Terrorism Signs

As a critical component of Florida’s multi-discipline and multi-jurisdictional approach, the City of Miami Beach has engaged with Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) in numerous activities and initiatives that support a collective vision to keep Florida safe. Working alongside the Office of Domestic Security in support of this vision are specialists in the areas of critical infrastructure, intelligence and seaport security. Together, these professionals advance the goal of establishing coordinated, positive and functional relationships with federal, state, county and local agencies.

The Florida Domestic Security Strategic Plan is the blueprint or plan by which these activities and initiatives are organized and executed within this framework.

Signs of Terrorism

If you have an emergency, call 9-1-1. Should you experience any of the below listed activities, you are encouraged to call 305.471.TIPS or 1.866.58.ALERT (25378).

Seven Signs of Terrorism (pdf)
Miami-Dade Police Terrorism Guide (pdf)

Recognizing Suspicious Activity

Unusual activities do not always mean that terrorist activity is occurring. However, you know what is normal for your neighborhood and community.

If an activity appears to be outside the norm or is frightening, let law enforcement officials know. It is your responsibility to watch out and report. It is the responsibility of law enforcement agencies to investigate and take further action, if necessary. It is very important to give accurate information and descriptions when reporting suspicious activities (i.e., possible persons involved, the situation, vehicles involved, what made you concerned, and the location of the suspicious person(s).

Try to remember the exact time and place you observed the suspicious activity. Below is a list of possible suspicious activities. Remember, these examples may not always justify reporting and they may not always lead to criminal or terrorist activity. Please remember that terrorists DO NOT come from any one particular race, ethnic group or religious affiliation.

1. Unusual Requests for Information

Unusual requests for information can be a warning sign of terrorist activity:

  • A telephone request at work asking about the security system
  • Questions about the habits of your companies executives, employees, visitors
  • A mail survey asking for comments on the habits of personnel. Although possibly legitimate, these are also techniques used by terrorists to gather information while planning an attack. Do NOT give out sensitive information unless you know the party you are talking to and they have a need for that information.

2. Unusual Interest in High Risk or Symbolic Targets

The following are examples of activities that should cause a heightened sense of concern:

  • Unusual Interest
  • Surveillance
  • Inappropriate Photographs or Videos
  • Note-taking • Drawing of Diagrams
  • Annotating Maps
  • Using Binoculars or Night Vision Devices

3. Unusual Activity

Unusual activity does not necessarily mean that terrorist activity is happening, but it doesn’t hurt to be aware of:

  • People acting furtively and suspiciously
  • People avoiding eye contact
  • People departing quickly when seen or approached
  • People in places they don’t belong
  • A strong odor coming from a building or vehicle
  • An overloaded vehicle
  • Fluid leaking from a vehicle, other than the engine or gas tank

4. Fraudulent Identification

Many 9/11 terrorists were in the country illegally using fraudulent identifications. Altering or using false government identification in any way and for any purpose is illegal. This includes:

  • Driver’s License
  • Social Security Card
  • Passport / Visa
  • Birth Certificate
  • Resident Alien Identification

If you believe someone is using or has altered government identification, notify law enforcement personnel. Do NOT request to see another person’s ID when not appropriate. Let law enforcement do the investigating.

5. Numerous Visitors Terrorists, when not acting alone, need to meet with their conspirators


Pay attention to visitors:

  • Arriving and leaving at unusual hours
  • Trying not to be noticed
  • Acting in a suspicious manner
  • Parking an unusual distance from the meeting
  • An unusual number of unrelated people living together


6. Avoiding Community Contact

Not all people who maintain their privacy are terrorists. However, people intent on performing illegal acts want to be left alone. They may:

  • Not let you into their apartment or house without prior notice
  • Change their locks often • Keep certain rooms off limits
  • Cover tables and other pieces of furniture
  • Never allow maid service in a hotel room
  • Only take hotel room service outside the door
  • Only accept deliveries at the hotel’s front desk or outside their hotel room door


7. Large/Unusual/High Risk Deliveries

Deliveries are a common method for terrorists to carry out attacks. Be aware of:

  • A vehicle with hazardous material parked or driving in an inappropriate area
  • Unusual deliveries of chemicals or fertilizer
  • Unattended boxes or bags in public access areas
  • Fire extinguishers that may have been moved or tampered
  • Unusual or unexpected mail


8. Unusual Purchases or Thefts

Terrorists need supplies to carry out their attacks and accomplish their goals. Pay attention to purchases, rentals or thefts of:

  • Police, security, public utility, mail carrier, or airline uniforms and equipment
  • Explosives
  • Weapons
  • Ammunition
  • Propane bottles
  • Toxic chemicals
  • Vehicles able/made to contain or haul hazardous materials