The Federal Bureau of Investigation - Capabilities and Service
by Gideon T. Rasmussen - CISSP, CISA, CISM, MVP - Monday, 15 October 2007.
Terrorists can look like anyone. There is no stereotype. The first phase of any JTTF investigation is intelligence gathering. Who is involved? What are they doing? The next phase is threat assessment. Public records checks and database checks are conducted. This most basic form of investigation may reveal that a suspect is lying or has been stopped for similar surveillance at another location. If a case is warranted, a preliminary or full investigation is initiated. When terrorism activity is confirmed, the decision is made whether to disrupt, arrest or deport the suspect.

Each JTTF refers to a list of terrorist groups established by the State Department. It is a felony for any individual or organization to knowingly support a terrorist group. When support of is identified, the FBI works with the Treasury department to freeze assets (bank accounts) and suspend business operations. At that point, the FBI will also announce that anyone who conducts business with that organization is supporting terrorism and is also committing a felony.

3. Field Intelligence Group (FIG)

FIGs ensure intelligence gathered by field offices is appropriately shared across the FBI and with law enforcement and intelligence agencies. The goal of information sharing is “share by rule, withhold by exception” and “protect sources and methods”.

Like most intelligence organizations, FIGs are drowning in information and starving for knowledge. Intelligence collection is the primary role of Special Agents (answering the 5 Ws). Intelligence Analysts evaluate information, identify trends, recommend options, and forecast outcomes.

Finally, FIGs develop Intelligence Information Reports and disseminate them within approved channels in a timely and usable manner. The expression “I could tell you but, then I’d have to kill you” applies here. Much of the tactics of a FIG are classified.

4. Violent Crimes & Major Offenses/Drug Program (VCMO)

The VCMO team is primarily focused on organized crime and bank robbery. Typical investigations include gangs, mafia and drug trafficking. Gangs are active in 40 states and DC. The FBI’s National Gang Strategy is to investigate, disrupt and dismantle violent gangs. Gangs have a hierarchical structure with leaders and defined roles and operations. Accordingly, the FBI focuses on prosecuting gang leadership to “cut the head off the snake”. Gangs use sophisticated technology to secure their communications (e.g. cell phone encryption, wire detectors, spy gear, codes and ciphers). The FBI uses safe streets programs and violent gang task forces to disrupt their operations. The FBI maintains SWAT teams and is well equipped to arrest violent criminals.

The FBI is famous for solving armed bank robberies. Bank robberies account for 50% of all robberies. Typically $5,000 or less is stolen. The FBI also investigates kidnapping, extortion, cold case homicides, serial killers and interstate domestic violence.

5. Evidence Response Team (ERT)

An ERT has all the capabilities of a Crime Scene Investigations unit and more. ERTs work federal crime scenes (e.g. Indian reservations, national parks and terrorist events). ERTs have investigated cars, violent bank robberies, plane crashes, 9-11 and bomb incidents.

When a crime scene is discovered, the area is cordoned off to preserve evidence. ERTs follow well-defined procedures when processing a crime scene. Anyone entering the scene is signed in and must wear a Tyvek suit to prevent contamination (e.g. hair from an Investigator). A photographer takes pictures before Investigators enter, during evidence collection and upon exit. Footprints can be captured by photograph or plaster cast. Vacuum canisters with filters are used to collect small particles such as hair or clothing fibers. DNA evidence is detected with Alternate Light Source equipment. Investigators also lift latent fingerprints and use rods with laser pointers to trace bullet trajectory.


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