Key Points

  • Terrorism is a bit different that the other hazards presented because it is a method that uses hazards. The actual damage is caused by explosions, shootings, fires, crashes, infrastructure collapses, computer failures and the release of harmful agents, be they chemical, biological or radiological. This chapter will concentrate on the unique aspects of terrorism while impacts will be covered in related chapters: biological hazards, infrastructure failure and hazardous materials incidents.

  • Since 9/11 terrorism has been recognized one of the top risks facing the United States. Modern technology allows small groups to inflect high casualties. Large amounts of resources have been appropriated to reduce the threat of terrorism.

  • Defining terrorism is somewhat subjective with multiple definitions. Most agree that it involves acts that endanger human life through mass destruction, assassination and kidnapping. These acts are intended to intimidate a population and influence government policy. Most agree that acts by individuals can be called terrorism. One of the major differences of opinion is whether terrorist acts are restricted to non-governmental actors.

  • Seattle has not experienced a large-scale 9/11 or Oklahoma Bombing-type of terrorist act, but it has had several smaller incidents and has been connected to larger incidents.

  • The terrorist threat in Seattle comes from multiple sources. Al Qaeda and related jihadism, the extreme right and radical environmentalism have been the most frequent causes.

  • The targets of terrorism depend who is doing the targeting. Target selection depends on ideology, strategy, resources and target protection. Many groups aim to kill as many people as possible, but eco-terrorists have focused more on property destruction. Most groups aim to destroy sites related to their ideology, but some sites seem chosen more for other reasons. Because of this dependence, it is necessary to understand the ideologies, beliefs and motivations of the groups involved.

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