tools to better know the dangers al-Shabaab can develop outside Somalia.
He said after the meeting, they will be able to have measures to protect the region from the terrorist groups.