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Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Fall 2009

GOV 365N • Suicide Terrorism

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
39260 TTh
11:00 AM-12:00 PM
UTC 3.104
Pedahzur, A

Course Description

Suicide terrorism in its modern form appeared in the early 1980s. The first organization to use this strategy was the Shiite Hezbollah in Lebanon. Later, it was adopted by many organizations in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. The fact that the majority of these organizations were either Arab or Muslim led many scholars emphasize the role of Islam in suicide terrorism's emergence and spread. The general purpose of the class is to reassess the root causes of suicide terrorism at elite, community, and rank-and-file levels. It will juxtapose the role of religion, and specifically Islam, in generating suicide terrorism, which is represented by the cultural approach, with coercion theories, power struggle explanations, and social networks approach. It will also address the perplexing question of whether suicide terrorism is an unbeatable weapon that will ultimately threaten the existence of all or most political regimes in the twenty-first century.

Grading Policy

Assignments and Exams: This course combines Exams and Reading Summaries to allow multiple opportunities to track your learning process. They are spread across the semester and the earlier assignment and test grades should be used as a guide¬óletting you know if you need to make adjustments in the amount of time you are dedicating to the class or if you need to explore different approaches to increase your performance. Grades: Grades are based exclusively on the following breakdown for the course: I. Weekly Reading and Summaries (40%) Course readings are a vital part of this class and should be completed before the class meeting listed on the syllabus. For this portion of your grade, you are responsible for writing one single spaced paragraph summarizing the key aspects for each of the week's readings. Look over the page on Critical reading attached to the back of the syllabus. Use this as a preliminary guide for reading and summarizing the works. We expect you to be able to summarize the main idea of the article or chapter addressing questions such as: What was the author trying to say? Why is it important? How does it fit in with the other readings we have covered? It is challenging an idea? Presenting a new perspective? Arguing for a different cause or solution? Is there something about it that makes sense to you? Doesn't sit right with you? Contradicts or compliments class lectures? You will be asked to hand these in periodically; typically, every two to three weeks (as listed on the syllabus) are due at the end of class on that Friday. Your summaries will be graded on a scale of 0 to 2. With two (2) being excellent work, one (1) average, but needing improvement, and zero (0) being unacceptable. These are designed to engage you with the readings to help you navigate the course and prepare for the exams. II. Exams (30% each for 60% total): There will be two comprehensive multiple-choice exams given during the semester, one at approximately midterm and one final exam. Reading Questions 40% Exams 60% Total 100%


You are required to obtain the following books for use during the course, you may purchase them in the bookstore, online, or borrow them from the library, but it is your responsibility to get them: Wright, Lawrence. The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. New York: Vintage Books, 2006. Pedahzur, Ami. Ed. Root Causes of Suicide Terrorism: The Globalization of Martyrdom. London: Routledge, 2006. Moghadam, Assaf. The Globalization of Martyrdom: Al Qaeda, Salafi Jihad, and the Diffusion of Suicide Attacks. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008. Assigned articles will be available on Blackboard and will be designated by (BB).


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