Counterterrorism Indicators

Individuals involved in terrorism or subversion sometimes engage in behaviors that are observable by others and give clues to what might be going on. Alert supervisors and coworkers who recognize and report these clues play a significant role in helping to protect our country against terrorist attacks and other subversive activities.

The information below alerts you to potential indicators of terrorist preparations or subversive activities that you could conceivably observe or learn about. These indicators are applicable both in the United States and abroad. For readers stationed abroad, these indicators apply to local national employees associated with U.S. installations as well as to Americans.

Security Is Your Job

Some of these behaviors may have innocent explanations, but it is not up to you to make that judgment. If you observe any of these indicators, you should report this information to your organization's security officer, the nearest FBI office, local law enforcement, or call one of the Hotline Numbers set up for the reporting of such information.

The appropriate office will evaluate the information in the context of all other information known about the individual and about potential terrorist activity in your area. Depending upon the circumstances, action may range from nothing to conducting a discrete investigation. You may request that your identity be protected.

Reportable Indicators

Potential Indicators of Terrorist Preparations

The following are potential indicators that an individual may be planning, may be aware of others who are planning, or may be motivated to assist in conducting a terrorist attack.

  • Talk knowingly about a future terrorist event, as though the person has inside information about what is going to happen.
  • Statement of intent to commit or threatening to commit a terrorist act, whether serious or supposedly as a “joke,” and regardless of whether or not you think the person intends to carry out the action. (All threats must be taken seriously.)
  • Statements about having a bomb or biological or chemical weapon, about having or getting the materials to make such a device, or about learning how to make or use any such device—when this is unrelated to the person’s job duties.
  • Handling, storing, or tracking hazardous materials in a manner that puts these materials at risk.
  • Collection of unclassified information that might be useful to someone planning a terrorist attack, e.g., pipeline locations, airport control procedures, building plans, etc. when this is unrelated to the person’s job or other known interests..
  • Physical surveillance (photography, videotaping, taking notes on patterns of activity at various times) of any site that is a potential target for terrorist attack (including but not limited to any building of symbolic importance to the government or economy, large public gathering, transportation center, bridge, power plant or line, communication center).
  • Deliberate probing of security responses, such as deliberately causing a false alarm, faked accidental entry to an unauthorized area, or other suspicious activity designed to test security responses without prior authorization.
  • Possessing or seeking items that may be useful for a terrorist but are inconsistent with the person’s known hobbies or job requirements, such as: explosives, uniforms (to pose as police officer, security guard, airline employee), high-powered weapons, books and literature on how to make explosive, biological, chemical, or nuclear devices, multiple or fraudulent identification documents.
  • Statements of support for suicide bombers who have attacked the United States or U.S. personnel or interests abroad.

Potential Indicators of Subversive Activities

The following are potential indicators that an individual may support or associate with others who support an extremist organization or cause that advocates violence or threats of violence to influence U.S. policy?

  • Knowing membership in, or attempt to conceal membership in, any group which: (1) advocates the use of force or violence to cause political change within the U.S., (2) has been identified as a front group for foreign interests, or (3) advocates loyalty to a foreign interest over loyalty to the U.S.
  • Statements disparaging the United States in favor of an alternative system (for example, Islamic law (Shariah), white supremacy, Christian Identity, anarchy, Communism).
  • Statements that the U.S. Government is trying to destroy or suppress people of a particular race, religion, or ethnicity (for example, statements that the U.S. Government is engaging in a crusade against Islam or destroying white culture or the purity of the white race).
  • Distribution of extremist publications or posting information on the Internet, including e-mail and on-line discussions, which supports or encourages violence or other illegal activity. Frequent viewing of web sites that promote extremist or violent activity (unless this is part of one’s job or academic study).
  • Advocating or participating in violence against any individual based on their race, creed, color, sexual orientation, religion, or national origin.
  • Statements of support for violence against U.S. military forces either at home or deployed abroad.
  • For U.S. military personnel only: Any action that advises, counsels, urges, or in any manner causes or attempts to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty by any member of the armed forces of the United States.



The Chroma Group, Ltd.