Preparing for the Next Terrorist Attack in America

AP Photo
AP File Photo/Mary Altaffer

Editor’s Note: This story was written by Dan Foster, special contributor for In Homeland Security and first appeared online via We reprint in part here.

Terrorism is a tactic that has survived for thousands of years and seeks to cause fear, panic, and economic damage to a given population in order to exert control or influence political, social, or religious practices through unusual levels of brutality. As technology advances, so too do the tools available to terror organizations and those inspired by them.

Though there have been many examples of high and low technology use by groups such as ISIS over the last couple years, the primary tools of any nefarious organization remains shootings, bombings, and cyber attacks. Some Americans wish to deny reality and believe that the world is a safe place to live where everybody can coexist peacefully.

This is patently untrue as long as there are extremists of any ideology. Though global terrorism has been increasing over the recent history, properly understanding and preparing for its effects will minimize negative impacts.

The latest ‘Terror Threat Snapshot’ (House Homeland Security Committee)

"Terror Threat Snapshot" courtesy U.S. House Homeland Security Committee

“Terror Threat Snapshot” courtesy U.S. House Homeland Security Committee

Mass Shootings

One of the most common terror attacks is mass shootings since this requires little skill or resources to carry out while inflicting significant physical and psychological damage to those attacked. This style of indiscriminate killing is a form of atrocity, and as noted by Dave Grossman in his recent book On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, this close range and personal delivery of death, when properly used, can be incredibly effective at achieving the psychological effect of destroying the will of the attacked.

Though the physical wounds from gunshots are addressed with competency almost everywhere in America, the psychological damage may be largely ignored. Persons who were not present at the attack site may develop adverse psychological reactions, thus emergency managers and planners should ensure sufficient assets are available to support the community as a whole versus only those directly affected. Prior to committing to a preparation/response plan, additional methods of attack and their effects must be considered.

Improvised Explosive Devices

Bombings, or the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), pose a different means of physical injury that many locales may not be prepared for.

Read the full article: In Homeland Security