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FBI Now Aims To Thwart Terror, Not Just Clues

FBI Now Aims To Thwart Terror, Not Just Gather Clues Afterward

Mueller lauds bureau's heightened international cooperation since September 11, 2001

By David Anthony Denny
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- In a world in which communications technology has flattened former barriers, the FBI is using those tools to battle crime and terror, its director says.

Robert Mueller, the 10th director of the FBI since its creation in 1908, told attendees at a recent training session in Edinburgh, Scotland, that the bureau is "creating our own 'flat world,'" both inside the FBI and in the intelligence and law enforcement communities.

He spoke on "Global Law Enforcement Partnerships: A New Way of Doing Business" September 27 during the National Academy Associates European Retrainer Conference.

"Before September 11, we collected intelligence to solve crimes," Mueller said. "Today, we are sharing information and working together every day to prevent crime, to prevent the next terrorist attack.

"We understand that we cannot afford to meet our international counterparts at crime scenes after the fact. We must work together to dismantle criminal enterprises and terrorist cells, destroy their financial networks, and disrupt their plans before they strike."

To illustrate the ways in which the FBI is doing these things, Mueller gave three sets of examples: international partnerships, joint international task forces and training initiatives.

INTERNATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS

The FBI uses its 52 legal attaché offices,based in U.S. embassies and consulates, to share information with foreign law enforcement and intelligence partners and assist with international investigations, Mueller said. He cited two recent examples:

-- On September 7, a notorious British fraud perpetrator was sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping, theft and deception. He had convinced his victims that he was a British MI5 spy conducting an undercover campaign against the Irish Republican Army, defrauding the victims of almost $2 million during 10 years.

-- Also in September, a large operation against violent gang members in the United States and Central America resulted in more than 650 arrests. More than 6,000 government agents in five countries -- the United States, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico -- took part.

JOINT INTERNATIONAL TASK FORCES

Mueller said one of the most important ongoing partnerships of the FBI is the investigation of terrorist financing mechanisms. The FBI's Terrorist Financing Section has teamed up with Saudi Arabia's police and its monetary authority to identify people or groups that provide support to terrorists.

U.S.-Russia counterterrorism collaboration is close, he said. FBI and CIA agents work with their Russian counterparts "to monitor, prevent, and disrupt terrorist attacks both here and abroad."

Because a significant number of Web sites that market child pornography originate in Eastern Europe, Mueller said, the FBI formed the Innocent Images International Task Force, to share information and work cases jointly with -- among others -- Australia, Great Britain, Norway, Finland and several Eastern European countries.

TRAINING INITIATIVES

Since 2001, the FBI has trained more than 20,000 law enforcement officers, intelligence analysts and state officials worldwide, Mueller said. In addition, the FBI offers specific training tailored to the needs of the international participants, including:

-- Police executives from Qatar recently attended a two-week counterterrorism course at the FBI Academy.

-- In May, explosives experts from Russia's Federal Security Service trained with their FBI counterparts at the Hazardous Devices School in Alabama.

-- In 2004, FBI special agents trained law enforcement officers from Kazakhstan in human trafficking, terrorist financing and public corruption investigations.

-- A new training program, "Leadership in Counterterrorism," combines the resources of the FBI, the Scottish Police College, and the Police College of Northern Ireland.

Mueller called these training efforts "vital weapons in the war against global crime and terrorism."

The text of Mueller's speech is available on the FBI Web site.

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