International Terrorism:

FBI Investigates Domestic Activities to Identify Terrorists

GGD-90-112: Published: Sep 7, 1990. Publicly Released: Oct 9, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed investigation cases from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) international terrorism program to determine: (1) the basis on which FBI opened investigations; (2) the scope and result of the investigations; (3) whether FBI monitored First Amendment activities; and (4) the reasons FBI closed investigations.

GAO found that: (1) FBI opened 52.4 percent of cases because it suspected that individuals or groups were involved in terrorist activities; (2) FBI opened 11.5 percent of cases involving individuals affiliated with foreign countries that sponsored terrorism; (3) FBI opened 18.0 percent of cases for other reasons and 18.1 percent of cases for a combination of those reasons; (4) FBI indexed information about individuals who were not investigation subjects in approximately 47.8 percent of the cases and indexed information about groups which were not investigation subjects in 11.6 percent of cases; (5) FBI closed about 67.5 percent of cases because it did not develop evidence to indicate that the subjects were engaging in international terrorism activities; (6) it could not determine if FBI abused individuals' First Amendment rights or whether FBI had a reasonable basis to monitor such activities; (7) U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens were subjects in 38.0 percent of the investigations; (8) FBI monitored First Amendment-type activities in 11.5 percent of the cases; (9) FBI gathered information by directly observing or obtaining information from other sources; and (10) FBI removal of information it considered sensitive from files limited GAO access to information and its ability to develop overall conclusions regarding the program.

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