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SAGE Publications

Cover Image: Spectrum of Terror
  • Date: 02/07/2007
  • Format: Print Paperback
  • Price: $70.00
  • ISBN: 978-1-93311-690-7
  • Pages: 325
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Spectrum of Terror
R. Hrair Dekmejian, University of Southern California

Since 9/11, images of fanatical jihadists have become the international symbol of terrorism. In the wake of the attacks, journalists and academics alike have taken up the task of trying to make sense of these seemingly alien terrorist organizations. Many of these sources have perpetuated the idea that terrorists are unknowable or irrational. What is often missed is the degree to which terrorists have motivations that can be grasped and understood.

In his new text, Dekmejian places terrorism within a spectrum of political violence, creating a typology of terror based on scale and intent as well as by type of actor—from isolated attacks by individual bombers, to large scale attacks against state targets by organized networks, to state-sponsored genocide and politicide—thus facilitating comparisons across multiple cases. As well, the book’s model of conflict is informed by game theory, enriched with understandings of psychological, cultural, and historical contexts, helping students focus on the strategies and desired outcomes of different parties to conflict. This analytic approach enables students to trace the changes in mutual perceptions and preferences between terrorists and their targets and leads to a fuller understanding of the causes and dynamics of political violence.

The book’s uniquely comprehensive coverage of terrorism includes extended cases on the IRA, the Tamil Tigers, Chechen rebels, Al Qaeda, Aum Shinrikyo, Hizbullah, and Hamas. Each case looks at the historical origins, political factors, leadership, and organization of the group to give context. Discussions of typical tactics, patterns of violence, the role of external actors, and outcomes help readers to explore possible solutions that might stop the cycle of violence and promote peaceful coexistence among the antagonists.

Appendix materials include glossaries of terrorist groups and technical terms.

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Table of Contents


1. The Spectrum of Political Violence

PART I. Violence Against the State

2. Assassins vs. the State

3. Ethnic Nationalists vs. the State

4. Religious Militants vs. the State

5. Ideological Radicals vs. the State

6. Transnational Terrorism: Al-Qaida versus the United States and Allied Regimes

PART II. Violence by the State

7. State Terrorism, Politicide, and Genocide

8. The Armenian Genocide and the Jewish Holocaust

9. The Kurdish and Rwandan Genocides

10. Future Terror: New Forms, Trends and Antidotes


“I appreciate how Dekmejian analyzes political violence as opposed to just terrorism, allowing for a broader discussion of state and non-state violent interactions: this is fairly novel as most books focus solely on terrorism or one type of political violence. Also, this approach allows for the examination of state and non-state uses of force while avoiding definitional problems that other books either omit (i.e. only focus on state or non-state) or do not address. Spectrum of Terror is also very comprehensive in its coverage of cases and features a writing style that is both engaging and objective.”

- Brian Lai, University of Iowa

“Dekmejian’s Spectrum of Terror has several strengths. It seeks to provide in-depth coverage of key terrorism events and terror campaigns that are linked to a variety of goals: religious, national-separatist, and social-revolutionary, and it has the potential to make a mark by offering a much needed ‘case study’ text for classroom use. Based on my own experience, students enjoy comprehensive and in-depth readings on key cases. Furthermore, Dekmejian has already included the right cases in the book: a chapter devoted to al-Qaida; a chapter devoted to ethnic separatist and nationalist terrorism which includes the major cases: IRA, ETA, and LTTE; and a chapter devoted to right- and left-wing terrorism that include the important cases of Shining Path and Timothy McVeigh.”

- Miriam F. Elman, Arizona State University
R. Hrair Dekmejian, University of Southern California

R. Hrair Dekmejian is a professor of political science and international business at the University of Southern California. His specialties include comparative political violence, Middle East/Islamic studies, political elites, multinational business and politics, U.S. foreign policy, the political economy of oil, and comparative ethnic politics. Professor Dekmejian has appeared as a commentator on world affairs on radio and television and is quoted in major newspapers and publications. A U.S. Army veteran, Dekmejian has served as a consultant to various agencies including the Department of State, the U.S. Information Agency, and the Department of Defense. He is the author of numerous books and articles including Islam in Revolution; Troubled Waters: The Geopolitics of the Caspian Region; and The Just Prince: A Manual of Leadership.

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