Wednesday, November 28, 2007

FBI Opens Office in Cambodia

By Regina Sass The FBI has announced the opening if its latest oversees office, which are actually called Legal Attaché or "Legat." It is opening in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and is one of more than 60 such offices around the world.

The head of the office, whose official title is Legat, will be FBI Agent Laro Tan, who was born in Cambodia and fled the Khmer Rouge with his family as a small child. He is a member of the diplomatic staff of the US Embassy in Cambodia and is his responsibility to build a productive working relationship with his counterparts in Cambodia.

These overseas offices play an important part in the FIB's investigative efforts. Just a few months ago, the FBI office in China worked with Chinese authorities to break up a counterfeit computer software organization that was operating in both countries. This led to arrests in both countries and the recovery of millions of dollars worth of counterfeit material.

Cambodia was chosen because the nearest office is in Bangkok, more than 330 miles away and in a different country. The new office in Cambodia will handle both Cambodia and Viet Nam.

Tan, who's regular assignment is to the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate in Washington describes his Cambodia assignment as being very busy. He says he is constantly providing assistance to the office in the United states regarding threats that might migrate to U.S. shores. In his day to day operations, he works with the Cambodian National Police, and in Vietnam, the Interpol office of the General Department of the Police, a division of the Ministry of Public Security.

They have been working together even before the office was officially opened and have the help of the Cambodian Government in capturing a terrorist named Riduan Bin Isamuddin and back in 2000, a cooperative effort by the FBI and the Cambodian authorities led to the arrest of several freedom fighters who tried to overthrow the Cambodian Government. The United States does not have the authority to go into a foreign country, conduct investigations and make arrests. We need to have the cooperation of the host countries and their law enforcement agencies and it is through the Legat that the cooperation is achieved.

Tan looks at his mission to be one of getting to know his counterparts in both countries personally in order to build up new working relationships and expand on the ones already in place between the US and Cambodia and Viet Nam.

Source: FBI

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