LYON-DAKAR, 21 December 2020 – INTERPOL says several terrorists have been arrested and weapons, ammunition and contraband fuel seized in a joint operation with the United Nations across Africa’s Sahel Region.
The week-long operation code-named Operation KAFO II was jointly coordinated by the UN Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL).
Operation KAFO II targeted airports, seaports, land borders and illegal gold mining sites in Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Niger.
More than 260 officers from police, customs and other national services in the four countries participated in the operation from November 30 through last December 6.
The officers checked over 12,000 individuals, vehicles, containers and goods against international criminal databases, and carried out physical searches.
“Several suspected terrorists” were arrested, according to United Nations News, which adds that the operation also intercepted 50 firearms, more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition and over 40,000 sticks of dynamite as well as 28 detonator cords.
UNODC told United Nations News that investigations are underway in efforts to build a strong case for the prosecution of those arrested.
Dynamite and detonator cords are widely used across West Africa and the Sahel by illegal gold miners.
INTERPOL appears to be claiming that illegal gold mining is a masked new source of funding for armed groups in West Africa and the Sahel, as well as a recruitment ground for terrorists and armed bandits.
An association of small scale, artisanal illegal gold miners with members in all four countries has challenged the characterization by INTERPOL as constituting “giving your dog a bad name in order to hang it”.
Operation KAFO II also prides itself of seizing 1,500 kilograms of cannabis and the plant-based stimulant drug khat; some 60,000 liters of contraband fuel, and more than 2,000 boxes of contraband medical drugs.
“Joint UN-INTERPOL operation disrupts firearms supply to terrorist networks in West Africa and Sahel,” a headline in UN News read.
“Operation KAFO II shows the need to connect the dots between crime cases involving firearms and terrorists across different countries,” said Jurgen Stock, the Secretary General of INTERPOL, an inter-governmental organization based in Lyon, France, with 194 member countries.