Public awareness & the war on terrorism
Since the attacks of Sept. 11, a number of bulletins have been issued by the FBI warning of an increased potential for terrorist attacks. In many cases, these warnings are vague and nonspecific — the result of fragmented or unverified information filtering in from the intelligence community. Yet the public is warned to be on guard for “suspicious activity” and to maintain a “heightened state of alert.” Without specific guidance, these types of warnings have created a state of confusion and frustration on the part of the public and local authorities who, until recently, have never confronted the threat of terrorism.
So what can the public do to aid in the war on terrorism? What should citizens and local police be looking for with regard to “suspicious activity?” Addressing these questions requires an understanding of how Al-Qaeda and other threat groups operate and how terrorist attacks are planned and executed. By assessing the terrorists’ modus operandi, we can identify many observable activities or events that may indicate a potential terrorist attack. In the anti-terrorism community, these types of observable activities are referred to as “threat indicators.” Any notice of these activities should be reported to police and promptly investigated...