The threat of terrorism affects all communities both nationally and internationally and transcends all geographic and demographic boundaries. No community is immune and all jurisdictions, suburban, urban and rural areas are at risk. We cannot assume that we can prevent all acts of terror and therefore must prepare to minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur.
Terrorists look for visible targets where they can avoid detection before or after an attack such as international airports, large cities, major international events, resorts, and high-profile landmarks. Terrorists often use threats to create fear among the public, try to convince citizens that their government is powerless to prevent terrorism, and to get immediate publicity for their causes. Different types of terrorist weapons include explosives, kidnappings, hijackings, arson, shootings, and NBC’s (nuclear, biological agents and chemicals).
The consequences of a terrorist attack are wide-ranging and can include: loss of life and health, destruction of families, fear and panic, loss of confidence in government, destruction of property, and disruption of commerce and financial markets. Before terrorism strikes, learn about terrorism and be ready to deal with any terrorist situation by preparing as you would for any other crisis. If you have information regarding suspicious or criminal activity that may be terrorist related and are in doubt who to contact or notify dial “911” to report the incident to the local police.  
The word “terrorism” traces its roots in the English language to the French revolution (1789-1795) when British statesman Edmund Burke used the term, terrorism, along with terrorist, to describe the actions of the Jacobin-dominated French government. The Jacobins ruled France in what was called the Reign of Terror from 1793-94. During that Reign of Terror, thousands of “enemies of the state” were put on trial and guillotined. By 1798, the term was being applied generally to anyone who attempted to achieve political goals through violence and intimidation. The word is thought to have been coined by the Jacobins themselves, but the French “terrorisme” is not recorded until 1798. If the Jacobins did coin it, they are the only ones to have used it self-referentially. The term has always had negative connotations since then.
No one definition of terrorism has gained universal acceptance. In fact, the nature of terrorism is always changing. What is called terrorism one year may be called war, liberation, freedom fighting, or revolutionary action another year. Terrorism is an emotionally charged word that is frequently used to politically and socially denigrate somebody or some group.
The United States Code is a consolidation and codification by subject matter of the general and permanent laws of the United States. It is prepared by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the United States House of Representatives. The definitions of Terrorism in the U.S. Code – 18 U.S.C. § 2331 defines “international terrorism” and “domestic terrorism” for purposes of Chapter 113B of the Code, entitled “Terrorism”:
The U.S. State Department uses the following definitions relating to terrorism contained in the U.S. Code – Title 22 -Chapter 38 – Section 2656f(d): 
The U.S. Government has employed this definition of terrorism for statistical and analytical purposes since 1983.
Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) are foreign organizations that are designated by the Secretary of State in accordance with Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended. FTO designations play a critical role in our fight against terrorism and are an effective means of curtailing support for terrorist activities and pressuring groups to get out of the terrorism business.
Sec. 219. (a) Designation.
Eleven days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge was appointed as the first Director of the Office of Homeland Security in the White House. The office oversaw and coordinated a comprehensive national strategy to safeguard the country against terrorism and respond to any future attacks.
With the passage of the Homeland Security Act by Congress in November 2002, the Department of Homeland Security formally came into being as a stand-alone, Cabinet-level department to further coordinate and unify national homeland security efforts, opening its doors on March 1, 2003.
Citizens should report suspicious activity to their local law enforcement authorities. The “If You See Something, Say Something™” campaign across the United States encourages all citizens to be vigilant for indicators of potential terrorist activity, and to follow NTAS Alerts for information about threats in specific places or for individuals exhibiting certain types of suspicious activity. Visit www.dhs.gov/ifyouseesomethingsaysomething to learn more about the campaign.
- U.S. State Department – Country Reports on Terrorism – U.S. law requires the Secretary of State to provide Congress, by April 30 of each year, a full and complete report on terrorism with regard to those countries and groups meeting criteria set forth in the legislation. Beginning with the report for 2004, it replaced the previously published Patterns of Global Terrorism. The report covers developments in countries in which acts of terrorism occurred, countries that are state sponsors of terrorism, and countries determined by the Secretary to be of particular interest in the global war on terror.
- U.S. State Department – Political Violence Against Americans, formerly Significant Incidents of Political Violence Against Americans, is produced by the Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s Office of Intelligence and Threat Analysis (DS/DSS/ITA) to provide readers with a comprehensive picture of the broad spectrum of political violence that American citizens and interests have encountered abroad on an annual basis. NOTE: This series was not produced for the years 2003-2007.
- FBI – Most Wanted Terrorists – The alleged terrorists on this list have been indicted by sitting Federal Grand Juries in various jurisdictions in the United States for the crimes reflected on their wanted posters. Evidence was gathered and presented to the Grand Juries, which led to their being charged. The indictments currently listed on the posters allow them to be arrested and brought to justice. Future indictments may be handed down as various investigations proceed in connection to other terrorist incidents, for example, the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
- FEMA – Emergency Response to Terrorism – Self-Study Book: http://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/publications/ertss.pdf
- FEMA – Terrorism: http://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/20130726-1549-20490-0802/terrorism.pdf
- Defense Technical Information Center – The Department of Homeland Security: http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a405206.pdf
- Image Source: http://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/Pentagon.htm [Accessed March 11, 2014]
- National Criminal Justice Reference Service – Abstract – Terrorism and International Law – What is being Done?: https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/abstractdb/AbstractDBDetails.aspx?id=52267
- Definitions of Terrorism in the U.S. Code – http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/terrorism/terrorism-definition
- Cornell University Law School – U.S. Code: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/22/2656f
- U.S. Department of State: http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/other/des/123085.htm
- Immigration and Nationality Act – Section 219 – Designation of Foreign Terrorist Organization: http://www.uscis.gov.edgesuite-staging.net/ilink/docView/SLB/HTML/SLB/0-0-0-1/0-0-0-29/0-0-0-5017.html
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security: http://www.dhs.gov/creation-department-homeland-security
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security: http://www.dhs.gov/ntas-public-guide
- Image Source: http://www.dhs.gov/ [Accessed March 11, 2014]
- U.S. State Department – Country Reports on Terrorism: http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/
- U.S. State Department – Political Violence Against Americans: http://www.state.gov/m/ds/rls/rpt/19691.htm
- FBI – Most Wanted Terrorists: http://www.fbi.gov/wanted/wanted_terrorists