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Domestic terrorism can take many forms

Posted Aug. 23, 2018

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An act of terrorism is not always carried out by a foreign national in a foreign country. The United States has suffered numerous terrorist events, some instigated by foreign-born residents with foreign interests, others conducted by American citizens.

Domestic terrorism incidents can stem from political, racial, religious, economic status or social differences. No matter the cause, all domestic terrorism events have two things in common: the suspect was an American and it happened in the U.S.

The first image that may come to a person’s mind when thinking of domestic terrorism might be a person with a gun. Recent school shootings throughout the county committed by school-age children for unknown reasons, a South Texas church service ambushed by a gunman upset with an in-law, the 2017 Las Vegas concert shooting that killed 58, and the 2016 Dallas police ambush certainly fit that image.

The FBI defines active shooter as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.” That definition does not specify the nationality, religion or race of the aggressor. It could be anyone, at any location, any time.

Domestic terrorism is more than a person with a gun. Consider events such as the 1995 Oklahoma City Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing, envelopes containing anthrax mailed to politicians and the media in 2001, the 2017 Charlottesville, Va., white supremacist who drove his car into a crowd of protesters, or the 2018 Austin package bomber. In each instance, the perpetrator was a U.S. citizen.

What to watch for

The public may never know why a person would strike out against innocent individuals, but they may display signs about what they might be planning.

If you notice a person with growing stress and anger, becoming argumentative or frustrated with their job, co-workers or supervisors, say something to your management.

If you hear or read on social media that someone is going to “shoot it up” or other threats of retaliation against an individual, business, organization, race or religion, say something to local authorities.

If you notice unusual activity, something out of place in your neighborhood, or you overhear a threatening conversation, say something to local law enforcement officers. Sometimes an individual shows increased interest in religious or radicalized websites, research into weapons or explosives, upcoming public events with large turnouts.

Law enforcement makes every attempt to investigate and stay ahead of potential threats to local communities, but they need the public’s help. If you See Something, Say Something by reporting suspicious behavior or actions to the Fort Worth Police Department’s Homeland Security Unit hotline, 817-392-6677.

Local, state and federal authorities are doing their best to stop terrorist actions, but they cannot know everything that is going on. Residents are their biggest resource. First responders need your eyes, ears and help in giving advance warning of potential acts of violence in neighborhoods and workplaces. We need to act as one community to combat the possibility of a mass shooting, bombing or other act of terrorism in our hometown.

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Trinity Metro Board of Directors Meeting: 3:30 p.m. Nov. 19, 2018; Intermodal Transportation Center, Second Floor, Community Room, 1001 Jones Street.
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Canceled City Council Work Session: 3 p.m. Nov. 20, 2018; City Council Conference Room 290, Second Floor, City Hall, 200 Texas Street.

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