Home News News Blog Working Across the Pond: Legat London Turns 70

Working Across the Pond: Legat London Turns 70

Seventy years ago today, at the height of World War II, the Bureau established its first official presence in England. Today, we have 63 legal attaché offices and 15 sub-offices around the globe, pursuing terrorist, intelligence, and criminal threats with international dimensions in every part of the world.

Nov 16, 2012 05:00 PM

Working Across the Pond: Legat London Turns 70

Seventy years ago, at the height of World War II, the Bureau established its first official presence in England. On November 16, 1942, FBI Special Agent Arthur Thurston was appointed legal attaché, or legat, in London, acting as a liaison between the FBI and its host country to coordinate international leads arising from the Bureau’s work and to exchange information with local police and intelligence services.

One of Thurston’s first missions involved Ultra, a highly secret British intelligence project consisting of intercepted and later decoded radio and cable messages sent by the Nazis to their clandestine networks in Europe and South America during the war. The project was ultimately one of the FBI’s most significant sources of intelligence in World War II.

While London was the site of one of the FBI’s first official legat offices, the Bureau has been working internationally since 1940, when the Special Intelligence Service (SIS) was formed at the direction of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Although the SIS was eventually disbanded to make way for the newly formed CIA in 1947, the Bureau’s legat program, part of our International Operations Division, continued to grow.

Today, we have 63 legal attaché offices and 15 sub-offices around the globe, pursuing terrorist, intelligence, and criminal threats with international dimensions in every part of the world.

Happy 70th, Legat London.

International Operations Division website | More on Ultra