Administration of Justice/Political Science 439

The Politics of Terrorism


Spring 1996


Philip Jenkins                                                 Class meets 12.20-1.10 in 322 Sackett


Please note: I check my e-mail regularly (obsessively?) and this is an excellent way to get in touch with me if you have a quick question or if you want to make an appointment for a more substantial discussion.



Terrorism has been in the news for years, but many people still find it hard to understand the motivation of terrorists, or the political situations that drive them to their acts. Failing to understand the problems means that it is difficult for governments or law-enforcement agencies to respond or react effectively. This course will describe the phenomenon of terrorism in the modern world, with particular emphasis on the experience of Western Europe and the Middle East, and the role of sponsor states such as Iraq and Libya. However, we will also consider American terrorist groups like the Order, the FALN, and the Weather Underground, and the subculture that gave rise to the bomb attack in Oklahoma City. We will debate the effectiveness of various anti-terrorist strategies; and study the impact of recent events like the Iraqi conflict, the end of the Cold War, and the outbreak of new conflicts in eastern Europe and north Africa.


Required Texts

1. Yossef Bodansky, Terror!, S.P.I. books/ Shapolsky 1994. ISBN: 1-56171-301-5

2. Jonathan R. White, Terrorism: an Introduction, Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/ Cole. ISBN: 0-534-13920-5

3. Brent L. Smith, Terrorism in America SUNY Press, 1994. ISBN: 0-7194-1760-3

All the books are in paperback.



The grade for the course will be based on three examinations and a paper.

The exams will occur on February 9; March 22; and April 26. Each will be objective in format, with a mixture of multiple-choice and true-false questions. Each exam is worth 20% of the grade. There is no comprehensive exam.

          The remainder of the grade derives from a term paper, which will be due in final exam period. Please note that I absolutely have to approve your topic in advance, and February 5 is the deadline for notifying me: ie don’t turn up at the end of the course with an unannounced  paper on the IRA. I am flexible about topics, and will accept most reasonable ideas within the general scope of the course: more details to follow. I will of course help you with reading lists and bibliography, but you should check out the bibliographies in ALL the various textbooks before asking..



Deadlines matter, and I intend to enforce them strictly. If you miss a deadline without getting an extension in advance, you get a non-negotiable grade of F on that particular exam, paper or project. Do not try getting in touch with me after the fact to explain why you missed an exam, unless you produce a proper medical note. Excuses must always be supported by documentation. Valid reasons include medical problems and the like. I am aware that ROTC sometimes makes strange demands on its members, and these reasons would be valid: but note that ROTC also provides documentation for these absences, which must be produced if you want to claim this as a reason for an extension. "I have other exams that day" is not a valid reasons for an extension, so please don't ask (ask the other professors for the extension)



Syllabus of Classes


1. January 8

Themes of course.

READ: White, Terrorism: an Introduction


2.  January 10

Definitions of terrorism - myths and stereotypes.


3.  January 12

Aims and goals of terrorism.


4.  January 15

Provocation and deception in terrorism: Belgium


5.  January 17

Ideas of state sponsorship and state terrorism.


6.  January 19

Debates in American counter-terrorism policy.


7. January 22

History of the terrorist phenomenon.


8. January 24

1968 and all that: Creating the ideology of terrorism. 


9. January 26

The Algerian experience.


10-11.  January 29-31

Film of Battle of Algiers.


12. February 2

The Middle East: introduction of terms and issues.


13. February 5

Palestine and the Palestinians

I need to know the theme of your term papers today


14.  February 7

Palestinian terrorism 1968-present


15. February 9



16. February 12


READ: Bodansky, Terror!,


17. February 14

The American experience in Lebanon


18. February 16

Sword of Islam


19. February 19

Shi’ite terrorist networks



20. February 21

Middle Eastern terrorism in Europe


21. February 23

Arms dealing as a context for terrorism


22. February 26

Iraq and state sponsorship


23. February 28

Europe 1968-1990: trends, waves, strategies. Typology of groups.


24. March 1



25. March 11

Libya: state sponsorship or international manipulation?


26. March 13

Project on interpreting a terrorist incident


27. March 15

Predicting future trends in European terrorism. the Balkans, the new Algerian struggle, the FSU


28. March 18



29. March 20

Terrorism in the community: ETA


30. March 22



31. March 25

Terrorism in the community: IRA

READ: Smith, Terrorism in America


32. March 27



33. March 29

Terrorism in the United States: “It Can’t Happen Here”


34. April 1

Klan, Bund and Christian Front


35. April 3

Neo-Nazi and ultra-Right terrorism in the United States: Reading William L. Pierce

today, I need to see a rough bibliography of your term papers.


36. April 5

Case-study: Oklahoma City


37. April 8

Leftist terrorism: Weatherman


38. April 10

FILM: Weatherman


39. April 12

Leftist terrorism: UFF


40. April 15

The anti-abortion movement


41. April 17

Other terrorist groups and traditions in the United States


42. April 19

Case-study: the World Trade Center bombing


43. April 22

Terrorist prisoners; Through the Wire


44. April 24

The prospects for future terrorism in the United States. Summary and conclusion


45. April 26