Interpol chief hails cooperation with MENA security services

Interpol chief says cooperation with the MENA region on cybercrime is strong on sidelines of fourth Meeting for Chiefs of Police from the Middle East and North Africa held in Morocco.

MARRAKESH - Interpol's Secretary General Jürgen Stock hailed the cooperation of his organisation with regional security services against cybercrime, at the fourth Meeting for Chiefs of Police from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) held in Morocco’s ochre city of Marrakesh.

“In the hyper connected world, we are currently experiencing the fourth industrial revolution which is very beneficial for our economies but also providing unprecedented opportunities for criminals who attack our critical infrastructures and companies,” warned Stock.

“Interpol’s cooperation with the MENA region on cybercrime is quite strong,” said the Interpol chief during a joint press conference with Mohammed Dkhissi, Morocco’s head of the judicial police.

Stock said that his organisation was providing necessary training and technical support, such as training cybercrime police in the MENA region to monitor the Darknet. He added that this was a “win-win” situation.

“We are contributing from the experience of member countries like Morocco… we can give expertise and support to our members,” said Stock.

“I’m very grateful for the intensive cooperation which is needed to tackle this kind of crime,” he added.

Dhkissi said that Morocco’s cybercrime experts are training their colleagues in the MENA region and some African countries,

“Morocco is a leading country in the fighting cybercrime in the region, whether it’s cyberjihad or sextortion, and all other crimes that are related to modern technologies,” said Dkhissi.

The MENA region is particularly vulnerable to cyber-attacks, at a time when cyber space is developing into a new major theatre for geopolitical interaction, according to a paper released by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation last July.

“Most of the region's national cyber security strategies (if existing) are younger than a decade old, and governmental authorities in charge of national cyber security are being established gradually in recent years,” said the paper, calling on MENA countries to develop solid and sustainable National Digital Security Strategies, including the set-up of National Computer Emergency Response Teams.

Only four countries from the MENA region - Lebanon, Morocco, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – have signed the Paris Call for Trust & Security in Cyberspace.

The French-led Paris Call, which was launched in November 2018, is an agreement on nine fundamental cybersecurity principles and a commitment to work together to promote a safe and secure cyberspace for all.

It is the largest cybersecurity-focused, multi-stakeholder commitment in the world.

Dkhissi, who is also the head of the Interpol Office in Rabat, highlighted Morocco’s great achievements of its security apparatus thanks to proactive operations that contributed to the dismantling of several terrorist and criminal projects and the fight against various types of crime.

Police chiefs of the MENA region
Group photo of police chiefs of the MENA region at Kenzi Menara Palace hotel in Marrakesh

“These remarkable achievements have earned the Kingdom great recognition from the international community,” said Dkhissi.

During the opening of the meeting, Dkhissi expressed Morocco's willingness to strengthen the exchange of information with the representatives of the countries present as well as with Interpol.

The Interpol chief said that the meeting was an occasion to reflect on how law enforcement officials can collectively address some of the threats that undermine the stability of societies and threaten the well-being of innocent citizens across the region.

“I believe this begins by sending a strong message to criminals and fugitives from around the world – that they will not find safe havens across our borders,” Stock told the police chiefs.

He stressed that Interpol activities in support of the MENA region continue unabated, strengthening “our collective understanding of the threat landscape, while supporting the collection and dissemination of intelligence by your agencies.”

Stock called for consolidating collective databases to help law enforcement track and prohibit the movement of criminals across borders.

“During Operation Neptune II, coordinated by Interpol in cooperation with six countries across Mediterranean ports - gateways to North Africa - those databases have allowed for the successful detection of 12 terror suspects earlier this year,” he noted.