Interpol's Internet visitations jump from 450 to more than 6,000 per day

Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO), headquartered in Lyon, France, has been a long-term subject of interest to many intelligence watchers and analysts.

Over the past few months many professionals such as staff of The Intelligence Officer, have monitored Interpol's Franco-German X400 "secure" computer network protocol which it "inherited" from the French government as part of its "forced" decentralization from the Paris suburb of Saint Cloud to Lyon. The X400 was supposedly designed to get a European (specifically, French) "foot in the door" on the international Internet protocol market. Because of its rather heavy security features (including legally-binding registered email), it was reportedly "pushed" when French and German banks employed the same system. It was also forced on a number of computer systems including Europol, the Schengen European police computer system and the Schengen Information System (SIS). This 'pushing' put SIS several years behind schedule due to serious problems with computer incompatibility. INTERPOL

In June 1999, the United Nations announced that a worldwide data base on drug trafficking had been set up jointly by the UN International Drug Control Program (UNDCP), Interpol and the World Customs Organization. The data base reportedly contained more than 10,000 records and these records will be added to on a regular basis by the three agencies. Interpol designed the computer software needed to match information and eliminate duplication or ambiguity about reported seizures and will manage the ever-enlarging database.

In early November 1999, the 68th general assembly session of Interpol opened in Seoul while seeking to encourage closer cooperation in fighting international crime. For some unknown reason, the recently-inaugurated world-wide Interpol Criminal Information Service (ICIS) was not mentioned in any section of the conference's news.

The ICIS is run by a six-man team at Interpol headquarters in Lyon and has been operating since September 1999. Interpol offices are connected directly and other police services are connected to the downgraded Automated Search Facility (ASF) version. No one inside Interpol is talking about the success or failure of the X400 as the network center piece, its installation history or its compatibility within the system. One source with knowledge of the system stated, "…at least it's installed and working."

Interpol recently announced a "Prior Information Procedure" (Document number ND 27834-2000) concerning the communications system. Apparently Interpol wants proposals for the modernization of its international network relative to telecommunications and associated services. Anyone wishing to propose something can do so by facsimile to Interpol at 33-0-4-7244-7246.

On The Positive Side
Last February, Interpol caused its own Internet traffic jam by posting photos of leading fugitives on its Web site (a rise from its weekly average of 450 to a daily 6,500 hits). The photographs included one of Saudi terrorist financier, Osama Bin Laden. The site began with 20 entries but Interpol said its 178 member states could request that files on more international fugitives might be posted there. The mug shots can be viewed right now by clicking on the two words, INTERPOL WANTED.

Interpol has also issued more than 60 "red notices" at the request of the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia. The real "coup," however, was the inclusion of four Chechen warlords, Shamil Basayev, his brother Shirvani Basayev, Adallo Aliyev andBagaudin Magomedov. Thrown in for extra measure was the Jordan-born warlord, Khattab. This request regarding the four Chechen suspects was at the insistence of Russia.

The above article (Intelligence, N.113, 13 March 2000, p.29) was substantially recomposed from an item noted in t INTELLIGENCE  a subscription by-weekly bulletin serving the world's intelligence community since 1980. Its display here was granted by its editor, to Palmer.