New course on terrorism advocacy and propaganda to be offered in the spring

by Will Hartnett  |  November 5, 2018  |  ARTICLES

ISIS Propaganda Video

Above: An image from an Islamic State propaganda video.

Dr. Christopher C. Harmon will be teaching a new course at IWP offered in the spring titled Terrorist Advocacy and Propaganda (IWP 686). The course will examine the political character of terrorism, how terrorism is used as a perverse form of mass communication, and how to oppose the strategic messaging of terrorists.

Divided into eight sessions, five of these will be spent covering specific terrorist group methods and means of spreading their messages. Students will examine terrorists' use of the modern range of media, including radio, TV, newspapers, and electronic journals. Studying a time period 65 years in length, students will be able to evaluate the propaganda methods of terrorists and their real-world effects on institutions, people, and society at large. Additionally, students will learn about contemporary government responses and how to adapt and improve any actions taken.

The first case to be examined will be the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN) and its war against France for decolonization in the 1950s and 60s. The FLN conducted guerilla warfare operations and made prominent use of the radio through influence operations targeted at Algerians, but also overseas populations in France, the United States, and the United Nations.

In a more modern session, students will learn about Inspire, the Al-Qaeda published magazine which had substantial impact on terrorist propaganda. Articles from Inspire have been saved and studied by terrorists who are operating today, and the magazine serves as a brand building tool for all Al-Qaeda franchises and affiliates.

Dr. Harmon wrote his political science dissertation on terrorism in the early 1980s and continued that work as Legislative Aide for Foreign Policy to a member of Congress and, much later, director of counterterrorism studies programs in Asia and Europe for the U. S. government.

A professor at civilian and military graduate schools including the Naval War College, Dr. Harmon began teaching courses at The Institute of World Politics after 9/11 - on terrorism, and later on counterterrorism.