THE MAGAZINE

Hunting Terrorists: A Look at the Psychopathology of Terror

By Kevin Cassidy

*****Hunting Terrorists: A Look at the Psychopathology of Terror.By Joe Navarro; published by Charles C. Thomas, 800/258-8980 (phone), www.ccthomas.com (Web); 122 pages; $39.95.

The preface to this book promises that the work will first explore the field of political terrorism with a theoretical model and then give law enforcement officers a chance to enhance their skills through the book’s focus on the tools necessary to counter terrorism.

That may be so, but author Joe Navarro leaves a lot of the work to the reader. This brief book is essentially an overview of terrorist groups and their ideologies. The first part of the book summarizes the prevalence of terrorism throughout history; the second part builds on this history and analyzes the psychopathology of the terrorist.

Navarro explores the motivations and personae of terrorists, similarities among terrorists, and behavior patterns. This broad overview would be fine for students studying introductory criminal justice or psychology, but experienced investigators need to know much more about the mind-sets of terrorists and the structure of terrorist organizations.

An underlying theme of the book is that terrorism is an effective tool, and that society often changes when confronted with a terrorist act. Navarro also makes some interesting observations. For one, he notes that the United States lacked a specific terrorism statute until April 1996. Before that, terrorist attacks were prosecuted under state or federal laws that prohibited certain acts, such as airplane hijacking, destruction of government property, or crime on a military reservation.

Navarro’s writing is generally crisp and clear, and he poses interesting questions. He could have made better use of charts and other graphics to present statistical information, however.

Students, as well as homeland security professionals who regularly interface with law enforcement agencies, should find this book useful. But other security professionals have more advanced options elsewhere.


Reviewer:Kevin Cassidy is vice president of corporate security for Reuters America, in New York City, and a lecturer at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Cassidy is a member of ASIS International

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