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Criminology Terrorism
by
Karen Terry

Introduction

The study of terrorism is one of the most topical yet controversial issues in the field of criminology and criminal justice today. There is no single agreed-upon definition of terrorism, or of what constitutes a terrorist. Terrorism can be domestic or international, based upon single issues or broad ideologies, with or without a religious foundation, and explained from a variety of psychological and sociological perspectives. The goals of this bibliography are to expose the reader to the debate surrounding the definition of terrorism; examine the major data sources available to empirically examine terrorism issues; review major theories of terrorism from psychological and sociological perspectives; explore the link between religion and terrorism; explore who becomes a terrorist and why, as well as why some groups or movements employ terrorist tactics while others do not; and discuss domestic terrorism, including left-wing and right-wing groups and issues.

General Overviews

Several texts provide an overview of issues related to terrorism. These survey texts can be used to establish a foundation of understanding about the topic, to be supplemented with additional resources that discuss specific issues. Brent Smith, one of the top researchers in the field of domestic terrorism, wrote a classic book on terrorists in the United States (Smith 1994). Sageman 2004 uses social network analysis to examine how individuals joined the international “jihad.” Through interviews of leaders and key members of a variety of “religious” terrorist groups, Juergensmeyer 2003 provides an excellent overview of the role religion, sacredness, humiliation, and the past play in these groups. Hamm 2007 looks at a wide variety of terrorist acts and groups, especially the types of crime that domestic and the international terrorists commit, in an effort to aid law-enforcement efforts to counter terrorism. Clarke and Newman 2006 focuses on preventing terrorism through the innovative application of situational crime-prevention techniques to the study of terrorism.

  • Clarke, Ronald V., and Graeme R. Newman. 2006. Outsmarting the terrorists. Westport, CT: Praeger Security International.

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    Focusing on situational crime-prevention techniques, the authors discuss the importance of identifying opportunities for terrorists to attack and the need to block those opportunities in order to prevent terrorism.

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  • Hamm, Mark S. 2007. Terrorism as crime: From Oklahoma City to Al-Qaeda and beyond. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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    Uses case studies to analyze terrorism from a criminological perspective. Presents biographies of jihadists and right-wing terrorists and descriptions of their organizations, strategies, and terrorist plots.

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  • Juergensmeyer, Mark. 2003. Terror in the mind of God: The global rise of religious violence. 3d ed. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    Through the use of research literature, media accounts, and personal interviews, Juergensmeyer documents the global rise of religious terrorism.

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  • Sageman, Marc. 2004. Understanding terror networks. Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press.

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    Based on his experience working with Islamic fundamentalists during the Afghan-Soviet war, and through the use of public documents, the author discusses the development, form, and function of terrorist networks. He dispels the myth that terrorist ties develop as a result of extreme poverty or religious devotion.

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  • Smith, Brent L. 1994. Terrorism in America: Pipe bombs and pipe dreams. Albany: State Univ. of New York Press.

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    Analyzes the process of becoming a terrorist, focusing on the philosophical, ideological, and religious backgrounds of terrorists in the United States. Also reviews the governmental response to terrorism in the United States.

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Data Sources

The study of terrorism in the field of criminology and criminal justice is relatively new, and there are obstacles to studying terrorism. Some of these obstacles are similar to those found in the study of criminal behavior generally. For instance, there are difficulties with how to define terrorism, how to measure it, how to access information, and how to collect and analyze data. Despite the obstacles to collecting methodologically sound data on terrorism, three groups of researchers have created terrorism databases that are of substantial benefit to the field. Gary LaFree and colleagues created the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), which is the premiere incident-based terrorism database in the world. Brent Smith and Kelly Damphousse created the American Terrorism Study (ATS), the aim of which is to collect data on American terrorism. Scott Atran created a relational social network–analysis database of jihadists, called the John Jay and ARTIS Transnational Terrorism Database (JJATT), which provides information on radical Islamists and their associates. Additionally, the Terrorism and Preparedness Data Resource Center (TPDRC) is a national and international terrorism database managed by a group of researchers.

Measurement of Terrorism

LaFree and Dugan 2004 compares the study of terrorism to other types of criminal behavior. Freilich and Pridemore 2006 discusses some of the limitations of studying terrorism, particularly the types of data available for different extremist groups from watch-group organizations. Merari 1991, Silke 2001, and Silke 2004 focus on the need for academic and empirical research in this field. Chapters 2, 9, and 10 of Silke 2004 focus, respectively, on the need for better empirical knowledge about terrorism, trends in academic studies of terrorism, and the need to apply empirical findings on terrorism to policy.

  • Freilich, Joshua D., and William Alex Pridemore. 2006. Mismeasuring militias: Limitations of advocacy group data and of state-level studies of paramilitary groups. Justice Quarterly 23:147–162.

    DOI: 10.1080/07418820600552626Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors identify difficulties with the measurement of militia and patriot groups in the literature, and note that the inconsistent findings of the literature are likely due to measurement error. Thus, they question the validity of the conclusions drawn from these studies.

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  • LaFree, Gary, and Laura Dugan. 2004. How does studying terrorism compare to studying crime? In Sociology of crime, law, and deviance. Vol. 5, Terrorism and counter-terrorism: Criminological perspectives. Edited by Mathieu Deflem, 53–74. Amsterdam and London: Elsevier/JAI.

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    The authors note the similarity between terrorist activity and criminal events; most importantly, they note the similar methodologies, in that both can be counted and both display nonrandom temporal and spatial patterns that are likely to be associated with endogenous and exogenous characteristics of offenders, targets, and situations.

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  • LaFree, Gary, and Laura Dugan. 2007. Introducing the Global Terrorism Database. Terrorism and Political Violence 19:181–204.

    DOI: 10.1080/09546550701246817Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors discuss the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), an open-source database with information on all domestic and international terrorist events from 1970 to 2004. It currently includes more than eighty thousand cases and contains information on the date and location of the incident, the weapons used and nature of the target, the number of casualties, and—when identifiable—the identity of the perpetrator. Available online.

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  • Merari, Ariel. 1991. Academic research and government policy on terrorism. Terrorism and Political Violence 3:88–102.

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    The author partially blames a rise in international terrorism on the inadequate contribution of academic knowledge to the topic. In particular, the author notes a need for government-supported research and the necessity to use that research to define policy.

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  • Silke, Andrew, ed. 2004. Research on terrorism: Trends, achievements, and failures. London and Portland, OR: Frank Cass.

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    Overview of a variety of issues related to terrorism and the study of it. In particular, see Chapter 2 (pp. 30–56), “The case for firsthand research” Chapter 9 (pp. 161–185), “Breaking the cycle: Empirical research and postgraduate studies on terrorism”; and Chapter 10 (pp. 186–213), “The road less traveled: Recent trends in terrorism research.”

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  • Silke, Andrew. 2001. The devil you know: Continuing problems with research on terrorism. Terrorism and Political Violence 13(4):1–14.

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    The author reviews studies on terrorism published between 1995 and 2000 and discusses the methodological flaws of the data collection for these studies. Available online.

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Defining and Conceptualizing Terrorism

There is no uniform definition of “terrorism” or “terrorist.” The FBI defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a Government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” However, other countries, organizations, agencies and groups define it differently. The general resources above all provide a discussion of the difficulty of conceptualizing and defining terrorism, but additional resources also focus on this issue. The first chapter of Hoffman 2006 provides an excellent historical overview of the term terrorism that demonstrates the dynamic nature of who is labeled a terrorist and what is labeled terrorism. Silke 1996 and Ruby 2002 provide an analysis of what constitutes terrorism and the factors that must be considered in the definitions. Schmid 2004 and Weinberg, et al. 2004 discuss the various frameworks for conceptualizing what terrorism is and why it is so difficult to define. Dedeoglu 2003 compares the varying definitions of terrorism and provides an analysis of the different political frameworks of those definitions.

  • Dedeoglu, Beril. 2003. Bermuda Triangle: Comparing official definitions of terrorist activity. Terrorism and Political Violence 15:81–110.

    DOI: 10.1080/09546550312331293147Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Analyzes the differing definitions of terrorism, noting that most definitions differ in how they define a terrorist. The differing definitions reflect how an “enemy” is perceived by each country or organization.

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  • Hoffman, Bruce. 2006. Inside terrorism. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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    Presents a summary of historical trends in international terrorism, distinguishing between the political and religious motivations of terrorists. Author also discusses the development of religious terrorist motivations, which differ from the traditional terrorist goals of attracting media attention with an aim to initiate reform.

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  • Ruby, Charles L. 2002. The definition of terrorism. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy 2:19–25.

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    Tries to define terrorism after 9/11, and states that whether an act is considered terrorism depends on whether a legal, moral, or behavioral perspective is used to interpret the act. If so, the focus of the definition is on the actor rather than the act. Available online.

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  • Silke, Andrew. 1996. Terrorism and the blind men’s elephant. Terrorism and Political Violence 8:12–28.

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    Discusses the differing perspectives of terrorism, most importantly between those who define terrorism as a form of warfare and those who do not. Author concludes that those who define terrorism as warfare have a more accurate perspective on the phenomenon as a whole.

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  • Schmid, Alex P. 2004. Frameworks for conceptualising terrorism. Terrorism and Political Violence 16:197–221.

    DOI: 10.1080/09546550490483134Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Uses five conceptual frameworks to define terrorism: terrorism as a crime, terrorism as politics, terrorism as warfare, terrorism as communication, and terrorism as religious fundamentalism.

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  • Weinberg, Leonard, Ami Pedahzur, and Sivan Hirsch-Hoefler. 2004. The challenges of conceptualizing terrorism. Terrorism and Political Violence 16:777–794.

    DOI: 10.1080/095465590899768Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Discusses why it is so difficult to agree upon a common definition and conceptual framework for terrorism? In analyzing academic resources for common definitions, the authors identified twenty-two definitional elements of terrorism but found that few academics include a psychological element in the definition of terrorism.

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Psychology of Terrorism

One aim of studies on terrorism is to better understand why individuals become involved with terrorist groups or engage in terrorist activities. Many researchers have studied the motivations for becoming a terrorist from a psychological perspective, focusing on political, religious, behavioral, and psychological motivations in the individuals. Chapter 5 in Hudson 2002 provides a useful overview of the psychology of terrorism and why individuals may choose to participate in terrorist activities. More specifically, Kruglansky and Fishman 2006 evaluates two competing perspectives about the motivation to become a terrorist—the “syndrome” and “tool” perspectives. Taylor and Horgan 2001 and Post, et al. 2003 look at the effect of religion as a motivation to become involved in terrorist activity, and Post, et al. 2003 provides rich data to support the authors’ contentions based upon interviews with Middle Eastern terrorists. Many of the studies on the psychology of terrorism have substantial limitations, however, and Victoroff 2005 provides and excellent overview of the literature on psychology and terrorism and critiques many of the approaches that researchers have taken to date.

  • Hudson, Rex. 2002. Who becomes a terrorist and why: The 1999 government report on profiling terrorists. Guilford, CT: Lyons.

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    Discusses why certain individuals are more likely to be prone to become terrorists. Chapter 5 focuses on the psychological factors that predispose certain individuals to this behavior. Original 1999 report available online.

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  • Kruglanski, Arie W., and Shira Fishman. 2006. The psychology of terrorism: “Syndrome” versus “tool” perspectives. Terrorism and Political Violence 18:193–215.

    DOI: 10.1080/09546550600570119Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Describes two psychological perspectives on terrorism, and explains that research has found more support for the “tool” perspective (in which terrorism represents a strategic instrument that any party in a conflict may use) than the “syndrome” view (in which terrorism represents a psychologically meaningful construct with identifiable characteristics at individual and group levels of analysis).

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  • Post, Jerrold M., Ehud Sprinzak, and Laurita M. Denny. 2003. The terrorists in their own words: Interviews with 35 incarcerated Middle Eastern terrorists. Terrorism and Political Violence 15:171–184.

    DOI: 10.1080/09546550312331293007Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Insightful qualitative study using interviews of twenty-one Islamic terrorists and fourteen secular terrorists, with a goal of understanding the psychology of their behavior and decision-making processes.

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  • Taylor, M., and J. Horgan. 2001. The psychological and behavioural bases of Islamic fundamentalism. Terrorism and Political Violence 13:37–71.

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    Authors study the link between Islamic fundamentalism and violence, with a focus on the nature of religious and ideological control over behavior.

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  • Victoroff, Jeff. 2005. The mind of the terrorist: A review and critique of psychological approaches. Journal of Conflict Resolution 49:3–42.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002704272040Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Analyzes unclassified studies on the psychology of terrorist behavior. Despite noting that serious methodological problems with many terrorism studies, he notes that social and psychological factors contribute to the cause of terrorist behavior,

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Sociology of Terrorism

While some researchers focus on the psychology of terrorism and the individual motivations to become involved in terrorist activity, other researchers focus on the role of friends, family, the economy, and society. Historically important works such as Gurr 1970 and Tilly 1978 about why men become involved in social movements that are rebellious or criminal in nature are applicable also to the study of terrorism. Turk 2004, Black 2004 and Freilich, et al. 1999 expand the notions presented in those works by specifically exploring the application of those social explanations to the study of terrorism. In a response to Black’s pure sociological perspective, Rosenfeld 2004 provides and excellent overview of the understanding of terrorism from a criminological perspective.

  • Black, Donald. 2004. The geometry of terrorism. Sociological Theory 22:14–25.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9558.2004.00201.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents an evaluation of terrorism from a purely sociological perspective, noting its social geometry—that terrorism arises intercollectively and upwardly across long distances in multidimensional space. Available online.

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  • Freilich, Joshua D., Nelson A. Pichardo Almanzar, and Craig J. Rivera. 1999. How social movement organizations explicitly and implicitly promote deviant behavior: The case of the militia movement. Justice Quarterly 16:655–683.

    DOI: 10.1080/07418829900094301Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Through an analysis of the modern militia movement, the authors discuss the explicit and implicit paths of criminal behavior. They find that the movements promote deviance through their ideology and organizational structures.

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  • Gurr, Ted Robert. 1970. Why men rebel. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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    Explains the initiation into political violence through a frustration-aggression theory, with a particular focus on relative deprivation (the discrepancy between what people think they deserve and what they actually think they can get). In particular, see pp. 7–58 for a discussion about relative deprivation.

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  • Piazza, James A. 2006. Rooted in poverty? Terrorism, poor economic development, and social cleavages. Terrorism and Political Violence 18:159–177.

    DOI: 10.1080/095465590944578Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In a groundbreaking study in which he employed multiple regression analyses on terrorist incidents in ninety-six countries, Piazza evaluated the significance of poverty, malnutrition, inequality, unemployment, inflation, and poor economic growth as predictors of terrorism. He found no significant relationship between any of the measures of economic development and terrorism.

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  • Rosenfeld, Richard. 2004. Terrorism and criminology. In Sociology of crime, law, and deviance. Vol. 5, Terrorism and counter-terrorism: Criminological perspectives. Edited by Mathieu Deflem, 19–32. Amsterdam and London: Elsevier/JAI.

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    Rosenfeld’s article is a reply to Black 2004’s sociological explanation of terrorism. Author contends that Black’s theory fails to consider the predatory nature of terrorist activity and the conditions under which terrorism emerges and is sustained.

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  • Tilly, C. 1978. From mobilization to revolution. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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    In this historically important work, the author explains the initiation into revolutionary behavior through collective action theory. For the information most applicable to terrorism today, see pp. 52–97.

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  • Turk, Austin T. 2004. Sociology of terrorism. Annual Review of Sociology 30:271–286.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.30.012703.110510Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Provides a summary of the literature as it relates to the social construction of terrorism, terrorism as political violence, terrorism as communication, organizing terrorism, socializing terrorists, social control of terrorism, and theorizing terrorism.

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Terrorist Networks

Though some terrorists act on their own (a prominent example is Theodore Kaczynski, the “Unabomber”), most belong to terrorist networks. These networks differ in their levels of organization, accountability and leadership structure, size, goals, access to resources, types and levels of communication, security of information, and systems of recruitment and retention. These networks also adapt and change according to social circumstances, often making it difficult to detect them. The best sources for the nature of terrorist networks are Sageman 2004 and Sageman 2008, which explain the rise in terrorist networks, variation in types of networks, how they function, and the limitations of these networks. Pedahzur and Perliger 2006 and Arquilla and Ronfeldt 2004 discuss the changing nature of terrorist networks and the need for law enforcement to adapt to newly evolving forms of terrorist threats.

  • Arquilla, John, and David F. Ronfeldt. 2001. Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime, and Militancy. Santa Monica, CA: RAND.

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    Describes the concept of netwars, which include conflicts waged by both terrorists and social activists that are defined by the networked organizational structure of their practitioners. In particular, see chapters 1 and 2. Viewable in multi-pdf format.

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  • Pedahzur, Ami, and Arie Perliger. 2006. The changing nature of suicide attacks: A social network perspective. Social Forces 84:1987–2008.

    DOI: 10.1353/sof.2006.0104Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Employs a social network analysis of Palestinian suicide networks and finds that their attacks are not the product of strategic decisions within an organizational framework, but rather are usually made by local activists. Also available online.

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  • Sageman, Marc. 2004. Understanding terror networks. Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press.

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    Through his study of 172 jihadists, the author traces the global nature of terrorist activity through Egypt, Afghanistan, Sudan, Europe, and North America.

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  • Sageman, Marc. 2008. Leaderless jihad: Terror networks in the twenty-first century. Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press.

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    Discusses the process of radicalization Muslim youth, arguing that it consists of a combination of individual and social influences and group dynamics. Author discusses the demise of well-structured groups such as those led by Osama bin Laden, and notes how they have evolved into leaderless groups.

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Religion and Terrorism

Many individuals will join terrorist networks because of religious ideologies, and many terrorist organizations are founded upon such a basis. Religious terrorists are those who claim that they commit terrorist acts because of scripture or a higher calling, and many of the religious-terrorism networks are led by or involve religious clerics. The most well-known religious terrorist groups today are Islamic Jihadists, though religious terrorist groups can also include Hamas and the Irish Republican Army. An excellent resource is Juergensmeyer 2003, which discusses the global rise in religious terrorism by groups involved in a “culture of violence.” Like Juergensmeyer 2003, Stern 2004 is based on interviews with key leaders of terrorist groups and provides a thorough overview of religious terrorism. Lewis 2002 explains the rise in global terrorism and the conflict between the East and West, while Emerson 2002 and Silber and Bhat 2007 are case studies examining how individuals in the United States who grew up in the West become radicalized and then join jihadist groups. Pape 2003 also analyzes the rise in terrorist activity, but looks specifically at the rise in suicide bombings.

  • Emerson, Steven. 2002. American jihad: The terrorists living among us. New York: Free Press.

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    Discusses the vulnerability of Americans and provides accounts of terrorist groups that have proliferated in the United States, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and groups following Osama bin Laden.

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  • Juergensmeyer, Mark. 2003. Terror in the mind of God: The global rise of religious violence. 3d ed. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    Based on his interviews with terrorists, the author discusses the role of religious communities in terrorist activity. He focuses on cultures of violence within Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Buddhism.

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  • Lewis, Bernard. 2002. What went wrong? Western impact and Middle Eastern response. Oxford and New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    The author is a historian who puts the terrorist attacks of 9/11 into perspective through an analysis of Middle Eastern cultures and their clash with the west.

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  • Pape, Robert A. 2003. The strategic logic of suicide terrorism. American Political Science Review 97:343–361.

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    Through his systematic review of 187 suicide attacks from 1980 to 2001, the author explains that, contrary to popular belief, such attacks are not generally religiously motivated, but rather strategic decisions because they are the most effective form of violence. Also online.

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  • Silber, Mitchell D., and Arvin Bhatt. 2007. Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat. New York City Police Department Intelligence Division.

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    Discusses how most terrorist attacks that are planned against the American people are conceptualized and planned by “unremarkable” people who live in the United States. Authors discuss the radicalization process and how to establish effective counterterrorism policies against this group.

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  • Stern, Jessica. 2004. Terror in the name of God: Why religious militants kill. New York: HarperPerennial.

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    Through her interviews with religious terrorists, the author explains how and why individuals are recruited into terrorist activity and conditioned to commit violent acts. She also discusses the need for nonviolent government responses to these attacks and other strategies for reducing religious terrorism.

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Islamic Extremism

After 9/11 the role of religion, particularly Islamic extremism, came to the forefront of terrorism research. Militant Islamic groups had been on the rise not only throughout the Middle East, but also in Southeast and Central Asia. Rashid 2002 is one of the few useful resources on Islamic extremism in Central Asia. Some of these groups, like Hezbollah, were founded on Shiite principles (see Jaber 1997 and Kramer 1998) There are many resources on jihad, holy wars, and militant Islam. The best general sources that discuss the rise, structure, and motivation of Sunni Islamic extremist groups like Al Qaeda are Crenshaw 1995, Esposito 2002, Kepel 2002, and Wright 2002.

  • Crenshaw, Martha, ed. 1995. Terrorism in context. University Park: Pennsylvania State Univ. Press.

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    Provides an overview of terrorism from a social, political, and economic context. Chapters address terrorism as it relates to various religious groups, but of particular interest is Chapter 13 on terrorism in Iran.

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  • Esposito, John L. 2002. Unholy war: Terror in the name of Islam. Oxford and New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Discusses the rise of militant Islam and key terrorist figures in the context of a broader discussion about Islam and religion generally.

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  • Jaber, Hala. 1997. Hezbollah: Born with a vengeance. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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    Though her interviews with key figures in Hezbollah, the author discusses the history of the organization, its ideology and culture, and terrorist tactics. Of most interest are pages 47–74.

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  • Kepel, Gilles. 2002. Jihad: The trail of political Islam. Translated by Anthony F. Roberts. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press.

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    This is an excellent historical overview of the Islamic political movement from the early 1970s to present. The author addresses the goals of the movement, its successes and failures, and how those failures led to global terrorist attacks.

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  • Kramer, Martin. 1998. The moral logic of Hizballah. In Origins of terrorism: Psychologies, ideologies, theologies, states of mind. Edited by Walter Reich, 131–157. Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center Press; Baltimore and London: Distributed by the Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

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    Also online, this is a useful resource that provides an overview of the origins of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the framework and leadership structure of this group, what led to the suicide bombings in the 1980s, its movement towards hostage takings and hijackings, and the factions in Hezbollah that remain today.

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  • Rashid, Ahmed. 2002. Jihad: The rise of militant Islam in Central Asia. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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    Focuses on the three Islamic movements in Central Asia that have formed since 1991: the Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is nonviolent and seeks to unite the Muslim world; the Islamic Renaissance Party, which is on the decline; and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which is the most dangerous of the three, as it is allied with al-Qaeda.

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  • Wright, Robin B. 2002. Sacred rage: The wrath of militant Islam. New York: Simon and Schuster.

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    Explains the militant Islamic political movement and the escalating terror attacks against Americans that culminated in 9/11. The most useful part of the book is the discussion of al-Qaeda on pages 243–290.

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Domestic Terrorism

Despite the focus on international terrorist activities, particularly after 9/11, there are substantially more incidents of domestic terrorism that occur on a regular basis. These can be the result of individuals (such as Theodore Kaczynski, the “Unabomber”), right-wing groups (such as militias), left-wing groups (such as violent environmental activists), or groups that focus on single issues (such as abortion). The American Terrorism Study is the largest database on domestic terrorism, covering ring-wing, left-wing, and single-issue terrorist groups and acts. There are also studies that evaluate each of these types of domestic terrorism separately.

American Terrorism Study (ATS)

The American Terrorism Study began in 1989, and since that time researchers have been compiling information on persons indicted as a result of investigation under the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division. The ATS database consists of five datasets: terrorist incidents, persons indicted in the states, persons federally indicted, terrorism cases that resulted from the terrorism investigations in the U.S., and groups tried in federal court for terrorism-related activity. Authors have produced numerous academic books, chapters, and articles based on this dataset. Key articles are: Smith and Damphousse 1996 and Smith and Damphousse 1998, which test the structural-contextual theory (that some criminal activity is viewed as so serious that it results in higher conviction rates and longer sentences) and evaluate the effects of political motives on sentences; Smith, et al. 2002, which provides an overview of federal terrorism cases over a twenty-year period; Cothren, et al. 2008, which maps out terrorist activity in the United States; and Damphousse and Shields 2007, which assesses the effects of terrorist activity on the likelihood of successful prosecution of terrorists.

  • Cothren, Jackson, Brent L. Smith, Paxton Roberts, and Kelly R. Damphousse. 2008. Geospatial and temporal patterns of preparatory conduct among American terrorists. International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice 32:23–41.

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    Analyzes spatial and temporal patterns of numerous domestic terrorism cases to explain where terrorists live in relation to their targets, where they plan and prepare for their acts, the types of preparatory activities the terrorists commit, and the length of time of the planning process.

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  • Damphousse, Kelly R. and Chris Shields. 2007. The morning after: Assessing the effect of major terrorism events on prosecution strategies and outcomes. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 23:174–194.

    DOI: 10.1177/1043986207301362Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Through an evaluation of the period before and after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the 9/11 attacks, the authors show that major terrorism events result in the prosecution of cases that are generally less serious and less complicated, and those cases are treated much more like “traditional” crimes.

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  • Smith, Brent L., and Kelly R. Damphousse. 1996. Punishing political offenders: The effect of political motive on federal sentencing decisions. Criminology 34:289–322.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-9125.1996.tb01209.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Assesses three theoretical models (consensus, conflict, and structural-contextual) to explain the differences in sentencing patterns for terrorists and nonterrorists convicted of the same crimes. Their results support both consensus and conflict hypotheses.

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  • Smith, Brent L., and Kelly R. Damphousse. 1998. Terrorism, politics, and punishment: A test of structural-contextual theory and the “liberation hypothesis.” Criminology 36:67–92.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-9125.1998.tb01240.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors used OLS regression and structural-equation modeling to compare variance in sentencing between a sample of terrorists matched with nonterrorists convicted of the same federal offenses. They found support for both theories.

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  • Smith, Brent L., Kelly R. Damphousse, Freedom Jackson, and Amy Sellers. 2002. The prosecution and punishment of international terrorists in federal courts: 1980–1998. Criminology and Public Policy 1:311–338.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-9133.2002.tb00093.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Three key findings are that over a twenty-year period, federal prosecutors began to rely more on the politicization of the criminal acts by international terrorists; both international and domestic terrorists are not likely to plead guilty; and international terrorists are punished more severely than domestic terrorists.

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Right-Wing Terrorism

Far-right terrorists in the United States generally have a strong religious (Christian) ideology and are characterized by the belief that their race or group is superior. They are antigovernment and often target law-enforcement agencies or other religious groups in their attacks. Examples of such groups and movements include the Ku Klux Klan, the Christian Identity Movement, and Aryan Nations. Kaplan 1995 provides general typologies of right-wing movements in the United States, while other sources focus on particular groups or individuals. In particular, Whitsel 2001 focuses on neo-Nazis, Dobratz and Shanks-Meile 2000 on white separatists, and Michel and Herbeck 2001 on Timothy McVeigh.

  • Dobratz, Betty A. and Stephanie L. Shanks-Meile. 2000. “White power, white pride!”: The white separatist movement in the United States. Baltimore: John Hopkins Univ. Press.

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    Examines the ideology, structure, strategy, and tactics of the white separatist movement in the United States. Of particular interest are pages 89–163.

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  • Kaplan, Jeffrey. 1995. Right wing violence in North America. Terrorism and Political Violence 7:44–95.

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    Discusses typologies of right wing groups in the United States and theories supporting both their interdependence with and their isolation from the cultural mainstream.

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  • Michel, Lou, and Dan Herbeck. 2001. American terrorists: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing. New York: Regan Books.

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    A thorough evaluation of the life of Timothy McVeigh, an antigovernment activist, and what led him to become the mastermind of the Oklahoma City bombing.

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  • Whitsel, Brad. 2001. Ideological mutation and millennial belief in the American neo-Nazi movement. Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 24:89–106.

    DOI: 10.1080/10576100117722Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explains the development of the neo-Nazi movement in the United States including their psychological worldview, organizational structure and changes in that structure, and ideological mutations and transformations.

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Left-Wing Terrorism

Though their characteristics vary widely, left-wing terrorists are generally characterized by egalitarianism and their opposition to capitalism, racism, and war. Sprinzak 1998 focuses on left-wing terrorists in the United States. Several resources focus on antiwar groups in other countries, such as the Red Army Faction (Horchem 1991) the Red Brigades (Jamieson 1990, Ruggiero 2005), and Action Directe (Dartnell 1990). These articles focus on the development of the organization, as well as changing recruitment strategies and ideologies.

  • Dartnell, Michael. 1990. France’s Action Directe: Terrorists in search of a revolution. Terrorism and Political Violence 2:457–488.

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    Provides an overview of the ideological phases of the French terrorist group Action Directe, which was active from 1979 until 1987, and whose activity culminated in a series of assassination attempts against French business and military figures.

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  • Horchem, Hans Josef. 1991. The decline of the Red Army Faction. Terrorism and Political Violence 3:61–75.

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    Provides an overview of the ideology and structure of the Red Army Faction in Germany, and how and why it has changed over time.

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  • Jamieson, Alison. 1990. Entry, discipline, and exit in the Italian Red Brigades. Terrorism and Political Violence 2:1–20.

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    Provides an overview of the recruitment process for the Red Brigades in the 1970s through the infiltration of far-left groups in the factories of Northern Italy.

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  • Ruggiero, Vincenzo. 2005. Brigate Rosse: Political violence, criminology, and social movement theory. Crime, Law, and Social Change 43:289–307.

    DOI: 10.1007/s10611-005-2031-1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the origins, structure, ideologies, and membership of the Red Brigades in Italy through the lens of social movement theories.

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  • Sprinzak, Ehud. 1998. The psychopolitical formation of extreme left terrorism in a democracy: The case of the weathermen. In Origins of terrorism: Psychologies, ideologies, theologies, states of mind. Edited by Walter Reich, 65–85. Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center Press; Baltimore and London: Distributed by the Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

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    Overview of the development of a left-wing movement in the United States, with a particular focus on the aims and ideologies of the radical left organization the Weathermen.

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Single-Issue Terrorism

Many terrorist groups in the United States today focus on single issues, the most prominent of which are abortion, animal rights, and environmentalism. Monaghan 2000 provides an overview of single-issue terrorism generally and the importance of understanding the motivations of individuals involved with these issues. Freilich and Pridemore 2007 and Pridemore and Freilich 2007 focus on the terrorist attacks against abortion clinics and the law-enforcement responses to those attacks. Leader and Probst 2003 and Joosse 2007 assess the ideologies of the Earth Liberation Front.

  • Freilich, Joshua D., and William Alex Pridemore. 2007. Politics, culture, and political crime: Covariates of abortion clinic attacks in the United States. Journal of Criminal Justice 35:323–336.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2007.03.008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines violent acts against abortion clinics and finds that they are more common in areas where female empowerment is weaker, female victimization is more tolerated, and where the antiabortion movement has failed to reduce abortions.

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  • Joosse, Paul. 2007. Leaderless resistance and ideological inclusion: The case of the Earth Liberation Front. Terrorism and Political Violence 19:351–368.

    DOI: 10.1080/09546550701424042Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the development of the leaderless resistance strategy by the radical environmentalist movement, particularly the Earth Liberation Front. This strategy helps them to avoid detection, infiltration, and prosecution by the state, as well as to mobilize a greater number of “direct actions” for halting the degradation of nature.

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  • Leader, Stefan H., and Peter Probst. 2003. The Earth Liberation Front and environmental terrorism. Terrorism and Political Violence 15:37–58.

    DOI: 10.1080/09546550390449872Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Describes the Earth Liberation Front as the most active and destructive environmental terrorist group in the United States, having committed more than six hundred criminal acts resulting in $43 million in damages over a six-year period. Available online.

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  • Monaghan, Rachel. 2000. Single-issue terrorism: A neglected phenomenon? Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 23:255–265.

    DOI: 10.1080/10576100050174977Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The author notes the dearth of research on single-issue groups in the terrorism literature, and notes the importance of better understanding these groups, which are increasingly using violence in pursuit of their causes.

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  • Pridemore, William Alex, and Joshua D. Freilich. 2007. The impact of state laws protecting abortion clinics and reproductive rights on crimes against abortion providers: Deterrence, backlash, or neither? Law and Human Behavior 31:611–627.

    DOI: 10.1007/s10979-006-9078-0Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors test competing hypotheses of deterrence and backlash effects to explain the violence against abortion clinics, but they find no support for either hypothesis.

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Situational Crime Prevention and Terrorism

Situational crime prevention (SCP) techniques have been applied to various types of criminal activity to reduce the opportunities for offending behavior. This follows up on the theoretical foundation of routine activity theory, which states that in order for criminal behavior to occur, there must be a motivated offender, a suitable target, and a lack of a capable guardian. While the framework of routine activity theory has traditionally been applied to property crimes, it is now being applied to a variety of other types of criminal behavior including terrorism (see Canetti-Nisim, et al. 2006). Recognizing the role of opportunity in the activities that lead up to the terrorist acts, Clarke and Newman 2006 and Clarke and Newman 2007 discuss the application of SCP techniques such as target hardening and increasing risk to reduce the likelihood of committing terrorist activity.

  • Canetti-Nisim, Daphna, Gustavo Mesch, and Ami Pedahzur. 2006. Victimization from terrorist attacks: Randomness or routine activities? Terrorism and Political Violence 18:485–501.

    DOI: 10.1080/09546550600880237Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores the situations in which terrorist activities occur, testing randomness and the lifestyle-exposure theories. The authors find that risk of victimization from terrorism is not similar across all segments of society, and that victimization from terrorism is explainable by lifestyle-exposure theories.

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  • Clarke, Ronald V., and Graeme R. Newman. 2006. Outsmarting the terrorists. Westport, CT: Praeger Security International.

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    The first and most substantial book evaluating the application of situational crime-prevention techniques to the field of terrorism. The authors focus on what kinds of SCP techniques to employ to prevent terrorist incidents from happening, rather than the typical focus on what to do in response to terrorist attacks.

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  • Clarke, Ronald V., and Graeme R. Newman. 2007. Police and the prevention of terrorism. Policing 1:9–20.

    DOI: 10.1093/police/pam003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Relying on SCP principles, the authors focus on how the police can protect vulnerable targets and help prevent terrorist activities, while working in conjunction with public and private agencies that can act as capable guardians.

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Terrorism and the Law

The responses to terrorism after 9/11 were vast, ranging from the creation of a Department of Homeland Security to the creation of detention facilities for suspected terrorists and two wars. The threats from weapons of mass destruction have led to extreme reactions, and studies such as Gurr and Cole 2002 and Heymann 2003 discuss these issues in detail. The constitutionality of many of the responses to terrorism are questionable, particularly because they lead to a reduction in civil liberties, often for select groups of people (see Cole and Dempsey 2006) Additionally, it is not clear how effective these policies are, and several authors discuss counterterrorism policies. Ganor 2005 and Hoffman 2002 evaluate the types of counterterrorism measures that have been implemented and what strategies are likely to be most effective in an age of global terror. An insightful article on combating terrorism, Atran and Axelrod 2008, states that the key to reducing terrorist activity is to utilize sacred values rather than material incentives in negotiations with those committing terror acts. Finally, Nacos 2007 explores the role of mass media in promulgating both terrorist and counterterrorism activities, with recommendations on how the media can be a useful resource.

  • Atran, Scott, and Robert Axelrod. 2008. Reframing sacred values. Negotiation Journal 24:221–246.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1571-9979.2008.00182.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors discuss the need for policymakers to consider the sacred values rather than material or instrumental values of terrorists and potential terrorists, which they claim will prevent more and better opportunities for peace.

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  • Cole, David, and James X. Dempsey. 2006. Terrorism and the constitution: Sacrificing civil liberties in the name of national security. 3d ed. New York: The New Press.

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    The authors note that the United States needs to protect civil rights when responding to the threat of terrorism, stating that several current policies (such as the 1996 Antiterrorism Act and the 2001 Patriot Act) erode such rights and are actually ineffective at protecting the country.

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  • Gurr, Nadine, and Benjamin Cole. 2002. The new face of terrorism: Threats from weapons of mass destruction. 2d ed. London and New York: I. B. Tauris.

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    Provides a comprehensive discussion about the dangers of weapons of mass destruction post-9/11, including the technological and political capabilities of Islamic extremist groups and other terrorist organizations.

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  • Ganor, Boaz. 2005. The counter-terrorism puzzle: A guide for decision makers. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.

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    The author discusses the need for balance between counterterrorism measures and civil liberties, with a particular focus on the ethical and legal dilemmas that security and law enforcement officials can face.

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  • Heymann, Philip B. 2003. Terrorism, freedom, and security: Winning without war. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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    This is a legal and political analysis of potential responses to terrorism other than war, focused particularly on a revitalization of intelligence services. The author denounces the Bush administration for the war in Iraq, which he believes will lead to long-term negative consequences for the United States in the international community.

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  • Hoffman, Bruce. 2002. Rethinking terrorism and counterterrorism since 9/11. Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 25:303–316.

    DOI: 10.1080/105761002901223Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the nature of terrorism and counterterrorism measures post-9/11, and the level of safety of American citizens after the invasions of Afghanistan. Available online.

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  • Nacos, Brigitte L. 2007. Mass-mediated terrorism: The central role of the media in terrorism and counterterrorism. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

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    Discusses the role and influence of the media in covering terrorist attacks, and outlines how the media can be effective yet still ethical in covering major terrorism incidents.

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LAST MODIFIED: 12/14/2009

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195396607-0023

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