By Karen E. Sims
USAG Antiterrorism Officer
Did you hear that effective April 20, the National Terrorism Advisory System, or NTAS, replaced the color-coded Homeland Security Advisory System?
This new system will more effectively communicate information about terrorist threats by providing timely, detailed information to the public, government agencies, first responders, airports and other transportation hubs, and to the private sector.
It recognizes that Americans all share a responsibility for the nation's security, and should always be aware of the heightened risk of terrorist attack in the United States and what you should do.
After reviewing the information available, the Secretary of Homeland Security will decide, in coordination with other Federal agencies, whether an NTAS Alert should be issued.
These alerts will include a clear statement that there is an imminent threat or elevated threat.
An Imminent Threat Alert will be triggered by credible, specific, and impending terrorist threat against the United States.
The second, less severe Elevated Threat Alert warns of a credible terrorist threat against the United States.
Using available information, the alerts will provide a concise summary of the potential threat, information about actions being taken to ensure public safety, and recommended steps that individuals, communities, businesses and governments can take to help prevent, mitigate or respond to the threat.
NTAS Alerts contain a sunset provision indicating a specific date when the alert expires - there will not be a constant NTAS Alert or blanket warning that there is an overarching threat.
Alerts may be extended if new information becomes available or if the threat evolves significantly.
Each alert provides information to the public about the threat, including, if available, the geographic region, mode of transportation, or the critical infrastructure potentially affected by the threat; protective steps being taken by authorities, and steps that individuals and communities can take to protect themselves and their families, and help prevent, mitigate, or respond to the threat.
Citizens should report suspicious activity to their local law enforcement authorities.
The See Something, Say Something campaign encourages all citizens to be vigilant for indicators of potential terrorist activity and to follow NTAS Alerts for information about threats in specific places or for individuals exhibiting certain types of suspicious activity.
To learn more about the campaign, visit http://www.dhs.gov/files/reportincidents/see-something-say-something.shtm.
NTAS Alerts will be issued through state, local and tribal partners, the news media and directly to the public via the following channels:
* Via the official DHS NTAS webpage - http://www.dhs.gov/alerts
* Via email sign-up at - http://www.dhs.gov/alerts
* Via social media
o Facebook - http://facebook.com/NTASAlerts
o Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/NTASAlerts
(source: DHS NTAS Guide)