Terrorism and Schools

Reporting Suspicious Activity

Report Suspicious Activity to the Washington State Fusion Center.

As the threat of terrorism evolves and as more youth embrace extremist ideologies, there is a growing need to include processes to assess, prepare, protect, mitigate, respond, and ultimately recover from terrorism-motivated incidents within district and school safety plans.

Terrorism is defined as:

  • the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal;
  • the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion.
  • Domestic: Domestic violent extremism is defined as individuals or groups attempting to advance social or political beliefs through force or violence and in violation of federal law.
  • International: The U.S. Department of State defines foreign terrorist organization(s) as organizations that advocate violence or conduct violent activities against U.S. interests domestically and abroad.


Leakage is an advance warning of a potential threat; an individual intentionally or unintentionally reveals clues that may signal an impending violent act.

Behavioral 'Leakage' Indicators
  • an unusual interest in or asking questions about security procedures;
  • overtly suspicious actions to provoke and observe responses by security or law enforcement officers;
  • an unusual interest in entry points, peak days and hours of operation, security personnel, surveillance assets (including cameras), and access controls such as alarms, barriers, doors, gates, or locks;
  • an unusual interest in security reaction drills or procedures, initiating multiple false alarms or fictitious emergency calls to the same locations or similar venues;
  • loitering, parking, or standing in the same area over multiple days with no reasonable explanation;
  • unusual interest in speaking with building maintenance personnel or security guards;
  • attention to or avoidance of surveillance cameras;
  • interest, without justification, in obtaining site plans, ingress and egress routes, and information on employees or the public;
  • clothing not appropriate for the weather or season without a reasonable explanation;
  • sharing of media glorifying violent extremist acts
  • attempting to mobilize others to violence;
  • new or increased advocacy of violence;
  • advocacy that one's religious, cultural, or national group requires violent defense from an external threat;
  • paramilitary exercises and reconnaissance or surveillance activities related to terrorism, particularly in conjunction with advocacy of violence; and
  • acquisition of suspicious quantities of weapons and ammunition, or materials that could be used to produce explosives.

Existing Safety Plan Activities

Several components of a district or school's safety plan can be used in preparation for a possible terrorist attack.