Hindustan Times (Lucknow)

Jihadis using cruise ships for travel to avoid surveillan­ce at airports


LONDON: Would-be jihadi fighters are booking tickets on cruise ships to join extremists in battle zones in Syria and Iraq in an attempt to bypass efforts to stop them in neighbouri­ng Turkey, Interpol officials have said.

The inter national police body is preparing to expand a pilot programme known as I-Checkit, under which airlines bounce passenger informatio­n off Interpol’s databases in the hope that the system could be expanded to include cruise operators, banks and hotels.

Turkey, with its long and often porous border with Syria, has been a major thoroughfa­re for many of the thousands of foreign fighters seeking to join extremists including Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), which has captured territory across Iraq and Syria.

Speaking this week at Interpol’s general assembly in Monaco, outgoing chief, Ronald Noble, confirmed that Turkey was a destinatio­n, but declined to identify other countries. He also refused to indicate how many people might be involved, but called on countries to step up screening at all transporta­tion hubs “airports and, more and more, cruise lines”.

Turkish authoritie­s say they have set up teams to intercept suspected foreign fighters in airports and bus stations.

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