Interpol meeting in Nicosia

NICOSIA – The head of Interpol yesterday told a European regional conference of law enforcement chiefs that police around the world must be fully equipped to deal with the possible threat of a bioterrorism attack. «We have to look forward and prepare for new threats,» the organization’s president, Jackie Selebi, said in an opening address to Interpol’s annual conference held in Nicosia. He said Interpol’s latest anti-terrorism initiative was a global program to enhance the preparedness of law enforcement organizations to prevent and deal with bioterrorism. «We as police cannot afford to be unprepared for the eventual use of biological agents by terrorist groups.» The international law enforcement body chief warned that failing to combat bioterrorism and its ability to inflict massive casualties was not an option. «The consequences of such failure are too dire to contemplate,» he said. Selebi, attending his first regional conference since being appointed last October, said Interpol was now addressing a threat that had been «underestimated» for far too long. But at a later news conference, he was careful not to suggest that any bioterrorism attack was imminent or inevitable. «I don’t think Interpol holds any information that this particular country… on this particular day… that this, is going to happen. We simply are saying we need to be prepared for every and any eventuality,» he said. Top law enforcement officials from across Europe have gathered in Nicosia for Interpol’s annual general meeting, focused on international crisis coordination, such as the recent Asian tsunami and transborder crime. Delegates for the three-day meeting will also look at human and drug trafficking as well as at international organized crime.