Guidelines for the Interviews Regarding International Terrorism
Office of the Deputy Attorney General
Washington, D.C. 20530
November 9, 2001
MEMORANDUM FOR ALL UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS
ALL MEMBERS OF THE ANTI-TERRORISM TASK FORCES
FROM: THE DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL
SUBJECT: Guidelines for the Interviews Regarding International Terrorism
- This memorandum provides guidance to those members of the Anti-Terrorism Task Forces who will participate in the interviewing project announced in the Attorney General's directive of November 9, 2001. This guidance discusses the manner of conducting the interviews, the topics to be covered during the interviews, and the procedures to be followed in carrying out this project.
- By sending this guidance, we do not suggest that our law enforcement partners need instruction in the ways of interviewing and investigation. We recognize that you each have your own particular approach to conducting interviews based on your understanding of your jurisdiction and constituents, and we will not presume to dictate the interviewing strategy to be used in every part of the country. Nor are we suggesting that any of our federal, state and local law enforcement partners would engage in inappropriate interviewing techniques in the absence of this guidance. Rather, we simply wish to explain the areas of expected inquiry, and to ensure both that everybody understands the information-gathering objective of this project and that the questioning during the interviews aligns with that objective.
1. Manner of Conducting Interviews
- Since the persons to be interviewed are not suspected of involvement in criminal activity, the interviews will be conducted on a consensual basis, and every interview subject ("individual") will be free to decline to answer questions. In approaching the individual, you should announce your name, title and law enforcement agency, clearly explain the purpose of the interview, and ask permission to speak with the individual. As these interviews will not be "custodial interrogations," there is no need to seek a waiver of Miranda rights.
- Unless the individual prefers to conduct the interview away from his home, workplace or neighborhood, you should ordinarily not ask him to accompany you to the police station or the field office. A number of these individuals may have difficulty with the English language and little understanding of our criminal justice system, and we want them and the other members of their communities clearly to understand that they are not being taken into custody and that the interviews are being pursued on a consensual basis.
- You should feel free to use all appropriate means of encouraging an individual to cooperate, including reference to any reward money that is being offered for information about terrorists. However, you should be careful about mentioning an individual's potential criminal exposure. You should raise the topic of the individual's possible prosecution only if you have both a solid factual basis for concluding that the individual has violated a criminal statute and clear authority to enforce that statute. In the absence of one or the other of these preconditions, you should avoid mentioning the individual's potential criminal exposure.
- While the primary purpose of these interviews is not to ascertain the legality of the individuals' immigration status, the federal responsibility to enforce the immigration laws, as exercised by the Immigration and Naturalization Service ("INS"), is an important one. Therefore, if you suspect that a particular individual may be in violation of the federal immigration laws, you should call the INS representative on your Anti-Terrorism Task Force or the INS officials at the closest Law Enforcement Support Center. Those officials will advise you whether the individual is in violation of the immigration laws and whether he should be detained.
- You should also be careful not to inquire into an individual's religious beliefs and practices. It is appropriate to ask whether the individual has witnessed or heard any persons advocating the use of violence or terrorism. However, it is not appropriate to question or otherwise challenge the validity of religious beliefs or practices.
- You should keep in mind that a large number of these individuals will have a limited capability to communicate in the English language. While it might be possible to conduct adequate interviews with such persons, through English-speaking companions or otherwise, there might be some whom you would rather interview with an interpreter. You are free to utilize any interpreting services that are available to your agency. The United States Attorney should also inquire into the availability in their districts of interpreters in the relevant languages.
- Finally, you should be aware that a number of the individuals on the list might be attending schools on student visas. Please make sure to follow all protocols regarding coordination with campus security forces whenever you seek to interview individuals who reside on college campuses.
2. Topics to Cover During the Interview
- You should feel free to ask the individuals about any topic that would elicit information that could reasonably assist in the effort to learn about those who support, commit, or associate with persons who commit terrorism. As a guideline for the questioning, we provide the following list of suggested topics for the interviews. The first few topics involve general information about the individuals, and the remaining topics relate directly to our anti-terrorism effort.
The identity of the individual should be ascertained by requesting his full name, his date and place of birth, his citizenship and any other identifiers that can be provided. The individual should also be asked about any other names that he has used, in this country or elsewhere. To the extent possible, the individual's identity should be verified by reviewing any identification that the individual is able and willing to provide. In light of the availability of false identification documents, you may wish to request more than one form of identification. You should specifically ask to see the individual's passport and visa, and you should take note whether he appears to be residing in the United States within the time period allowed by the visa. If the individual produces a passport or other document that records past travel, you should make an effort to note where the documentation was issued and any information that it provides about the individual's travel history.
b) Telephone Numbers
You should obtain all telephone numbers used by the individual and his family or close associates.
You should ask the individual where he is residing and about any other residences that he has used since his arrival in this country. If he lives with others, you should inquire as to their identities. You should note any information that would assist in locating the individual in the future.
d) Employment and Sources of Income
You should inquire about the individual's current employment and source(s) of income.
You should inquire about the individual's educational background, including whether he has any professional licenses or scientific expertise.
f) Foreign Travel
You should ask the individual what foreign countries he has visited, the dates of those visits, and the reasons he went to those countries. You should inquire specifically whether he or anybody he knows has ever visited Afghanistan.
g) Armed Conflicts
The individual should be asked whether he or anybody else he knows has ever participated in an armed conflict. If he answers in the affirmative, you should probe for details of the role that he or the other person or persons played in that conflict.
h) Reason for the Individual's Visit
The individual should be asked about his reasons for visiting the United States. If the individual is here to attend school, you should learn what you can about his studies and future plans. If the individual is here as a tourist, you should inquire as to the cities, landmarks and other sites that he has visited or plans to visit. You should ask when the individual plans to leave the United States and where he plans to go. You should also ask the purpose of any trips the individual has made outside of the United States since his entry.
i) Threats or Violence Directed at the Individual
You should inquire whether the individual has suffered any violence or threats because of his religion or nationality. If the individual claims to have been the victim of such a crime, you should obtain all relevant information and take any appropriate action to investigate the allegation.
j) Knowledge Regarding the Events of September 11, 2001
You should ask the individual whether he knows, or is aware of anyone who knows, anything about the September 11th attacks or the perpetrators.
k) Reaction to Terrorism
You should ask the individual if he noticed anybody who reacted in a surprising or inappropriate way to the news of the September 11th attacks. You should also ask him how he felt when he heard the news.
l) Involvement in Terrorism
You should inquire whether the individual knows anybody who has had involvement in advocating, planning, supporting or committing terrorist activities, and whether he has ever had any personal involvement in such activities.
m) Knowledge of Terrorism
The individual should be asked whether he knows anyone who is capable of or willing to carry out acts of terrorism; whether he is aware of any plans or discussions about the commission of terrorist acts in the future; and whether he has any ideas about how future acts of terrorism could be prevented. You should also ask him if he recognizes the names of any suspects or targets who have been the subject of investigations in your jurisdiction.
n) Financing of Terrorism
The individual should be asked whether he is aware of anyone raising money for terrorist activity, and whether he or anyone else has contributed to an entity which the individual knows or suspects to be a front for funding terrorism. You should ask if the individual is aware of anyone engaged in systematic criminal activity to raise money, like drug trafficking or fraud schemes.
o) Training of Terrorists
The individual should be asked if he is aware of anybody, including himself, who has received any training which could be applicable to terrorist activities, whether it be training at terrorist camps, flight lessons or other training programs in the United States or abroad.
p) Sympathy for Terrorists
You should ask whether the individual is aware of any persons who have sympathy for the September 11th hijackers or other terrorists, or for the causes those terrorists espouse. You should also ask the individual whether he shares those sympathies to any degree.
q) Advocates of Violence
You should inquire whether the individual has heard of anyone recruiting persons to engage in violent acts against the United States or its citizens. You should ask the individual if he has knowledge of anyone who is advocating "jihad" or urging others to overthrow the government or to attack Americans, either under the guise of religion or otherwise.
r) Knowledge of Weapons
The individual should be asked whether he or anybody he knows has access to guns or to any explosives or harmful chemical compounds, or has any training or experience in the development or use of such weapons. You should also ask if he knows of anyone who is capable of developing any biological or chemical weapon such as anthrax.
s) Sources of False Documents
The individual should be asked if he is aware of anyone who possesses or is involved in selling or supplying others with false identification documents, such as driver's permits, visas, social security cards and credit cards.
t) Knowledge of Terrorists Overseas
You should ask whether the individual is aware of any persons or groups in his homeland who might be planning or advocating terrorist acts against the United States, and whether he knows anyone in his homeland who could help the United States in its fight against terrorism.
u) Other Suspicious Activity
The individual should be asked if he is aware of any other suspicious activity in his neighborhood, community, or circle of acquaintances that might suggest the undertaking or support of terrorist activities.
v) Others with Information
You should ask the individual if he is aware of any other persons who might have information about the above topics.
w) Knowledge of Any Criminal Activity
You should remember to ask the catch-all question whether the individual is aware of any criminal activity whatsoever, whether related to terrorism or not.
x) Willingness to Provide Information in the Future
You should explain that the United States needs everyone's help to prevent future terrorism, and you should encourage the individual to contact you if he sees or hears anything suspicious, or if he comes across anyone who has information that would be relevant and useful. You might want to inquire whether you can contact the individual periodically in the future to see if he has obtained any more information. In other words, if the individual is positioned and willing to provide useful information, you should attempt to develop him as a source in the same way that you would recruit any source related to more traditional criminal activity.
3. Implementation Procedures and Deadlines
- This project is to be implemented by taking the following steps within the designated deadlines
a)The Executive Office for United States Attorneys will distribute the lists and this guidance to each United States Attorney on November 9, 2001.
b) The United States Attorneys and the Director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys will hold a conference call to discuss this project on November 9, 2001.
c) Each United States Attorney will convene a meeting of the Anti-Terrorism Task Force on or before November 21, 2001. At that meeting, the United States Attorney will (1) distribute the Attorney General's directive and this guidance to the members of the Task Force; (2) ensure that all members understand the objectives of the project and every aspect of this guidance; (3) discuss the logistics of conducting these interviews; (4) describe the methods of report writing and submission; (5) explain the responsibilities of the interviewers and the deadlines under which they must operate; and (6) answer any and all questions about the project.
d) The agents and officers will locate the individuals and conduct the interviews on or before December 21, 2001.
e) Interviewing agents and officers will confer with the United States Attorney's Anti-Terrorism Coordinator and representatives of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, if one exists in that district, immediately after an interview if they believe that the individual warrants -- or the individual's information should prompt -- further investigation.
f) Reports of the interviews will be completed and submitted electronically to the United States Attorney's Anti-Terrorism Coordinator within three days of each interview. You will electronically receive a standard form that should be used in reporting on each of the interviews. By using a standard form, we ensure that all relevant information can be collected and entered into a database in a manner that can be easily accessed and searched.
g) The United States Attorney's Anti-Terrorism Coordinator will have the submitted reports entered into a database that will be established for this project. Further guidance about the database will be forthcoming.
h) Every Monday morning, the United States Attorney will submit to the Executive Office for United States Attorneys an update on the project with a tally of the number of individuals interviewed and a very brief explanation of any leads or follow-up investigation generated by those interviews.