WIU classroom discussion takes on history of terrorism, Boston Marathon tragedy

If you walked through the halls of Western Illinois University's campus today, chances are you overheard talks of yesterday's tragedy.

In Associate Professor Dean Alexander's classroom, students look into the past. Only their search is narrowed to the history of terrorist attacks.

"We talk on various issues of legal aspects of terrorism in terms of what's the appropriate forum vis-a-vis of individuals who have conducted attacks on US soil. Post 9-11," WIU Associate Professor Dean Alexander said.

When tackling Monday's tragedy, Alexander and his students shared views on why the bombs went off.

"The notion that marathons are a target is unfortunately nothing new. They have been targeted in the past," Alexander said. "It could just be a radical or an individual trying to make a name for themselves or supporting what they believe. I mean, this is really similar to what I believe Timothy McVeigh or the Oklahoma city bomber. It could be an individual similar to him who is just mad at the world," said one of his students.

Alexander explained multiple examples with his students where sporting events attracted an attack.

He explained how security increased as a result of these attacks.

"I don't think America should be freaked out by this. I mean of course it has significance on huge events like this, but we have to live our lives. We can't be scared everyday," one of Alexander's students said.

Alexander says the students gain more than just a textbook education from this course.

"The surprise factor is no longer there. They can appreciate it's part of a tactical approach. A strategic approach by disparate terror groups and individuals globally," Alexander explained.

Alexander has a detailed essay about political violence at sporting events. Read the whole essay here .