JD: Week 9:Discussion question

 Indicators and Warnings

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Searching for and recognizing indicators of potential terrorist activity require a great deal of focus, determination, and patience, especially given the extensive amount of information that must be reviewed. At best, indicators can prevent terrorist attacks. At worst, indicators can be inaccurate or irrelevant. Indicators of potential terrorist activity are wide ranging and may include exhibiting violence against persons or property, purchasing high-performance automatic weapons, and displaying civil disobedience (Global Security, 2009). Warnings are notifications sent to government officials and/or the public about potentially imminent terrorist threats. Undoubtedly, warnings can save lives. However, if warnings are based on inaccurate or irrelevant information they also can heighten security and create fear without reason.

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Reference: Global Security (2009). Combating terrorism. Retrieved from http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/fm/7-98/F798_4.htm


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  • Course Text: McEntire, D. A. (2019). Introduction to homeland security: Understanding terrorism with emergency management (2nd ed.). New York: Wiley.
    • Chapter 8, “Preventing Terrorist Attacks: Root Causes, Law, Intelligence, and Counterterrorism” (pp. 161 -166)
  • Article: Carter, D. L. & Carter, J. G. (2009). The intelligence fusion process for state, local, and tribal law enforcement. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 36(12), 1323–1339.
    Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.
  • Article: Dahl, E. J. (2005). Warning of terror: Explaining the failure of intelligence against terrorism. The Journal of Strategic Studies, 28(1), 31-55.
    Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.
  • Article: Department of Homeland Security. (2009). Homeland security: Progress in implementing 9/11 Commission recommendations. Retrieved from http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/9-11-commission-update-report-7-22-10.pdf
  • Article: Kean, T. H., Hamilton, L. H., Ben-Veniste, R., Fielding, F. F., Gorelick, J.S., Gorton, S. et al. (2005). Final report on 9/11 Commission recommendations. 9/11 Public Discourse Project, 1-5.Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.
  • Article: Mahnken, T. (2005). Spies and bureaucrats: Getting intel right. Public Interest, 159, 22-42.
    Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.
  • Article: The Library of Congress. (2002). Legislation related to the attacks of September 11, 2001. Retrieved from http://thomas.loc.gov/home/terrorleg.htm

To prepare for this Discussion:

  • Review the article “The Intelligence Fusion Process for State, Local, and Tribal Law Enforcement.” Think about how the fusion process is important for identifying indicators and warnings.

Review the online article “How to Forecast and Preempt al-Qaeda’s Catastrophic Terrorist Warfare.” Focus on examples of attack indicators and consider their importance for preventing terrorist attacks.

  • Review the article “Warning of Terror: Explaining the Failure of Intelligence against Terrorism.” Think about why indicators and warnings are important for preventing terrorist attacks. Also consider how false signals can limit the ability to prevent terrorist attacks.
  • Consider examples of intelligence indicators and warnings and why they are important for preventing terrorist attacks.

Reflect on limitations and challenges related to acting on these indicators or warnings.

With these thoughts in mind:

Post by Day 4 two examples of intelligence indicators and/or warnings of terrorist attacks and explain why they are important for preventing terrorist attacks. Then explain limitations and challenges related to acting on these indicators or warnings. Be specific.

Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the Learning Resources.