Skip to Main Content

Terrorism: Home

This guide will help you start your research on terrorism and to talk to children about terrorism.


What is terrorism?

Terror attacks happen around the world and affect people from all walks of life. Attacks are violent, premeditated, and most often a surprise. Even though terror events occur globally, there is no universal definition of terrorism.

According to the United States Department of State, terrorism is "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents." Read US Code §2656f here. That means that terrorists plan in advance to attack civilians, in order to boost their own political causes.

The United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says the following about terrorism:

Terrorism is the use of force or violence against persons or property in violation of the criminal laws of the United States for purposes of intimidation, coercion, or ransom. Terrorists often use threats to:

  • Create fear among the public.

  • Try to convince citizens that their government is powerless to prevent terrorism.

  • Get immediate publicity for their causes. 

‚ÄčActs of terrorism include threats of terrorism; assassinations; kidnappings; hijackings; bomb scares and bombings; cyber attacks (computer-based); and the use of chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological weapons. Read the FEMA terrorism guide here.


Site Authorship

This site was created by Rebecca Price, MLIS, MEd.

Images of Terrorism

Washington, DC, 9/11

Photograph from the 9/11 Commission Report. Read it here.

New York City, 9/11

"WTC smoking on 9-11" by Michael Foran is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

London, 2005

"Bombers WANTED" reads the news stand at Waterloo Station, London" by jamielondonboy is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Norway, 2011

"Flowers commemorate victims of a 2011 terror attack in Norway" Public domain

New York City, 9/11

"Two men assisting and walking with an injured woman down a street littered with paper and ashes, following the September 11th terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, New York City" Photo by Don Halasy, Public domain

Stockholm, 2017

"File:The day after the terrorist attack in Stockholm in 2017-3" by Frankie Fouganthin is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. 

Boston, 2013

"1st Boston Marathon blast seen from 2nd floor and a half block away" by Aaron Tang is licensed under  l -  CC BY 2.0.