New U.S. Government-Funded Biometrics Project Supports International Efforts to Counter Terrorism and Crime

Ambassador Elizabeth H. Richard joined Minister of Interior Nouhad Machnouk and Internal Security Forces (ISF) Major General Imad Osman on August 18 to announce the latest phase of U.S. Government support for Lebanon’s security and stability. The Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) is funding a $5 million upgrade to Lebanon’s existing biometrics system. This upgrade will assist Lebanon’s security services to coordinate more effectively to identify and apprehend terrorists and criminals.

Following are Ambassador Richard’s remarks as delivered:

Thank you General Osman, thank you very much, and thank you everyone for being with us today.

I am delighted to back at ISF headquarters to announce yet another milestone in our partnership to advance security and stability in Lebanon and in this region. We have spent a lot of time training together, learning investigative and incident response skills together, and sharing our best practices.

More recently we have focused on sharing more sophisticated tools and techniques that are critical to law enforcement and counter terrorism in this globalized era. As we saw yesterday with the appalling attacks in Spain, terrorism is more transnational than ever. While our hearts go out to the victims, these events only renew our determination to protect our populations and bring these terrorists to justice.

A few months ago our International Narcotics and Law Enforcement program launched with the ISF a six million dollar IT upgrade that will modernize how the ISF does business. Today, we are adding a five million dollar upgrade to the ISF’s biometrics database. This latest US Government investment in Lebanon’s security and stability is noteworthy for several reasons.

First, it will significantly improve the platform through which we share information on terrorists and criminals. Lebanon’s Automated Fingerprint Identification system (AFIS) is now at capacity and this upgrade will allow Lebanese security services, throughout the country, to maintain a current and comprehensive database with fingerprints and other data on terrorists and criminals.

But this tool is also important for the kind of cross-cutting security coordination that underlies it. What is critical to the success of this project is that Lebanon’s security services – the ISF, the Army, and the Directorate General for Security – have all agreed to utilize one consolidated database. This will help them do their individual jobs much more effectively.

As we’ve seen time and time again, in both our countries, our security services are at their best when they are actively cooperating, coordinating, and sharing information with one another.

We have a long relationship with the ISF, and we have invested over $170 million in this organization over the past ten years. But what I want to say today is that we are even more proud of the true partnership that we have built together over all this time. All the technology in the world will not replace this sense of shared mission and shared commitment to the security and stability of both our countries.

This is the hallmark of our relationship with the ISF and we could not be more proud to be partnered with you General Osman and your team than we are today.

I also want to thank our Lebanese partners, our international donor partners, especially the UK represented today as well, and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), who are all supporting this biometrics effort. This is the strong level of cooperation and collaboration that is going to mark us all for success. This is an indication of how dedicated we all are to the security of Lebanon and of this region.

So General Osman thank you again very much for today and for everything you and your troops do every day to keep us all secure.