The FBI has declined to comment exactly how large a footprint it has established in the small Pacific country more than 6,000 miles from the continental United States, illustrating both its reach and the lowest international position on the crime fighting agency.
A law enforcement source tells CNN that the agency has also searched through the agency's intelligence agencies for any information that may be of value to New Zealand investigators.
"It is not the FBI's style to publish all overseas efforts," said Gina Osborn, a retired FBI Assistant Specialist in charge of who led to one of the agency's international response teams. "We respond daily to requests for help, but there is no need to announce it."
While FBI's domestic operations involving the protection of the home country against national security and criminal threats are widely understood, its operations abroad involve personnel stationed worldwide, less known. This work is enhanced by US agents and analysts who distribute in support of specific studies.
"There is no typical day abroad with the FBI," said Gib Wilson, a retired legal attaché serving in Belgium, India and the Philippines. "At the same time, you're trying to deepen FBI studies, help our international partners, and work with the intelligence community to stop dangerous threats. You're really the pivotal point in so many studies aimed at protecting innocent people around the world."
Prolonged global presence
According to the FBI, the agency's global presence traces its roots back to the pre-CIA World War II era when President Franklin Roosevelt ordered government agencies to help gather intelligence on the Nazis. The first agent was assigned to Bogota in 1
FBI data shows that the Agency currently has Legal Attaché Offices and Offices in nearly 90 countries, staffed by staff serving multi-year tours such as liaison covering more than 180 countries, territories and islands. These permanently assigned representatives fall under the US Ambassador's designation to a particular country and serve as members of the "national team" – the collection of US Bureau representatives assigned to embassies.
"By increasing our international footprint, we have been able to develop long-term relationships with our foreign partners," said FBI Special Agent, responsible for George Piro last year, while speaking at the state's foreign press center. "We at the FBI recognize how important it is for information exchange, but also for the exchange of best practices, training, experiences – not just from our perspective, but to get it from our foreign partners."
As Piro and other experts have noted, a significant portion of the work done by agents and analysts abroad involves providing training in areas such as behavioral analysis, conducting interviews, treating crime scenes, and exploiting digital evidence.
& # 39; Work Abroad Never Stops & # 39;
"FBI's overseas capacity building never stops," said Megan Stifel, a senior Atlantic Council scholar who was formerly a DOJ & # 39; s National Security Department attorney. "US law enforcement works with foreign governments well in advance of critical events to train them on the value of evidence and how to effectively collect and use it to solve crime."
When a crime or terrorist act abroad has occurred, FBI investigation assistance is often requested by partner countries. If an incident directly affects the United States, causing damage to a US citizen or business abroad, the agency may open a case alone.
For these studies, the agency maintains extraterritorial squads in four of its field offices – Los Angeles, Miami, Washington and New York – responsible for launching staff overseas to investigate threats to US interests and work to prosecute suspect criminals in either US or foreign courts.
. Although these squads are accused of enforcing US extraterritorial laws, they do not have one-sided authority abroad "The FBI is not just jumping on a plane and starting to conduct investigations in a foreign country," Osborn said. "Instead, each movement must be coordinated in advance with the host country."
A typical example of an FBI extraterritorial group's work on assisting foreign partners was the agency's role in helping Indian investigators after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008, resulting in the death of nearly 200 civilians.
In that case, the investigator was working to identify the origin of a terror cell discovered that the engine of a boat that invaders used to land in India was manufactured by Yamaha, a global company with offices in the United States. The FBI earned a summons on the company to seek its co-operation to track the original engine outlets that were discovered to be in a location in Pakistan. This information was then forwarded to Indian authorities.
"This example illustrates one of the many ways in which the US law enforcement authority works to help solve international crime," said Bryan Schilling, a former national security lawyer at the FBI who worked on the Mumbai study. "With the help of domestic resources and legal authorities, the FBI can often and quickly provide unavailable information to assist foreign law enforcement in local investigations. There are limitations to disclosing information about US people, but when it comes to major incidents and cross-border crime, There is often an American nexus that the FBI can investigate. , especially when an apparently routine offer of assistance has drawn the agency into the center of foreign policy turmoil. In 2015, the FBI was asked to help the authorities in the Maldives investigate a bust aboard a boat carrying the president of the ship. The Allies of the President declared the incident an attempted murder, referring to alleged results from 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 plague. The FBI published a public statement on its investigation, indicating that investigators had not found any conclusive evidence that the explosion was caused by a bomb.
Although much about the American role in New Zealand remains in secrecy to protect the ongoing terrorist investigation, there appear to be similarities to the low profile the FBI participated in investigating the Mumbai attack in 2018. In that case, the agency staff helped to gather evidence, analyze intelligence and finally testify of an Indian court. Asked what has been investigated by bureau investigators while providing assistance to Christchurch authorities, an FBI spokesman referred questions to the New Zealand police.