FECL 05 (April 1992):


According to a report from New York in the Independent, "Interpol is squirming under the spotlight after chiefs of police accused it of withholding information about a Palestinian guerilla chief's visit to France this year".

The National association of Chiefs of Police (Nacop) said on Monday (2 March) that Interpol, which has its headquarters in France, knew that Georges Habash, head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, planned to enter the country for medical treatment, but the organisation failed to notify the proper authorities. Nacop also said that Interpol had admitted it did not have a file on Mr Habash, even though the PFLP has been blamed for terrorist attacks, including the 1976 hijacking of an Air France jet. Dr Habash's visit touched off one of the worst scandals to afflict the present French government.

The head of Nacop, Gerald Arenberg, said Interpol's failure showed "it is a liability to effective law enforcement and a threat to the safety and privacy of citizens around the world". Nacop, which has 11'000 members and is influential in defining US law-enforcement policies, has lobbied Congress to halt all US contributions to Interpol.

Interpol responded yesterday (4 March) by accusing Nacop of "ignorance"..."Interpol's files only contain information of a criminal nature sent by member states", Yves Barbot, the president of the organisation, said. "None of the 158 member countries, including the US, had sent such documents concerning Habash..."

Interpol... has always taken to an extreme its own rule that it should avoid all involvment in politics. However, it recently began using more modern equipment after criticism that it was ineffective in the fight against drug-smuggling, money-laundering and terrorism.

The US attack touched a raw nerve with Interpol by saying the European Community was so mistrustful of the organisation that it had set up its own police co-ordinating force, Europol. Moves to eliminate internal borders in Europe and the upheavals in the continent have forced Interpol, founded in 1923, to make a hurried readjustment. But it is a small organisation, with an annual budget of 8.7m and only about 90 police officers among its 280-member staff. Its secretary general since 1985 has been a straight-talking former Scottland Yard (i.e. from London's police force) officer, Raymond Kendall.

In recent interviews [any information on these interviews is welcome] Mr Kendall has spoken of how Interpol has evaded its own ban on investigating politically motivated crimes by distinguishing between a crime and its motive. More complicated, he said, are cases of state-sponsored terrorism".


Quoted from The Independent, 4.3.92