A principal concern for people who believe they may have INTERPOL problems is whether they should travel, since they don’t really know their status with INTERPOL.  It is important to ignore that little voice inside that says, “It will be okay just this once; maybe they won’t notice.”  That little voice needs to be pushed aside until a clear understanding exists of one’s status with INTERPOL.

Why? Because if there is information about a person in the possession of INTERPOL, and that information has been disseminated to INTERPOL’s member countries, here is what will happen:  INTERPOL will do its best to make sure that the person is stopped, probably detained, and possibly extradited, whether the information underlying the Red Notice is true or not.

After all, that’s in large part what INTERPOL is designed to do:  immobilize persons wanted pursuant to Red Notices.  INTERPOL is very frequently very good at what it does.  What it does is gather and disseminate law enforcement information for the purpose of fighting crime when criminal accusations have been made or proven.  What it does not do is determine innocence or guilt.

In its media release in March, INTERPOL tooted its horn about a very strong tool in its arsenal, the Major Events Support Team (IMEST).  As I mentioned in the last post, the IMEST is deployed for events such as international conferences and sporting events where security is a larger-than-normal concern.  And during the 2011 Cricket World Cup, the IMEST’s efforts paid off in the form of leading to the capture of Iqbal Mohamed, who had been the subject of a Red Notice based on his alleged connection to a 2007 terror bombing.  This is how INTERPOL did it:

  • INTERPOL already had issued a Red Notice for Iqbal Mohamed pursuant to a request by the Maldives National Central Bureau.
  • Mohamed’s name appeared on a passenger manifest for the Colombo airport, and matched the subject of the Red Notice.
  • INTERPOL confirmed Mohamed’s identity.
  • INTERPOL’s IMEST worked with the Colombo International Airport Criminal Investigations Department and the National Central Bureaus in Colombo and the Malé International Airport.
  • Mohamed was taken into custody at the Malé International Airport.

Ronald K. Noble, the Secretary General for INTERPOL, credited the IMEST with being the “x-factor” that allowed for Mohamed’s capture.

However, after Mr. Mohamed was captured based on the Red Notice, he was released after fifteen days in custody.  An investigation reportedly is still pending.

Back to the question of whether traveling with INTERPOL on your mind is a good idea.  It’s certainly possible that a Red Notice subject traveler, such as Mohamed, would not be stopped without the involvement of the IMEST, but is it really a chance worth taking?

As always, comments and thoughts are welcomed.