INTERPOL trains Asian and South Pacific officials in bioterror threat prevention

A recent "Train-the-Trainer" session for the prevention of bioterrorism presented by INTERPOL was attended by law enforcement, customs and public health officials from Asia and the South Pacific.

The course, which carried a goal of enhancing the capacity of regional INTERPOL member countries to prevent and prepare for bioterror threats, was attended by 38 participants from 16 countries.

Attending nations included American Samoa, Bhutan, Cambodia, Fiji, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Laos, Maldives, Macao, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka and Timor Leste.

Trainers from INTERPOL, the World Health Organization, the Australian Federal Police, the United States Sandia Laboratories, the New South Wales Police in Australia, the FBI, the U.K. Metropolitan Police and the United States Center for Disease Control led the course, which was sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

John Abbot, chairman of the INTERPOL Bioterrorism Steering Group Committee, called preparation and planning for bioterrorism threats the key to preventing them, noting that knowing what to do if a bioterror attack happens, is suspected or threatened, is an essential part of every country's counterterrorism strategy.

“Terrorist groups have talked of developing the capability of using biological weapons," Abbot said. "There is evidence of terrorist groups and individuals experimenting and using bio-weapons, and the increasing development of the bio-sciences is providing a range of potential opportunities for such people or groups.”

“This is what the INTERPOL prevention of bioterrorism programme is about. Supporting and assisting countries to be better prepared to prevent bioterrorism. To help them understand the issues better; to assist in developing their national plans, to train all staff and to exercise all the agencies and government departments that will be involved. And to understand what assistance can be expected internationally.”