- Robert S. Mueller, III
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- National Academy Associates European Retrainer
- Edinburgh, Scotland
- September 27, 2005
Good afternoon. It is a pleasure to be here with so many colleagues in law enforcement.
I want to thank Peter Wilson, chief constable of the Fife Constabulary, for organizing this conference. Pete has been a busy man of late. In recent months, Pete and his colleagues have weathered the G-8 Summit, Prince William’s graduation from Saint Andrews University, and the British Open. From protesters to royal-watchers to sports fans, Pete has seen it all. And he scheduled this conference on top of all that. Thank you, Pete.
I also want to thank all of you for your continued cooperation in the war on crime and terrorism. Your participation in the National Academy program proves the old adage true: there is strength in numbers.
The National Academy is one of the crown jewels of the FBI. The National Academy is world-renowned not just for its training programs, but for bringing law enforcement officers from all parts of the world together for a common purpose. We have created an international network of law enforcement. And that network grows larger each day.
Since its inception 70 years ago, more than 36,000 students have graduated from the National Academy, including 2,500 international students from more than 150 countries. To put it in perspective, there are roughly 36,000 yellow bricks on desks and in bookcases around the world. And those bricks do not merely represent your commitment to continued education or to physical fitness. They represent the relationships you have built with your colleagues in law enforcement.
With every yellow brick, we are building a foundation for global law enforcement ... a foundation based on communication, cooperation, and commitment to the citizens of the world.
Today I want to talk about some of the changes we have made in the FBI to further information sharing and coordination with our international law enforcement partners and what those changes have meant to our efforts.
Twenty years ago, the idea of regularly communicating and collaborating with our law enforcement and intelligence counterparts around the world was as foreign as the Internet or the mobile phone. But times have changed. Indeed, the world itself has changed.
To quote New York Times columnist and best-selling author Tom Friedman, we are living in a “flat world.” Advances in technology, travel, and communication have broken down walls between continents, countries, and individuals.
But globalization is a double-edged sword. Increasingly, technology and the global community of the Internet are used not only to break down walls, but to sustain and nurture hatred and violence.
Fortunately, we, too, are breaking down walls. We are using technology to win the war against crime and terror. We are creating our own “flat world” within the Bureau and within the intelligence and law enforcement communities.
Seventeen years ago, I came to Scotland to investigate the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. You may recall that in 1988, shortly before Christmas, Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, killing all 259 people aboard and 11 townspeople on the ground. As a prosecutor for the Department of Justice, I had seen my share of violent crimes. But this was no ordinary criminal case: This was one of the first instances in which terrorism hit home for many Americans.
This case had a strong impact on me. At the crash site, there was a small wooden warehouse that held the various personal effects of the passengers on this doomed flight: a teenager’s white sneaker, a Syracuse University sweatshirt—everyday pieces of clothing and personal belongings that would never again be used.
These ordinary items brought this tragedy home to me. They became symbols of the pain and the unbearable loss felt by those whose family members, friends, and colleagues died that evening.
Solving this case required unprecedented international cooperation. Investigators from Great Britain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the United States worked together to capture two of the terrorists responsible for this attack and bring them to justice.
I am proud of the work of these colleagues—American, British, and European—on the Lockerbie investigation. But I am even more proud of the long-standing relationships we have created in the years since that attack.
Before September 11, we collected intelligence to solve crimes. For the most part, we shared information and collaborated with our law enforcement and intelligence counterparts on a case-specific basis—like the Lockerbie case. 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 function as a global law enforcement agency, we must all routinely collaborate with our law enforcement and intelligence counterparts around the world. I would like to elaborate on a few of the FBI’s efforts to create new partnerships, including our Legal Attaché offices, our joint terrorist financing investigations, and other joint task forces.
The FBI has 52 Legal Attaché offices—known as “Legats”—around the world. Through these Legats, we share information with our international law enforcement and intelligence partners and assist with international investigations. We have seen a number of successes in recent months.
On September 7, notorious British con man Robert Hendy-Freegard—also known as the “James Bond con man”—was sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping, theft, and deception.
The car salesman-turned-con man convinced his victims that he was a British MI5 spy conducting an undercover campaign against the IRA. Over a period of 10 years, Hendy-Freegard fleeced his victims and their families of nearly $2 million through highly elaborate and manipulative means. And it took a three-year joint sting operation by New Scotland Yard and the FBI to capture him.
Earlier this month, a massive international sweep targeting violent gang members in the United States and Central America netted more than 650 arrests. The operation involved more than 6,000 government agents in five countries: the United States, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico. Top officials from each country coordinated their efforts from a joint command post at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. This combined effort to target gang members is without precedent.
Joint International Task Forces
We also participate on a number of joint international task forces. One of our most important ongoing partnerships is the investigation of terrorist financing mechanisms. Money is the lifeblood of terrorist organizations. If we cut off the funding, we disable the terrorists.
The FBI’s Terrorist Financing Section has teamed up with the Saudi Arabian police force—the Mabahith—and the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority to identify people or groups that provide support to terrorists.
Through this partnership, we have access to the bank records, biographical information, travel histories, telephone records, criminal backgrounds, and employment histories of numerous known or suspected terrorists.
Working together, we have destroyed large chunks of Al Qaeda’s financial network and frozen hundreds of millions of dollars in assets. Terrorist financing intelligence has substantially aided foreign services in preventing or thwarting terrorist activity in six separate instances in the past three years. Our world is a safer place because of these efforts.
Aside from terrorist financing, we are also working with our international partners on a number of other global issues.
For example, we are collaborating closely with the Russians in the war on terror. Agents from the FBI, along with our colleagues from the CIA, are working with Russian security and intelligence officials to monitor, prevent, and disrupt terrorist attacks both here and abroad. Gone are the days of the Cold War. Today, we are fighting a common enemy.
Another example would be the proliferation of child pornography on the Internet. A significant number of the web sites that market child pornography originate in Eastern Europe.
To address that issue, the FBI formed the Innocent Images International Task Force, where members from participating countries—including the United States, Australia, Great Britain, Norway, and Finland, as well as several Eastern European countries—sit side-by-side, sharing information and working cases together.
Global partnerships and information sharing are vital to our success. But training initiatives are equally important to our efforts.
Since 2001, the FBI has trained more than 20,000 law enforcement officers, intelligence analysts, and state officials around the world.
This includes continuous training opportunities for international law enforcement and intelligence officials through the National Academy, our International Law Enforcement academies in Hungary and Thailand, and our counterterrorism training center in Dubai.
We also provide specific training opportunities based on the needs of our international counterparts. For example, police executives from Qatar recently attended a two-week counterterrorism course at the FBI Academy. In May of this year, explosives experts from Russia’s Federal Security Service trained with their FBI counterparts at the Hazardous Devices School in Alabama. Last year, FBI Special Agents trained law enforcement officers from Kazakhstan in human trafficking, terrorist financing, and public corruption investigations.
A new training program entitled “Leadership in Counterterrorism” combines the resources of the FBI, the Scottish Police College, and the Police College of Northern Ireland.
These training efforts are vital weapons in the war against global crime and terrorism. As demonstrated by the recent attacks in London, we cannot confine today’s criminal and terrorist threats to isolated countries or even continents.
These are just a few examples of the changes we have made to further collaboration and coordination with our international law enforcement partners. These global partnerships are not a trend; they are a new way of doing business.
We are all interconnected—law enforcement and intelligence agencies, private citizens and multi-national corporations. What happens to one of us affects all of us.
In this “flat world,” no police officer, no agency, and no country can prevent crime and terrorism on its own. We must rely on each other for human resources and technology, experience, and expertise. We must create an international network of law enforcement and intelligence.
In response to the London bombings, Prime Minister Tony Blair said, “When they try to intimidate us, we will not be intimidated. When they seek to change our country, or our way of life ... we will not be changed. When they try to divide our people or weaken our resolve, we will not be divided and our resolve will hold firm.”
He was speaking of the citizens of Great Britain in particular, but the words ring true for all of us here today. We will not be intimidated. We will not be divided. We will not be weakened.
Standing shoulder-to-shoulder, we will win the war against crime and terrorism.
Thank you for inviting me today. I would be happy to take any questions.