Terrorism Studies

You’ll read two great pieces by Bruce Hoffman and Boaz Ganor. I hope you all enjoy the chapter in Hoffman’s book – please, read it very, very closely. It is not a very long piece, but understanding the argument and forming your own opinion of what Hoffman argues is absolutely essential for the rest of the class (and frankly the entire certificate program and terrorism studies more broadly).

Some things to think (and talk) about (2 paragraphs or more):
1. Hoffman’s articulation of a definition of terrorism is as close to a standard as there is in terrorism studies. What are the essential aspects of terrorism as Hoffman lays them out – we should list them, but I’d mostly like to hear the list of essential aspects your own words.
2. What is it that distinguishes terrorism from other types of violence?
3. Do you agree with the definition he posits? If you disagree with any of the elements, tell us why you disagree.

Then please write a thoughtful comment on this students post:

Hoffman and Ganor both try to express to their readers how complex the definition of terrorism is, and how difficult it is to universally agree amongst one explanation to define terrorism. Hoffman takes us through the evolution of terrorism, what it once was viewed as and how the definition needed to be advanced. Hoffman made a note on how a terrorist act before 9/11 never consisted of killing more than five hundred people. I feel this is because the broad definition of what terrorism truly is was neglected and downsized because no one was able to predict the horrific tragedy that had occurred.

The essential aspects of terrorism as Hoffman laid out consists of

Politically goal-oriented
Violence
Psychological repercussions on not only those impacted/targeted, but those who hear of the incident/indirectly impacted
Actions that are followed through by an organization or individuals with ideological aims
Terrorism greatly differs from other types of violence in that the act itself isn’t of importance, but the message being sent with it. For example, if we were to compare a crime that’s commonly seen such as kidnappings or shoplifting, these forms of crimes are driven for personal reasonings. The usual goal of these types of crimes is for the individual themselves to seek a form of benefit. On the other hand, terrorist crimes are intended for not personal satisfaction but to leave an imprint in the minds of all those who were directly and indirectly impacted. The goal is overall politically driven and done to bring massive changes. If we take a look at terrorist acts such as mass shootings, the goal of the terrorist himself isn’t just the point of killing innocent people, it is to instill fear in the general public and force the government to take action.

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