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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Dubai Interpol summit told dark web drug deals and 'new dimension' of cyber crime pose great threat

At this week's General Assembly in the emirate, a new Interpol president will also be chosen — after Chinese incumbent Meng Hongwei was arrested on corruption charges

Secretary General of Interpol Jurgen Stock poses for a photograph at the Interpol headquarters in the southern French city of Lyon on November 8, 2018. / AFP / JEFF PACHOUD
Secretary General of Interpol Jurgen Stock poses for a photograph at the Interpol headquarters in the southern French city of Lyon on November 8, 2018. / AFP / JEFF PACHOUD

Terrorist attacks orchestrated in stealth and drug deals made by the click of a mouse on the "dark net" are adding a dangerous new dimension of crime, according to the chief of international police agency Interpol.

Jeurgen Stock, general secretary of the organisation, speaking on the first day of the Interpol General Assembly in Dubai, said police needed to embrace technology and innovation to stay a step before sophisticated cyber criminals.

The German law enforcement officer said the "underground economy and dark net" are providing stern challenges for international police forces

“With the dark net and underground economy you can simply click a button to buy drugs. You can also buy hacking tools or organise a terrorist group through the internet, which is a new dimension of crime,” he said.

“Modern policing needs to be innovative to fight this and the UAE is the perfect example of this because it has already invested heavily in smart policing.”

As well as addressing global threats head on, the organisation has also faced its own internal challenges in recent weeks.

A new president for Interpol will be elected at the general assembly in Dubai after previous incumbent Meng Hongwei resigned from his post weeks after vanishing following a plane journey from France to China.

FILE - In this July 4, 2017, file photo, Interpol President Meng Hongwei delivers his opening address at the Interpol World congress, in Singapore. Chinese authorities say they are investigating the former president of Interpol for bribery and other crimes and indicate that political transgressions may have also landed him in trouble. In a statement posted on a government website Monday, Oct. 8, 2018, the authorities said Meng Hongwei, China's vice minister for public security, was being investigated due to his own "willfulness and for bringing trouble upon himself." (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)
Interpol President Meng Hongwei quit in October, weeks after he vanished after a plane journey from France to China. AP

It later emerged he had been arrested and detained by Chinese authorities over corruption allegations.

Mr Stock did not speculate on the circumstances surrounding the first Chinese head of Interpol's exit from the organisation, saying the global police agency had to press forward and appoint a new president.

“On October 7 we received the resignation of our former president, on the same day we received information from the Chinese ministry of public security that our former president was not a delegate for Interpol any more,” he said.

“We had to take the measures to ensure the functioning of the organisation and we will not just be electing executive committee members at this year’s general assembly.”

The general assembly, which is taking place in Dubai for the first time, is in its 67th year. Almost 1,000 delegates from 171 countries are expected to take part in the four-day event, which ends on Wednesday.

Mr Stock, from Germany, told The National that the sophisticated technology available to criminals has created unique challenges for law enforcement agencies.

“Dubai is the perfect place to talk about how we can strengthen our early warning systems when it comes to preventing cyber crime and terrorist activity," he said.

Jürgen Stock, general secretary Interpol, and Major General Abdullah Al Marri, commander-in-chief of Dubai Police, pictured on the first day of the Interpol General Assembly in Dubai. Courtesy: Interpol
Jürgen Stock, secretary general of Interpol, and Major General Abdullah Al Marri, commander-in-chief of Dubai Police, pictured on the first day of the Interpol General Assembly in Dubai. Courtesy: Interpol

“The traditional way in which dealers are trafficking their drugs is still ongoing but the dark net and underground economy are creating new challenges for global law enforcement agencies,” he said.

“Society is changing, you just have to look at how the internet is being utilised in everyday life. This creates unprecedented opportunities for criminals to access private computers.

“Now there are also opportunities for criminals all over the world to attack our critical infrastructures such as health systems and water supply, which are controlled by the internet.”

Mr Stock said this is constantly creating new challenges for police forces all over the world.

“It is a huge challenge because police agencies are constantly having to invest in capabilities and new expertise,” he said.

He said that it was vital that police forces across the region work together to combat crime.

“The network of police services around the world has been growing over the last number of decades,” he said.

“The exchange of information is crucial. No country can face these challenges by themselves and the UAE is a perfect example to other nations, since it joined the organisation in 1973 it has consistently shown its support to Interpol.”

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Close to Dh4 billion lost to cybercriminals last year

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