These days, most of us have come to expect at least some form of invasive security at almost any venue. Whether it’s the airport, Disney World, or even some stores, we know that our personal items and perhaps even our persons may be subject to a check for safety.  But what many people may not know is the level of sophistication involved in a security check at a major sporting event.

From mid-March to early April, three countries hosted visitors for the 2011 Cricket World Cup.  Those countries, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and India, collaborated with INTERPOL to check the backgrounds of almost THREE MILLION people against INTERPOL’s databases.  INTERPOL frequently deployes its Major Events Support Team (IMEST) for events such as:

  • the Olympics, 
  • FIFA World Cup, and 
  • World Bank/IMF conferences.  

The IMEST works with INTERPOL’s 24 hour Command and Co-ordination Center (CCC) to conduct instant searches of INTERPOL’s global databases.

What does this mean for the sports fans who just want to watch cricket?  It means that they should understand that they will not only undergo a search of their property and their persons at the sports venue, but also their legal standing in their respective countries prior to their arrival.

This search could result in a detention if a Red Notice is outstanding or if a diffusion has been disseminated, even if the subject is unaware of the Notice’s extistence.

In fact, INTERPOL’s queries during its deployment for the Cricket World Cup activities resulted in 150 “hits,” or matches, of persons who were in INTERPOL’s databases.  One of those was a terror suspect wanted in connection with a bombing from 2007.  His name is Iqbal Mohamed, and the steps INTERPOL took to assist in his capture, along with an update on his case, will be covered more fully in the next post.  

How exactly was his name matched?  The name and passport for foreign visitors are checked a specific inspection points in connection with the World Cup.  This information is checked against INTERPOL’s databases, including persons wanted for Red Notices and stolen or lost travel document databases.  Once a match, or hit, is found, local law enforcement officials are advised of the subject’s whereabouts, and determine whether to detain the subject.

And you thought all you had to worry about at the World Cup were the obnoxious fans behind you.

As always, comments and thoughts are welcomed.