By Walid Ramzi
Algeria announced last week that the nation’s counter-terrorism agencies successfully thwarted several terrorist plots by providing intelligence to international partners.
“We were able to save souls in several countries thanks to intelligence contained in security files provided by Algerian counter-terrorism judicial officers,” said Mohamed Amara, general manager of judicial and legal affairs with the justice ministry. Amara declined to name the countries that benefited from the information but said it was shared through Interpol.
Amara’s statement came during an October 11th workshop organised by the Algerian justice ministry in co-operation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Interpol. Thirty judges and police officers took part in the event.
The conference was the sixth to be organised under the auspices of UNODC in co-operation with the Algerian justice ministry and brought together experts from Belgium, France, Canada and Interpol.
The goals of the workshop were to ensure global co-operation to combat organised crime using more effective methods and to share experiences and information between different countries and organisations in the field, according to Amara. He added that the judge’s role shouldn’t be restricted to receiving the crime file, but should also play a preventive role by uncovering international links.
“We can discover an external extension of organised crime, given that criminals now use the latest technologies,” he said.
UNODC counter-terrorism official Walter Gehr said that his office had been working with Algeria since 2003. Gehr stressed the need to set up “a communication network” between various countries and organisations.
The UN representative lauded the role that Algeria has played in combating terrorism, noting that it has helped many countries thwart attacks. “Algeria was the eighth country worldwide, and the first country in Africa, to ratify all global counter-terrorism agreements,” Gehr said.
Canadian ambassador Geneviève des Rivières also had encouraging words for Algeria’s counter-terror efforts.
“We hope to enhance our co-operation with Algeria and other Sahel countries in order to identify shortcomings, find solutions and mobilise resources to enhance counter-terrorism capabilities,” she said.
She added that her country has strongly supported the global counter-terrorism forum, which Algeria and Canada took part in launching in New York last September. At that time, a taskforce jointly chaired by Algeria and Canada was established to enhance counter-terrorism capabilities in Sahel. That taskforce is scheduled to hold its first meeting on November 16th-17th in Algiers.
Meanwhile, Fahem El Mansouri, head of Interpol’s Middle East and North Africa division, noted the efficiency of Interpol office in Algeria which co-operates on a daily basis with Interpol headquarters. He said that special bulletins on terrorism and crime have been posted and an operations room created.
El Mansouri said that Interpol’s work in the region is currently focused on arresting Moamer Kadhafi, monitoring arms trafficking and movement in Sahel, and the security threats that may result from these weapons falling into the hands of terrorists.
Algeria is currently seeking more than 100 criminals through Interpol, many of them involved in cases of terrorism.