Course Description

Course Name

New Terrorism and Globalization (in English)

Session: VSVS1121

Hours & Credits

45 Contact Hours

Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


Course Objective: The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and The Pentagon in Washington DC on September 11th 2001 were a defining moment in recent history. Nevertheless, terrorism has been around much longer. This course will examine the history and definitions of terrorism from a global perspective to allow the student to get a very broad view of this major topic.

Learning outcomes:

- acquire an understanding of the historical foundations of contemporary international terrorism, examining terrorism in a historic context;

- identify main terror groups

- understand their main activities: recruiting, financing, and operating strategies;

- understand the psychological impact of terrorist activities and its methods as well as its global impact

- assess the future threats and trends relating to global terrorist activity.

Course Contents

Unit 1: Theoretical framework and historical perspective

· What is terrorism?

- A military perspective: asymmetrical or irregular warfare.

- A political perspective: the force of the weak and the oppressed?

· The moral dilemmas:

- The theological justification of rebellion and tyrannicide

- The political justification: “terrorist” or “freedom fighter”?

· Historical antecedents of modern terrorism?:

- Biblical antecedents: the plagues against Egypt’s Pharaoh; zealots against Romans

- Tyrannicide: the assassination of Caesar (I B.C.)

- The sect of the Assassins and Hassan Ibn Sabbath (XII A.C.)

- The Spanish guerrillas against Napoleon (XIX A.C.)

- The partisans: resistance militias in WWII (XX A.C.)

Unit 2: Anarchists: the first modern terrorists

· The philosophers of violence (Bakunin, Nechayev, Kropotkin) and “propaganda through action”

· Marxism versus Anarchism: mass revolution versus individual action

· Revolution by dynamite: from the Russian narodniks in the 1860 to the Spanish trade-union - anarchists in the 1930s

· A survey of half a century of anarchist political violence: from the assassination of Tzar Alexander II, to the Sarajevo attack of 1914

· The consequences of anarchist terror: was it effective?

Unit 3: Terrorism and wars of liberation (de-colonization) in the Third World

· A practical distinction: guerrilla warfare versus urban terrorism

· The Algerian example in the 1950s

· The Mau-Mau guerrillas in Kenya, in the 1950s

· The Vietcong terror tactics in South Vietnamese cities

· The seeds of Che Guevara: Argentinian Montoneros and Uruguayan Tupamaros

· Festering wounds in South Asia: the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, the Jammu and Kashmir insurgency in India

Unit 4: Nationalist and leftist terror in Europe during the Cold War

· An ideological ferment: the student revolution of May 1968

· The Baader Meinhof band in Germany

· The Red Brigades in Italy (complicity in high places)

· The IRA: the protracted legacy of Irish independence

· ETA: Basque ethno-terrorism in Spain

Unit 5: Terror goes international

· The PLO`s strategy: forcing a forgotten cause onto the international scene

· Israel’s counter-terror tactics: the Iron Wall doctrine of massive reprisals

· State sponsored terrorism: Libya, Iran, Syria, Pakistan

· The United States sponsored insurgencies (Nicaragua and Afghanistan): did my “freedom-fighter” become a “terrorist”?

· Terror and the Russian bear: the war in Chechenia and the Kremlin’s scorched earth response

Unit 6: Islamist terrorism: local movements versus global jihad

· Not the same: Islam, Islamism, radical islamism, violent islamism, global jihadism

· Local resistance movements (more than terror):

- Muslim Brotherhood (Egypt and beyond)

- Hamas (Palestine)

- Hezbollah (Lebanese shiites)

- Taliban (Afghan and Pakistani Pashtuns)

· Global jihadism: the Al Qaeda network and the quest for a modern-day Caliphate:

- Salafism and the concept of jihad

- Osama Bin Laden’s loose confederation of terror: a phantom leading through the Web

· The impact of 9/11: the “War on Terror”: a failed strategy?

· How to deal with radical Islam? New strategies and age-old realities

Unit 7: The future of terrorism

· The ultimate threat: Weapons of Mass Destruction and catastrophic terrorism

· Terror and the Internet: propaganda and organization in the Web

· Terror and the media: multiplying the impact (“kill one, scare millions”)

· What works? Counter-terrorist strategies: legality, morality and expediency

· To talk or not to talk: when (if at all) is it right to negotiate with terrorists?

· Addressing the underlying causes: reversible political and cultural grievances versus irreversible ideological evil

Course Evaluation:

20% Tasks and attendance 40% Final exam 30% Projects 10% Subjective evaluation (students are expected to come prepared to class and the professor will value that students are showing a mark of improvement)

Spanish Grading Scale:

Matrícula de Honor 10 Sobresaliente 9 – 9,9 Notable 7 – 8,9 Aprobado 5 – 6,9 Suspenso 0 – 4,9 No Asistencia (Student has exceeded the allowed number of unexcused absences)

Please find as a reference the following grading scale conversion. However, it is ultimately the responsibility of the student’s home university or institution to determine the final grade equivalencies.

Matrícula de Honor = A+ Suspenso = F Sobresaliente = A No presentado = Incomplete (attended Notable = B classes but did not take final exam) Aprobado =C No Asistencia = Incomplete (enrolled in the course but did not attend class)

Appealing grades: The deadline for disputing grades is 30 days from the reception of the certificate at the home university.

Class Attendance: class attendance is mandatory, and attendance is taken at every class meeting and is reflected in the course attendance sheet that is sent to the university.

An 85% of attendance is required for the successful completion of the course. Not missing any class will be considered positively.

If a student exceeds this limit, the grade in the transcript for this subject could appear as “not attended course”.

*Course content subject to change