Searching for terrorists, the FBI and the Education Department's investigative arm have secretly vetted people applying for college aid, documents show.

The goal of "Project Strike Back" was to determine if terrorism suspects, through identity theft or other means, illegally obtained college aid to finance their operations.

The data-mining project was first disclosed Aug. 31 by Laura McGann, a student at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

The government effort began right after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. The program


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