addresses UNCP audience
By Scott Bigelow
terrorism expert Dr. Cynthia Combs had some bad news and some good news
for a UNC Pembroke audience on April 14.
"We have the
potential for some really scary terrorist attacks here, but you're still
more likely to be killed by a drunk driver," she said. "You
let terrorists win when you refuse to do things like fly commercially
because of 9/11."
Dr. Combs, author
of "Terrorism in the 21st Century" and contributing editor
of "The Encyclopedia of Terrorism," was the inaugural speaker
of the Robert K. Gustafson Memorial Scholar Series. She is a political
science professor at UNC Charlotte.
is an "asymmetrical threat" from people who are "not
rational actors," Dr. Combs said a "war on terrorism is not
a winnable war."
Terrorists are not
born but created out of frustration, desperation and alienation, she
"I am reminded
of the Israeli soldier returning from blowing up homes of Palestinians
who said, 'we've created 1,000 more terrorists today,'" Dr. Combs
said. "We must find a way to take away that desire, anger and frustration."
Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian
issue would be a good start to ending terrorism, but Dr. Combs fears
that a new generation of terrorists is being created in Iraq.
"We may be
creating a whole new group of terrorists with the potential for the
United States to be a longer term target for a lot of different groups,"
Dr. Combs said.
"Al Qaeda and
Afghanistan are not just about Palestine," Dr. Combs said. "What
we've got are people with no reason to stop the violence."
Dr. Combs rejected
the notion that Islam is a violent faith. Violent factions within the
Islamic faith are similar to Christian groups, like the one Oklahoma
City bomber Timothy McVeigh belonged to.
is something that should get us excited," Dr. Combs told the UNCP
audience that included many students. "I am asking you to think
about it and discuss it."
The lecture was
sponsored, in part, by the American Democracy Project, which is a national
program to stimulate civic engagement and awareness.
Amber Rach, Director of Communications for University and Community
Relations; Dr. Carolyn Thompson, Director of the University Honors
College; Speaker Dr. Cynthia Combs; Sheryl Dawson, Helen Gustafson
and Charles Farrell.
The Gustafson Lecture
is named for the late Robert K. Gustafson, an ordained minister and
a department chair and professor and of religion at UNCP. It was established
by his wife Helen, who lives in Laurinburg. Mrs. Gustafson attended
the lecture with her daughter, Sheryl Dawson.
UNCP Provost and
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Dr. Roger Brown introduced Dr.
Combs, who was a former colleague of his in the Political Science Department
at UNC Charlotte.
"Cindy is a
nationally-known expert on international terrorism who has carved her
professional niche in a very dark world," Dr. Brown said.
Dr. Combs offered
a four-part definition of terrorism as (1) a violent act, (2) politically
motivated, (3) calculated to create fear in a target audience and (4)
targets innocent victims.
"What is going
on now with the attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq is not terrorism,"
she said. "It is guerilla or insurgent warfare."
Terrorism has a
long history, and the 1972 Olympic terror attack launched a new age
There are three
types of terrorist, Dr. Combs said, "criminals," "crazies"
"The bad news
is crusaders are the type of terrorist we are dealing with today,"
she said. "They were not created overnight and not in response
to a specific incident."
have a higher cause and do not expect to live, their demands cannot
be met," Dr. Combs said. "The good news is that we should
be able to predict where they will come from."
to University Newswire