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Unfortunately, violent man-made disasters have been a component of society since the beginning of time. People have fought in the name of conquest, defense, plunder, religion, and hundreds of other reasons. And in a sick way, it seems like some of us just enjoy fighting each other.

Obviously, any kind of violence has the potential to create SHTF type scenarios, but there are definitely differences between officially declared “war”, and “terrorism.” While wars are usually fought between soldiers of opposing countries, terrorism generally refers to acts of violence that deliberately target non-combatants, or civilians. Accordingly, everyone should be as prepared as possible for terrorism.

Because public awareness of terrorism has increased so much in the past few years,  many questions have been raised about terrorist motives and methods. Here is a cross section of some of the most common:

Who are terrorists?
Although it’s difficult to coin an exact definition for a “terrorist”, essentially they are people who initiate violence on non-combatants. (they attack people that aren’t soldiers).

Who are the worst?
While it’s hard to answer such a subjective question with an objective answer, the United States FBI does maintain a list of the “Most Wanted Terrorists”, along with the charges against them, the groups the associate with, and other information.

Are all terrorists part of groups?
No, there are some terrorists who operate alone, labeled “lone wolves.” Although some of these actually act in support of an otherwise established group, many have an entirely personal agenda.

In the United States, Ted Kaczynski (the “Unabomber”), and Timothy McVeigh (perpetrator of the Oklahoma City bombings) are two notable examples.

Are all terrorists that target U.S. civilians from other countries?
No. As unfortunate as it is, there are plenty of terrorist movements in the U.S. that target our own people.

It’s important to remember that terrorists don’t act like countries do. They’re not always bound together by political purposes, so the things they protest more frequently are ideas, beliefs, or lifestyles.

Why do they attack? What are their motives?
Terrorist acts are committed by individuals or groups for very specific reasons. People have been selected as targets of terrorism based on their race, religion, political party, or otherwise.

Terrorism tactics are used when conventional warfare won’t work because the sides are unevenly matched, or not entirely political. In addition to the immediate destruction they result in, frequently terrorist attacks are carried out to gain the attention of the media, create public fear and awareness of their cause.

Are all terrorists constantly attacking?
No. Again, depending on the motives, some terrorists are only concerned with one target, or even more specifically, one singular attack. Other groups are only active at voting times, religious holidays, marches, demonstrations, etc.

How they do it? What are the most common tactics terrorists use in their attacks?
According to the report released in 2009 from the National Counter Terrorism Council (NCTC), a majority of terrorist incidents over the past couple years have been by terrorists using “conventional fighting methods, such as armed attacks, bombings and kidnappings”

What can I do to prepare my family and loved ones for the threat of terrorism?
As with most SHTF scenarios, the most important thing you can do is to talk with your loved ones about the reality of terrorism, both domestic and international. Be open and honest, and explain that while it’s impossible to anticipate every single situation you may need to be prepared for, you can develop a good solid base of skills and survival equipment that are universal to several situations.

Where can I get more information on terrorism?

Helpful Links for Bioterror and other agents: