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Indiana Intelligence Fusion Center

IIFC > 8 Signs of Terrorism 8 Signs of Terrorism

In these new and challenging times, we as citizens have a duty to help protect our communities. We can help provide safety and security in Indiana by remaining vigilant and reporting unusual behavior or events immediately.

Listed below are eight signs of terrorism that may help detect potential terrorist acts. Indicators of a potential event may occur weeks, months or even years apart. Documenting details of events or behaviors witnessed is important, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem.

1. Surveillance

Terrorists will likely observe a chosen target during the planning phase of an operation. They do this to determine the strengths, weaknesses and number of emergency personnel that may respond to an incident. Suspicious actions during this phase may include someone recording or monitoring activities, drawing diagrams or making notes on maps, using vision-enhancing devices, or having possession of floor plans or blue prints of places such as high-tech firms, financial institutions, or government facilities, including military installations. Routes to and from the target are also usually established during the surveillance phase.

2. Inquiries

A second sign, inquiries, entails attempting to gain information about a place, person, or operation pertaining to the target. Terrorists may attempt to elicit information about a critical infrastructure such as a power plant, water reservoir, maritime port, military base, bridge or tunnel by making unusual inquiries. They may inquire about usage and operations. Additionally, they may attempt to place people in legitimate employment at key locations to monitor day-to-day activities and gather detailed knowledge in order to make their mission or scheme more effective.

3. Tests of Security

Terrorists may also test a target’s security to gather data. To do this, they may drive by the target, moving into sensitive areas and observing security or law enforcement response. They are likely assessing how long before personnel respond to a security breech or the routes responders take to a specific location. Terrorists may also attempt to penetrate physical security barriers or procedures in order to assess strengths and weaknesses.

4. Fundraising

Although this is a tough sign to pick up on, it is one of the most important. Without funding, terrorist activity will come to a dramatic halt. Terrorists are very creative in raising, transferring, and spending money they come in contact with. Some scenarios to look for include: (1) credit card fraud, (2) defrauding the elderly, (3) people asking for donations to legitimate organizations but in peculiar ways, and (4) very large amounts of cash used in business transactions.

5. Acquiring Supplies

Terrorists may purchase or steal explosives, weapons, ammunition, or attempt to store harmful chemical equipment. In order to gain easier entrance to a secured area, they may also try to acquire uniforms, equipment or identification of first responders, including military personnel. Other items they may try to obtain include flight passes, flight manuals, passports or other pieces of identification. If they are unable to steal these types of things, they may attempt to create counterfeit copies.

6. Suspicious/Out-Of-Place Behavior

Profiling individuals is wrong, however, profiling behaviors may indicate suspicious behavior. Sometimes suspicious people just “don’t belong” or a behavior seems out of place. This may include a person in a workplace, building, neighborhood or business establishment that does not fit in because of demeanor, language usage or unusual questions they ask.

7. Dry Runs

Before executing the final operation or plan, terrorists may engage in a practice session, or “dry run,” to work out flaws or unanticipated problems. Although they normal conduct multiple practice sessions at or near the target area, a “dry run” may be the heart of the planning stage of a terrorist act. During a “dry run,” terrorists may monitor police radio frequencies and record emergency response times.

8. Deploying Assets/Getting Into Position

The deploying assets or getting into position stage is an individual’s last chance to alert authorities before the terrorist act occurs.