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Interpol faults UK for holding back key data

The Head of Interpol Ronald Noble accuses it of failing to share info on terrorists and consulting Interpol's key database.
Reuters | By HT Correspondent
UPDATED ON JUL 10, 2007 01:13 PM IST

Britain’s counter-terrorism efforts are “in the wrong century”, head of Interpol Ronald Noble said on Monday, accusing it of failing to share information on terrorists and consulting a key database of the world police body.

The harsh criticism may come as an embarrassment to British authorities investigating the failed car bomb attacks in London and Scotland last month by suspected Islamist militants from West Asia and India. Prime Minister Gordon Brown said in a weekend interview that information held by one country on terrorist recruitment should also flow to other countries.

Terror conviction

A London court on Monday convicted three persons for a failed plot to set off bombs in London on July 21, 2005, two weeks after suicide bombings killed 52 commuters. The jury is yet to reach a verdict on three others allegedly behind the plot to trigger bomb blasts on the London transport network.

Noble said Britain had not shared such data. “The UK has not shared its terrorist watch list with Interpol,” he said in an open letter on the organisation’s website. “The UK might lose a significant investigative lead; the country consulting Interpol would obtain no or incomplete information; and those individuals on the UK terrorist watch list would remain free to plan and carry out more attacks.”

Noble also slammed British authorities’ failure to systematically check the passports of foreign visitors against an Interpol global database containing details of more than seven million lost and stolen passports. There was a “clear link between stolen passports and Al Qaeda-linked terrorist activity,” he told the BBC.

Noble has long warned that countries are playing into the hands of terrorists by failing to clamp down on the use of stolen passports. “On the other hand, all countries systematically check our bags to see if we are carrying bottles of water or other liquids. These priorities seem misplaced,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said Britain worked closely with Interpol and its Serious and Organised Crime Agency consulted the organisation’s databases on behalf of other British law enforcement agencies.

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