FBI Agents in Budapest Would Protect Against Nuclear Terror
WASHINGTON (AP) _ About a dozen FBI agents being sent to run a training academy in Hungary will help protect against terrorists getting their hands on weapons-grade nuclear material, FBI Director Louis Freeh said Monday.
``We need those agents in those parts of the world to protect us here and to share with our allies around the world information of crucial importance,″ Freeh said, adding that their work ``could mean life or death to literally hundreds of thousands of people.″
The agents will work at the FBI’s new International Law Enforcement Academy in Budapest. The academy, opening later this month, is to train 50 officials at a time from three different nations in a variety of law enforcement subjects.
Last year, Congress appropriated $30 million for training of police in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics. The FBI, which is responsible for counterespionage within the United States, has extended its activities abroad to fight crimes against Americans.
Freeh, in a speech to the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish organization that fights anti-Semitism, said the training would lead to contacts with local law enforcement authorities in the region.
``We do not have at the current time speaking partners in many of those countries,″ he said.
``We can’t just pick up the phone and call the police chief or the commissioner or the director general of one of their agencies and get the kind of immediate real-time response that law enforcement needs, particularly when lives are at stake,″ he said.
Freeh called for more forceful efforts against nuclear proliferation.
He cited the arrest in Prague, the Czech Republic, on Christmas Eve of individuals with about six pounds of weapons-grade uranium. He also mentioned several other incidents, including one in Ukraine, involving materials that ``approach and surpass weapons grade.″
``This is a new aspect, a frightening and terrifying new dimension to the potential that terrorism can have, not just in the United States but anywhere else,″ Freeh said.
He also said more agents are needed in the United States to combat crime.
``But those 10 or 12 agents (in Budapest) and their counterparts are an incredibly important perimeter of defense for the FBI to do its job,″ he said.