Terrorism and Counterterrorism
Credits: 4 ECTS
“One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” “Terrorism as theater.” “We don’t now and never will negotiate with terrorists.”
While the quote might be familiar, there is still no consensus on the actual definition of terrorism. In this course, we will explore the history of terrorism while also debating its conceptual foundations, theoretical underpinnings in the academic literature, and how terrorism is countered. Other topic areas will include terrorist groups that turn to politics, suicide terrorism, the intersection of terrorism and the media, various forms of religious and millenarian terrorism and the tactics, techniques and procedures utilized by an array of violent non-state actors.
There are many forms of political violence but not all are created equal. Some, like terrorism, are a tactic while others, like insurgency, are a strategy. How important is it to define terrorism and counterterrorism? The course will provide a historical overview of how terrorism and insurgency have evolved over time, while also focusing on groups, methods, ideologies and organizational structures. Is the terrorism conducted by Salafist groups like Al-Qaida and the Islamic State significantly different than that perpetrated by ethno-nationalist groups like the Provisional Irish Republican Army and Tamil Tigers? What are the best methods to counter-terrorism and how successful have states been— both historically and more recently—at combating the threat posed by terrorism and insurgency?
And while jihadist groups have received the most attention over the past two decades, other threats also pose significant challenges, including transnational violent white supremacy and state-sponsored terrorism by Iran, which is growing a Shia foreign fighter network it could use to spread influence throughout the Middle East. This course will also consider future sources of political violence and analyze what ideologies could motivate them. Finally, we will explore in depth a range of emerging technologies and how those could impact the future landscape of terrorism, insurgency and political violence.
(10%) Class attendance and participation
(35%) Final group presentation
Students will be broken down into groups of 3-4 students and asked to provide a comprehensive profile/background/overview on a specific terrorist group
(55%) Take home final essay examination
The main textbook for this course is John Horgan and Kurt Braddock, eds., Terrorism Studies: A Reader, New York: Routledge, 2012. The instructor will also assign journal articles.