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Gus Martin: Definitive Text on Terrorism Gets Update



Gus Martin, assistant vice president, Faculty Affairs; photo by Joanie Harmon

Gus Martin: Definitive Text on Terrorism Gets Update

Essentials of Terrorism: Concepts and Controversies was published in November, the third book on terrorism by Gus Martin, assistant vice president for Faculty Affairs. The follow-up to his book Understanding Terrorism: Challenges, Perspectives, and Issues, Second Edition (2006), the text includes new and updated material on media coverage of terrorism-related ethical issues, religious terrorism, and gender-selective terrorism.

“Until the recent prosecutions in the international courts, gender-focused political violence was never recognized as a being war crime or terrorism,” says the former associate professor of public administration and public policy. “If anything, it was just considered the unfortunate consequence of war.”

According to Martin, who began teaching a class in terrorism and extremism at Dominguez Hills in 2002, the university is one of the first campuses to offer a course on terrorism as part of the criminal justice major. He underscores the growth of interest in the study of terrorism after the 9/11 attacks.

“When they hit the [World Trade Center] buildings and killed 3,000 people, it was the beginning of a new era of terrorism in this country because we were the ones who got hit this time,” he notes. “Other countries have been aware of terrorism for a generation or more. In the old days, there were ideological terrorists, meaning mostly communists and fascists and nationalists. These days, they’re religious.

“The difference is that [movements like the] Marxists didn’t particularly want to die and they didn’t want to kill a whole lot of people. The radical fundamentalist Muslims view this as jihad, a holy war. These terrorists want to die and they want to take as many people with them, which is something we don’t understand. It’s their way to get to heaven.”

Martin points out that the attacks provoked some Christian extremists in the United States.

“Some people do believe it’s a crusade, the true religion against the false religion,” he says. “If you listen to some of our military and political leaders carefully, especially in private, some of them do begin promoting this religious agenda, which is worrisome. And the interesting thing is that in America, the neo-conservatives believe in aggressively promoting their definition of freedom and liberty, even if the [Muslim extremists] don’t want it.”

Martin is a member of the International Editorial Advisory Board for Critical Studies on Terrorism, a new journal on research and policy in the fields of terrorism, counter-terrorism, and state terror. Directed to an audience of practitioners and scholars in the United States, Great Britain, and Australia, the publication was launched last year.

Martin, who taught a terrorism course in the 1990s at the University of Pittsburgh, felt there was a need for classroom-oriented texts on the subject. Out of three publishers that he sent book proposals to, two showed an interest. Years later, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, these publishers immediately sent offers for a comprehensive book on terrorism. The author chose Sage Publications, an academic publisher, who has carried all of his texts on terrorism, including the original 2003 edition of Understanding Terrrorism, and The New Era of Terrorism: Selected Readings, which he edited and published in 2004.

Martin, who is looking forward to upgrading his analysis in a third edition of Understanding Terrorism, states that his books are also adaptable for professional practitioners in the fields of sociology, political science and homeland security.

“The comprehensiveness of Understanding Terrorism offers broad instruction for specialists, and the conciseness of Essentials of Terrorism offers flexibility in designing specific workshops and seminars on different approaches to the subject,” says Martin. “[Both books] are readily adaptable for practitioners who require a solid grounding in understanding the modern era of political violence. The ancillary materials of both books are designed to stimulate critical thinking and perspectives on the causes of terrorist violence, the motives and goals of terrorists, how the media and the public can be manipulated, and counterterrorist options.”

- Joanie Harmon


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Last updated Monday, January 14, 2008, 1:50 p.m., by Joanie Harmon