A Reading List on: Terrorism

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The threat of terrorism is evolving. As the world becomes more and more globalized, the capabilities of terrorist groups become increasingly worrying. Over the past decade thousands of people have died as a result of extremist violence and cities such as New York, London, Madrid, Moscow, Mumbai, Bali, Lahore, and Baghdad have all experienced the harsh sting of terrorism first hand.

Unfortunately, there are very few signs which suggest that the recent wave of terrorism will be receding anytime soon. While groups such as Jemaah Islamiyah and Al Qaeda have been severely weakened, other groups such as Al-Shabaab have multiplied drastically.  Furthermore, increasing numbers of ‘lone wolves’ (such as the attempted ‘underwear bomber,’ Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan) present a different kind of threat.

This syllabus aims to give some insight into the security threat posed by national and transnational terrorism.

Recent Journal Articles

The Rise of Muslim Foreign Fighters: Islam and the Globalization of Jihad
Thomas Hegghammer
International Security
Winter 2010/2011
Fathoming FATA: the Taliban Insurgency in Pakistan’s Tribal Area
Orla MacRae and Osman Haneef
Yale Journal of International Affairs

Spring/Summer 2011
Who Becomes a Terrorist?
Alexander Lee
World Politics Quarterly Journal

April 2011
Radical Neglect? The “War on Terror” in Latin America
R. Guy Emerson
Latin American Politics and Society
March 2010
Can Islamists Become Moderates? Rethinking the Inclusion-Moderation Hypothesis
Jillian Schwedler
World Politics Quarterly Journal

April 2011
How Terrorism Ceases: The Tupamaros in Uruguay
Peter Waldmann
Studies in Conflict and Terrorism

August 2011

Other Essays

“The Myth of Homegrown Islamic Terrorism”
Romesh Ratnesar
Time Magazine

January 2011
“Norway After Terrorism – Flowers for Freedom”
From the Print Edition
The Economist
July 2011
“Governments Go Online in Fight Against Terrorism”
Eric Schmitt
New York Times

January 2011
“Fighting Terrorism in Paradise”
J Berkshire Miller
The Diplomat

June 2011

Ongoing Journal Series

Perspectives on Terrorism
Terrorist Research Initiative
Click to access website
Terrorism and Political Violence
Click to access website

New and Upcoming Books

Counter-Terrorism: International Law and Practice
Ana Maria Salinas de Frias, Katja Samuel and Nigel White (eds.)
Oxford University Press, 2011 (estimated)
The Rise and Fall of Al Qaeda
Fawaz A Gerges
Oxford University Press, 2011
Debating Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Conflicting Perspectives on Causes, Contexts, and Responses
Stuart Gottlieb (ed.)
CQ Press, 2009
Click here to read a review
Storming the World Stage: the Story of Lashkar-e-Taiba
Stephen Tankel
Columbia University Press, 2011
Click here to read a review
Charles Townshend
Oxford University Press, 2011
Click here to read a review
The Faces of Terrorism: Multidisciplinary Perspectives
David Canter (ed.)
Wiley, 2009

Sources being taught*


Inside Terrorism
Bruce Hoffman
Columbia University Press, 2006

Foreign Terrorist Organizations
Edward Linden (ed.)
Nova Science, 2004

Al Qaeda, Trends in Terrorism and Future Potentialities: An Assessment
Bruce Hoffman
The Rand Corporation, 2003

A World Challenged: Fighting Terrorism in the 21st Century
Yvgeny Primakov
The Nixon Center/Brookings Institution Press, 2004

‘What is Terrorism, Why is it Wrong, and Could it Ever Be Morally Permissible’
Alison M Jagger
Journal of Social Philosphy, Vol.36 No.2, Summer 2005

The First War on Terrorism: Counter-Terrorism Policy During the Reagan Administration
David Wills
Rowman and Littlefield, 2004

*Selected from Dr R Nicholas Palarino’s Fall 2011 course on Understanding Terrorism and Terrorists, at Georgetown University, Washington DC, United States


Origins of Terrorism
Walter Reich
Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 1998

The Counterterrorism Handbook
Frank Bolz, Kenneth Dudonis, and David Shulz
Taylor and Francis, 2004

Terror on the Internet: The New Arena, the New Challenges
Gabriel Weimann
United States Institute of Peace, 2006

Official International Documents

United Nations International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings

United Nations International Convention for the Suppression of Financial Terrorism

United Nations International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism


The ISN’s own Digital Library contains further reading:

2 replies on “A Reading List on: Terrorism”

Thanks for the comment Jennifer! You’re absolutely right to point out that quite a few of our selections have an Islamist focus. Terrorism is, of course, an extremely diverse phenomenon, and it would be wrong to suggest that the Islamist variety is the only type of terrorism out there today or worthy of our serious attention – as the recent attacks in Norway clearly demonstrate. Our intention is, instead, (as with all our reading lists) to give our readers a sense of the kind of work being published on the topic in the ‘big’ IR journals and by the world’s leading publishing houses, and of what’s still being taught at the world’s leading universities and research institutions. Though the nature of terrorism research is undoubtedly changing (as your own research indicates), the pursuit of ‘objectivity’ sometimes means we reproduce dominant discourses, rather than subverting them. As you’ll see, we’ve taken your suggestions into consideration and updated our selections. If you have further recommendations, share them with us!

Though this selection has some good pieces, there all pretty much exclusively about Islamist terrorism – one type of religious, ideological terrorism. There are also great studies on right-wing terrorism, ethno-nationalists, single-issue, etc. Why are those not included/referenced? If this is a list about Islamist Terrorism then that should be in the title.

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