chapter  4
8 Pages

What Investigators Need to Know about Terrorists

In the United States it is not illegal to be a terrorist per se. It does not violate the law to

belong to a terrorist organization, including those listed by the U.S. State Department.

Further, it is not against the law to criticize or otherwise speak against the government.

In some countries, any and all of these “crimes” can result in a person being jailed. How-

ever, it must be understood that in America a person claiming to be a terrorist or saying

that he is a member of a militant group such as al Qaeda is not likely to be given a free

pass by the law enforcement community. Such utterances would, at the very least,

give investigators the right to give a cursory look into the background and activities of

the person. Claiming membership in a clandestine extremist group that has perpetrated

terrorist attacks in the United States or against American citizens or American-owned

property abroad could logically cause detectives to consider that person to be a suspect

in such illegal actions. Indeed, such a person could possibly find himself in court

explaining why he should not be held culpable for the violent actions perpetrated

by “his” group. Of course, a person claiming membership in a specific terrorist organi-

zation could also find himself being sued by victims of that group’s attacks.