Threat of Terrorism and Crime
Course Composition and Objectives
- Introduction: Definitions, Terrorism, Crime, and Security
- Define terrorism, crime, security, and the role of risk in mitigating terrorist and criminal activities
- Understand terrorism and crime’s historical and modern context
- Recognize the connections and differences between terrorism and crime
- Methods of Study and Analysis: Critical Thinking and Game Theory
- Implement the basics of game theory, social network analysis, and structured analytic techniques for studying terrorism and crime
- Recognize the challenges of identifying, collecting, and analyzing information including understanding personal biases and perspectives, data integrity, and data accessibility
- Terrorism – Threats and Risks: Causes, intentions, nature and scope of security threats posed by terrorism
- Analyze the relationship between terrorist motivations, tactics, and the scope of the threat across a variety of terrorist organizations (e.g., Islamists extremists, ethno-nationalist, left and right wing ideological)
- Recognize and estimate societal vulnerabilities (i.e., infrastructure, psychological, virtual) to terrorism and the nexus between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction (WMD)
- Understand the multi-faceted ways in which terrorism relates to cyberspace, internet technologies, and cyber-terrorism.
- Crime – Threats and Risks: Causes, intentions, nature and scope of security threats posed by criminal activities
- Identify forms, causes, and differences of modern crime (i.e., organized crime (e.g., Sicilian Mafia) street crime, and insider crime)
- Assess transnational crime issues (e.g., drug and human trafficking, piracy, cybercrime, and weapons smuggling) within the context of their implications for global, regional, and local stability
- Modern Detection and Prevention of Terrorist and Criminal Activities: Various counter-terrorism and crime prevention policies (international, national, and local)
- Understand the role and challenges that intelligence and inter-agency and international cooperation play in policy formulation as it relates to national security, counter-terrorism, and crime prevention
- Critically analyze various policies, the interests they reflect, and how they improve or inhibit counter-terrorism and crime.
- Understand the tension between how governments (federal, state, local) address terrorism and crime, as well as the effect that this has on civil liberties.
- Instructors Choice: Instructors may choose topics and learning objectives that meet the spirit of the course as defined here. Instructors may choose to devote more time to the learning objectives listed above or to add additional, complementary objectives. Supplementary material and objectives should not overlap with the defined content of other courses in the curriculum.
- Some example topics include:
- Specific security contexts
- Particular groups of criminals or terrorist (and their motivations)
- Analytic techniques
- Some example topics include:
September 11, 2001, awoke the United States to the global security threat of terrorism and renewed interest in understanding information and tools needed to prevent it. This reemergence converged with a growing focus on increasingly threatening criminal elements such as organized crime, weapons and drug trafficking. Although related, fundamental differences in motivation and objective exist between the two. All terrorism is crime but not all crime is terrorism. SRA 211 is an overview course that introduces undergraduate students to the nature, scope, and seriousness of security threats arising from terrorist and criminal activity. Within the SRA major, this course fulfills three primary purposes:
- Introducing students to the relevance of terrorism and crime including definitions, types, motivations, goals, strategies and tactics.
- Examining the methods and tools used to study terrorism and crime.
- Recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of these methods in creating reliable and more complete situational awareness about our knowledge and understanding of terrorism and crime.
In order to understand the similarities and differences between terrorism and crime and how they impact the security environment, several basic concepts need to be recognized:
- Terrorism is tactic that in the context of SRA 211 seeks to advance a political objective.
- Because terrorism’s focus is on political objectives, one goal is for the ramifications of an act should be felt beyond the act itself. Thus, tactical data and events related to terrorism have strategic impacts and implications that should be understood (i.e., connections between 9/11, the creation of DHS and ultimately the implications for civil society).
- Crime’s ultimate objective is economic gain. While a crime may be perpetrated to send message (i.e., terrorizing an individual), the underlying message is seldom, if ever, political.
- The speed and technical complexity of terrorism and crime, in today’s connected world, requires pre-arranged cooperation (local, national, and international) in order to deter, respond to, and mitigate both. New laws need to be adopted and enforced. Cooperation is needed in the investigation of events, the prosecution of perpetrators, and the establishment of agreed upon laws. Students should recognize the broader context of both security threats.
- With the majority of crime is considered a law enforcement issue, a debate continues regarding the extent to which counter-terrorism is a law enforcement or national security issue. In the latter case, prevention, response, and mitigation encompass hard and soft power strategies that require transnational cooperation and coordinated response. Organized and cyber-crime are emerging as transnational issues adding further complexity to these subjects
- Terrorists and criminals are exploiting cyberspace for multiple purposes. The ubiquitous role of information and information technologies as a facilitator of processes, disseminator of messages, and ultimately information systems as targets of criminal and terrorist activity make it essential to understand information security, analytics, and the environment in which terrorist and criminal activities occur and overlap.
Regardless of whether a student wishes to pursue a security and risk-related career path in the public or private sector, an understanding of both topics will be necessary. Whether you are evaluating corporate computer networks for vulnerabilities (i.e. Information and Cyber Security Option), analyzing the connections among terrorist groups for an intelligence organization (i.e. Intelligence Analysis and Modeling Option), or assessing the impact of the internet on the terrorist planning process (i.e., Social Factors and Risk Option), this course will provide foundational knowledge of the threat posed by terrorists and criminals. Finally, critical thinking is a fundamental skill developed and used throughout the SRA program. By challenging students to understand differing perspectives and biases and introducing analytic tools and skills that require the critical assessment of information’s credibility, integrity, and accuracy as it relates to terrorism and crime, the course contributes to SRA’s programmatic goal.