US, Kenya launch first overseas Joint Terrorism Task Force

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The United States Department of State and Federal Bureau of Investigation have partnered together to assist Kenya in creating the first Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) to be located outside of the United States.

This Kenyan-led JTTF will be a multi-agency counterterrorism investigative force in Nairobi, Kenya, the US Department of State said on 10 February.

The initiative to establish a Kenyan Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF-K) began after the al-Shabaab terrorist attack on the DusitD2 Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya on 16 January 2019. There was a pressing need for a JTTF that could be met through FBI’s training expertise combined with the State Department Bureau of Counterterrorism’s (CT Bureau) capacity building efforts, the Department of State said.

The 42 selected Kenyan investigators will receive a 12-week intensive counterterrorism training at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. The FBI will administer the curriculum and provide training with assistance from other agencies, as applicable. FBI and the CT Bureau will collaboratively assess the program.

The team will adopt methodologies used by US-based JTTFs and be trained to handle sensitive counterterrorism intelligence shared with the Kenyan government. The investigators will be trained and equipped to investigate all terrorism matters deemed of significant importance to Kenya’s National Security Council. Upon completion of the course, the JTTF-K officers will return to Kenya, where they will be assisted by an FBI Special Agent mentor.

Investigations conducted by JTTF-K will be carried out in accordance with international law enforcement standards and in comportment with human rights. Legal authorities will be derived from the Kenyan Constitution and International Treaties. Cases will be prosecuted in Kenya’s courts, which promotes the US goal of enabling foreign partners to successfully counter terrorist threats, the Department of State said.

The JTTF-K is being funded by the Department of State’s Bureau of Counterterrorism under the Counterterrorism Partnership Fund, which was established by Congress to build the law enforcement capacity of partner nations on the frontlines of terrorism. “It is part of a comprehensive programme with Kenya to promote terrorism investigations and prosecutions, enhance crisis response, and strengthen border security.”

“The FBI is proud to have the opportunity to work with our Kenyan law enforcement partners on this initiative,” said Assistant Director of the International Operations Division Charles Spencer. “The first Kenyan JTTF will allow for a sharing of experience, knowledge, and capabilities that will enhance our shared commitment to countering terrorism around the world.”

“For over two decades, the CT Bureau has supported Kenya’s efforts to improve its law enforcement capacity to defend its borders and become a counterterrorism leader in East Africa,” said Ambassador Nathan A. Sales, the coordinator for counterterrorism. “The JTTF for Kenya will support the interagency approach required to successfully investigate and prosecute terrorists before they conduct attacks. I look forward to this unit standing up and the results that will surely come.”



“The U.S government has been a valued partner in combating terrorism,” said Kenya’s Director of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti. “I appreciate the effort and resources the FBI and Department of State have dedicated toward improving the capabilities of our officers through training, experience, and insight. Due to globalization and the rapid advancement in technology, terrorists and their sympathizers have also changed tactics and devised new methods to further their agenda. Endeavors such as the Kenyan Joint Terrorism Task Force will allow for a multi-agency approach to achieve common objectives and assist us in obtaining the upper hand against the enemy.”