Spring 2016 - HIST 486 D200

Studies in History II (4)

History of Terrorism

Class Number: 5858

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 1:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    AQ 6204, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units including nine units of lower division history.



Special topics.


History of Terrorism: Anarchists, Spies, and Jihadists

Today, terror is associated with random acts of violence perpetrated by zealous religious fanatics. More recently, there is the phenomenon of ISIS – a terror state - that is both a terrorist organization and a conventional military force. ISIS encourages random acts of terror, yet it also engages in military conflict and occupies and holds territory. Is this the new phase of terrorism? Is there a difference between terrorists with a political goal or those motivated by religious fanaticism? Maybe religion has replaced the notion of a nation state as a primary focus of the Middle East terrorists? These are some of the questions we will address in class.

The use of terror pre-dates the modern state and has been used as both a military tactic as well as a weapon by radical and revolutionary organizations. For instance, antiquity is replete with examples of mass killing and destruction to instill fear – the Roman annihilation of Carthage is a case in point. In the medieval period, the Crusaders set new standards for application of terror tactics in the Middle East in order to paralyze their opponents with fear. The Assassins of the Ismaili Nizari sect, during the same period, used terror against the Crusaders and against other Muslim creeds. The French Revolution and its adherents established the so-called Reign of Terror to instill in their enemies and followers alike a collective discipline and compliance with the new political, social and economic order. In the 19th century the Anarchists managed to achieve similar notoriety, albeit on a smaller scale, as the Algerian FLN, the Italian Red Brigades, and the Palestinian Black September accomplished in the second half of the 20th century.


  • Two book reviews 40%
  • Participation 20%
  • Research proposal 10%
  • Research Paper 30%



Available in a course pack and in library reserve

Registrar Notes:

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Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html