Dr. Martin W. Slann, one of the nation’s foremost experts on terrorism, is not optimistic about the future of his life’s study.
“The more I get into the subject of terrorism the more depressed I become,” said Dr. Slann, who with Dr. Cindy C. Combs co-authored the second edition of their book “Encyclopedia of Terrorism” (2007; Facts on File Library of World History; $95).
Dr. Slann is dean of UNC Pembroke’s College of Arts and Sciences and a faculty member of the Political Science Department. Dr. Combs is a member of the faculty of UNC Charlotte.
The “Encyclopedia of Terrorism” provides students, researchers, journalists and policy makers with a history of terrorism. The encyclopedia offers an examination of the events, people, organizations and sites of international terrorism.
Each entry is placed within its historical time line to help readers understand the wide-ranging motivations behind terrorist actions. A chronology of terrorist events that have occurred from 1945 is also listed.
Because terrorism is such a hot topic, a second edition was required. But Dr. Slann said the term “encyclopedia” overstates his efforts.
“Encyclopedia is a misnomer,” he said during a Faculty Authors Showcase on September 16 in the Mary Livermore Library. “There is plenty of stuff we left out. If there is a third edition, it will probably have to be two volumes.”
Terrorism’s history is almost as long as the history of mankind, and like the history civilzation, terrorism begins in the Middle East, he said.
“Our book focuses on the last four decades, the modern era of terrorism beginning in the 1960s,” Dr. Slann said. “In the mid-1980s, terrorism assumed a different form – it became a religious phenomenon.”
“We firmly believe there will be more terrorism in the future, and for the third edition, I predict we will devote a lot of time to weapons of mass destruction,” he said.
“The old motto of terrorism was ‘kill one, frighten 10,000,’” Dr. Slann said. “This has all changed; 9/11 was the tip-off.”
“This is motivated by religious ideology, all opposed to Western democracy,” he continued.
Islamic militants are opposed to all other world religions, he said. In the question an answer period, Dr. Slann said a solution to the Palestinian question, often touted as a fix for the Middle East and terrorism, would be a temporary patch at best.
“Very quickly, they would set their sights on another target, probably Europe then the United States,” he said.
Answering a question about the suspected terrorists arrested recently in North Carolina, one of whom was a former UNCP student, Dr. Slann said “homegrown terrorists and converts are the most radical.”
“This is a growing phenomenon, and the greatest source for converts is American prisons,” he concluded.
Dr. Slann has authored or co-authored several textbooks and books, including five editions of “Violence and Terrorism” and four editions of “Introduction to Politics: Governments and Nations in the New Millenium.”
“I became interested in terrorism about 25 years ago because I could not believe people could do this,” he said in an earlier interview. “I am convinced there is genuine evil in the world and people who are committed to acting on evil.”