Near East Region
OPDAT’s focus in the Near East Region (comprised of the countries in the Arabian Gulf) is on counterterrorism, specifically combatting terrorism, terrorist financing, money-laundering, transnational crime, and Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTF). All of OPDAT’s efforts promote the Global Counterterrorism Forum’s Rabat Memorandum on Good Practices for Effective Counterterrorism Practice in the Criminal Justice Sector. OPDAT has placed DOJ attorneys (Resident Legal Advisors (RLA)) in U.S. Embassies in Kuwait (also regionally responsible for the Kingdoms of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia) and Qatar. These programs, funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Counterterrorism, focus on the following:
Gulf Region: OPDAT’s programs in the Arabian Gulf Region are focused on combatting terrorism through prosecutorial and judicial skills development, anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism financing, asset recovery, cyber and cryptocurrency in furtherance of terrorism recruitment and activities, and legislative reform. These programs are implemented by RLAs based in Kuwait and Qatar, but also involve engagements in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, Oman and Yemen, as well as potential programs in the Levant. For example, in March 2022 the RLAs in Kuwait and Qatar held a successful regional program with over 100 prosecutors, investigators, and financial-intelligence officers from Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and United Arab Emirates.
Kuwait: In Kuwait, OPDAT collaborates with Kuwaiti government entities, including the Public Prosecutor’s Office, Ministry of Justice, Financial Intelligence Unit, Customs, Anti-Corruption Authority, Ministry of Interior, the Central Bank of Kuwait, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Cyber Central Authority, and the Judicial Training Institute. This collaboration has focused on enhancing Kuwait’s anti-money laundering and terrorist financing regimes, addressing cryptocurrency and computer crimes, and strengthening the government’s capacity to effectively address these areas as they relate to terrorism, recruitment and financing. OPDAT continues to build on its efforts, which initially enabled the Kuwaiti Financial Intelligence Unit to successfully join the Egmont Group. In 2018, OPDAT held its first workshops in Bahrain with further iterations to follow and most recently in 2021, its first direct engagements with Bahrain’s Public Prosecution and Financial Investigative Division. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2021, the RLA successfully engaged in workshops with over 200 Kuwaiti prosecutors and investigators on various topics including cybercrime, combating illicit finance, and investigating and prosecuting terrorism.
Qatar: In Qatar, OPDAT has embedded its RLA in the Public Prosecutor’s Office to provide significant technical assistance and case-based mentoring. The RLA’s focus is on developing legal procedures to designate terrorist financiers, anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing, the use of digital evidence, and investigating complex financial crimes and cryptocurrency. In June 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the RLA conducted the first ever virtual AML/CTF workshop for 54 Qatar officials via videoconference from the PPO Criminal Studies Institute. The RLA has supported the drafting of more effective anti-terrorism and anti-money laundering legislation.