Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Sven Dubie

Second Advisor

Daniel Kilbride, PhD (Committee Member)


This thesis examines the rise of Islamic terrorism from 1979-2003. It begins with how the Soviet-Afghan war during the 1980’s gave birth to a movement of young Islamic radicals that became known as al Qaeda. The paper then discusses how the organization, led by wealthy Saudi financier Osama bin Ladin, became a principle antagonist of the Clinton Administration throughout the 1990’s. Moreover, it goes on to talk about the numerous successful terrorist acts al Qaeda was able to plan and implement around the world during the 1990’s and how the administration attempted to deal them. It also discusses how the attacks of September 11, 2001, changed the way the American government under the Bush Administration saw the problem of international terrorism, looking at it as an act of war rather than one dealt with by law enforcement. This thesis concludes detailing the changes made during the early years of the War on Terror and attempts, with skepticism, to judge their effectiveness.


62 p.