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Until the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, FEMA responded mostly to natural disasters such as floods or tornadoes. But on September 11th, when terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., and the countryside of Pennsylvania, the nation's focus changed. So did FEMA's focus.

Now, FEMA is one of the federal agencies devoting its energies toward homeland security. Since September 11th, often just called 9/11, parents and children need to know more about terrorism and how to prepare and protect themselves.

So what is terrorism? Terrorism is the use of force or violence against people or property to create fear and to get publicity for political causes. Terrorists are criminals and when they are caught they are put on trial. Acts of terrorism include: threats of violence, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, bomb scares and bombings, and the use of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

Targets for terrorism include government buildings, large airports, big cities and national landmarks. Terrorists might also target large public gatherings, water and food supplies, and utilities such as electric plants. Terrorists might also spread fear by sending explosives or chemical and biological agents through the mail.

Terrorism is a scary thing. Before you go any further on this page, you need to have permission of an adult. Check with your parent or teacher (if you are at school) or another adult to make sure you have the OK to learn more.

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