Terrorism Reading List
Supplemental readings and other resources to help you explore a full range of issues and debates related to the module materials.
Peter Bergen and David Sterman, “The Real Terrorist Threat in America,” October 30, 2018.
A short essay that argues that the United States needs to widen its counterterrorism focus beyond just foreign jihadi threats. (1,300 words)
Claire Felter and Danielle Renwick, “Colombia’s Civil Conflict,” last updated January 11, 2017.
A brief survey of the history and current status of the Colombian government’s conflict with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) insurgents. (1,900 words)
Claire Felter, “Nigeria’s Battle With Boko Haram,” last updated August 8, 2018.
A brief introduction to a major African terrorist group. (1,700 words)
Jonathan Masters and Zachary Laub, “Hezbollah,” last updated January 3, 2014.
An introductory backgrounder on Hezbollah, the militant group and Lebanese political party. (1,800 words)
Jon Lee Anderson, “Death of the Tiger,” New Yorker, January 17, 2011.
A story of the end of the Sri Lankan civil war and the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, commonly known as the Tamil Tigers. (11,400 words)
Mark Bieter, “The Rise and Fall of ETA,” Blue Review, November 12, 2013.
A comprehensive look at the Basque terrorist group Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA). (11,500 words)
Rukmini Callimachi, “Paying Ransoms, Europe Bankrolls Qaeda Terror,” New York Times, July 29, 2014.
An article that shows a catalog of ransom payments made to terrorists and explores the consequences of these payments. (4,500 words)
David Hambling, “IRA Historian: Today’s Terrorists Are ‘Amateurs’—and Still Deadly,” Wired, December 11, 2008.
A look at the Irish Republican Army and how its tactics presaged modern terrorist tactics. (1,700 words)
David E. Kaplan and Andrew Marshall, “Aum’s Shoko Asahara and the Cult at the End of the World,” Wired, July 1, 1996.
A profile of the Japanese terrorist group Aum Shinrikyo. (7,000 words)
Brendan I. Koerner, “Why ISIS Is Winning the Social Media War,” Wired, April 2016.
A look at the Islamic State group’s media strategy. (7,000 words)
Nick Miroff, “‘Do You Know What It’s Like to Spend Twenty Years at War?’,” Washington Post, September 30, 2016.
A collection of photos and interviews with fighters from FARC, cataloging their daily life. (1,700 words)
Evan Osnos, “The Imam’s Curse,” New Yorker, September 14, 2015.
A long-form article that examines the U.S. government’s fight against terrorist financing through the lens of one Pakistani-American family accused of material support of terrorism. (6,700 words)
Janet Reitman, “Jahar’s World,” Rolling Stone, August 1, 2013.
A profile of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the perpetrators of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. (11,300 words)
Janet Reitman, “U.S. Law Enforcement Failed to See the Threat of White Nationalism. Now They Don’t Know How to Stop It.,” New York Times Magazine, November 3, 2018.
An examination of how and why the U.S. government has overlooked domestic terror threats. (11,500 words)
Andrew Walker, “Join Us or Die: The Birth of Boko Haram,” Guardian, February 4, 2016.
An excerpt from Walker’s book that tells the story of the founding of Boko Haram. (4,600 words)
Katie Worth, “Lone Wolf Attacks Are Becoming More Common—and More Deadly,” Frontline, July 14, 2016.
An article that uses two 2016 attacks to discuss the growing trend of “lone wolf” attacks, exploring how they differ from other forms of terrorism. (2,500 words)
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and Samuel M. Katz, Harpoon: Inside the Covert War Against Terrorism’s Money Masters, 2017.
An account of an Israeli program to disrupt terrorist finances, tactics of which were later adopted by the United States. (312 pages)
Bruce Hoffman, Inside Terrorism, 2006.
A scholarly introduction to terrorism. (456 pages)
Timothy Naftali, Blind Spot: the Secret History of American Counterterrorism, 2006.
An account of U.S. counterterrorism efforts from World War II to 9/11. (428 pages)
Joby Warrick, Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS, 2015.
A Pulitzer Prize–winning account of the history of the Islamic State. (351 pages)
Graeme Wood, The Way of the Strangers: Encounters With the Islamic State, 2016.
A book based on extensive interviews with Islamic State supporters that explores what leads people to assist or join the group. (352 pages)
Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, 2006.
A Pulitzer Prize–winning account of the rise of Islamist terror, al-Qaeda, and 9/11. (480 pages)
Michael Barbaro, “The American Women Who Joined ISIS,” The Daily, New York Times, February 22, 2019.
A discussion of how Western countries are responding to women fleeing the Islamic State. (30 minutes)
Rukmini Callimachi and Andy Mills, “Caliphate,” New York Times, March 10, 2018.
A series about the Islamic State, including interviews with former fighters. (Eleven episodes, twenty–thirty minutes each)
Nicole L. Cvetnic and Maureen Chowdhury, “How Does a Crime Get Classified As ‘Domestic Terrorism’?,” McClatchy, February 9, 2018.
A brief explanation of the term domestic terrorism. (2 minutes)
Barak Goodman, “Oklahoma City,” American Experience, August 24, 2017.
An award-winning documentary on the 1995 bombing of a federal government complex in Oklahoma City. (113 minutes)
Carlos Maza, “This Is Your Brain on Counterterrorism,” Vox, March 20, 2017.
A brief explanation of how media coverage of terrorism can lead viewers to overestimate the risk terrorism poses. (7 minutes)
“Oops,” in Radiolab, June 28, 2010.
A podcast episode that includes the chilling story of what drove the terrorist known as the Unabomber to violence. (60 minutes)
Kelsey Padgett and Matthew Kielty, “60 Words,” Radiolab, April 18, 2014.
An exploration of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force. (58 minutes)
Stephanie Savell and 5W Infographics, “This Map Shows Where in the World the U.S. Military Is Combatting Terrorism,” Smithsonian, January 2019.
A visualization of where and how U.S. counterterrorism efforts are taking place.