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Terrorism Is a Problem That Is Getting Worse Every Day

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Terrorism has long been a critical threat to the United States. Since 9/11, the environment of contemporary police has changed, homeland security and anti-terrorism efforts have become the top priorities for the U.S. government. The war of terrorism has brought about changes and challenges in the American criminal justice system and also stirs up controversies in the society. In particular, this essay will focus on the perspective of the police and the court.

Terrorism is not a new phenomenon in the 21st century, it is a long-rooted problem. However, the situation has significantly worsened in recent years, particularly in the number of attacks, the lethality and the complexity of the terrorist landscape. Therefore, the issue deserves the lay public’s and the criminal justice system’s grave attention. The line graph below shows the numbers related to terrorist activities in the United States, from 2006 to 2016. The numbers of terrorism-related incidents, fatalities and the non-fatal injuries are climbing gradually, there were an increase of 10 times, 68 times and 10 times, respectively, in ten years.

Critical Issues Faced by the Police

One of the functions of police is to prevent crime. Facing terrorism, the society would assume police to take up the responsibility to keep the peace, to investigate any terrorism-related activities and to protect to lay public from being harm. As a result, terrorism has forced federal involvement in criminal justice to expand. Since federal agencies ought to devote significant attention to national security while the resources remain the same, attention on traditional law enforcement, for example, organized crime, drug trafficking, may be scattered or even reduced. In this way, the burden of criminal investigations will be shifted to the state and local officials, affecting the style of local police patrol. Added to the above, whenever there are suspicious activities, say there is a bomb, the state and local police should be the first one who arrives at the scene. Therefore, they need to be trained to spot suspicious activities that might relate to terrorism. Furthermore, federal agencies may need to collaborate with the state and local police to combat terrorism too, for instance, sharing important information about suspicious actions and plans. A communication system between the police has to be developed in order to effectively address the threat of terrorism.

The biggest challenge, however, is that terrorism is changing constantly. The internet and the use of social media have contributed to the evolution of the terrorist threat landscape. The terror group, for example, the Islamic State (ISIS) takes advantage of social media as a major propaganda tool to attract and recruit members, as well as using the internet to encourage attacks. Challenging events occur on a daily basis, the police have to pay efforts, in developing ways to facilitate their capacity to adapt and cope with challenges posed by terrorism. Additional research development, financial resources, manpower are needed to support the police’s work.

Critical Issues Faced by the Court

Terrorism stirs up controversies in how the criminal justice system process a terrorism-related case. As terror attacks are ever-changing and unpredictable, it is so difficult to give a clear definition to the crime. What constitutes a criminal offense terrorism? In what ways should the judges lead the juries to decide on terrorism-related cases? What is the legal framework for sentencing the convicted criminals? In addition, prosecutors and defense attorneys can always refer to the previous court case in traditional cases. However, there is little or even no historical record in terms of terrorism, which makes the processes of criminal justice more difficult.

The United States is in a dire need of new laws and legal framework to deal with the issue, however, these take time. A new law has to be enacted by Congress and then enforced by the FBI. Apart from that, the establishment of new law related to terrorism, for example, the USA Patriot Act stirs up controversies in the society. According to the foundation of criminal law, the government can seek to punish only people who violate defined laws, and their guilt has to be determined through procedures established by law. However, since 911 some commentators have expressed fears that the federal government has moved away from traditional constitutional values by jailing suspected terrorists without charging them with crimes or presenting evidence to prove their involvement in wrongdoing (Turley, 2002). This is a challenge to the court as some of the actions against terrorism has no foundation and clash with traditional American values, which could possibly harm an individuals’ constitutional rights.


As anti-terrorism is a national focus, a huge amount of financial resources and manpower have been adding to the criminal justice system in order to combat terrorism. In the national level, the most significant expansion of the federal government to address terrorism occurred with the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by George W. Bush. The goal of DHS is to keep America safe, by consolidating work like border security, intelligence, and emergency response from other departments of government. In particular, the DHS has created a robust information sharing environment, for example, the establishments of National Network of Fusion Centers, Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative, National Terrorism Advisory System. Intelligence and information sharing are so crucial because timely information of suspicious activities could help minimize the harm and even prevent terror attacks. There has been increased involvement in both federal and state agencies in combating terrorism as well.

Meanwhile, President Trump also announces a new National Strategy for Counter-terrorism. “The new approach emphasizes strong borders, strengths security at points of entry, protects critical infrastructure, and facilitates preparedness.” (White House, 2018) Apart from that, the United States would expand partnerships at home and abroad to collaborate, for example, working with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Allies, which is an organization that provides collective security against the Soviet Union. In the social level, various public awareness campaigns were carried out to raise the awareness of the lay public in terms of preventing terror attacks and minimizing the loss. For example, the campaign “If you see something, say something” is a huge success in encouraging people to report suspicious activity.

Facing the critical threat of terrorism, it is believed that the criminal justice system will encounter challenges in fighting terrorism. Every single component in the system needs to pay effort in order to overcome the challenges and combat terrorism. All in all, the responsibility lies on the criminal justice system to ensure the fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans while carrying out its essential national security efforts.ality simulation training and field training could be delivered to the police. By utilizing motion capture technology, the training provides realistic interactive scenarios to help improve the judgment of the police and equip them will essential skills sets.

Facing the critical threat of terrorism, it is believed that the criminal justice system will encounter challenges in fighting terrorism. Every single component in the system needs to pay effort in order to overcome the challenges and combat terrorism. All in all, the responsibility lies on the criminal justice system to ensure the fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans while carrying out its essential national security efforts.

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