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The FBI's reaction to New Zealand attacks shows its quiet global reach



The FBI declined to comment on the size of the footprint it has set up in the small Pacific state more than 6,000 miles from the continental United States, illustrating both the reach and the cautious international stance of the Crime Corps.

A law enforcement agency tells CNN that the bureau has also searched the agency's intelligence agencies for information that might be of value to New Zealand investigators.

"It's not the FBI's way to publicize overseas efforts," said Gina Osborn, a retired deputy FBI assistant who led one of the office's international response teams. "We answer help every day, but there is no reason to report it."

While the FBI's domestic operations involving protection of the homeland from national security and criminal threats are well known, its overseas operations involving deployed personnel worldwide are less well-known. This work is supported by agents and analysts in the US who are used to support specific investigations.

"There is no typical day with the FBI overseas," said Gib Wilson, a retired legal attaché who served in Belgium, India and the Philippines. "At the same time you're trying to continue the FBI investigation, help our international partners, and work with intelligence agencies to stop dangerous threats, they really are the linchpin in so many investigations to protect innocent people around the world. "

Long-standing global presence

According to the FBI, the office's worldwide presence dates back to the pre-CIA era of World War II, when President Franklin Roosevelt ordered government agencies to collect information the Nazis. The first representative was sent to Bogota in 1

941, followed by London, Ottawa and Mexico City.

According to the FBI, the agency currently has legal attaché offices and branch offices in nearly 90 countries, whose employees are employees who travel multi-year in more than 180 countries, territories and islands. These dedicated representatives fall within the purview of the American ambassador appointed in a particular country and serve as members of the "Country Team" – the collection of representatives of US agencies assigned to embassies.

"By expanding our international presence, we have been able to build long-term relationships with our overseas partners," said George Piro, FBI's Special Agent, last year while speaking at the State Department's Foreign Press Center. "We at the FBI know how important it is to exchange information, but also to share best practices, training and teaching – not just from our point of view, but also from our overseas partners."

Like Piro and other experts It should be noted that a significant part of the work of agents and analysts abroad involves training in areas such as behavioral analysis, conducting interviews, crime scene processing and the use of digital evidence.

"Working overseas never stops"

"Building capacity by the FBI overseas never ceases," said Megan Stifel, chief officer at the Atlantic Council, who previously worked as a lawyer DOJ's National Acting Security Division. "US law enforcement works with foreign governments long before critical events to educate them about the value of the evidence and to effectively collect and use it to investigate crime."

Once a crime or terrorist act occurs abroad, FBI investigation assistance is often requested by partner countries. If an incident directly affects the US and violates an American citizen or company overseas, the office may open its own case.

For this investigation, the office maintains in four of its field offices – Los Angeles, Miami, Washington, and New York – extraterritorial squads responsible for deploying overseas personnel to investigate threats against American interests and prosecute alleged offenders either in American or foreign courts.

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Although these squads are tasked with enforcing US extraterritorial laws, they do not have a unilateral authority overseas. "The FBI is not just hopping on a plane and starting an investigation into a foreign country," said Osborn. "Rather, every step must be coordinated with the host country beforehand."

A typical example of the work of an FBI extraterritorial force supporting foreign partners was the agency's role in assisting Indian investigators following the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, which led to the deaths of nearly 200 civilians.

In This Case Investigator Looking for the origins of a terrorist cell, it has been discovered that the engine of a boat that landed invaders in India was made by Yamaha, a global company with offices in the United States. The FBI subpoenaed the company to seek cooperation to locate the original point of sale for the engine at a site in Pakistan. This information was then forwarded to the Indian authorities.

"This example illustrates one of the many ways in which US law enforcement agencies are helping to solve international crime," said Bryan Schilling, a former national security lawyer with the FBI who helped with the investigation in Mumbai. "The FBI can provide frequent and prompt lead information to help foreign law enforcement agencies with on-the-ground investigations through domestic resources and judicial authorities, and there are restrictions on passing on information about US persons, but on serious incidents and cross-border crime. Often, there is a US nexus that the FBI can investigate. "

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undisputed, especially when a seemingly routine offer of assistance has found the agency in the middle of the foreign policy turmoil. In 2015, the FBI was asked to help the authorities in the Maldives detect an explosion aboard a boat with the President of the Archipelago Nation. The president's allies declared the incident was an assassination attempt, alleging allegations by the FBI and other international investigators that the explosion was not accidental.

The vice president and two bodyguards were arrested for their alleged role in a suspected coup attempt. The FBI issued a public statement on its investigation, stating that the investigators had indeed found no conclusive evidence that the explosion was caused by a bomb.

While much remains to be learned about the role of the US in New Zealand to protect ongoing investigations into terrorism, it seems similar to the inconspicuous manner in which the FBI was involved in investigating the 2018 Mumbai attack , In this case, office staff helped collect evidence, analyze information, and finally testify before an Indian court. Asked what office investigators have revealed in support of Christchurch authorities, an FBI spokesman asked questions to the New Zealand police.


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