Current Trends In The United States




I The Year in Review

II Terrorism in the United States

IV Current Threat

V Current Trends in the United States

Appendix One: Terrorism in the United States Statistics

Appendix Two: FBI Counterterrorism Responsibilities

Terrorists Are Improving

Over the past year, terrorist supporters in the United States continued a trend toward improving their ability to collect information, raise money, and issue rhetoric. Advanced technology allowed some extremists to communicate efficiently and securely. Supporters of terrorist groups also continued to send and receive information from like-minded zealots overseas.

Public computer databases are becoming ubiquitous in the United States. Some of these networks are repositories for inflammatory rhetoric which can influence or inflame extremists. Other databases contain recipes for bombs, hold information on unconventional weapons, or offer computer viruses for download.

Terrorists may also have learned from past violence in the United States, particularly the examples set by the World Trade Center and Oklahoma City bombings. Studying the attacks--including the resulting damage, media coverage, and investigative techniques used to apprehend suspects--could prompt future terrorists to plan their attacks with greater care.

Bombs Are Deadlier

Terrorists in the United States continued a general trend in which fewer attacks are occurring in the United States, but individual attacks are becoming more deadly. The 1995 Oklahoma City bombing was one of the largest explosions ever investigated by the FBI. That single bombing killed more Americans in the United States than any terrorist attack in the modern era.

Recipes for large explosives are available for any extremist willing to research them. It is likely that the United States will continue to face the threat of "spectacular terrorism" for the foreseeable future.

Unconventional Weapons

Extremists in the United States continued a chilling trend by demonstrating interest in--and experimentation with--unconventional weapons. Over the past ten years, a pattern of interest in biological agents by criminals and extremists has developed:

  • In 1984, two members of the Rajneesh religious sect in Oregon produced and dispensed salmonella in restaurants in order to affect the outcome of a local election. Seven hundred and fifteen persons were affected. There were no fatalities.

  • In April 1991, several members of a domestic extremist group called the Patriot's Council in Minnesota manufactured the biological agent ricin from castor beans and discussed using it against federal law enforcement officers. The amount of ricin produced could have killed over 100 people if effectively delivered.

  • In May 1995, a U.S. person illegally obtained three vials of bubonic plague from a firm in Maryland. He was arrested and charged with fraud. It is still unclear why he ordered the vials.

These events indicate that terrorists and other criminals may consider using unconventional weapons in an attack here sometime in the future.

Terrorist Reprisals

Finally, in 1995, numerous foreign and domestic terrorists were either apprehended or sentenced to prison. Several known terrorist groups have publicly threatened to retaliate. Other groups may be considering revenge, but have not broadcast their intent.

America and Americans have also been a favorite choice of target for terrorists. Reprisals for U.S. legal action against domestic and international terrorists increase the likelihood that Americans will be the target of terrorist attacks either in the United States and overseas.