April 27, 2007:
The U.S. FBI (Federal Bureau of
Investigation) has one of the busiest special operations units on the planet.
The Crisis Negotiation Unit (CNU) responds to hostage situations, and provides
expert advice on how to proceed. The unit was formed in 1995 and has nearly 400
personnel assigned to 56 field offices. The CNU has sent personnel overseas
more than three hundred times, to deal with situations involving kidnapped
Americans. Last year, many of those trips were to Haiti, where over a hundred
American citizens were kidnapped. But CNU teams go to places like Iraq and
Afghanistan as well.
The CNU personnel are FBI agents who undergo
additional training on negotiation techniques. A major asset of CNU is a large
database of past hostage situations. This provides useful information on what
solutions work with what problems. The database gets larger with each case the
CNU gets involved in.
In the last decade, the FBI has greatly expanded
its presence overseas, and now has more than three dozen offices outside the
United States. Since the CIA takes care of intelligence collection overseas,
the FBI offices abroad are there mainly for investigating crimes against
Americans outside the U.S.