Connecticut HSI special agent honored by US attorney
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – A veteran special agent assigned to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in New Haven was honored today by U.S. Attorney David B. Fein, District of Connecticut. Special Agent Rod Khattabi received the U.S. Attorney's Award for Exceptional Contributions to Law Enforcement, in recognition of his leadership to protecting children from sexual abuse and exploitation.
"Throughout his law enforcement career, Rod has exhibited courage, passion and persistence," said U.S. Attorney Fein. "With his strength of character, determination and humanity, he has given voice and brought justice to those who are among the weakest and most vulnerable members of any society. Because of his work, children are safer in our country and in other countries, and many individuals who have preyed upon the most innocent among us have been brought to justice."
"All of us at ICE HSI are proud of the professionalism and unselfish dedication Special Agent Khattabi has given to protecting our children – both at home and abroad," said Bruce M. Foucart, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Boston. "My office prioritizes child exploitation cases with a firm commitment to provide the highest level of investigative support necessary to successfully prosecute them. The efforts of Special Agent Khattabi exemplifies the unwavering determination to bring these cases to justice."
In 2006, Khattabi began working on child exploitation cases in Connecticut, an enforcement area he continues to focus on. Over the last few years, his cases have involved the trafficking and sexual abuse of a four-year-old girl in rural Nicaragua, of more than 20 street children in Cap Haitien, Haiti, and several girls as young as three at an AIDS center in South Africa. In each case, Khattabi led a team into the country where the abuse occurred and faced – and overcame – seemingly insurmountable challenges. Khattabi and his team navigated through complicated logistics and issues involving international law and statesmanship to gather evidence that could be utilized in U.S. federal court and to locate and conduct child forensic interviews of oftentimes homeless children who live in poverty-stricken conditions.
Moroccan-born, fluent in French, German and Arabic, and trained in Kyuko-shinkai, Khattabi became an American citizen in 1996 and joined the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigations Division in 1997 in Bridgeport, Conn., where he worked criminal tax fraud cases. Khattabi transferred to the United States Customs Service in New York City, where he worked on large narcotics interdiction cases, went undercover for almost two years infiltrating a Russian organized crime syndicate in Brighton Beach, N.Y., and was the lead agent investigating and prosecuting Victor Infante, who led an organization that sold narcotics and illegally exported weapons to the Abu Sayyaf Group, a military Islamist separatist group that operates in the Philippines and elsewhere.
In 2003, Khattabi was stationed at the ICE attaché office in Paris, France. Khattabi was then detailed to Connecticut in 2006 to assist the team that successfully tried Hassan Abu-Jihaad, an enlistee in the U.S. Navy who betrayed his shipmates and his country by leaking classified information to a jihadi website run in London. He has remained in New Haven ever since, leading and coordinating major investigations in Connecticut and around the world.