Full Investigations

These Guidelines provide for two types of full investigations: general crimes investigations (Part II below) and criminal intelligence investigations (Part III below). The choice of the type of investigation depends on the information and the investigative focus. A general crimes investigation may be initiated where facts or circumstances reasonably indicate that a federal crime has been, is being, or will be committed. Preventing future criminal activity, as well as solving and prosecuting crimes that have already occurred, is an explicitly authorized objective of general crimes investigations. The "reasonable indication" threshold for undertaking such an investigation is substantially lower than probable cause. In addition, preparation to commit a criminal act can itself be a current criminal violation under the conspiracy or attempt provisions of federal criminal law or other provisions defining preparatory crimes, such as 18 U.S.C. 373 (solicitation of a crime of violence) or 18 U.S.C. 2339A (including provision of material support in preparation for a terrorist crime). Under these Guidelines, a general crimes investigation is warranted where there is not yet a current substantive or preparatory crime, but where facts or circumstances reasonably indicate that such a crime will occur in the future.

The second type of full investigation authorized under these Guidelines is the criminal intelligence investigation. The focus of criminal intelligence investigations is the group or enterprise, rather than just individual participants and specific acts. The immediate purpose of such an investigation is to obtain information concerning the nature and structure of the enterprise - including information relating to the group's membership, finances, geographical dimensions, past and future activities, and goals - with a view toward detecting, preventing, and prosecuting the enterprise's criminal activities. Criminal intelligence investigations, usually of a long-term nature, may provide vital intelligence to help prevent terrorist acts.

Authorized criminal intelligence investigations are of two types: racketeering enterprise investigations (Part III.A) and terrorism enterprise investigations (Part III.B).

A racketeering enterprise investigation may be initiated when facts or circumstances reasonably indicate that two or more persons are engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity as defined in the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). However, the USA PATRIOT ACT (Public Law 107-56) expanded the predicate acts for RICO to include the crimes most likely to be committed by terrorists and their supporters, as described in 18 U.S.C. 2332b(g)(5)(B). To maintain uniformity in the standards and procedures for criminal intelligence investigations relating to terrorism, investigations premised on racketeering activity involving offenses described in 18 U.S.C. 2332b(g)(5)(B) are subject to the provisions for terrorism enterprise investigations rather than those for racketeering enterprise investigations.

A terrorism enterprise investigation may be initiated when facts or circumstances reasonably indicate that two or more persons are engaged in an enterprise for the purpose of: (1) furthering political or social goals wholly or in part through activities that involve force or violence and a federal crime, (2) engaging in terrorism as defined in 18 U.S.C. 2331(1) or (5) that involves a federal crime, or (3) committing any offense described in 18 U.S.C. 2332b(g)(5)(B). As noted above, criminal intelligence investigations premised on a pattern of racketeering activity involving an 18 U.S.C. 2332b(g)(5)(B) offense are also treated as terrorism enterprise investigations.

As with the other types of full investigations authorized by these Guidelines, any lawful investigative technique may be used in terrorism enterprise investigations, including the development of sources and informants and undercover activities and operations. The "reasonable indication" standard for commencing a terrorism enterprise investigation is the same as that for general crimes and racketeering enterprise investigations. As noted above, it is substantially lower than probable cause.

In practical terms, the "reasonable indication" standard for opening a criminal intelligence investigation of an enterprise in the terrorism context could be satisfied in a number of ways. In some cases satisfaction of the standard will be apparent on the basis of direct evidence of an enterprise's involvement in or planning for the commission of a federal offense involving the use of force or violence to further political or social goals, terrorism as defined in 18 U.S.C. 2331(1) or (5), or a crime described in 18 U.S.C. 2332b(g)(5)(B). For example, direct information may be available about statements made in furtherance of an enterprise's objectives which show a purpose of committing such crimes or securing their commission by others.

In other cases, the nature of the conduct engaged in by an enterprise will justify an inference that the standard is satisfied, even if there are no known statements by participants that advocate or indicate planning for violence or other prohibited acts. For example, such activities as attempting to obtain dangerous biological agents, toxic chemicals, or nuclear materials, or stockpiling explosives or weapons, with no discernible lawful purpose, may be sufficient to reasonably indicate that an enterprise aims to engage in terrorism.

Moreover, a group's activities and the statements of its members may properly be considered in conjunction with each other. A combination of statements and activities may justify a determination that the threshold standard for a terrorism enterprise investigation is satisfied, even if the statements alone or the activities alone would not warrant such a determination.

While no particular factor or combination of factors is required, considerations that will generally be relevant to the determination whether the threshold standard for a terrorism enterprise investigation is satisfied include, as noted, a group's statements, its activities, and the nature of potential federal criminal law violations suggested by its statements or activities. Thus, where there are grounds for inquiry concerning a group, it may be helpful to gather information about these matters, and then to consider whether these factors, either individually or in combination, reasonably indicate that the group is pursuing terrorist activities or objectives as defined in the threshold standard. Findings that would weigh in favor of such a conclusion include, for example, the following:

(1) Threats or advocacy of violence or other covered criminal acts: Statements are made in relation to or in furtherance of an enterprise's political or social objectives that threaten or advocate the use of force or violence, or statements are made in furtherance of an enterprise that otherwise threaten or advocate criminal conduct within the scope of 18 U.S.C. 2331(1) or (5) or 2332b(g)(5)(B), which may concern such matters as (e.g.):

(i) engaging in attacks involving or threatening massive loss of life or injury, mass destruction, or endangerment of the national security;

(ii) killing or injuring federal personnel, destroying federal facilities, or defying lawful federal authority;

(iii) killing, injuring or intimidating individuals because of their status as United States nationals or persons, or because of their national origin, race, color, religion, or sex; or

(iv) depriving individuals of any rights secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States.

(2) Apparent ability or intent to carry out violence or other covered activities: The enterprise manifests an apparent ability or intent to carry out violence or other activities within the scope of 18 U.S.C. 2331(1) or (5) or 2332b(g)(5)(B), e.g.:

(i) by acquiring, or taking steps towards acquiring, biological agents or toxins, toxic chemicals or their precursors, radiological or nuclear materials, explosives, or other destructive or dangerous materials (or plans or formulas for such materials), or weapons, under circumstances where, by reason of the quantity or character of the items, the lawful purpose of the acquisition is not apparent;

(ii) by the creation, maintenance, or support of an armed paramilitary organization;

(iii) by paramilitary training; or

(iv) by other conduct demonstrating an apparent ability or intent to injure or intimidate individuals, or to interfere with the exercise of their constitutional or statutory rights.

(3) Potential federal crime: The group's statements or activities suggest potential federal criminal violations that may be relevant in applying the standard for initiating a terrorism enterprise investigation - such as crimes under the provisions of the U.S. Code that set forth specially defined terrorism or support-of-terrorism offenses, or that relate to such matters as aircraft hijacking or destruction, attacks on transportation, communications, or energy facilities or systems, biological or chemical weapons, nuclear or radiological materials, civil rights violations, assassinations or other violence against federal officials or facilities, or explosives (e.g., the offenses listed in 18 U.S.C. 2332b(g)(5)(B) or appearing in such provisions as 18 U.S.C. 111, 115, 231, 241, 245, or 247).