Huntingdon College | Political Science | Courses | Maps | What's New?
PSC 371: Seminar in World Politics & Terrorism

Students' Outlines:

Badey (ed), Annual Editions, Violence &Terrorism 05-06.

Compiled by Prof. Jeremy Lewis, revised 1 Dec. 2005.
Note to note-takers: please give full info: article #, author, "title" -- as well as your by-line, year.

UNIT 1. The Concept of Terrorism
UNIT 2. Causes of Terrorism
UNIT 3. Tactics of Terrorism
UNIT 4: State-Sponsored Terrorism
UNIT 5. International Terrorism
UNIT 6. Terrorism in America
UNIT 7. Terrorism and the Media
UNIT 8. Terrorism and Religion
UNIT 9. Women and Terrorism
UNIT 10. Countering Terrorism
UNIT 11. Future Threats
UNIT 12. Trends and Projections

Unit 1: The Concept of Terrorism
Tyler Fletcher, Fall 2005

- There is no commonly agreed upon definition of terrorism
- The former term “ I know it when I see it” has been replaced with definitional anarchy when applied to terrorism
- Terrorism involves 3 basic components: the perpetrator, the victim and the target of violence
- Fear is used as a catalyst to enhance the communication and elicit the desired response from the target

Marc E. Nicholson, An Essay on Terrorism
- Do terrorist means justify their ends?

- That is a moral question with an answer that differs little in practical context from the decision by a national state to wage war
- Both involve death of soldiers, civilians, etc.
- A separate but closely related issue deals with the distinction between human beings called soldiers and civilians
- Is there really a difference?
- Terrorist movements have rarely, if ever, succeeded militarily
- Terrorism is the tool of the weak, used by disaffected groups or minorities to oppose the rule and oppression of an established and militarily superior power
- Because of little or no military force, terrorists resort to “hit and run” attacks
- In Northern Ireland the terrorists sought to wear down the voting majority and weaken the democracy
- In Egypt they sought to disrupt national economies
- In the democratic west, terrorism is a handmaiden of democracy: every man has the power, so every man is a target
- We will have enough on our hands as it is in dealing with the “wretched of the earth” in the coming century: given the widening gap between rich and poor, we can expect many more terrorist movements based on pure frustration and psychosis
  • Terror as a strategy of Psychological Warfare
  • - The modern terrorist differs from the common criminal in that he is motivated by a political agenda
    - There goal is to make every individual feel like they could be next
    - It is conceivable that terrorist could accomplish their goals without a single attack; the panic produced by radio, T.V., etc.
    - The fear of terrorism consists of a rational component and a irrational component; terrorists thrive on the irrational component
    - Terrorism is psychological warfare pure and simple
    - Terrorist try to personalize the attacks; They want people to say “I was there last week” or “my Aunt lives right down the street”
    - A comprehensive counter-terrorism policy is needed
    - The media often gives terrorist a platform to publicize their views
    - The population that must live under the threat of terrorism is entitled to receive aid and instruction to help them reduce the “irrational” anxiety caused by terrorism
    - The media can actually help by providing reliable information in real time
    - Decision makers have a responsibility to help neutralize the effects of terrorist manipulation
    - They must also be careful not to intensify the fear of terror  attacks, by using the attacks as a tool in inner-party political struggles
    - The knowledge that one is being manipulated and how this is being done is itself a powerful weapon for countering such manipulation
    Is Terrorism’s Threat Overblown?
    - “Americans must remain vigilant, of course, but there is no need to raid the treasury or turn  the country upside down pursuing phantoms”
    - No actual holiday attacks; no water system has ever been poisoned successfully, etc.

    Unit 2: Causes of Terrorism

    Post, Sprinzak & Denny (2003), "The Terrorists in Their Own Words: Interviews with 35 Incarcerated Middle Eastern Terrorists"
    By Matt Glarrow, Fall 2005

    - Religious fundamental terrorist pose the greatest threat according to preliminary research.
    Recruitment Process:

    - The backgrounds of those interviewed varied greatly and did not influence their decision to join the terrorist group. No correlation between radical family involvement and joining an organization.
    - Major influence in joining terrorist groups was the youth’s social environment.  One terrorist remarked: “Everyone was joining.”
    - Almost ½ of terrorist report that the group they joined was the most active in their community.
    - Recruitment Process: mostly casual/ informal for secular & Islamic groups.
    - At the time of these interviews: secular terrorist were turning away from violence, while Islamic terrorist made no distinction between military/ government targets and civilians.  Little attention was paid to obtaining Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), but there was a desire to produce the largest # of casualties possible.
    - Secular v. Islamic, different ultimate objectives: Secular wanted an independent state, but Islamic wanted the eradication of Israel.
    • “The Islamic terrorist believed that self-martyrdom (“suicide bombing”) was the most valuable technique of jihad.”
    - Terrorist expressed no regret for their actions, only for being caught, and the majority expressed intense pride for their actions.
    - Upon being recruited, there was a fusion of individual and group identities.
    - Self image then becomes intertwined with the success of the group.
    - An individual’s success is linked to the success of the terrorist group, success for the group equals individual prominence.
    - Radical groups make powerless individuals powerful.
    • “ Families of terrorists who were wounded, killed or captured enjoyed a great deal of economic aid and attention.”
    - “Major (terrorists) actions become the subject of sermons in the mosque, glorifying the attack and the attackers.”
    • “Anyone who didn’t enlist during that period (intifada) would have been ostracized.”
    - Decision- Making and Military Hierarchy:  “The leaders made the key decisions.”
    • “ A commander’s orders are absolutely binding and must not be questioned in substance.”
    • “Our goal can only be achieved through force, but force is the means, not the end.”
    • “The more an attack hurts the enemy, the more important it is.  That is the measure.”
    • “A martyrdom operation is the highest level of jihad, and highlights the depth of our faith.  The bombers are holy fighters who carry out one of the more important articles of faith.”
    - Attitudes Toward Casualties and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD):  WMD were not necessary because conventional weapons could cause massive casualties.
    - Izz a-Din al-Qassam (wing of Hamas)- members overwhelmingly favor the use of WMD.   These people also show no remorse.
    - For Islamic Jihad terrorists there were “concerns regarding the use of such weapons (WMD) being contravened by the Koran.  Mass destruction, as well as poisoning wells or rivers is forbidden under Islamic Law.
    - Sense of Remorse/ Moral Red Lines: “In a jihad, there are no red lines.”
    - Publicly, families support these organizations (who have recruited their children), privately, they fear for their sons.  Families who have had one son recruited by these organizations, try to prevent other sons from enlisting.
    • “No distinction was made between armed actions on soldiers or on civilians; the main thing was the amount of blood.”
    Palestinian & Al Qaeda terrorists (Differences):
    Age 17-22
    Unformed youth
    Al Qaeda:
    fully formed adults, older
    from middle class families
    on their own in the West for 7 yrs.
    fully formed adults

    UNIT 3. Tactics of Terrorism
    [notes needed]

    Unit 4: State-Sponsored Terrorism
    By Lauren Carruth, Fall 2005
      -How nations sponsor terrorism: political support, financial assistance, safe-havens, logistic support, training, weapons, or equipment
      Article 9, US State Dept, “Overview of State-Sponsored Terrorism: Patterns of Global Terrorism-2001”

      -Countries that are on U.S. list of state-sponsors of international terrorism: Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria

      Article 10, by Ann M. Lesch, “Osama Bin Laden’s ‘Business’ in Sudan”

      -Osama Bin Laden and Sudan: after being invited to Sudan by Hasan al-Turabi of the Islamic Regime, bin Laden began organizing businesses and networks to support terrorists fighting for the Islamic regime
      - At this time, Bin Laden’s beliefs solidified; he sympathized with the mujahideen and was upset over the US defiling Saudi Arabia’s holy soil.  He was against any US presence in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
      - After an attempt to assassinate the Egyptian president that involved Turabi, the UN Security Council accused Sudan of supporting terrorism.  The US antiterrorism act of April 1996 blocked the assets of Bin Laden’s organization.
      -In order to protect the Khartoum regime, Turabi worked out a plan that let bin Laden into Afghanistan where he pledged allegiance to the Taliban
      -Sudan denies supporting Bin Laden, because they forced all Arabs undertaking illegal actions.  Bin Laden retained some businesses in Sudan, however, since the government owed Bin Laden money for construction projects.
      Article 11 by Ronald Bruce St. John, “Libya and the United States: Elements of a Performance-Based Roadmap”
      -Libya: UN imposed the multilateral sanctions regime on Libya mostly because Libya failed to provide a “full and effective” response to Resolution 731, which requested that Libya surrender two accused hijackers on a Pan Am flight.
      -Libya’s relationship with the U.S. hangs on Libya’s abandonment of their weapons of mass destruction

      UNIT 5. International Terrorism

      [notes needed]

      Unit 6: Terrorism in America
      Charles U. Walters, Fall 2005
      FBI Targets Domestic Terrorism
      ? Domestic terrorism is far more common than militia extreme terrorists. Two of the main domestic terrorists are ALF and ELF (Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front)
      ? These groups idealistically want a clean environment and compassion towards animals. They believe in going about these goals in illegal ways however—they fire bomb universities, burn houses, and terrorize research labs.
      ? Since 1996 ALF/ELF have caused over 43 million dollars worth of damage, these activists are turning more and more towards vandalism and terrorism
      ? hundreds of activists have joined ALF and ELF, but only a couple dozen have ever been arrested for direct actions
      ? Not even the groups themselves know who their members are
      ? It is even harder for police to deal with ALF and ELF because of financial support of these groups. The Wilderness Society and the Sierra Club condemn the actions of these groups but PETA applauds them though they urge their members to not participate
      Oklahoma City Bomb Trial and still questions remain
      ? Terry Nichols is serving a life sentence for conspiracy and manslaughter in the Timothy McVeigh case.
      ? 170 people were killed in the OK bombing and despite a mountain of evidence questions remain to who else conspired with McVeigh and Nichols.
      ? The biggest question now involves whether McVeigh’s contacts with an underground white supremacist group and whether the government properly followed leads concerning this group the ARA or Aryan Republican Army.
      ? It is hard to connect single acts of terrorism with large groups thought to be sponsoring terrorism.
      Due Process for Terrorists?
      ? Can the government detain terror suspects without giving them access to the courts or charging them with a crime
      ? The Ninth Circuit put it this way- the Executive branch possesses the unchecked authority to imprison indefinitely any persons, foreign citizens included… without permitting the prisoners recourse of any kind to any judicial forum
      ? It looks like we still lack the legal framework to effectively process those we are compelled to apprehend
      ? Civil Libertarians are concerned because the government has not responded effectively, it has not mounted a rebuttal or put aside citizen concerns
      ? The Bush administration is bending to the demands of crisis by limiting freedom in the need of security
      ? the centerpiece of Bush’s civil liberties offensive should be creative institutional reform with a new terrorism court
      ? ordinary courts aren’t designed to take care of terrorists, the juries, judges, and everyone involved do not meet the secrecy requirements from sensitive testimony or confidential sources, and security for the participants is also a concern

      UNIT 7. Terrorism and the Media
      [notes needed]

      UNIT 8. Terrorism and Religion
      [notes needed]

      UNIT 9. Women and Terrorism
      [notes needed]

      UNIT 10. Countering Terrorism
      [notes needed]

      UNIT 11. Future Threats
      Articles 34 -36, by Felix Parker, Fall 2005

      34: Grim Future
      Weapons have to pass through the International Committee of the Red Cross.
      Threats of  super bio-weapons are on the forefront.
      Weapons could go on killing, something the user may not want.

      35: The Myth of Cyber terrorism
      There is no such thing as cyber terrorism no instance of anyone ever having been killed by a terrorist using a computer. Nor is there compelling evidence that al Qaeda or any other organization has resorted to computers for any sort of serious destructive activity.
      Most hackers break for sport. To the extent hackers are mainly Web Site defacers which are merely “ankle biters” and cause only online graffiti.
      Most of the “serious” cyber security breaches tend to come from insiders.

      36: Inside the A Bomb Bazaar
      Pakistani scientists who the U.S. excepts sold material on how to make a nuclear bomb to other Muslim countries.