At Port Angeles Washington a ferry arrives from Canada. It is a cold day in December 1999, a couple of weeks before Christmas, and most people are anxious to clear through customs and continue on their journey. The very last vehicle pulls up slowly to the customs inspection area. During routine questioning the driver seems extremely nervous and hesitates when answering questions. The customs officer cannot help but feel that something is just not right. She decides to search the vehicle. Hidden inside the trunk she finds large packages containing white powder. It looks to her like she has just caught a dope smuggler with a large load of cocaine. The powder is tested for several different drugs and comes up negative for everyone. It turns out this man did not come to the United States to make money selling drugs, he came for something much worse. The white powder is finally identified as a very powerful explosive. The man is an Algerian citizen who is involved with a terrorist group called Al-Qaeda. His plan was drive to Los Angeles and blow up LAX International Airport as the world celebrated the new millennium. Thanks to security at the border a major terrorist attack is averted. There would not be such a good outcome the next time. Less than two years later terrorists unleashed the most terrible attack the United States had ever seen on September 11, 2001. After the World Trade - Center towers fell security became a major focus for the United States. There was a formal review of the attacks and U.S. security measures that ended up with the restructuring of many agencies and the formation of a new department. This was the Department of Homeland Security which was tasked with protecting the United States from terrorist attacks. The Department of Homeland Security has been controversial since its inception, but the work done by the department is important to keep the United States safe. Many feel that it was just unnecessary bureaucracy and the Department has been criticized for many things. Despite all the complaints DHS does good work and is instrumental in keeping the United States safe and secure.
Terrorism is a major problem in the world today. Terrorism is not a new problem but has become more troubling through the years. From the chart below you can see the number of deaths from terrorist attacks has increased dramatically from the 1970’s. Statistics are from the Rand Worldwide Terrorism Incident Database Unfortunately for the United States its position as a super power in the world makes it a major target for terrorist attacks. Over the past twenty years the United States has been attacked by terrorist both on it own soil and abroad. The Center for Defense Information lists twenty two major attacks against the United States for the past twenty five years, here are just a few examples: suicide bombings in Beirut against the United States Embassy and A United States Marines Barracks in 1983 which killed over three hundred people, in 1993 a bomb is set off in the World Trade Center’s parking garage that injures over a thousand people, in 2000 terrorists bomb the USS Cole killing 17 sailors, and of course on September 11, 2001 “Terrorists hijack four U.S. commercial airliners taking off from various locations in the United States in a coordinated suicide attack. In separate attacks, two of the airliners crash into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, which catch fire and eventually collapse. A third airliner crashes into the Pentagon in Washington, DC, causing extensive damage. The fourth airliner, also believed to be heading towards Washington, DC, crashes outside Shanksville, PA., killing all 45 people on board. Casualty estimates from New York put the possible death toll close to 5,000, while as many as 200 people may have been lost at the Pentagon crash site.” While all these attacks were significant to the terrorists who perpetrated them, the September 11 attacks were viewed as an...
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