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24 Jun, 2009 22:34

World’s security services meet to counter terrorism

Security services from nearly 60 countries met in the Russian city of Irkutsk to discuss ways of strengthening anti-terrorism cooperation and creating an effective system of information exchange.

America’s FBI, Israel’s Mossad and Germany’s BND were just a few of the agencies that turned up in Irkutsk to discuss the problems of countering international terrorism

“One of the most important techniques and methods we have to prevent terrorist attacks is of course getting the right intelligence, and since terrorist groups work across borders, we have to have mechanisms which enable countries to share intelligence,” said Mike Smith, executive director of the UN counter-terrorism executive directorate.

Russia has not been immune to terrorism. In the last two months alone there has been a string of attacks in the Caucasus region. And, of course, there was the recent assassination attempt against the president of the country’s southern Republic of Ingushetia.

“Combating terrorism on one's own is possible but very difficult, especially when we are talking about mercenaries, terrorists who migrate all over the world,” said Aleksandr Bortnikov, director of Russia’s Federal Security Service. “There are foreign mercenaries in the territory of North Caucasus. Of course, having comprehensive intelligence is only possible when there is exchange of information among partners involved.”

The idea for this unusual annual gathering was first raised by the Russian Federal Security Agency eight years ago, and Russia has hosted the annual event ever since.

This time, several new members decided to join the club. Among them are India, still reeling after the attacks in Mumbai, and Brazil, which decided not to wait for terrorists to knock on its door.

“Although Brazil does not suffer from terror acts, we want to express full solidarity with countries that have been hit by terrorists,” said Wilson Roberto Trezza, head of Brazil’s intelligence agency. “Brazil wants to help fight terrorism on the regional and international levels.”

The security services attending this year’s meeting noted that they have managed to move beyond words, and have established joint anti-terrorism programs. Two of the most important examples are the creation of a single international database on terrorist organizations and the adoption of an agreement on conducting joint operations.

The latest developments show that terrorism remains the top international security problem, and such annual meetings are a unique opportunity for the security services to synchronize their efforts.

Participants said that previous meetings helped prevent more terrorist acts from being committed, and that is now vital to broaden cooperation on counter-terrorism even further.