FBI Special Agent Aaron Rayburn said Wednesday it was a boyhood dream of his to join the agency.
Addressing the Bowling Green Rotary Club at its weekly meeting, Rayburn gave insight about the FBI’s presence in Bowling Green and its role in working with other law enforcement agencies.
Rayburn divulged his youthful aspirations about being a federal agent in response to a question from a club member whose granddaughter is interested in going into law enforcement.
After graduating from college with a degree in business administration, Rayburn joined the U.S. Army, serving in Iraq and rising to the rank of lieutenant.
He joined the FBI in 2014 after several years in the private sector and is one of six special agents assigned to the Bowling Green resident agency.
In the FBI structure, there are 56 field offices in the U.S., with a field office in Louisville covering the entire state.
Extending from Louisville are satellite offices, known within the FBI as resident agencies, in Bowling Green and six other Kentucky cities.
Rayburn conducts criminal investigations as an agent, but the FBI does not work alone in the area.
“There are so many resources here in law enforcement,” Rayburn said about cooperating with other agencies and sharing information. “We defend the Constitution and uphold and enforce criminal laws in the United States. We’re in the thick of it all and we work with everybody to accomplish these ends.”
That cooperation among other agencies, and within different branches of the FBI, has resulted in a number of noteworthy criminal cases this decade in which the FBI has taken the lead.
Rayburn cited as an example the successful prosecution of Waad Alwan and Mohanad Hammadi, two Iraqi nationals who were caught in Bowling Green attempting to send money and weapons to al-Qaida in Iraq.
Alwan had also conspired to kill U.S. nationals abroad, and he and Hammadi were charged with multiple terrorism-related crimes in 2011. Both men pleaded guilty, and Hammadi is serving a life sentence in prison while Alwan is serving a 40-year sentence.
A crucial piece of evidence in the case was an improvised explosive device recovered in Iraq with Alwan’s fingerprints on it.
Rayburn, a platoon leader involved with searching for unexploded IEDs in Iraq, lauded the FBI’s ability to piece together the investigation.
“It’s amazing to see what they can do, after being on the front lines there and going all the way around to catching people on the back end,” Rayburn said.
Other notable cases local FBI agents have investigated include former Franklin doctor Roy Reynolds and former Cave City dentist Chris Steward, who were prosecuted and convicted for illegally distributing opioids.