Understanding Terrorism and the Terrorist Threat
The course will begin with a unit looking at widely held myths about terrorism and utilizing empirical data to discuss the realities of broad trends and patterns in terrorist attacks over time. The course will then review the psychological factors at play in individual radicalization and recruitment into terrorism, followed by an analysis of terrorist group dynamics. The course will next look at terrorist group operations, including their attacks and some of the supporting behaviors that allow them to carry out attacks, including use of media, financing, recruitment, and training. The course will conclude by looking at the factors that drive terrorist group persistence or endurance versus terrorist group desistance, and will bring the varied course concepts together through a detailed look at the case of Al-Qa’ida.
Throughout the course, students will have the opportunity to study and work with the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database (GTD), the largest database of terrorist incidents in the world, learning its capabilities and developing basic skills in searching and displaying terrorism data.
Module 1: How Do We Study Terrorism?
Module 2: Individual Radicalization
Module 3: Terrorist Group Dynamics
Module 4: Terrorist Operations
Module 5: Al-Qa’ida Case Study
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