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Thursday, April 05, 2007

The FBI opens a permanent office in Phnom Penh

Wednesday, April 04, 2007
By Kang Kallyan and Soren Seelow
Cambodge Soir

Unofficial translation from French by Luc Sâr

Click here to read Cambodge Soir’s article in French

The FBI opened Monday a permanent office in Phnom Penh. According to Hok Lundy, the national police chief, the opening of this satellite office was done in conjunction with the fight against terrorism.

Jeff Daigle, the US embassy spokesman, declared that the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), the US federal police agency, opened its office in Phnom Penh on Monday – the 60th office the agency opened outside the US territory. In Asia, the FBI has offices in Bangkok, Beijing, Hong Kong, Djakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Seoul, Singapore, Tokyo, as well as in Canberra and Sydney in Australia.

The FBI office in Phnom Penh, housed inside the US embassy building, is currently staffed by Cary Gleicher, its temporary representative, whose assignment will last three months. The FBI is currently recruiting a permanent staff in the US who could arrive in Phnom Penh within this year, Jeff Daigle said. According to the latter, the FBI presence in Cambodia is not due to any particular reason, but that it answers to the “natural progress” of the “good cooperation” between the two countries.

According to Hok Lundy, the opening of this office answers most of all to the fight against terrorism. “Up to now, we collaborated with the [FBI] Bangkok office. With the FBI cooperation, we already arrested in 2001, CFF (Cambodian Freedom Fighters) members whose US chief planned to topple the government, and also terrorists linked to the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) which planned attacks in Phnom Penh in 2003. Cambodia is an ideal refuge for terrorists, therefore, it is important for the FBI to open a permanent office here,” Hok Lundy declared.

The FBI is in charge of fighting more than 200 federal crimes committed. Placed under the supervision of the US Justice Department, the FBI receives its fundings and assignments from the latter. The FBI is the federal agency which has the largest authority when it comes to investigation. With its mission statement of “protect and defend the USA,” the FBI assignments include the fight against terrorism, counter-espionage, fight against organized crime, human trafficking, drug trafficking, and also general intelligence gathering. The agency uses for its motto, words starting with the agency’s initial letters: “Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity.” In 1996, the agency had 23 offices overseas. Ten years later, the number tripled.

The “Bureau of Investigation” (BOI) was formed in 1908 to fight against organized crime. In between the two world wars, its power stretched to respond to difficulties faced by local police to enforce the law during the prohibition era, it was only in 1935 that the agency’s name was changed to “Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

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