Northern Illinois University, Spring Semester 2010


Class Time               Tue-Thu 8:00-9:15 a.m.                 

Class Location        DuSable 212                       

Instructor                  Prof. Dan Pojar

Contact                     dpojar@niu.edu; 831-917-1257

Office Hrs                 Mon 2:00-3:30; Tue 9:15- 10:45 DuSable 476



Terrorism is a term of which we all have some degree of familiarity.  It has received endless media attention the past several years.  Yet, for something so regularly in the news, terrorism in many ways remains a puzzle.  You may be surprised by the amount of disagreement surrounding this issue.  What exactly is it, and how does one define it?  Who are terrorists, and what motivates terrorists to do what they do?  How does a state respond to terrorism?  What are the challenges in so doing?

This course allows you to come to terms with these and related questions.  As the course title suggests, we will take a global perspective in examining these issues.    


By the end of this course, each student should be able to:

1. form his/her own defendable definition of terrorism

2. understand an array of motivations for and underlying causes of terrorism

3. know the fundamentals of several specific terrorist organizations

4. understand a range of strategies for responding to and countering terrorism

5. know the challenges in responding to and countering terrorism

6. place the significance of terrorism in the larger political context


This course is a combination of lecture and discussion.  As such, to succeed in this course you must listen and take notes during lectures as well as actively participate in class discussions.  Reading for each class is fairly intensive and must be done prior to each class- pop quizzes will be given to ensure you do the reading.  Tuesdays are primarily lecture days, and Thursdays are class discussions and debates on prevalent topics, current events, case studies, and related materials.

Reading Requirements

You are required to purchase two textbooks:

Russell D. Howard, Reid L. Sawyer and Natasha E. Bajema, eds., Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Understanding the New Security Environment, 3d ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009). [You must purchase the THIRD EDITION].

Stuart Gottlieb, ed., Debating Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Conflicting Perspectives on Causes, Contexts, and Responses (Washington D.C.: CQ Press, 2010).

Course Requirements

1. Preparation for each class is essential to your success.  You are expected to complete all your class readings prior to the start of each class.  To ensure that you have done so, I will give a total of ten pop quizzes covering that day’s readings.  Each quiz will consist of five multiple choice or true-false questions, and will be given at the start of class.  If you arrive to class late after the quiz has been handed out, you will not be given the chance to take that quiz unless you had previously notified me of your tardiness.  If you miss class the day a quiz is given, you will only be allowed to later take the quiz if I had excused you from class that day.  Excused absences will only be given if you notify me by phone or email at least 30 minutes prior to class start, and you have a valid reason for missing that class.  Your quiz scores are worth 20% of your final grade.

2. Class participation includes both active participation in class discussions and active listening during lectures.  Your full attention is expected during every class.  You are not to use cell phones, other mobile devices, read newspapers, read materials for other courses, do crossword puzzles or sleep during class.  Engagement in these and other related activities will result in a downgrade of your participation score.  I base participation scores upon active listening during lectures, substantial contributions during discussions and debates, observance of proper classroom decorum, and regular on-time attendance in class.  Your participation score is worth 20% of your final grade.  Related to this participation, you are expected to attend every class.  You will be allowed five absences.  Every absence from class beyond the fifth will result in a five point deduction from your final grade.

3. I will post several news articles to the Blackboard on Sunday or Monday of every week.  You are required to respond to at least one of these on at least ten different weeks between Week 2 and the end of Week 15.  Your responses should be substantive, well-thought-out, critical reflections on the topic of the specific article.  Your reflections should also engage the course lectures, readings, discussions and debates.  The intent behind these news articles is two-fold: to keep you aware of the latest terrorism and counterterrorism happenings in the world, and to encourage you to engage in an ongoing dialogue about these with your peers.  Besides responding to the articles themselves, you should respond to each other’s responses.  Once again, this is to be an outside-the-class, ongoing dialogue throughout the semester.  Your responses are worth 20% of your final grade.

4. Each of you will participate in a debate as well as lead your small group in discussion on the day of your debate.  For the debate, you will be given the pro or con side of an issue from the Gottlieb textbook.  You will be responsible for being intimately familiar with both sides of the issue, but will defend a particular position.  You will use your intimate familiarity with both sides of the issue to lead your small group in an objective discussion of the issue prior to your debate.  If you miss class on your scheduled dates to lead your debate and group discussion, you will receive a score of 0 (zero).  Make-up opportunities will be given only in the event of extraordinary circumstances.  If such circumstances arise, please contact the instructor in advance of class as soon as possible.  As a means of maintaining fairness, the instructor reserves the right to request documentation to support an absence.  Your performance on this debate and leading small group discussion is worth 20% of your final grade.

5. There will be an in-class essay on the final day of class, Thursday, 29 April, during the normal class period.  This essay will require you to answer one of three big-picture questions.  You are to answer the question in two-three written pages.  Essay duration will be one hour.  Makeup in-class essays will be given only in the event of extraordinary circumstances.  If such circumstances arise, please contact the instructor in advance of class as soon as possible.  As a means of maintaining fairness, the instructor reserves the right to request documentation to support an absence from the in-class essay.  If a student fails to notify the instructor in advance of his/her absence, or fails to provide any sort of documentation upon request, a score of 0 (zero) will be given for that essay. This essay is worth 20% of your final grade.

6. You will not be given a final examination for this course.  Nevertheless, in accordance with university policy, you are still required to attend class during the scheduled final exam period, which is Tuesday, 4 May, 8:00-9:50 am. 

Grading Summary                                                  Grading Scale

Quizzes                     = 20%                                     A = 90-100                            

Participation              = 20%                                     B = 80-89

News Responses    = 20%                                     C = 70-79

Debate/Discussion = 20%                                     D = 60-69

In-class Essay          = 20%                                     F = 59 or below



Class Schedule

Week 1                      Course Introduction

Tue, 12 Jan               Syllabus & Course Requirements Overview/Class Introduction

Thu, 14 Jan               History of Terrorism            


PART I                       THE NATURE OF TERRORISM


Week 2                      Definition of Terrorism    

Tue, 19 Jan               Defining Terrorism

            - Howard 4-33, 42-54.         

Thu, 21 Jan               Debate 1: Is the New Terrorism Really New?                

            - Gottlieb 1-33; (Howard 112-133).


Week 3                      Religious Intersection with Terrorism

Tue, 26 Jan               Religious and Ideological Explanations

            - Howard 207-224, 225-247, 248-262.

Thu, 28 Jan               Debate 2: Does Islam Play a Role in Modern Religious Terrorism?

            - Gottlieb 100-130.


Week 4                      Environmental Explanations of Terrorism

Tue, 02 Feb               Environmental Factors

Thu, 04 Feb              Debate 3: Is Poverty a Root Cause of Terrorism?

            - Gottlieb 34-66.


Week 5                      Methods of Attack

Tue, 09 Feb               CBRN, Hostage-Taking, Conventional Bombings and More

            - Howard 266-287, 288-294.

Thu, 11 Feb              Debate 4: Is Nuclear Terrorism a Real Threat?

            - Gottlieb 166-200.                          


Week 6                      State Facilitation of Terrorism

Tue, 16 Feb               States as Facilitators 

            - Howard 88-109, 79-87, 34-41.

            - Noam Chomsky, Pirates and Emperors, Old and New: International Terrorism

            in the Real World, (Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2002). [posted excerpts]

Thu, 18 Feb              Debate 5: Can Terrorism Ever Be Justified?

            - Gottlieb 67-99.       


Week 7                      Psychological Underpinnings of Terrorism

Tue, 23 Feb               Suicide Terrorism

            - Howard 311-322, 323-338; Gottlieb 131-165.

Thu, 25 Feb              The Mind of a Terrorist                   

            - Elie Wiesel, Dawn, (New York: Bantam Books, 1982). [all of it]




Week 8                      Transition: From the Nature of Terrorism to Responding to It

Tue, 02 Mar               Movie: The Battle of Algiers          

Thu, 04 Mar               Movie: The Battle of Algiers


Week 9                      Spring Break

Tue, 09 Mar               No Classes

Thu, 11 Mar               No Classes




Week 10                    Offense and Defense

Tue, 16 Mar               Conventional Military Responses           

            - Howard 410-427, 483-491.

            - Case Study: American Military Retaliation for Terrorism: Judging the Merits of

            the 1998 Cruise Missile Strike in Afghanistan and Sudan.      

Thu, 18 Mar               Debate 6: Do We Need Bombs over Bridges?

            - Gottlieb, 201-234.


Week 11                    Homeland Security and the Legal Process

Tue, 23 Mar               Response Options on the Home front

Thu, 25 Mar               Debate 7: Does Security Require a Tradeoff with Civil Liberties?                              - Gottlieb 336-369.


Week 12                    Intelligence

Tue, 30 Mar               Role of Intelligence

            - Howard 404-409.

            - The 9/11 Commission Report (First Edition): 339-348, 353-360, 399-419.

            - Case Study: Tiltulim: Interrogation by Shaking in Israel.

Thu, 01 Apr               Debate 8: Should Torture Be Permissible?                    

            - Gottlieb 304-335.


Week 13                    International Cooperation

Tue, 06 Apr               Necessity, Limits and Challenges           

            - Case Study: Seeking the Extradition of Mohammed Rashid. 

Thu, 08 Apr               Debate 9: Can the United Nations Make a Difference?

            - Gottlieb 272-303.


Week 14                    Iraq and Afghanistan

Tue, 13 Apr               Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Thu, 15 Apr               Debate 10: Can Spreading Democracy Help Defeat Terrorism?

            - Gottlieb, 235-271.


Week 15                    Towards a Grand Strategy

Tue, 20 Apr               Negotiating & Addressing Causes

            - Howard 502-512.


Thu, 22 Apr               U.S. Grand Strategy

            -  Howard 444-459, 460-482.


Week 16                    Staring into the Crystal Ball

Tue, 27 Apr               Future of Terrorism and Counterterrorism

            - Howard 581-591, 647-660.

Thu, 29 Apr               In-Class Essay


Week 17                    Finals Week

Tue, 04 May              Final exam period 8:00-9:50 am; No final exam will be given, but you are required by NIU policy to come to class that day.



Course Policies     

1. Continually coming to class late is a disruption to the whole class.  I will take class attendance each day at 8:00 sharp.  If you arrive in class after attendance is taken, it is your responsibility to see the instructor immediately after class to ensure your attendance is recorded.  If you don’t, you will be marked for an unexcused absence.  Every student is allowed to walk into class late a maximum of 5 times.  For every late arrival after these allotted 5, two points will be deducted from your final grade.

2. Students are expected to exercise proper classroom decorum.  Please adhere to the following rules:

-          If you do arrive in class late, do not disrupt other students while finding a seat.  This usually means taking a seat with easy access.

-          If you must leave early, you must notify the instructor in advance and take a seat very near the exit as to minimize disruption. 

-          Do not walk in and out of the classroom at will.  Use the restroom before class starts.  In the rare instance in which you must use the restroom during class, leave and reenter in as disruptive fashion as possible.

-          All electronic devices (this includes cell phones, pagers, mp3 players and ipods) should be completely turned off and placed in your bag or pocket before you walk into class, and remain that way until class is over at 9:15.  You should not even be looking at these devices during class.  If special circumstances dictate that an electronic device needs to be set to make noise, including vibration, you must notify the instructor in advance.

-          Do not talk while either I am lecturing or other students are contributing to class discussion and debate.

-          During class, your complete attention should be on class.  This means you should not be doing any other readings, written work, games, puzzles, etc. during class.

-          Stay awake for the entire class period.

-          No eating is allowed in class.

-          Having questions about the material read and presented is an important and expected part of the learning process.  If you have a question of comprehension during class, please raise your hand and ask immediately.  If you have an aside question during a lecture, please wait until the end of the lecture before asking the question.  You may have a question that arises outside of class.  Please feel free to email me with your question and he will reply as soon as possible.

-          The classroom environment will remain respectful at all times, whether lecture time or class discussions/debates.   A diversity of individuals, backgrounds, experiences, belief systems, ideas and opinions will be present in class.  This diversity is to be treated by everyone in class with mutual dignity and respect.  Be mindful of your instructor and fellow students and abide by those expectations and rules set forth by this university.  Remember, maximum learning can only take place in an environment where each and every one of you feel open and unhindered to express your ideas and opinions, and carry on an intellectual exchange with each other free from fear.


Should the instructor find that a student is acting contrary to the above proper classroom decorum, after one verbal warning, the student will be required to sit down with the instructor outside of class and the inappropriate behavior will be documented, with any follow-on administrative action explained to the student.


3. Incomplete grades will only be granted in the event of extraordinary circumstances preventing a student from completing the assigned coursework within the given course calendar.  As a means of maintaining fairness, the instructor reserves the right to ask for documentation needed to support a request for an incomplete.  Without documentation, the instructor reserves the right to not assign an incomplete grade.


4. Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated.  Regarding plagiarism, the NIU Undergraduate Catalog states that “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 written assignment  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 acknowledgement 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.  If you plagiarize, you will receive a score of 0 (zero) on that assignment and will have to undergo the university judicial process. 

5. In regards to religious observances, the University asks instructors to make students aware of the following policy.  “Northern Illinois University as a public institution of higher education in the State of Illinois does not observe religious holidays.  It is the university’s policy, however, to reasonably accommodate the religious observances of individual students in regards to admissions, class attendance, scheduling examinations and work requirements.  Such policies shall be made known to faculty and students.  Religious observance includes all aspects of religious observance and practice as well as belief.  Absence from classes or examinations for religious observance does not relieve students from responsibility for any part of the course work required during the period of absence.  To request accommodation, students who expect to miss classes, examinations or other assignments as a consequence of their religious observance shall provide instructors with reasonable notice of the date or dates they will be absent.” The instructor is respectful and fully supportive of students who wish to participate in religious observances.  Excused absences will be provided, but students must understand and follow the above policy with respect to reasonable notice and making up work.

6. In regards to 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 some impact on their coursework for which they may require accommodations should notify the University’s Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR).  CAAR will assist students in making appropriate accommodations with course instructors.  It is important that CAAR and instructors be informed of disability-related needs during the first two weeks of the semester.  The CAAR office is located on the 4th floor of the University Health Services building and its phone number is (815) 753-1303.

7.  In the rare circumstance that the instructor is for some reason detained from making it to class on-time, the students are only expected to wait 15 minutes.  If the instructor does not arrive by the time the classroom clock shows 8:15, the students are free to leave class.  In case the university cancels class for severe weather or some emergency situation, I will email all students as far in advance as possible.

8. The only individuals allowed in the classroom during class time are the enrolled students, the instructor, and guests of the instructor.  In case of daycare problems, please have a backup plan as children will not be allowed in class.


1. 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 events, and accessing important details related to undergraduate programs and activities. To reach the site, go to http://polisci.niu.edu.

2. Please take advantage of the University Writing Center.  The Writing Center is a great resource, and with their help, students can greatly enhance their academic experience at NIU. Good writing is an important part of any successful college career, and the Writing Center is there to help students improve their writing skills.

3. Through 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 28 February.   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 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.

4. The department offers many other awards, scholarships, travel opportunities to Oxford or elsewhere, internships, an honors program, and organizational memberships.  Please consult the department’s website or department advisor for information on all these opportunities.  You are encouraged to take advantage of as many of these as possible.

5.  The department’s undergraduate advisor is Andrea Messing-Mathie.  For any

advising issues or concerns, please contact her (815-753-7045) as she is an

outstanding resource.  Her office is in the political science department, fourth floor

Zulauf Hall.