Political Violence (Global Terrorism) / POLS 376 
Spring 2006


Class Time:             Monday & Wednesday 2:00-3:15 PM, 459 DuSable
Instructor:                Prof. Daniel R. Kempton
Office address:        Zulauf 315
Phone:                      753-7040
Office hours:            Monday, & Wednesday 10:30-12:00 AM; Th 1:30-3:00 PM and by appointment.
E-Mail:                    dkempton@niu.edu
                                 (Expect an e-mail response within 2 working days.)

Course description: Terrorism is at least as old as recorded history, and likely older. While the essential nature of terrorism, and its basic objectives have not change for millennia, the effectiveness of terrorism and its frequency have both increased dramatically. Part of the explanation for this is that terrorism is increasingly easy. Put bluntly, never before in history could so few kill so many, so easily as today. As humanity has developed new and increasingly devastating weapons of mass destruction terrorists have gained a greater ability for wide spread destruction. At the same time, the modern world's increased dependence on technology and common infrastructures make us more vulnerable to attack. We obtain our energy, water, and food from common sources, all of which are vulnerable to attack. Increasingly we live, work, and travel in greater concentrations, which allow for a greater number of people to be attacked simultaneously. Finally, the basic objective of terrorism, to spread fear, is greatly enhanced by the modern media, which markedly increase terrorism's effectiveness as a political tool by providing immediate, dramatic, wide-spread, and extensive coverage to incidences of terrorism.

Thus, while the United States, and much of the world, has declared a "War on Terrorism," terrorism will not be eliminated in the near future. At the same time, unless the United States and other civilized states adopt carefully constructed strategies to combat terrorism, the problem will undoubtedly worsen markedly in the coming decades. Given this reality, the selection of prudent strategies for combating terrorism is one of the key tasks now facing the civilized world.

One objective of this course is to provide the information necessary for students to develop their own answers to some basic questions about terrorism. What is terrorism? Why is terrorism increasing? What causes terrorism? What can be done to diminish the incidences and destructiveness of terrorism? While there are no obvious or even consensual answers to these questions, varied answers to each of these questions will be presented and discussed.

Because both terrorism and the war on terrorism are evolving, students will be required to stay current with recent developments in global terrorism by reading stories linked to Yahoo’s News Category, “Terrorism & 9/11”. 

A second objective of this course is to help students develop their abilities to think and argue logically both orally and in writing. The course will thus provide students numerous opportunities to logically consider the issues surrounding terrorism and to present their views. Toward this end the course employs highly participatory teaching methods including discussions of current events related to terrorism and case study discussions.

Readings: There is only one required textbook.

1. Russell D. Howard and Reid L. Sawyer, eds., Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Understanding the New Security Environment. (2nd edn.) Guildford, CT: McGraw-Hill, 2006.


Copies of the text are available for purchase at the University and Village Common bookstores.  Students are strongly encouraged to purchase the main text. Readings from the text are assigned in the Class Schedule (see below).

2. Students are required to read each of seven cases "prior to" the day that each case is scheduled to be discussed in the Class Schedule. The cases should be available at the bookstores. While copyright laws prohibit my copying and combining these cases into a course package, students may make copies of these cases for their individual use. (One copy of every case will be available in the Reserve Room of the Library.  The professor will also lend out cases for short term use.)  It is considerably less expensive to copy the cases from the library than to purchase them from either bookstore.

3. Students are required to read a couple of news stories on terror each week from the Yahoo News category “Terrorism & 9/11”.  The address is: http://news.yahoo.com/fc?tmpl=fc&cid=34&in=us&cat=terrorism .  Discussions of current events relating to terrorism will be held during the first 10-15 minutes of class every Wednesday. Students are expected to have read some stories related to terrorism each week and should come to Wednesday’s class ready to summarize and comment on them. Questions from all news about terrorism discussed in class may appear on quizzes and examination.

Writing Assignments:

1. Journal Submissions:  Each student is required to keep a journal of news stories related to terrorism.  To maintain the journal each student must write two entries each week.  Each entry should include a summary of a major article linked to the Yahoo News Pages “Terrorism & 9/11”.  Please select the majority of your stories from major, reputable, news services or online newspapers.  Each summary should be of approximately one half page in length (typed, double spaced with font #11).  It should also provide the student's commentary on and analysis of the article's main thesis.  Writing multiple journal entries on the same terrorist organization or issue will ease the difficulty of your case study (see below). However, please do not make entries on essentially the same story, printed in multiple papers.

Journals must be submitted twice during the semester.  They will first be submitted on February 20 and should include 7 entries.  The second submission date is due April 17 and should include 14 new entries.  The total number of articles that need to be summarized is 21.  Please be sure to indicate the title, author, date and source for each article.  For all online articles please cut and past the web address as your reference.

2. Case Study:  On April 26, each student will submit a short case study.  The case study must be written from the perspective of a particular international actor concerned with terrorism and it must deal with a specific problem.  A good case study will include the following elements:

  1. a clear identification of the international actor
  2. a brief summary of the specific problems presented posed by a specific terrorist organization or type of terrorism;
  3. a ranking of the objectives of the international actor when dealing with that specific problem;
  4. at least two alternative strategies for dealing with the problem;
  5. some consideration should be given to the methods discussed in class;
  6. a realistic assessment of the pros and cons of each strategy presented;
  7. your conclusion as to which strategy is most likely to achieve the objectives listed.


While there are hundreds of possible case study topics, illustrative examples include:

    1. US policy for controlling Al Qaeda;
    2. British policy on the IRA;
    3. Palestinian Authority policy and Hamas;
    4. President Putin and the Chechen resistance;
    5. the UN and airline safety;
    6. the IAEA and steps to prevent nuclear terror;
    7. the Peruvian government and Sendero Luminoso; and
    8. a new US policy dealing with hi-jacked planes;
    9. US policy to stop IED attacks in Iraq.


Citations must appear either at the bottom of the page, in the text, or at the end of the paper.  A bibliography is required. Although primary consideration in evaluating the journals will be placed on content and the logic of the arguments, presentation (including spelling, grammar, and correct word use) will also be considered.

Written assignments are due at the beginning of class on the assigned day.  Late assignments will be downgraded 1/3 letter grade for each weekday that they are late. (An assignment submitted after class will be considered one day late).  Thus, an "A" assignment becomes and "A-" after one day and a "B+" after two days. There will be no exceptions to this rule. Therefore, students with sick relatives, paper eating canines, low-life typists, or ill tempered computers--as well as those students who are routinely taken hostage aboard alien spaceships--are strongly encouraged to compensate for any potential mishaps by preparing their written assignments in advance of the submission deadlines.

Undergraduate Writing Awards: The Department of Political Science will recognize, on an annual basis, outstanding undergraduate papers written in conjunction with 300-400 level political science courses or directed studies. Authors do not have to be political science majors or have a particular class standing. Winners are expected to attend the Department's spring graduation ceremony where they will receive a certificate and $50. Papers, which can be submitted by students or faculty, must be supplied in triplicate to a department secretary by February 28. All copies should have two cover pages--one with the student's name and one without the student's name. Only papers written in the previous calendar year can be considered for the award. However, papers completed in the current spring semester are eligible for the following year's competition even if the student has graduated.

Participation: Participation is an important part of this course, and as such is required of all students. The participation grade will comprise 10% of the final grade and is designed to assess both the quantity and quality of each student's participation in this collective learning experience. Participation grades will include attendance, participation in news discussions, participation in cases, and participation in class. Students who miss any more than 4 classes in total, or more than two cases-for whatever reason-will have a deduction taken from their participation grade. Those students who contribute in class discussions post “at least” three substantive messages to the class discussion group, which can be accessed in blackboard at http://webcourses.niu.edu/, are eligible for a “B” or higher participation grade.  

Students with Disabilities: NIU abides by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 regarding provision of reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities. Moreover, your academic success is of importance to me. If you have a disability that may have a negative impact on your performance in this course and you may require some type of instructional and/or examination accommodation, please contact me early in the semester so that I can provide or facilitate in providing accommodations you may need.  If you have not already done so, you will need to register with the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR), the designated office on campus to provide services and administer exams with accommodations for students with disabilities. CAAR is located on the 4th floor of the University Health Services building (753-1303). I look forward to talking with you to learn how I may be helpful in enhancing your academic success in this course.

Plagiarism Statement: According to the NIU Undergraduate Catalog "Students are guilty of plagiarism, intentional or not, if they copy material from books, magazines, or other sources without identifying and acknowledging them. Students guilty of, or assisting others in, either cheating or plagiarism on an assignment, quiz, or examination may receive a grade of F for the course involved and may be suspended or dismissed from the university." In short, all ideas that are not your own or well known must be footnoted. A general rule is that if the information cannot be found in three or more commonly available sources it should be footnoted. All direct quotes must be placed in quotation marks. These guidelines will be enforced. If you are unsure as to what should be footnoted either play it safe and footnote, or ask for assistance.

Examinations: There will be two examinations, a mid-term and a final. Each examination will be worth 20% of the semester grade. The mid-term examination will be held on March 8 and will include all course materials and readings covered to that date. The final examination will be held on May 8, 2:00-3:50 PM in Du 459. Those who have a conflict, or simply prefer to take the examination on another date, may take the examination on May 7, 2-3:50 PM also in Du 459. The alternate examination will be of comparable difficulty.  Students must request to sit for the alternate final in writing and prior to the end of the last class day. However, all students are eligible to take the alternate final.  Each examination will contain:

  • 20 multiple choice questions (each is worth 1 point)
  • 30 points from 15 of 17 identification questions (each is worth 2 points)
  • 50 points from 2 essay questions (each is worth 25 points)


Quiz Grade:  During the semester at least four, but likely more, quizzes will be administered.  Quizzes will not be announced ahead of time.  Quizzes will cover material in the assigned readings or material presented in the previous class sessions.  Extra credit points (see above) will be applied first to the quiz grade. 


Grading: The final grade will be:

  1. 20% mid-term examination
  2. 20% final examination
  3. 10% Quiz Grade
  4. 10% first journal submission
  5. 20% second journal submission
  6. 10% case study
  7. 10% participation.

*The professor will personally grade all examinations, essays and journal submissions.  All appeals of these grades should go directly to the professor.  Participation in the student news group and quizzes will be graded by the graduate assistant (Ms. Messing-Mathie) and appeals of these should go initially to Ms. Messing-Mathie.

Web Site: Undergraduates are strongly encouraged to consult the Department of Political Science web site on a regular basis. This up-to-date, central source of information will assist students in contacting faculty and staff, reviewing course requirements and syllabi, exploring graduate study, researching career options, tracking department event, and accessing important details related to undergraduate programs and activities. To reach the site, go to http://www.niu.edu/acad/polisci/pols/html.  The syllabus for this course, and all recommended links, can also be found on the department web site.

Course Outline and Due Dates:




Jan 18

I. Introduction & Distribution of Syllabus

Jan 23

Jan 25

II. Defining Terrorism
Howard & Sawyer, Chpts. 1-2

Jan 30

CASE #1: Seeking the Extradition of Mohammed Rashid (KSG C16-90-982.0)

Feb 1
Feb 6

III. A Brief History of Terrorism
Howard & Sawyer, Chpt. 3

Feb 8
Feb 13

IV. The Causes of Terrorism
   a. Psychological
   b. Religious & Ideological Fanaticism
   c. environmental (social, economic & political)

   d. rational
Howard & Sawyer, Chpt. 4

Feb 15

Feb 20

IV. Tools of the New Terrorism
Howard & Sawyer, Chpts. 5 & 6

Feb 20

First Journal Submission is Due!

Feb 22

a. Conventional Attacks
  (bombings, assassinations & transported bombs)
b. Hijacking & Hostage taking

Feb 27

Case #2: The Achille Lauro Hijacking: Part A (KSG C16-88-863.0)

Mar 1

c. Nuclear Terrorism

Mar 6

d. Chemical & Biological Weapons

e. fundraising

Mar 8

Midterm Examination !

Mar 20

Mar 22

f. State Sponsorship & Organized Crime
g. Cyberterrorism


V. Responses to Terrorism

Howard & Sawyer, Chpts. 7, 8 & 9

Mar 27

1.  Fighting Back:  Conventional War on Terrorism

Mar 29

Case #3: American Military Retaliation for Terrorism: Judging the Merits of the 1998 Cruise Missile Strike in Afghanistan and Sudan (ISD 238)

Apr 3
Apr 5

2. Homeland Defense


Apr 10

Case #4: White Powders in Georgia: Responding to Cases of Suspected Anthrax After 9/11 (KSG 1715)

Apr 17

2nd Journal Submission Due!

Apr 17

Apr 19

3. Changes to Domestic Law

4. International Cooperation

Apr 24

Case #5: The Achille Lauro Hijacking Part B (KSG C16-88-863.0)

Apr 26

Terrorism Case Study Due!

Apr 26

Case #6 Tiltulim: Interrogation by Shaking in Israel  (ISD 245)

May 1

5. Negotiating & Addressing Causes

May 3

Case #7 Negotiating with Terrorists: TWA Flight 847 (ISD 333)

May 7

Alternate Final Examination, 2:00-3:50 PM, Du 459

May 8

Scheduled Final Examination, 2-3:50 PM, Du 459

* All Cases must be read prior to their discussion in class.  Cases appear in red type and italics in the outline.

            ** Some adjusting of the schedule will no doubt be necessary.  However, dates for the examinations and journal submissions will not be changed.

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LINKS to Relevant Sites:

General News Sources:
BBC World News
Christian Science Monitor
CNN Breaking News
The Times  (London)
New York Times
Washington Post

Terrorism News Sources:
Terrorism Research Center
General Links on Terrorism
US State Department's Office of Counterterrorism
US Department of Defense on Countering Terrorism
EERI Counterterrorism Home Page & Links

Others Links:
The Kennedy School of Government Case Program
Electronic Citation Style Manuals
Evaluating Internet Sources
Bartlett's Quotations

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