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Applicable Criminal Laws to an Attack on Railways

The following is a list of criminal laws that could be applicable to likely terrorist acts that comprise an attack on a railway.

TITLE 18 - PART I - CHAPTER 10—BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS

- § 176 Seizure, forfeiture, and destruction

A train carrying any type of biological substance could be hijacked and/or destroyed in a terrorist attack. This law would apply in that type of situation, because the biological substances onboard that train are being used as a biological weapon. Biological substances could also be stolen from the train and used for future terrorist attacks.

TITLE 18 - PART I - CHAPTER 11B—CHEMICAL WEAPONS

- § 229B Criminal forfeitures; destruction of weapons

Similar to the above law regarding biological weapons, a train carrying any type of harmful chemical could be hijacked and/or destroyed. This law would apply, because the chemical substance onboard the train is being used as a chemical weapon. Chemicals onboard the train could also be stolen for future terrorist attacks.

TITLE 18 - PART I - CHAPTER 97—RAILROADS

- § 1991 Entering train to commit crime

This section of the railroad law applies to unlawfully entering a train, railroad car, or locomotive car with the intent to do harm. This would take place in a terrorist attack in which the objective is to hijack a train.

- § 1992 Wrecking trains

This section of railroad law applies to situations in which the intent of the criminal act is to prevent a train from continuing on its path. This can include, but is not limited to derailing a train with explosives, destroying bridges a train must take, or destroying any part of a trains engine to incapacitate it.

- § 1993 Terrorist attacks and other acts of violence against mass transportation systems

This section of railroad law applies to situations in which an attack is made on a train, train station, or railroad tracks in an attempt to cause damage to the trains themselves, or cause fear within those who would normally use the trains for transportation.

TITLE 18 -PART I - CHAPTER 113B —TERRORISM

- § 2332b Acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries

This section of terrorism law deals with individuals who transcend national borders to commit terrorist acts that affect any person within the United States . An example of this would be if foreign terrorist conducted a terrorist attack on a railway resulting in American casualties.

- § 2332f Bombings of places of public use, government facilities, public transportation systems and infrastructure facilities

This section of terrorism law covers any terrorist act that involves the use of a bomb or explosive against a U.S. target. An example of this would be if a bomb was used by terrorists to derail a train.

- § 2339 Providing material support to terrorists

This section of terrorism law involves anyone directly, or indirectly providing terrorists with materials to support their illegal activities. An example of this would be if a computer hacker were to hack into a railroad database to get the schedules of hazardous material transports; then turned them over to terrorists for a future attack.

TITLE 18 - PART I - CHAPTER 119—WIRE AND ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS INTERCEPTION AND INTERCEPTION OF ORAL COMMUNICATIONS

- § 2511 Interception and disclosure of wire, oral, or electronic communications prohibited

This law covers any crimes that involve the interception of confidential information. An example of this would be unlawfully acquiring train schedules of hazardous shipments either through the use of cyber crimes, or physically stealing the information from a location; then disclosing this information privately, or publically to those who are not authorized to see it.

TITLE 18 - PART I - CHAPTER 121—STORED WIRE AND ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS AND TRANSACTIONAL RECORDS ACCESS

- § 2701 Unlawful access to stored communications

Similar to Chapter 119 of Title 18, this law involves illegally obtaining stored communications either from an electronical database, or by obtaining the physical files themselves. These communications could include top secret government orders of when to move shipments of military supplies and using what railroads.

All of the information on the laws presented in this document was obtained from The Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute. More information about any of the laws presented can be obtained from their website at:    

http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/