Top 5 Terrorism Questions

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on June 14, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Immediately following the heinous Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando last weekend, many labeled the shooter, Omar Mateen, a terrorist. After all, he allegedly pledged allegiance to ISIL in a 911 call during the attack. It turns out Mateen's relationship to the club and the gay community in Orlando might be slightly more complex, but does that mean the massacre wasn't an act of terrorism?

The investigation of Mateen's motives and background is ongoing, but here are five common questions regarding terrorism crimes, here and abroad:

1. What Are 'Terroristic Threats'?

Terrorism doesn't just apply to international groups like Al Qaeda or ISIL -- domestic terrorism is alive and well, as this analysis of a series of Texas killings shows.

2. Making a Bomb Threat: What Can Happen?

There's your standard school prank, which is bad enough, and then there's yelling the word "bomb" at Los Angeles International Airport. Conveying a false bomb threat can get you 20 years in federal prison, and penalties only increase if someone is injured because of the threat. Additionally, some states considering bomb threats as terroristic threats.

3. What Are You Charged With If You're Caught Joining ISIS?

Whichever acronym you use to refer to the Islamic State (IS, ISIS, or ISIL), attempts to join the group are illegal. Just attempting or conspiring to travel to Syria and join ISIS is its own crime, and you can be convicted even if you never crossed the border.

4. What Is the Crime of Providing 'Material Support' to Terrorists?

Section 2339B, title 18 of the United States Code prohibits providing terrorists material support, including:

...any property, tangible or intangible, or service, including currency or monetary instruments or financial securities, financial services, lodging, training, expert advice or assistance, safehouses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel (1 or more individuals who may be or include oneself), and transportation, except medicine or religious materials.

5. Why Wasn't Dylann Roof Charged With a Hate Crime or Terrorism?

Some acts of violence appear to be terrorism, plain and simple. Like massacring nine black parishioners in a historically black church after telling them, "I have to do it. You rape our women and you're taking over our country. And you have to go." But sometimes legal and political circumstances prevent terrorism charges.

Terrorism can happen anywhere and can be perpetrated by anyone. If you have more questions about terrorism crimes, or if you've been charged with a crime associated with terrorism, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

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