Cruise Ships: Foreign Fighters Transport Undetected

In response to the risks associated with traveling by air, Interpol assesses that foreign fighters have utilized cruise ship terminals’ inconsistent security regulations to travel to Syria and Iraq undetected. Interpol and the US Coast Guard (USCG) have responded to this information with a new program and proposed set of guidelines – aiming to dissuade foreign fighters from this method of transport.

  • In 2014, retired Interpol Secretary Ronald Noble emphasized that checks to passenger lists should be extended from airlines to cruise operators, and that foreign fighters have used cruise ships to travel to countries with known terrorist activity.
  • A USCG proposal in 2014 – yet to be enacted – would require screening of all persons’ baggage and personal items, and Interpol is conducting a pilot program called “I-Checkit” to enhance detection of stolen travel documents and concealed identities.
  • Current intelligence reveals no specific threat to Cape Liberty Cruise Port in New Jersey, responsible for 320,000 passengers in 2014 – the second largest passenger volume among Northeast and Mid-Atlantic coast ports. There have not been any reported incidents by the USCG of undetected foreign fighter travel via cruise ship.

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For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Analysis Bureau at or 609-584-4000.