Knowledge-based natural language processing systems have achieved good success with certain tasks but they are often criticized because they depend on a domain-specific dictionary that requires a great deal of manual knowledge engineering. This knowledge engineering bottleneck makes knowledge-based NLP systems impractical for real-world applications because they cannot be easily scaled up orported to new domains. In response to this problem, we developed a system called AutoSlog that automatically builds a domain-specific dictionary of concepts for extracting information from text. Using AutoSlog. we constructed a dictionary for the domain of terrorist event descriptions in only 5 person-hours. We then compared the AutoSlog dictionary with a hand-crafted dictionary that was built by two highly skilled graduate students and required approximately 1500 person-hours of effort. We evaluated the two dictionaries using two blind test sets of 100 texts each. Overall, the AutoSlog dictionary achieved 98% of the performance of the hand-crafted dictionary. On the first test set, the Auto-Slog dictionary obtained 96.3% of the perfomlance of the hand-crafted dictionary. On the second test set, the overall scores were virtually indistinguishable with the AutoSlog dictionary achieving 99.7% of the performance of the handcrafted dictionary.