Global Terrorism: POLS 386   
Spring 2009

Class Time:             Tuesday and Thursday 11:00 AM -12:15, 246 DuSable
Instructor:                Prof. Daniel R. Kempton
Office address:        Zulauf 402
Phone:                      753-7055
Office hours:            Tue, 1:30 pm - 4:30, Wed 10:30 am-11:55, and by appointment.
                                 (Expect an e-mail response within 3 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 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 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 news stories related to terrorism posted in the course Blackboard space. 

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 Second Edition 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).   While some readings will be discussed in class, others will not.  Test questions may be drawn from all assigned readings.

2. Students are required to read each of the assigned cases "prior to" the day that each case is scheduled to be discussed in the Class Schedule. All but one case 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.  When necessary, some cases may be made available in Blackboard.  (The first case is already available).

3. Each week students will be required to read at least two of the news storied posted in Blackboard page by Professor Kempton.  Each week four to eight stories will be posted in the documents section of Blackboard for the POLS 386 group.  The news stories will be discussed each Thursday at the beginning of class.  The news stories discussed in class will appear on class examinations and quizzes. 

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 full source citation.  Each summary should be of approximately one half-page in length (typed, double spaced, and with Times New Roman font #12).  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).

Journals must be submitted twice during the semester.  They will first be submitted on February 19 and should include 7 entries.  The second submission date is due April 16 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. 

2. Case Study:  On April 26, each student will submit a case study, which should be approximately five pages in length, typed, double spaced, and with Times New Roman font #12.  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. a realistic assessment of the pros and cons of each strategy presented; and
  6. 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. The United Kingdom and the Real 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;
    10. Using extreme force against Al Qaeda targets abroad;
    11. the use of extraordinary rendition;
    12. defining torture in terror interrogation; and
    13. Sri Lankan policy toward the Tamil Tigers


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 day 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. Exceptions to this rule will be considered only in the most extraordinary circumstances and all late papers will receive some deduction. Thus, students with sick relatives, paper eating canines, low-life typists, frequent auto accidents, 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.  Assignments may be e-mailed to establish a submission date.  They must be received prior to the beginning of class to be considered received on time.  However, a printed version, identical to the e-mailed version, must be received within a week.

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” five substantive messages to the class discussion group, which can be accessed in blackboard at, are eligible for a “B” or higher participation grade.  

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 10, 7-8:50 PM. 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 below) will be applied to the quiz grade. 


Extra Credit:  Extra credit points will be available for select movie nights and talks on campus.  Students unable to attend a movie night may still receive the allotted extra credit point by writing a one page reaction to the film and submitting it within one week of the schedule movie night.  If you know of a relevant activity, please notify the professor or the teaching assistant at least two weeks in advance. 


Grading: The final grade will be derived from:

  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.



Students with Disabilities: Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, NIU is committed to making reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities. Those students with disabilities that may have an impact on their course work must register with the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR) on the fourth floor of the Health Services Building (753-1303). CAAR will assist students in making appropriate instructional and/or examination accommodations with course instructors. It is important that CAAR and instructors be informed of any disability-related needs during the first two weeks of the semester.


Department of Political Science 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, research career options, tracking department events, and accessing important details related to undergraduate programs and activities.  To reach the site, go to


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 $50.00.  Papers, which can be submitted by students or faculty, must be supplied in triplicate to a department secretary by the end of March.  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.


Academic Dishonesty: Regarding plagiarism, the NIU Undergraduate Catalog states: "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." The above statement encompasses a paper written in whole or in part by another; a paper copied word-for-word or with only minor changes from another source; a paper copied in part from one or more sources without proper identification and acknowledgment of the sources; a paper that is merely a paraphrase of one or more sources, using ideas and/or logic without credit even though the actual words may be changed; and a paper that quotes, summarizes or paraphrases, or cuts and pastes words, phrases, or images from an Internet source without identification and the address of the web site.


Classroom Decorum:  Students are encouraged to arrive at class on time.  Students who arrive after their names are called for attendance must see the professor after that particular class to be marked present.  Students are to remain for the entire session unless excused by the professor beforehand or confronted with a serious personal emergency.  For instance, it is not acceptable to students to walk in and out of class to answer cell phones, take casual bathroom and smoking breaks, or attend to other personal matters.   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 (e.g., sick family member, pregnant wife, special childcare situation, etc.).  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.


Course Outline and Due Dates:




Jan 13

I. Introduction & Distribution of Syllabus

Jan 15

Case #1: American Extraordinary Rendition: The Case of Abu Omar (ISD 297)

Jan 20

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

Jan 22

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

Jan 30
Feb 3

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

Feb 5

Feb 10
Feb 12

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

   d. rational
Howard & Sawyer, Chpt. 4

Feb 17

Feb 19

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

Feb 19

First Journal Submission is Due!

Feb 24

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

Feb 26

Case #3: The Achille Lauro Hijacking: Part A (KSG C16-88-863.0)

Mar 3

c. Nuclear Terrorism

Mar 5

Midterm Examination !

Mar 17

d. Chemical & Biological Weapons

e. fundraising

Mar 19

Mar 24

f. State Sponsorship & Organized Crime
g. Cyberterrorism


V. Responses to Terrorism

Howard & Sawyer, Chpts. 7, 8 & 9

Mar 26

1.  Fighting Back:  Conventional War on Terrorism

Mar 31

Case #4: American Military Retaliation for Terrorism: Judging the Merits of the 1998 Cruise Missile Strike in Afghanistan and Sudan (ISD 238)

Apr 2

Apr 7

2. Homeland Defense

Apr 9

Case #5: White Powders in Georgia: Responding to Cases of Suspected Anthrax After 9/11 (KSG 1715)

Apr 14

Apr 16

3. Changes to Domestic Law

Apr 16

2nd Journal Submission Due!

Apr 21

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

Apr 23

4. International Cooperation

Apr 26

Terrorism Case Study Due!

Apr 28

5. Negotiating & Addressing Causes

Apr 30

Case #8 Negotiating with Terrorists: TWA Flight 847 (ISD 333)

May 5

Scheduled Final Examination, 10-11:50 AM, Du 246

May 7

Alternate Final Examination, tentative time 6-7:50 PM, Du 464

* 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.

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