Global Terrorism

POLS 386/ Spring 2008/ 11:00-11:50 MWF


Class Information


Class Time: Monday, Wednesday, Friday 11:00-11:50 a.m.

Location: DU 461

Instructor: Andrea Mathie (I am listed departmentally as Andrea Messing-Mathie)

: 630-915-8740 (Please use email whenever possible)        

Office: Zulauf 402     

Office Hours: Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 12:00-1:30 p.m. and by appointment (please visit-I get lonely!)    

  e-mail: (expect an e-mail response usually within 24-48 hours, except on weekends)

Course Description

Terrorism is at least as old as recorded history and likely much older. While the essential nature of terrorism and its basic objectives have not change for millennia, the effectiveness of terrorism and the frequency of its use have both increased dramatically. Part of the explanation for this is that terrorism is increasingly easy to carry out.  Put more bluntly, never before in history could so many victims be killed at the hand of so few as is seen today.  With the development of 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 is more vulnerable to attack due to its increased dependence on technology and common infrastructures. We obtain our energy, water, and food from common sources, all of which are vulnerable to attack.  In addition, we live, work, and travel in greater concentrations and this allows for a greater number of people to be attacked simultaneously.  Finally, the basic objective of terrorism is to spread fear and this is greatly enhanced by the modern media, which terrorists see as an effective political tool because it provides immediate, dramatic, wide-spread, and extensive coverage of their terrorist incidences.

Thus, while the United States, and much of the world, has declared a "War on Terrorism," terrorism will not likely 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 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 Yahoos 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.


What am I expecting of you?




1) There is one required book:                                                                                                                         

White, Jonathan, Terrorism and Homeland Security. (5th ed.) Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth, 2008.  

Copies of the text are available for purchase at the University and Village Common bookstores.  In addition, the text will be available at the Reserve Desk of the Library.  Students are strongly encouraged to purchase the main text. Readings from the text are assigned in the Class Schedule (see below).  Please be aware that while some readings will be discussed in class, others will not.  Furthermore, test questions may be drawn from all assigned readings. In addition, there may be additional readings assigned throughout the semester, of which you will be notified and will be posted in our course URL site, which will be provided to you.

2) Case Studies:  Case study learning is an effective and interactive way to learn about specific political situations and circumstances, which will allow for direct application of the information that we are learning in class.  We will generally be conducting our case studies on Fridays, which will allow for sufficient time throughout the week to thoroughly read the case study in question. The case studies are available at the bookstore for sale or at the reserve desk at the library, where you can make copies. I am unable to post the case studies electronically, due to copyright restrictions. You must read the case studies by the assigned date, as it is essential to in class participation. You can be assured that you will be quizzed on case study days.

3) Current Events Readings:  Students are required to stay current on news stories related to terrorism throughout the semester. To this end, we will be concentrating our reading on the Yahoo News category “Terrorism & 9/11”, which pulls news on terrorism from a variety of different news sources each day. The URL address is: .  Discussions of current events relating to terrorism will be held during the first 15-30 minutes of class every Wednesday. Please understand that this is not optional reading and students should come to Wednesday’s class ready to summarize and comment on news relating to terrorism. Questions from all news about terrorism discussed in class may appear on quizzes and/or examinations.


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 one entry each week which is due at the beginning of class every Wednesday.  Each journal should be in reference to a major article linked to the Yahoo News Pages “Terrorism & 9/11”.  Each journal should be one whole page in length (typed, double spaced with font #12).  The content of the journal should include a very brief summary of the issue(s) presented, but more importantly, the journal should also provide the student’s commentary on and analysis of the article’s main thesis.  You may write multiple journal entries on the same terrorist organization or issue to ease the difficulty of choosing and writing your case study paper (see below). However, please do not make entries on essentially the same story, printed in multiple papers.   

Journals must be submitted every Wednesday during the semester.  The total number of articles that need to be summarized is 12.  Please be sure to indicate on your journal the title, author, date, source for each article, and the web link for the article.  Stapled to your journal should also be a print out of the article discussed for my reference.  More guidance on writing the journal and grading standards will be given the first week of class. Your journal articles will be worth 15% of your grade, so please take these analyses very seriously.


2) Quizzes: I will be quizzing throughout the semester on case studies and/or reading assignments. You can expect at least 10 quizzes throughout the semester, depending on the level of class participation and comprehension. Of these quizzes, the lowest 2 will be dropped at the end of the semester; therefore, makeup quizzes will not be allowed. The quizzes will be worth 10% of your grade.

3) Class participation: 20% of your grade

a) General class participation: Because this is an interactive learning environment, you are expected to participate in class and in our Friday news discussion. General class participation will be worth 5% of your grade.

b) Case study participation: Students who miss more than two cases, for whatever reason, will have a deduction taken from their participation grade. In addition, in order to receive the full 5% for this component, students must actively participate in the group work on case study days. Case study participation will be worth 5% of your grade.

c) Online participation: A message group will be formed on our Blackboard course ( which is intended to promote or continue discussions outside the classroom. I will present some topics and questions and students are encouraged to respond and/or promote their own discussions throughout the semester. You are required to make at least one posting per week in order to receive at least a B in this portion of the course. Your participation in this group will be worth 5% of your grade.

d) Attendance:  Attendance will be taken every class session. Students may have 4 absences from class with no penalty. You may use these absences in anyway you wish, but use them wisely in case some minor emergency/sickness/appointment arises that forces you to miss class.  For example, if you miss four classes and then miss an additional two due to illness, you have six absences.  I do not differentiate between excused or unexcused absences except in extraordinary circumstances.  This is why I stress that you use your absences wisely.  You do not need to notify me in advance of your absence unless you will be missing a test or final, or if you will be absent for a considerable period of time due to an emergency.  If you are an NIU athlete and you will be missing more than four class sessions, you must submit your sport schedule to me in advance.  Furthermore, you will be expected to attend all other class sessions during the semester. Your attendance is worth 5% of your grade.

4) Case Study Paper: You will be required to write your own case study at the end of the semester. You will begin to get an idea of what I am looking for after we have done a few case studies in class, and I will be providing you with detailed instructions on how to complete this assignment. You will also have some extra credit opportunities for your paper. The paper is due Friday, April 25th and is worth 15% of your grade. In order to keep you on track with your paper, here are some additional deadlines for parts of the paper. Please be advised that you cannot pass this class if you do not submit a case study paper.

            Monday, February 25: Submit Paper Topic

            Monday, March 17: Submit Bibliography-At least 5 credible sources

            Monday, March 31: Submit Outline

            Friday, April 25th: Paper due


Exam 1: (Midterm)      3/7/2008                                              20% of your grade

Exam 2 (Final):            5/5/2008          11:00-12:50 am          20% of your grade    

  (Alternate date to be announced)



Course Grading Breakdown:


Exam 1: 20%

Exam 2: 20%

Journals: 15%

Quizzes: 10%

Paper: 15%

Class participation: 20%

Some final but important thoughts:

Extra Credit: Extra Credit opportunities will be announced during the semester and usually consist of attending talks on campus, watching selected films or writing reaction papers to news articles and/or movies. Absolutely no extra credit will be awarded on an individual basis, but there will be opportunities for extra credit points to be earned. If you know of a relevant activity, please notify me at least one week in advance for consideration.

Classroom Etiquette: It is vital that you arrive at class on time. You should remain in the classroom for the entire session unless you are excused by me beforehand. You should use your best judgment on this. It is not acceptable for students to walk in and out of class to answer cell phones, take casual bathroom and smoking breaks, or attend to other personal matters. It is also not acceptable to read the newspaper during class or to listen to any listening device.  Cell phones, pagers, or any electronic devices that make noise must be turned off during class unless the instructor has been notified beforehand of a special circumstance. No one should talk while someone else is talking; this includes comments meant for a classmate rather than the entire group. Overall, classroom dialogue and behavior should always be courteous, respectful of others, and consistent with the expectations set forth by the university.

In addition, the topic of terrorism is by nature controversial in that it deals with controversial topics such as, politics, religion, and money.  If we are to understand terrorism in all its complexities, we must create a learning space that is conducive for exploring these controversial topics.  The purpose for exploring all sides of an issue is to understand the opposing arguments in order for the student to make a fully informed opinion or decision about the issue at hand.  In order to facilitate this safe, open classroom environment, we must maintain a respectful atmosphere at all times.  Therefore, there is absolutely no name calling, cursing, personal attacks, or demeaning speech against another student allowed at any time, including in the Blackboard postings.  We must ensure that everyone in the class room communicates and debates with one another respectfully at all times.  Lastly, controversial conversations that occur during class time should not be carried over into the hallway after class in order to provoke or continue an unhealthy debate.

Multi-media teaching style: Our class has access to Smart equipment in which we can access the internet, use the projector, watch DVDs, VHS, etc.  Therefore, the format of this course is designed to utilize most, if not all, of the technology available to us in the classroom.  Not only does this expand the instructor’s resources for presenting material, it accommodates the various learning styles of the students in the class.  Often times, the purpose for showing documentary films or news clips on terrorism topics is to provide the visual reality of the complexity of an issue that can not be achieved by class lecture or discussion alone. I ask that you remain open-minded when these films are shown.  Some are informative, some are dramatic and emotional, but all are very educational. Please be advised that these films deal with terrorism which by nature includes violence.  Therefore some of the films contain brief footage that is graphic and you may find it disturbing.  In these instances you will be notified in advance of class as well as before the film begins.  For this reason, you will not be required to watch any film that may make you uncomfortable.  If this is the case, come see me privately and we will try to find another way for you to earn extra credit points that would also be fair and available to the rest of the students. 

10- Minute Rule: If on the very rare occasion I am late, please see if a class cancellation notice has been posted.  If not, wait 10 minutes for my arrival.  If it is longer than 10 minutes, you are free to leave and class will be considered cancelled. 

Plagiarism: 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 as 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, BE CAREFUL! If you think that you might be plagiarizing, you probably are, and feel free to come to me at any time for advice or assistance. All ideas that are not your own must be cited (via footnotes). I will tolerate absolutely no plagiarism, so please take this very seriously. We will cover this in more detail during a class session.

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.

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.

Website: Undergraduates are strongly encouraged to consult the Department of Political Science website 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 events, and accessing important details related to undergraduate programs and activities. To reach the site, go to

Guidelines on grading: In general, assignments will be graded on how well the student meets or exceeds the basic minimum requirements. More specific guidance on the grading of particular assignments will be explained later.  However, in general, these are my benchmarks for grading:

F-work: Failing to turn in an assignment at all, submitting work that is plagiarized, or submitting work that can not be understood or has nothing to do with the assignment.

D-work is when the student simply does not meet the very basic minimum requirements of the assignment by failing to consider the objectives of the assignment as identified by the instructor. In addition, a student may receive a D if there are significant proofreading errors in the paper which makes it very difficult to read and understand.

C-work is when the student simply meets the very basic minimum requirements of the assignment.  In addition, a student may receive a C if there are major proofreading errors which weaken the credibility of the arguments presented.

B-work is when the student achieves the minimum requirements but also offers more well-rounded arguments and presents some cited facts or ideas to support those arguments. The work may include some proofreading errors, but the errors do not significantly interfere with the arguments presented.

      A-work is when the student goes above and beyond the minimum requirements and offers a clear, well-rounded, thoughtful, organized paper, journal, or blackboard posting.  The arguments presented are highly developed and supported effectively by cited facts.  In addition, there should be minimal proofreading errors which will allow the instructor to read the assignment with clarity and ease.


Course Calendar and Tentative Schedule: Because class discussion is so important to gaining an understanding of current terrorism issues, I am providing a schedule with flexibility built into it. I will be continually providing you with updates as we continue on in the semester. This schedule is not firm, but it is absolutely your responsibility to make sure that you are on track with the class.




M Jan 14


W Jan 16

F Jan 18

I.  Introduction & Distribution of Syllabus


Defining Terrorism  (White, Chap 1)

A Brief History of Terrorism (White, Chap 2)


M Jan 21


W Jan 23

F   Jan 25

No Class


1st News Discussion, begin Modern Terrorism (*1st Journal submission due)

Modern Terrorism, tactics and behavior, structure (White 9-16, 30-47; in class handout)




M Jan 28





W Jan 30

F  Feb 1

II. The Causes of Terrorism


a. Psychological (in class handout)
b. Religious (White 48-64; in class handout)

c. Environmental (social, economic & political)
d. Rational


News Discussion, (*2nd Journal submission due)

Case Study #1: The Achille Lauro Hijacking: Part A (KSG C16-88-863.0)

M Feb 4


W Feb 6

F Feb 8


e. Ideological (White Ch. 12) In class, FrontLine movie "The Insurgency"


News Discussion, (*3rd Journal submission due) Continuation of movie

CASE #2: Seeking the Extradition of Mohammed Rashid (KSG C16-90-982.0)


M Feb 11



W Feb 13




F Feb 15

III. Tools of the New Terrorism

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

News Discussion (*4th Journal submission due)

c. Cyberterrorism (White 82-86)

d. Suicide Terrorism (White 86-90, in class handout)


In class movie “Suicide Killers”

M Feb 18


W Feb 20



F Feb 22

d. Nuclear Terrorism

e. Chemical & Biological Weapons (White 90-96)

News Discussion (*5th Journal submission due)

f. Fundraising (White Ch. 5, in class handout)


g. State Sponsorship & Organized Crime; h. The media (White Ch. 18)

M Feb 25


W Feb 27

F Feb 29

Flex Week-Review for Midterm (Paper Topic Due in class)


News Discussion (*6th Journal submission due)

Flex Week

M Mar 3


W Mar 5


F Mar 7



Mar 10-14

Midterm Exam


Go over Midterm/News Discussion (No Journal Submission this week)


IV. Terrorism around the World

The USA, Canada, Puerto Rico and Cuba (White Ch. 13, 14; in class handout)


Spring Break

M Mar 17




W Mar 19



F Mar 21

Great Britain and Northern Ireland (White Ch. 11) (Case Study Bibliography due in class)

Western Europe (White 182-184; in class handout)


News Discussion (*7th Journal Submission due)

Russia and Chechnya (White 126-128)


Al-Qaeda (White Ch 7, in class handout)

M Mar 24


W Mar 26



F Mar 28

Hezbollah (White 128-141)


News Discussion (*8th Journal Submission due)

PLO and Hamas (White Ch. 9, 10)


PLO and Hamas continued

M Mar 31



W Apr 2



F Apr 4

Jemaah Islamiyah (White 189-193, 121-126; in class handout) (Case Study Outline due in class)


News Discussion (*9th Journal Submission due)

Sendero Luminoso (The Shining Path)





M Apr 7




W Apr 9


F Apr 11

V. Responses to Terrorism and the War on Terror


1.  Fighting Back: Conventional War on Terrorism

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


News Discussion (*10th Journal Submission due)

2. Homeland Defense (White Ch. 15, 17; in class handout)


M Apr 14



W Apr 16



F Apr 18

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


News Discussion (*11th Journal Submission due)

Continuation Homeland Defense


Continuation Homeland Defense

M Apr 21


W Apr 23




F Apr 25

Case #5: Tiltulim: Interrogation by Shaking in Israel  (ISD 245)


News Discussion (No Journal Submission due)

3. Changes to Domestic Law & Protecting Civil Liberties (White Ch. 16;in class handout)


Case Study Due Continuation

M Apr 28



W Apr 30



F May 2

4. International Cooperation

Case #6: American Extraordinary Rendition: The Case of Abu Omar


News Discussion (*12th Journal Submission due)

5. Negotiating & Addressing Causes  (Burton #8)


Review for Final Exam


M May 5


Final Exam DuSable 461 from 11:00-12:50