ATLAS is a pilot project which aims to prevent non-state actors from planning and carrying out chemical weapons attacks by developing and implementing training programmes in Morocco and Tunisia. Designed within the framework of the European Union CBRN Centres of Excellence (CoE) Initiative, the ATLAS project is implemented by UNICRI in cooperation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and with the financial support of the United States Department of State.
The FBI is the lead US federal agency responsible for investigation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) threats. For chemical related WMD threats, FBI programmes and initiatives are specifically aimed at preventing, detecting, deterring, and disrupting the acquisition, production, and utilization of chemicals and their precursors by violent non-state actors.
Chemical weapons (CW) have the potential to cause great harm and represent an appealing prospect for violent non-state actors due to their potential to generate widespread fear. Since the defeat of Da’esh in Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic and the dispersal of fighters to other nearby regions, the threat of chemical weapon attacks by non-state actors has increased in North Africa.
Objectives and activities
To address the growing CW risk in North Africa, ATLAS aims at preventing violent non-state actors from planning and conducting CW attacks by focusing on intelligence-led operations and investigations. The main objective of the project is to develop and implement training curricula for law enforcement, state security and chemical regulatory authorities, as well as to foster interagency and regional cooperation.
UNICRI, in cooperation with the FBI, will prepare, plan and carry out training curricula for security services and law enforcement. Training curricula will be developed in coordination with relevant ministries of partner countries and will be based on countries’ identified training needs. The training curricula will also dedicate special attention to the methodology needed to conduct national training, so that experts trained as part of the project can develop skills to train their peers on the same topics.