A Brief Timeline of U.S. Counter-Terrorism

Get a glimpse of the history of U.S. counter-terrorism with this informative infographic.

Examining the Events and Laws Surrounding the Issue

“Terrorism” is a term that holds strong connotations in the United States and across the world. If the Oxford Dictionary defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in pursuit of political aims,” then we can define counter-terrorism as the lawful protection of civilians against violence and political persecution.

To better understand the United States’ counter-terrorism strategy, we’ve created a short timeline to show the events that precipitated stronger counter-terrorism laws. It also shows how U.S. counter-terrorism strategies have changed over time under different presidential administrations.

U.S. Counter-Terrorism timeline infographic

US Counterterrorism: A Timeline

The Munich Olympics, 1972

An extremist group of eight people broke into the quarters of the Israeli Olympic athletes and held them hostage.1 After failed international rescue attempts, 11 Israelis, five terrorists and one German police officer ended up dead.2

The Cabinet Committee to Combat Terrorism, 1972

Established by President Richard Nixon, this was the first U.S. committee of its kind. Comprised of some of the nation’s highest ranking officials, the committee’s aim was to learn of terrorist undertakings at home and abroad and develop plans to counter them.2

World Trade Center Bombing, 1993

A group of six placed a bomb below the World Trade Center, and the resulting explosion killed six people and injured over 1,000.3

September 11 Attacks, 2001

Hijacking multiple planes, a group of terrorists crashed into New York City’s World Trade Center, as well as the Pentagon, killing 2,997 people.

The Patriot Act, 2001

Passed in response to the September 11 attacks, the act effectively gave the government and law officials greater authority to gather intelligence on people suspected of terrorist activities.4

The Travel Ban, 2017-

The Trump administration issued a travel ban, effectively blocking people from seven countries from entering the U.S. for a set period of time. The details of the ban continue to evolve as it moves through the court system.5

Want to know more? Check out modern-day crime by the numbers and then discover the online Master of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice program at Kent State University.


  1. Retrieved on January 26, 2018, from nytimes.com/2015/12/02/sports/long-hidden-details-reveal-cruelty-of-1972-munich-attackers.html
  2. Retrieved on January 26, 2018, from nixonfoundation.org/2016/09/the-dawn-of-american-counterterrorism-policy/
  3. Retrieved on January 24, 2018, from cnn.com/2013/11/05/us/1993-world-trade-center-bombing-fast-facts/index.html
  4. Retrieved on January 24, 2018, from justice.gov/archive/ll/highlights.htm
  5. Retrieved on January 24, 2018, from bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39044403
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He is an Associate Professor in the Evaluation and Measurement program within the College of Education, Health and Human Services at Kent State University. He is also the program coordinator for the online Master of Education degree in Research, Measurement, and Statistics.
Dr. Astrid N. Sambolín Morales is an Assistant Professor in Kent State Online’s 100% Online Master of Education degree in Cultural Foundations. She received her PhD in Educational Equity and Cultural Diversity from the University of Colorado Boulder and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research provides a more nuanced picture of the agency, resistance, and empowerment enacted by displaced Puerto Rican m(others) in the U.S., and her work was funded by several grants, including the University of Colorado Natural Hazards Center, the BUENO Center for Multicultural Education, the URBAN Research Network, and the NAEd Spencer Foundation.
Felesia McDonald, ’14 is an adjunct instructor in the iSchool, teaching courses in the 100% Online Master of Science in User Experience. McDonald is also the Sr Manager UX Design at Optum, a branch of UnitedHealth Group.