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On March 18, 2003, John S. Pistole, the deputy assistant director of the Counterterrorism Division of the FBI testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations about the efforts of the FBI to coordinate antiterrorism efforts with law-enforcement organizations in other countries.
Pistole pointed out that the FBI's Office of International Operations, which oversees the Bureau's Legal Attaché (Legat) program, is a vital component in counterterrorism efforts. It is primarily through the Legat program that efforts to investigate and share information with international law-enforcement and intelligence organizations is coordinated.
With the assistance of the Department of State (DOS), the FBI established 45 Legat offices. Through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the DOS, FBI Legats are part of the embassy community. The MOU acknowledges the ambassador as chief of mission. In addition to investigative and host-country liaison responsibilities, Legats work with the administrative officer of the embassy regarding their needs within the embassy itself.
Legats respond to requests from other DOS employees, provide regular briefings to the ambassador and/or deputy chief of mission, and participate in all other in-house activities, such as emergency action meetings and weekly country team meetings. The Legats work in close coordination with regional security officers and other embassy staff to prevent terrorist incidents from occurring.
The FBI's 45 Legats are staffed by 126 special agents and 74 support personnel. By the end of the fiscal year, it was proposed that the staffing level increase to 145 special agents and 83 support personnel for new offices in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates (UAE); Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Sanaa, Yemen; Tbilisi, Georgia; and Tunis, Tunisia. In addition, there will be three suboffices created in Bonn (Berlin, Germany); Milan (Rome, Italy); and Toronto (Ottawa, Canada). Six existing Legat offices will also receive additional personnel. Those offices are Amman, Jordan; Cairo, Egypt; Islamabad, Pakistan; Manila, Philippines; Ottawa, Canada; and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Of the additional $44.7 million that the FBI was allotted for its counterterrorism mission overseas, approximately $23.7 million was earmarked for Legat expansion.
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