January 7, 2014

On the Ground in Kenya

Part 1: A Conversation with Our Legal Attaché in Nairobi

Includes area of detail.

The FBI’s legal attaché, or legat, program places Bureau personnel in more than 60 countries around the world. Working primarily through U.S. Embassies, our employees serve at the pleasure of host country governments, and their core mission is to establish and maintain liaison with local law enforcement and security services. Such partnerships are critical in the fight against international terrorism, cyber crime, and a range of other criminal and intelligence matters.

FBI.gov recently sat down with Dennis Brady, the Bureau’s legal attaché in Nairobi, Kenya, to talk about our partnerships with the Kenyans and our work in that region of the world.

Q: What are the key threats in Kenya that impact Americans and U.S. interests?

Brady: The terrorist organization al Shabaab has been the biggest threat we face. Members of that group use IEDs [improvised explosive devices] to carry out terrorist attacks. They are known to throw grenades into local buses and attack local police officers. They also have a history of kidnapping Americans in Somalia—an area that our legat office covers. Piracy in Somalia is also a continuing threat.

Q: What types of FBI personnel are posted to Legat Nairobi?

Brady: In addition to our administrative and support staff, we have a special agent bomb technician, a member of the FBI’s counterterrorism fly team, and a Hostage Rescue Team operator embedded on a permanent rotating basis. So when something happens—a kidnapping or an act of terror or piracy—we can respond immediately with a full range of Bureau expertise.

Q: Is that expertise also used to help train Kenyan law enforcement?

Brady: Absolutely. Training is one of our key functions, and it’s been going on for years. We train Kenyan law enforcement personnel in a variety of disciplines, including crime scenes, IEDs, and tactics. We also provide instruction in areas such as fingerprinting, cyber investigations, evidence collection, intelligence analysis, interview techniques, and major case management. In the past few years, the Bureau has conducted more than 40 training sessions in Kenya and has trained more than 800 individuals. We also have 10 Kenyan graduates of the FBI’s National Academy who are still active in law enforcement. The Kenyans are very receptive to everything we offer and are enthusiastic, active participants in the process. What we provide supplements their own training and significantly improves their capacity to do their jobs.

Q: Does the training have other benefits?

Brady: Yes, it further strengthens our working relationship with the Kenyans and reminds us of how much we have in common. Kenya was formerly a British colony and has a European-style legal system. The police and defense forces are separate, and the country operates its law enforcement and courts under the rule of law. Kenya also has an extradition treaty with the U.S., so when we locate fugitives, we can get them removed through the legal process and extradited back to the U.S. to face justice. All of these things make for good partnerships, and that becomes critical when you are responding to a crisis like the Westgate Mall terror attack a few months ago. In a life and death situation like that, everyone needs to know they can rely on one another.

Our legal attaché in Nairobi discusses the attack on the Westgate shopping mall.