Break-Ins, Death Threats, and the FBI: The Covert War against the Central America Movement

By Ross Gelbspan | Go to book overview

8
An Album of Terrorists, An
Underground of Spies

The summer of 1982 saw the beginning of another FBI operation— one which gave full expression to the concept of "active measures" and which, five years later, would provide the Bureau with the occasion for blatant dissembling to members of Congress.

During the official hiatus in the CISPES investigation—after the closing of the Foreign Agents Registration Act probe and before the opening of the terrorism investigation which would begin in March 1983— Evans and Flanagan instructed Varelli to compile entries for the FBI's "Terrorist Photo Album." The operation was to be named "Pipil" after an Indian group that originally inhabited the area that is now El Salvador.

The idea was to compile a book of entries on known and suspected terrorists—or people who were providing support to known terrorists— that would provide basic identification data, photographs and a summary of the Bureau's investigative interest in the individual. 1

To compile the album, Evans put Varelli in touch with an employee in the FBI's photo lab who gave Varelli a crash course in the use of photographic equipment. The Bureau provided film, lenses and filters, and paid for the rental of a tripod and the purchase of hundreds of sheets of photographic paper. When Varelli completed a roll of photos—many of which were shot from books, newspapers or magazines—he would drop the film off at the FBI office in Dallas where the photo lab would develop and print them according the specifications of the photo album format.

When Varelli submitted the completed album forms, he would include only a number in the box on the upper right hand comer of the page reserved for the photo. He would submit the photographs under

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