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Interpol Sets Up Special Terrorism Task Force - 2001-09-24

The International Criminal Police Organization, known as Interpol, has set up a special task force to coordinate efforts against terrorism, following the September 11 attacks in the United States. The announcement was made at the opening of the 70th General Assembly meeting of Interpol held in the Hungarian capital.

The four-day meeting in Budapest was originally meant to celebrate the 70th General Assembly of Interpol. But instead, police officials from around the world attending the event were in a somber mood. They began their deliberations with one minute of silence for the thousands presumed killed in the terrorist attacks against the United States.

Interpol's secretary general, Ronald Noble, reminded his audience that hundreds of police officers trying to rescue civilians were among those killed.

Terrorism will be high on the meeting's agenda, as delegates discuss how to support the United States in the battle against terrorism. Mr. Noble told reporters that Interpol has set up a September 11th Task Force at its headquarters in France. He says the task force will closely cooperate with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. "The September 11th Task Force that you refer to was created at Interpol headquarters," he said. "It was created in order to make sure that we facilitated the flow of information from Interpol offices worldwide to the FBI, to the Interpol office in Washington, D.C. And member countries from the U.K. to Germany to Italy have played a great role in helping the U.S. work out, and work through, investigative leads and information."

Mr. Noble is expected to prepare a resolution of support for the U.S. from Interpol, which comprises nearly 180 countries. Yugoslavia was added to the membership list, a decade after it lost its seat in Interpol's General Assembly, due to international sanctions.

Mr. Noble says the international community should realize that terrorist attacks are a worldwide problem. "These attacks were not just against the U.S. and U.S. citizens. Our information is that up to 80 countries - 80 countries - lost their citizens' lives as a result of this terrorist attack."

Mr. Noble and other Interpol officials have urged member states to give adequate information about the whereabouts of terrorists. They suggest that Interpol can only survive the new challenges of the 21st century, if member countries cooperate more closely than ever before.