Introduction to the Articles

The study of terrorism and political violence is a challenging field of study that requires experts, students, and members of society to understand the underlying reasons for the growth of terrorist environments, as well as the characteristics of these environments. Those who examine terrorism must necessarily study data and theories grounded from a variety of disciplines, including political science, conflict resolution, history, psychology, sociology, and the administration of justice.

Societies and the international community are perennially challenged by the problems of dissident and state-sponsored terrorism. These problems are not new, and have historically posed very serious policy and human challenges for governments and resident populations. Unfortunately, these are problems that have not been solved, and which continue to be present on a global scale. Political violence is found in many regions, and exists across many ethno-national, religious, and ideological belief systems. There are no ideal political, national, or social profiles that guarantee immunity from the possibility of being touched by terrorist violence.

The purpose of this online resource is to stimulate critical discussion about the attributes and idiosyncrasies of terrorism and terrorist environments. This resource is organized into thematic parts which correspond to the textbook’s chapters. Articles have been selected from reputable scholarly journals, and additional articles are recommended for further study.

Ten critical thinking questions

  • Does a central cause exist which explains terrorist violence?
  • Is it possible to accurately predict the likelihood of terrorist violence?
  • What are the policy implications of research that indicates an association between political repression and subsequent terrorist violence?
  • Do “hard line” approaches effectively reduce the incidence of terrorism?
  • Are particular socio-economic environments responsible for the formation of terrorist environments?
  • Are innovations such as peace processes effective?
  • How popular is the current “war on terrorism?” What explains different public opinions in different countries?
  • What are some of the challenges faced by reformers who sincerely seek to redress grievances that are championed by violent extremists?
  • How important are international organizations such as the United Nations for preventing terrorist violence?
  • Has enough research been conducted on the sociological and psychological causes of extremist behavior?