INTERPOL secure the Africa Cup of Nations amidst regional terror challenges


INTERPOL deployed a special intelligence support team to a high-risk terrorism zone in West Africa to support Côte d’Ivoire in maintaining a safe environment for Africa’s Cup of Nations – CAN.

From 13 January to 11 February, the Africa Cup brought 24 national soccer teams to Côte d’Ivoire to compete in the cities of Abidjan, Bouaké, Korhogo, San Pedro and the capital Yamoussoukro. The event concluded with the host nation winning the trophy, defeating Nigeria 2-1 in the final.

To make the event as safe as possible for the three million fans travelling to Côte d’Ivoire, local police worked with INTERPOL to make sure frontline officers have the global INTERPOL tools they need to detect dangerous individuals at border checkpoints.

An INTERPOL expert team worked with Côte d’Ivoire’s national police to cross-reference passenger manifests for all incoming flights against INTERPOL’s criminal databases.

The objective was to identify any suspected criminals in-flight and enable Ivorian authorities to apprehend individuals listed in INTERPOL’s databases upon their arrival.

Côte d’Ivoire is located near the Sahel region where extremist terrorist groups often clash. To prevent spill-over into Cote d’Ivoire during the CAN, police across the country were equipped to also perform biometric checks against records of suspected terrorists.

General Youssouf Kouyate, Côte d’Ivoire’s Director of National Police, said: “High profile sporting events attract significant global attention, making them great targets for terrorist groups seeking to spread fear. 

“Ensuring the safety of fans, players and support staff involves complex security operations which must necessarily go beyond national borders.

“INTERPOL’s comprehensive support to Côte d’Ivoire for this event ensures that the joy of football is not overshadowed by security threats.”

Cyril Gout, INTERPOL’s Acting Executive Director of Police Services, said: “Hosting the Africa Cup of Nations is a monumental task, but as a key part of a strong global police network of law enforcement in 196 countries, Côte d’Ivoire was not left alone to make it safe. 

“Thanks to strong international police cooperation, Côte d’Ivoire police is an essential component of a larger law enforcement family, uniting global resources and expertise to ensure the safety of all – from the local communities of Côte d’Ivoire to the international guests.”

The Abidjan INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB), which is part of Côte d’Ivoire’s national police force, also played a strategic role in making the CAN a safe place for fans.

As part of a long-term strategy to keep the country safe, the NCB ensured that sea, air, and land borders were connected to INTERPOL systems ahead of the Africa Cup so that police could spot and stop criminals trying to enter the country.

The NCB trained officers nationwide to use INTERPOL’s criminal databases and provided stadium security with mobile devices to identify potential criminals on-site. It also worked with WAPIS to facilitate comprehensive data cross-checks against national, regional, and global databases.


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