roots of terrorism

As you know from your Course Information Sheet, there is a major writing assignment in this course, as is the case in ALL general education courses.

As per the instructions on the Course Information Sheet, you are to find 6 newspaper articles that deal with terrorism. You will find these articles ONLINE, and you will need to provide the URL link in your assignment. These articles DO NOT need to be current; they must be RECENT. So, nothing that deals with 9-11, for example, but something that deals with the attack in Ottawa IS ACCEPTABLE. So, try to find articles that have happened in the last year or so. The articles must be from NEWSPAPERS, not from Wikipedia or someone’s personal website or a website of an organization.

Your first task will be to summarize the article in a paragraph. So, if your article is on the attack in Ottawa, what happened, where did it happen, when did it happen, who did it, and why?

Your second task will be to discuss a topic from the course that comes out in the article — also in a paragraph. So, if the article deals with a suicide bombing, you should demonstrate to me in your analysis what you know about suicide bombing. You discuss only ONE TOPIC from the course PER ARTICLE. So, if your article deals with the attack in Ottawa and you want to talk about the definition of terrorism and how the attack in Ottawa may not technically be terrorism because it was not an attack on civilians, you may do so, but you may ONLY talk about that issue. You cannot keep talking about the same topic — so all of your analysis CANNOT focus on the definition of terrorism. Think about the definition of terrorism…. Terrorist tactics…. Who becomes a terrorist…. Etc. Perhaps you find an interesting article on narcoterrorism…. What is it? What is the importance of drugs to terrorism?

So, for each of your six articles, you must provide a summary paragraph and then a paragraph discussing one topic from the course that you identify in the article (e.g. the definition of terrorism, narcoterrorism, female suicide bombersm, etc.). A GOOD STRATEGY would be to decide which topics from the course that you might like to talk about and then to find RECENT articles that address those topics. So, if you want to talk about female suicide bombers, find an article — RECENT — from a newspaper that is about an attack by a female suicide bomber.


Generally speaking, students do not do well on this assignment. Why?

  1. Well, this is a productive assignment like the written component on the midterm, and you must producing something of quality rather than recall information. It is always more difficult to produce something of your own.

  2. Also, students will often not select NEWSPAPER articles but rather use entries from Wikipedia. Your stories MUST come from NEWSPAPERS, or the mark will be ZERO. You can use websites of news services, such as BBC, CBC, CNN, etc.

  3. Also, students will often repeat over and over the same analysis. “This article is about a terrorist attack. It is a terrorist attack because the three key ingredients are there….” Over and over and over again! No! There are many topics that you can discuss from our course, so you should NOT do the same topic MORE THAN ONCE

  4. Also, students will summarize the article but not provide any real discussion of a topic from the course in the article. I am most interested in your discussion of the topic from the course because this will help review the course material for the final exam.

  5. Also, students will submit poor quality writing. This is a writing assignment, and, unlike with the midterm or the final exam, your mark will be affected by the quality of your writing. You need to use the tools — e.g. spellcheck — in your word processor to more or less provide writing that is error-free in terms of spelling and in terms of major grammar mistakes. Sentences must have subjects and verbs and express complete ideas. If writing does not come naturally to you, I strongly advise you to not try to complete this assignment in a few days. Proofread your work, and get help from others! I am most concerned about your ideas, but garbage English is not acceptable, and your mark will suffer if you have careless spelling and grammar mistakes that any effort at proofreading should catch!!! I cannot be more clear about that.

  6. Also, students do not use their own words. You need to summarize the article, not cut and paste it and reduce it to an acceptable length. You should read the article, pick out the main points that I need to know, and then explain it in your own words.

  7. Also, students will be to broad in their focus. So, consider the article below…. What is it about? In a nutshell, it is about an attack by four female suicide bombers in Nigeria and the concern that this has raised. The article goes on to provide background on who the group is and such, but that is NOT the FOCUS of the article. You have a few lines — a paragraph — to give me in a nutshell what the article is about. So, for example, “Last week, a gunman attacked a soldier at the war memorial in Ottawa before proceeding to Parliament, where the gunman was ultimately killed. The soldier at the war memorial later died of his injuries; there were multiple injuries at Parliament. Information is still coming in, but it appears that the attacker was a “lone wolf” — that he acted without conspirators — and that it appears that he has espoused radical Islamic ideas and that he might have been inspired by ISIS / ISIL. Keep to the basics!

  8. Students do not give enough time to the assignment has been my experience. This is not a time-consuming assignment that requires all kinds of research from the library. But, it also cannot be done the day before. You must give yourself time to find decent articles online and to be thoughtful about your analysis. And, you must give yourself time to be able to do some proofreading. This is something that you want to be working on a little bit here and a little bit there over the next month before it is due!


Boko Haram Crisis: Nigeria’s Female Bombers Strike (


This article discusses how the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram has recently deployed female suicide bombers. The article highlights four recent attacks in one city perpetrated by four teenage girls. This is not the first female suicide bomber deployed by the group, but the article highlights the concern among observers that the use of female suicide bombers marks a dangerous escalation in the violent tactics of the terrorist group. The article also highlighted the fact that female suicide bombers are not commonly deployed in this part of the world as opposed to, say, the Middle East.


One of the topics that we have discussed in the course is suicide bombers, including female suicide bombers. We know that suicide bombers have several advantages over traditional, say, car bombs. For example, empty, parked cars — especially vehicles like vans — are suspicious to security forces, who are looking for such vehicles and who can find the bomb and evacuate the area. Suicide bombers directly deliver their explosives to the target and detonate at will, including if they are discovered by security forces. So, suicide bombers are less detectable unless security forces want to start searching large numbers of people. Women suicide bombers further exploit this idea of being less detectable. Women, we assume, are not likely to be suicide bombers, and they are simply suspected less than men. Moreover, women often carry bags, whether it be a personal bag or groceries, so a woman carrying a bag is not automatically a suicide bomber, whereas a man carrying a bag might raise the suspicion of security forces.