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Professors Delve into Global Terrorism


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Written by: Communicator StaffOctober 28, 2015

Written by Zachary D. Elick

IPFW professors Dr. Lawrence A. Kuznar and Dr. James M. Lutz are using their expertise to analyze the effects and tactics of global terrorism.

Lutz, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science, has recently contributed to an anthology focusing on how terrorism has affected the economies of countries throughout the world, entitled “Terrorism and the Economy: Impacts on the Capital Market and the Global Tourism Industry.”

Kuznar, professor of anthropology, has been analyzing the language used by ISIS and other terrorist groups as a part of a research project requested by Maj. Gen. Michael K. Nagata. President Obama put Nagata in charge of training Syrian forces to fight against ISIS before this initiative was recently abandoned, according to the New York Times.

Lutz, who has been teaching at IPFW since 1982, co-authored the chapter entitled “Tourists as Targets in the Middle East and North Africa,” with his wife, Brenda, who works as an independent academic scholar.

James Lutz earned his Ph.D. in government from the University of Texas and Brenda Lutz earned her Ph.D. in political science from from the University of Dundee in Scotland in 2002.

There has been a noticeable increase in “economic targeting” among terrorists groups around the world, Lutz said. He described this term as when a terrorist group specifically targets the “core sector” of a country’s economy, such as tourism or foreign investment.

Lutz cited the negative effects that recent terrorist attacks have had on the tourism industries of Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey and Israel as primary examples. He also mentioned examples outside of the Middle East or North Africa — Indonesia, Spain and the Mediterranean island of Corsica — all of which have occured within the last 10- 15 years.

Although the chapter he recently wrote  does deal with Islamic terrorism, Lutz lamented the fact that starting in the 90s research has predominantly been focused on this form of terrorism.

“This doesn’t deny the importance of Islamic terrorism, but there’s all kinds of other things going on in the world,” Lutz said.

Lutz pointed out there are many different causes of terrorism, including religion, repression, economic insecurity, ideology, nationalism and ethnocentrism. During different periods of time in history there are certain causes which dominate; presently, that cause appears to be religion. He added that Islamic terrorism is “currently the most egregarious version of terrorism.”

One these terrorist groups, ISIS, earnestly wants to bring about the end of the world by manipulating global powers into annihilating each other, according to Kuznar, who earned his Ph.D. in anthropology from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

Kuznar has learned a lot about ISIS and their intentions from examining the “linguistic indicators” in their discourse, as well as that of other terrorist groups. He described his research as being “quantitative” and well-evidenced, which he said makes it different from much of what is written about ISIS in the media by journalists.

“People will alter the way they speak in subtle ways — in ways that they might not be even aware of when they’re intending on doing something violent,” Kuznar said.

This type of research not only provides evidence of what these types of groups may do next, but it also gives one a glimpse of the mindsets of the people in them.

“When you compare ISIS to other groups in the region they are just off the chart, hyper-emotional about the issues that they talk about,” Kuznar said. “Their level for hatred for others far exceeds what we see in other groups.”

ISIS has also done something that Kuznar said is extremely rare: declared a caliphate. What this means is that ISIS members have named themselves the new successors to the Muslim prophet Muhammad. And the end goal of this caliphate is to bring about a global apocalypse, according to Kuznar.

Kuznar, who has been teaching at IPFW since 1990, said he’s been working on research projects for the Department of Defense on and off since 2007. Most of these projects have focused on counter-terrorism, although he has also worked on projects involving North Korea, India and Pakistan. And, one of the other projects he is currently working on involves Eastern Europe and Russia.