What is it?
Terrorism is the use of force or violence against persons or property in violation of the criminal laws of the United States for purposes of intimidation, coercion, or ransom. 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 cause.
Terrorism has been used throughout history to intimidate, coerce, and bring harm to populations. Acts of terrorism include:
Threats of terrorism
Bomb scares and bombings
Computer-based cyber attacks
Use of chemical, biological, nuclear, and radiological weapons.
Terrorists are looking for the "shock and awe" factor, which means that they will do whatever they can to scare the most people. Terrorism is just as much a psychological attack on a nation as it is a physical attack. Since it is very difficult to anticipate what a terrorist may do, we need to formulate plans that will work for all disasters, whether they be natural, manmade such as terrorism, or otherwise.
Although it is hard to think of Wyoming as a terrorist target, it has happened before. In December of 2005 a man was arrested in Pocatello, ID while meeting who he thought was an Al-Qaida operative. The man, Michael Reynolds, was offering to blow up the natural gas hub in Opal, WY in exchange for $50,000.
What are the risk factors?
Terrorism by its very nature is unpredictable, so it is hard to define risk factors. Living in areas with low populations and few targets may reduce your risk.
Threat levels can sometimes be different for airlines than they are for the rest of the country. If you are flying, check the TSA site for information on what can and cannot be brought on flights. These items can change depending on the current threat level.
What should I do?
There are many different types of terrorist events, so it is hard to have a general response. Here are a few tips:
As for any disaster, have a plan and preparedness kit ready for your family.
If you don't have a family emergency plan and a 72 hour kit, click here to get started.
If you see people, vehicles, or other objects that are out of place or suspicious, call the Teton County Sheriff's Office at (307) 733-2331 to report the information.
Stay tuned to EAS broadcasts for instruction before, during, and following the disaster.
Listen to your NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio or another Emergency Alert System (EAS) broadcaster for instructions from emergency services before, during, and following an event. Information is vital during any emergency, and it can be difficult to determine if there actually has been an intentional terrorist event. Stay tuned to reliable sources of information, and try not to pay attention to rumors.
Ready.gov has an informative site designed to help citizens prepare for all hazards, including terrorism available here.
What are the impacts?
Many of the impacts of a terrorist event last long after the event itself has finished:
Loss of life and property damage.
This is the main impact of a terrorist event. But as we know, casualties are not the only way terrorists can achieve their goals.
Long term psychological damage.
This can be accomplished with just threats and no real action on the part of terrorists. Although harder to quantify, the psychological aspect can be a huge impact to a nation.
Loss of business, either due to real or perceived threats.
When people stop leaving their homes and carrying out their lives as normal due to real or perceived terrorist threats, businesses see the impact on their bottom line.
Allocation of limited government resources to deal with real or perceived terrorist threats.
When the government sends resources to deal with domestic threats, that removes those resources from another area. Personnel such as police, firefighters, EMT's, and search & rescue teams are specialized professionals who are a limited resource.