This project had it roots in my desire to create a text that would make clear, to students as well as instructors, not only what terrorism is, and has been, but also what it may be like in this new century. The events of September 11, and the subsequent U.S. and international response, clearly demonstrate the need to understand this phenomenon, which can so dramatically affect the peace and stability of our world. The third edition, materials for which I collected, organized, and wrote while drafting the text for an encyclopedia of terrorism, includes a more in-depth analysis of terrorism generated by religious zealotry and the use of weapons of mass destruction by terrorists. As in previous editions, I focus on the legal and political responses of individual nations and of the international community to terrorist attacks, which are becoming increasingly lethal, indiscriminate, and widely dispersed. Globalism has certainly expanded the impact of terrorism in a spectacular fashion, for which current laws and response mechanisms are proving inadequate.
This book is easy for both students and professors to use; material is organized clearly and concisely and is presented without prejudice. To prevent as far as possible a pejorative use of the material, the concept of terrorism is examined with emphasis on a legal, operational definition applicable to terrorist acts, rather than to the individuals, groups, or states who carry out such acts. This makes the term much less likely to be applied with prejudice; if the term is applied in the legally correct fashion, it can be done objectively rather than subjectively. This also facilitates the use of the book by a wider audience, because each individual, group, and state can be evaluated in the context of the actions taken.
To keep this new edition user friendly for students, I have retained the original structure, adding a chapter on terrorism within the United States, a new section on weapons of mass destruction, a brief examination of the threat of cyberterror, and a fairly comprehensive bibliography at the end of each chapter for future research. I have also updated information concerning the trends in terrorism today.
The book still begins with a chronology of a few recent terrorist incidents, designed to make the reader aware of the dimensions of the problem. This is followed by a brief look at terrorism in historical perspective, with emphasis given to understanding the cyclical nature of these acts of violence. Evaluation sections at the end of each chapter, designed to challenge readers to apply their understanding to current events, has been useful in provoking excellent student discussion of the concepts. The historical analysis is particularly useful, because many of the "new" terrorist events have historical roots that contribute significantly to an understanding of the phenomenon.
In addition to building an interest in the study of terrorism, I have tried to highlight criteria useful in studying modern terrorism. Applying such criteria to individuals, groups, and states makes it possible to differentiate to some degree between such terms as crusaders and criminals, between state-sponsored and state-tolerated terrorism, and between separatist and nationalist groups. Familiarity with operationalized terms makes it easier to apply such terms without prejudice, and more significantly, to evaluate the response options for each type.
The text is organized in a style intended to be quite comfortable for course use in a lecture or a seminar-style class. Inclusion of lists of key concepts, case studies, evaluation sections, significant endnotes, and suggested readings are designed to allow people with a variety of learning styles and reading approaches to master the content fairly easily. Faculty can readily accentuate, elaborate, or correlate examples that are similar, parallel, or contrary, with a sound framework for student understanding. With this format, I have sought to engage the interest of, and to motivate, a wide range of readers of varied preparatory background and academic experience, in the vitally interesting subject of terrorism.
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