First responders on a crime scene after a terrorist attack have a critical task. Recovering, collecting and preserving evidence is imperative in identifying and bringing suspected criminals to justice. The collection, management and sharing of digital evidence is equally instrumental in preventing and investigating the use of the Internet and social media for terrorist purposes.
In this context, UNODC’s Terrorism Prevention Branch (UNODC/TPB) delivered two workshops for Lebanon on crime scene investigation management and digital evidence in terrorism-related cases. The events took place on 14-16 and 17-19 December 2020 and brought together 28 investigators, law enforcement and criminal justice officials.
The first event sought to further develop procedures regarding the identification, collection and preservation of forensic evidence in crime scenes in the aftermath of a terrorist attack. Presentations, case studies, live simulations and practical exercises during the event focused on the role and responsibilities of first responders.
Participants shared their experiences and techniques in crime scene management by giving examples from 19 terrorist attacks including explosions and bombings that recently took place in Lebanon. They also explained the steps and precautions they took in initiating crime scene walk-throughs - which is essential to formulate a plan to collect and preserve evidence – and related accounts of the documentation and evidence collection processes. Participants also shared their lessons learnt on the preservation of evidence to ensure its admissibility in court.
The second workshop introduced participants to tools and resources needed to conduct digital investigation in terrorism cases which builds on TPB’s continued efforts to strengthen the management and cross-border exchange of electronic evidence. Experts delivered a presentation on terrorist groups’ digital modus operandi in the MENA region , which also addressed advanced operating systems and complex network configurations used for terrorist activity.
This event also offered a platform for participants to share challenges they encounter when requesting electronic evidence from foreign digital service providers. “The workshop helped me better understand the intricate details related to the process of filing a request for information, while also shedding further light on UNODC tools for international cooperation and digital evidence” said one investigator from the Lebanese Army Intelligence Investigation Branch.
Lebanese judges from the Military Tribunal presented the national framework to prosecute cybercrime, allowing participants to exchange insights on the legality of data extraction processes, and share best practices related to digital forensics with Egyptian law enforcement representatives.
Both events were hosted in Egypt, with the support of national authorities, and were delivered under the framework of UNODC’s project on Strengthening the Legal Regime Against Foreign Terrorist Fighters in the Middle East North Africa and South-East Europe which is funded by the European Union.