Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Tools of Terrorism in The USA

This is an article concerning the types of materials that terrorists have used in the past to manufacture small scale bombs.

An ex-mayor of New York states, in this article, that he is surprised that there were not any previous terrorist attacks given how easily these types of bombs can be made.

However, it looks as if they have killed one person and captured the other person who planted some of the bombs.  Therefore, terrorists have to consider the fact that ultimately they will get caught if they do this.  There are too many surveillance cameras in public places.

In New York City there is a saying which you see on subway posters:  "If you see something, say something!"  This is good advice.  From now on we have to be more vigilant in America and we need to report suspicious behavior and packages which could be bombs.  Too many people were killed and are suffering due to this attack in Boston.

The article:

Vocabulary words to help you understand the article:

a tool - something you use to make something or to fix something.

we're counting on - The poster says, "There are 16 million eyes in the city. We're counting on all of them."  That means the police are relying on the people, or expecting the 8 million people of NY City to be 'vigilant' (watchful) and to report activities or things that look dangerous.  The poster also says, "Tell a cop or an MTA employee."  A cop is a police office and an MTA employee is someone who works for the subway system.

to plant a bomb - yes, it's true that a person "plants" flowers.  So how can this word also be used to mean: to place a bomb in an area?  I don't know.

ultimately - finally, consequently

surveillance cameras - cameras which usually take video recordings in public places

to be vigilant - to be watchful.  I use this word in my intro and it is used in the article as well.

suspicious - if something doesn't look right, it looks suspicious

IEDs - "Improvised Explosive Devices"  Improvised, in this case, means put together quickly with common materials.  Something which is explosive, obviously, explodes.  A device is a thing.

law enforcement - police.  To enforce the law to make sure that people who break the law are punished.

a bulletin - a notice.

to alert someone to something - to make someone aware of something

to be on the lookout for - to search for something, to watch out for something

a pressure cooker - a device in which you can cook things more quickly due to extra pressure inside the container

an appliance -  something you use in the house: an oven, refrigerator, vacuum cleaner, toaster etc.

to wound s/o - to hurt someone (s/o = someone, s/t = something)

to seem out of place - if something seems out of place, it doesn't look as if it belongs somewhere.

passersby - people who walk by.  A bystander is someone who is just standing and looking.

authorities - people in positions of power or authority or responsibility

the presence of something - the existence of something.  The opposite of presence is absence

troops - soldiers

to be stuffed with - to be filled with

a cache - a collection of something which is usually hidden

an insurgent - someone fighting against a stronger country

rebar -  a piece of metal

to head an agency - to be in charge of the agency; to be the boss

to disrupt - to interrupt, to stop from operating smoothly

to make their way to - to go to

domestic - in the USA.  The opposite of domestic is international.

a threat - when something makes others feel unsafe

a subcommittee - a smaller committee than a main committee

an artillery shell - a type of large object shot out of a canon, meant to explode when it hits the ground

fertilizer - this is used to make soil more fertile; fertilizer is used on soil or the ground to help plants grow.  Certain types of fertilizer explode easily.

crude - not sophisticated, not complex

a convoy route - a convoy is a line of vehicles (cars, trucks); a route is the direction in which they are traveling

to convert/conversion - to change into something else

incendiary - it can start a fire

a homegrown copycat - someone who imitates something else is a copycat. A homegrown copycat would be someone born in America who chooses to imitate the actions of a foreign terrorist.

A mistake in the article: American counterterrorism officials and other leaders have warned that it might only be a matter of time before a terror network or a homegrown copycat attempted to use those kinds of tactics inside the U.S.

to reinforce something - to make something stronger.

to be vulnerable - to be at risk. To be capable of being harmed.

a tragedy - something terrible which happens in which someone or many people die

to ensure - to make sure

resilient - if you are resilient you will bounce back; you will come back

a hazard - a danger

to bolster something - to strengthen  something


1. Do you think this attack should have been anticipated by the Boston police?  After all, any time there is a major event in New York City, the police are EVERYWHERE.

2.  Who do you think did this?  A terrorist group or an individual?

3.  Do you think the person who did this should be executed (killed)?


Yes, I'm the guy who wrote the very funny ESL book: New York City Sucks, But You'll Wanna Live Here Anyway.

If this page is useful to you, please buy the book (it's quite inexpensive and useful!!!!). If you don't have an e-reader, drop me a line at and I'll send you a free copy via Word file. Let me know whether you have Word 2010 or an earlier version.
Yes, I'm also the guy who created the scandal in Asia two years ago :P

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