Click Selection

Search News Releases:

News Resources
on the Web

23 July 2007

JSU Professor Attends Workshop
on Teaching Terrorism

By Matt Kasper
Star Staff Writer

Reprinted here in its entirety.

JACKSONVILLE — Perhaps no word is more ubiquitous than “terrorism” in the news lexicon these days.

With daily updates about bombings in Iraq and the Middle East, America’s introduction to terrorism is in many ways an evolving education.

For those in the business of teaching, such as Jacksonville State University Professor Richard Kania, learning how to study the subject plays an important role in understanding the future of the fight.

“We teach what we know and we don’t know all the answers,” said Kania, the criminal justice department head at JSU who recently returned from a week-long workshop about teaching terrorism hosted by the University of Oklahoma.

Kania was awarded a fellowship to attend the Summer Workshop on Teaching Terrorism from July 10 to July 18.

Besides the 22 advance readings attendees were asked to complete before the conference, workshops included presentations from academics around the country about various aspects of terrorism.

For his part, Kania said he was interested in expanding his knowledge of terrorism for his criminal justice class, “Protective Systems.”

Along with teaching protection preparation for natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, he said terrorism is a natural consideration in the process.

“Before you can talk about protective systems, you have to talk about threat assessment,” Kania said, explaining that several divisions of law enforcement can work together in terrorism cases.

For instance, many terrorist organizations are funded by criminal activities such as bank fraud and larceny, he said.

Police teamwork can also go a long way in thwarting terrorists, he said, as demonstrated by the quick arrest of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh in 1995 shortly after the explosion — his car was pulled over for a missing license plate and police found weapons in his vehicle.

Kania said stressing these techniques with students will help give them the groundwork for future terrorism-related jobs.

“Hopefully some students will have careers involved in Homeland Security,” he said.

Although many Americans think of the Middle East when they think of terrorism, Kania said discussing ongoing military involvements in those countries is so political it is difficult to discuss in an objective way.

But he noted that terrorism can “absolutely be studied as a social-science phenomenon” because several political and psychological factors foster extreme ideology.

One speaker at the conference, from the University of Southern California, presented research she compiled after interviewing terrorist detainees about their ideologies and philosophies.

Kania said another presentation, about insurgencies in Peru and Columbia, has helped him reflect on common political, economic and social factors many countries face.

In many ways, the difficulties of navigating terrorism today as a developed democracy are complicated by the need to preserve public safety without sacrificing civil liberties in the process, Kania said.

“I would like to learn how to protect the country from terrorist threats,” he said, adding that maintaining security likely includes a degree of profiling that makes some people uncomfortable.

Then again, Kania said: “It’s not going to be some 87-year-old grandmother.”

However, the notion that democracies prevent terrorism is misleading, he said. Totalitarian states have almost no terrorism because those government limit freedoms.

Unlike the United States and most of Europe, many Eastern European counties, as well as Russia, do not strictly abide by due process.

Force alone is no panacea, he said, because offspring are left behind to continue the cycle.

From what he has learned so far, Kania said the ingredients for fighting terrorism include promoting civil rights, which defuses a potential motivator for radicalism; along with negotiation and military action. This formula has been successful in varying degrees in dealing with groups as varied as the Irish Republican Army, Black Panthers and The Weather Underground, a group of radical students who bombed buildings in the 1960s.

The future of fighting terrorism with extreme Islamists will also most likely involve learning Arabic so there is greater communication, according to Kania.

For his Protective Systems class, he said, he will adjust his curriculum to include a new segment about the emerging role private contractors are playing in American involvements in places like Iraq.

It’s another movement that he sees as promising.

“I just never really thought about those options,” he said.

“There are 150,000 to 180,000 private contractors, many of them Muslims … if we’re going to make a mark in the region, that’s a big plus.”

About Matthew Kasper

Matthew Kasper covers Jacksonville, Piedmont, Ohatchee and Alexandria for the Star.

See story at The Anniston Star's website: .

Note: JSU faculty, staff and students may access The Anniston Star online through their affiliation with the University. Those not affiliated with JSU may have to subscribe to receive The Anniston Star online. If you already subscribe to The Anniston Star, you receive a complimentary online membership. This provides complete access to all the content and services of the site at no additional charge. Otherwise there is a $5 online monthly charge for their online service. Contact The Anniston Star for information.

Submit items for news releases by using the request form at