Terrorism, September 11, 2001:
A Lesson Plan for Secondary Educators

Introductory Note on September 12, 2001: The following lesson plan was created after many discussions with local secondary and Humboldt State University (HSU) students in the aftermath of the terrorist tragedy of September 11, 2001. Over and over again, what we heard from students was a desire to understand terrorism and terrorists, and to know more about those who would hate Americans so much that they would commit such an atrocity. After listening to their comments and questions, we decided it might be useful for local educators to have some very basic information about the groups that might have been involved in this terrorist event. The following lesson plan includes ten basic components: topic; theme; California Standards addressed for use in the 7th, 8th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade classrooms; organization and timeline; interdisciplinary inclusion; resources needed; an introductory "hook;" the actual lecture/discussion content; conclusion; and an evaluation. Additionally, several hot links are included that provide further information and, in some cases, maps that may be used in conjunction with the lesson. You can print a copy of these maps and then make the appropriate overheads.

This lesson was compiled by Dr. Gayle Olson-Raymer, Adjunct Professor of History at HSU and a former secondary educator, and David Riesenfeld, a former student teacher at South Fork High School and a current candidate for a Master's Degree in Educational Curriculum Development. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact either of us. If you do use this lesson or any portion of it, we would love to hear how it was received by your students.

Introduction for October 12, 2001: Exactly one month after the following lesson plan was first posted on the Internet, we have received many comments from people all over the country and in other parts of the world - all of whom were pleased with the ultimate objective of the lesson as well as the useful information. We have also received some suggestions for changes - most of which are reflected on today's date. One comment that needs to be addressed upfront is that some Americans may not appreciate or be ready for the organizing theme, What is one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. We want to be perfectly clear about his lesson - it is not intended to justify or in any way defend the tragedy and grief Americans and other citizens of the world have suffered. Rather, this lesson plan is purely an educational device - one that is organized around this well-worn phrase about terrorism versus freedom fighting. The point is not that whoever committed this atrocious act against human kind is a freedom fighter, but that those persons perceive themselves to be fighting for some type of freedom. We need to understand this about those who are our sworn enemies!

We have also learned that while dozens of teachers have used this lesson plan with a great deal of success, many have written that they - as well as their students - really need some substantive direction about how to deal with the fears that have arisen in the wake of September 11th. Thus, we have included a new section - What can we do? - that can be accessed by clicking here.

Finally, please remember that the lesson plan below initially was written the day after the September 11th bombing and almost four weeks before the United States began its bombing "War on Terrorism" in Afghanistan. Thus, the lesson plan primarily focuses on the organizations, and persons who were initially suspected of involvement. Since October 8, we have updated the information on Osama bin Laden to include his various responses to the American involvement in Afghanistan. However, this lesson is not focused exclusively on bin Laden; rather, it discusses many possible terrorist threats. Thus, the lesson that follows is intended to educate ourselves about many of the groups who currently maintain that the United States government and people are their enemies.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Terrorism, September 11, 2001:
A Lesson Plan for Secondary Educators

I. Topic. The terrorism attacks in New York City and Washington D.C. committed on September 11, 2001.

II. Theme. What is one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Students should understand that terrorism is not universally defined throughout the world and that different people and different nations define terrorism differently. Thus, when we discuss the horrific consequences of the September 11th tragedy, it is important for students to think about why other people and other nations might hate the United States so much that they would commit such a horrendous crime.

III. California Standards. Please scroll down to the bottom of the lesson plan for 7th, 8th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade standards that are addressed in this lesson.

IV. Organization and timeline. This lesson is designed to be a one- or two-day, student-centered lecture and discussion.

V. Interdisciplinary component. Geography - A large map of the world will be needed, as well as overheads of the following: the Middle East; Afghanistan and its bordering nations; Israel and its bordering nations; and Iraq and its bordering nations.

VI. Resources needed. The maps identified above and an overhead projector.

VII. Introductory "Hook". For the first five minutes of class, students will be asked to write on the following topic, "What is one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." [Have quote written on the board or on an overhead.] When they are finished, the following discussion questions should be addressed:

A. What do you think this phrase means? Be sure that they understand that terrorism is perceptual - not everyone defines or interprets terrorism the same way. See if they can provide some examples of how people might define terrorism or terrorist acts differently, or you can offer some of your own. For example:

  1. In early America, slavery was legal and it was against the law for a slave to question or rebel against his or her owner. Any slave who rebelled was guilty of a crime that terrorized the white population. To the slave, however, they were terrorized by the daily existence of slavery and any rebellion was simply an action to achieve freedom.
  2. To the whites, rebellious slaves were terrorists; to the slaves, the rebels among them were freedom fighters. Who is right? Who is wrong? It is a matter a perception.
B. What is terrorism? There are hundreds of different definitions of terrorism and very few nations can agree upon a common definition. Even in our own country, there are differing definitions. The most commonly accepted definition is that of the FBI:

"Terrorism is the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof in furtherance of political or social objectives." [Write definition on the board or on a prepared overhead.]

Additionally, many of those who study terrorism and terrorists argue that acts of terrorism are often motivated by hate and intolerance.

After providing the definition, ask the following questions:

C. Why do people become terrorists? There are many complex reasons why people have been involved in terrorism throughout history, as well as why they are involved today. Today, we will focus on just one group of terrorists - radical militant Islamists - because it is believed that some combination of these terrorists were responsible for the attacks of September 11th. In using the term radical militant Islamists, it is important to note that the vast majority of believers in Islam do not support any type of radical militant Islamic actions. Indeed, the vast majority of Muslims are people of peace. This very small minority, however, have taken the fundamental beliefs of Islam and twisted them to meet their own political agendas.

When we look at the agendas of the radical militant Islamists, the members in the movement can be divided roughly into two groups:
  1. Those who share an intense hatred of the Western nations in general, and the United States in particular. This hatred is fueled by blind religiious zeal , a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam that is not accepted by the vast majority of the Muslim world, and the belief that the US and Americans prevent the emergence of pure and true Islamic society in many parts of the world. Their goal is to force the United States to end its involvement in the Middle East and in all other Arab and Muslim nations, to abandon its support of Israel, and to stop supporting Arab nations that they perceive as "corrupt."
  2. Those who share feelings of futility arising from long-term, dismal, and debilitating socio-economic conditions. Such feelings are driven by the miseries of everyday existance and a future that is empty of any positive prospects for change. Their goals are to force their governments - or the governments which control them - to make changes in their social, economic, and political conditions and to make a statement about their misery to the world
D. Our goal for today, then, is to learn about the political motives most of the terrorist groups and people who initially were suspected of involvement in the terrorist attack of September 11 - including Osama bin Laden.

VIII. Lesson Content.

A. Let's make a list of some groups and individuals that the media initially dentified as possible terrorists in the days after the attack. Remember, each of these groups and individuals should have a grievance against the United States and perceive Americans to be their enemy. (Note to teachers: Make a list of groups, persons, nations, etc. Narrow the list down and add whatever you need so that the following individuals and groups are included: Osama bin Laden; al Qaeda; the Taliban of Afghanistan; Saddam Hussein of Iraq; the Militant Palestinians; American white supremacists; and American patriot militias.)

B. Now, let's discuss why each of these groups and individuals think that the United States is the enemy.

  1. Osama bin Laden was the primary suspect from the very beginning. Bin Laden is about 43 years old and was born in Saudi Arabia. [Locate Saudi Arabia on the world map and Middle East overhead.] As a young man, bin Laden enjoyed a life of privilege, as his father was a billionaire who earned his fortune in the construction industry.

    In the mid 1970s, however, bin Laden began to carefully examine his religion - Islam - and his Muslim culture. Then, in late 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, bin Laden's life was forever changed. [Refer to Afghanistan on the overhead.] He, like many other Muslims, was shocked that a non-Muslim nation would attack a Muslim nation and attempt to overthrow it. Thereafter, he gave up his affluent life and committed himself to waging what he defined as "a holy war" against those who would threaten the Muslim world.

    In so doing, bin Laden became an advocate of radical militant Islam - a belief embraced by only a small percentage of people of the Islamic faith. Adherents of radical militant Islam rely upon a rigid, fundamentalist perspective of Islamic spiritual and cultural beliefs. The vast majority of Muslims and members of the Islamic faith are adamantly opposed to this particular interpretation of fundamentalist Islam. Equally as important, the vast majority of Muslims around the world and within the US have condemned the actions of the radical militant Islamists and have grieved along with other citizens of the world for the victims of the September 11 attacks.

    By the early 1990s, bin Laden had become what many experts have called the heart and soul of radical militant Islam. This is the belief that the values and goals of Islamic and Western societies are radically different and that the modernizing, commercializing, immoral forces of Western society - especially American society - are destroying the foundations of Muslim culture and true Islamic spirituality. In short, radical militants blame American rock and roll, television, movies, and open sexuality for eroding the values of Muslim culture.

    1) Further, they feel that the American government is responsible for leading some Muslim nations - especially Egypt and Saudi Arabia - away from the "true" principals of Islam and convincing their leaders to accept decadent morals and political values of the West.
    2) Thus, they believe that the true believers - the radical militant Islamists- must seize power from the traitorous leaders and reestablish the true and fundamental rule of Islam over all Muslim nations.
    3) For them, the struggle is for the very soul of the government of the Muslim world - it must be grounded in Islamic law to be legitimate.
    4) Because the West, especially the US, has made this struggle so difficult, the US is the primary enemy.

  2. To bin Laden and his followers, the power of the US to interfere in the Muslim world must be terminated. If it is not, the very future of Islam is threatened.
  3. To bin Laden, the battle against the US is a holy war to prevent the ultimate demise of Islam. Indeed, the militant Islamists are the 'freedom fighters" who are fighting American who are the "terrorists." To bin Laden and his followers, we are the evil terrorists and they are the righteous freedom fighters!
  4. In1996, bin Laden relocated to Afghanistan where he made his first formal "declaration of war" against the US government - claiming that, "This doesn't mean declaring war against the West and Western people - but against the American regime which is against every Muslim." Bin Laden demanded that the US withdraw all troops and influence from Saudi Arabia or suffer the consequences.
  5. Since 1992, the US. State Department has linked bin Laden to the following anti-American terrorist actions:
    • Carried out attacks on US soldiers when landing in Somalia in late 1992.
    • Supported the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 through his relationship with Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, the mastermind of the bombing.
    • Supported plots designed by Ramzi Yousef to bomb US airplanes and assassinate President Clinton and the Pope.
    • Supported a failed plot by Egyptian radicals to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek in 1995.
    • Backed the November 1995 bombing of a US-run military training facility in Riyadh and the June 1996 bombing of the US military complex in Riyadh.
    • Planned, according to a suspectís confession, the August 7, 1998 bombing of the US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
    • Planned and funded the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole on October 12, 2000.

6.In mid-August, 1968, President Clinton and defense officials decided to retaliate by attacking bin Ladenís terrorist infrastructure because intelligence reported that as many as 600 individuals were planning to meet at one of four camps in Afghanistan. According to the Pentagon, these camps represent "the largest Sunni terrorist training facility in the world." They also attacked a pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum, Sudan where it is believed that with the help of contributions from bin Laden, a precursor chemical is produced that is used in the deadly VX nerve gas.

7. Before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 bin Laden issued several formal fatwas, or religious decrees, against the US - the most famous of which was made in 1998. This fatwa declared it was ithe duty of Muslims around the world to wage holy war on the U.S., American citizens, and Jews. Muslims who did not heed this call were to be declared apostates (people who have forsaken their faith).

8. Within a week after September 11th, President Bush announced the existence of evidence proving that bin Laden was the primary architect of the terrorist attacks. Subsequently, he gave the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan (see below) who were allegedly harborin bin Laden a warning to either release him to the US government, or face the consequences. When the Taliban refused, it became apparent that the US government would launch a war against Afghanistan.

9. The military War on Terrorism began on Sunday, October 8 and, according to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, was designed to achieve several goals:

10. One day after the US War on Terrorism began in Afghanistan, bin Laden released a more threatening video and statement which ended with the following warning, "To America, I say only a few words to it and its people. I swear by God, who has elevated the skies without pillars, neither America nor the people who live in it will dream of security before we live it in Palestine, and not before all the infidel armies leave the land of Mohammad, peace be upon him."

C. Al Qaeda is an international terrorist group that bin Laden co-founded in the late 1980s. The goals of al Qaeda are: to oppose non-Islamic governments with force and violence; to drive the United States armed forces out of Saudi Arabia, elsewhere on the Saudi Arabian peninsula, and Somalia by violence; to work with other terrorist organizations against their perceived enemies in the West, particularly the United States; and to unite all Muslims and establish, by force, an Islamic nation.

  1. The first actions of al-Qaeda against American interests were attacks on U.S. servicemen in Somalia. Since then, al Qaeda has been suspected of involvement in the string of terrorist actions listed above and attributed to bin Laden.
  2. In 1994, al Qaeda set up terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. Since then, al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden have become virtually synonymous. However, bin Laden does not run the organization single-handedly. Two of his top advisors are Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri and Muhammed Atef.
    • Al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda's theological leader and bin Laden's probable successor, is an Egyptian surgeon from an upper-class family. He joined the country's Islamist movement in the late 1970s. He served three years in prison on charges connected to the assassination of Anwar Sadat, during which time he was tortured. After his release, he went to Afghanistan, where he met bin Laden and became his personal physician and advisor. Al-Zawahiri is suspected of helping organize the 1997 massacre of 67 foreign tourists in the Egyptian town of Luxor and was indicted in connection with the bombing of U.S embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. In 1998, he was one of five Islamic leaders to sign on to bin Laden's declaration calling for attacks against U.S. citizens. He is wanted by the FBI and has been sentenced to death by Egypt in absentia.
    • Muhammed Atef, al Qaeda's military commander, joined al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan n the 1980s. His primary responsibility in al-Qaeda is recruitment and training. He is also suspected of having planned the embassy bombings. Atef's daughter is married to one of bin Laden's sons.
    • Another key member of al Qaeda is Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who is serving a life sentence in a Minnesota prison in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Both bin Laden and al-Zawahari have vowed revenge against the U.S. if Rahman, a diabetic, dies in prison.

3. The al Qaeda leadership oversees a loosely tied network of local cells that operate with their blessing and support, but cannot be easily traced directly back. Each cell operates independently with its members not knowing the identity of other cells. If one group is arrested they will not be able to betray others.

4. Al Qaeda's ideology, often referred to as "jihadism," has its roots in the work of two modern Sunni Islamic thinkers: Mohammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and Sayyid Qutb.

5. Al Qaeda's brand of terrorism is global, decentralized, and ruthless. The organizatioin supports terrorist organizations from such diverse countries as the Philippines, Algeria, and Eritrea, and backs fighters in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Tajikistan, Somalia, Yemen, and Kashmir.

6. Unlike many terrorist organizations, al Qaeda does not depend on the sponsorship of a political state. Similar to other terrorist groups, its infrastructure is small, decentralized, and mobile - making it easy to recruit members from thousands of Muslim radicals from around the world.

7. If attacks on the WTC and Pentagon were orchestrated by al Qaeda, it indicates that the group has not only the patience and resources for meticulous, long-term planning but a willingness to undertake terrorist actions of a scale previously unknown.

D. The Taliban of Afghanistan were also initially suspected of terrorist involvement - not for masterminding the event, but rather they are accused of harboring Osama bin Laden and being directly involved in his plan of terror against America and the West. In Autumn 1994, Mohammad Omar founded the Taliban which means "scholars" and has been interpreted as "seekers of the truth."

  1. The 10,000 member Taliban organization was composed of mujahedeen (fighters for Islam) who fought to oust the communist-controlled government, former refugees from camps in neighboring Pakistan, and former communist government soldiers.
  2. In September 1994, the Taliban took over the eastern city of Herat with little resistance from local people and on September 27, 1996, they finally seized Kabul - the capitol of Afghanistan. Today, the Taliban are in control of about 90% of Afghanistan.
  3. Since the Taliban's fight for control in Afghanistan began in October1994, it has been waging a civil war with the Northern Alliance. The Northern Alliance, which holds the Northeast corner of the country (about 10% of Afghanistan), consists of many anti-Taliban factions and is led by exiled president Burhanuddin Rabbani.
    • Generally, the factions break down according to religion and ethnicity. While the Taliban is made up mostly Sunni Muslim Pashtuns (also referred to as Pathans), the Northern Alliance includes Tajiks, Hazara, Uzbeks, and Turkmen. The Hazara, and some other smaller ethnic groups, are Shiites.
    • In September 2001, the leader of the Northern Alliance miliary, Commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, died from wounds suffered in a suicide bombing,allegedly carried out by al Qaeda.
  4. The Taliban's goal is to merge the secular and sectarian realms of Afghan society into the most true and pure Islamic state in the world. The new government is based upon Omar's interpretations of the teachings of the Koran and a strict, fundamentalist interpretation of the Sharia.

5. Since 1996, the Taliban have provided a safe haven for Osama bin Laden. While the US continues to ask the Taliban to turn bin Laden over to our authority so he can be prosecuted for the 1998 bombings of the American embassies in Africa, the Taliban refuse, claiming him to be the hero of true Islam.

6. Like bin Laden, the leaders and followers of the Taliban see the US as the evil empire - the enemy of Islam and the western nation that stands in the way of its goal of become the most pure practitioner of Islam. To them, we are the terrorizers who threaten the future of Islam and they are the "freedom fighters" fighting a holy war for its future.

E. Saddam Hussein, the president of Iraq, has been accused many times of being the state sponsor of terrorism. [Refer to overhead map of Iraq.] State-sponsored terrorism occurs when legitimate governments - not individuals or groups - sponsor an act of terror against another government. Hussein came to power in 1979, in the midst of great political turmoil. At the age of 42, he had successfully risen from Iraq's peasant class to the leadership of a nation that held massive petroleum reserves and a position of power among the Middle Eastern Arab nations.

  1. Hussein quickly used the oil fields to boost Iraq's income and to advance the military capabilities of his country.
  2. Within a short period of time, Hussein became involved in disputes with neighboring Iran over the waterways that traversed their borders and oil fields that both nations claimed as their own. The war that ensued between Iran and Iraq lasted eight years and ended with no distinct winner. During the war, Hussein unleashed chemical warfare on the Iranians.
  3. In 1990, Hussein invaded the neighboring country of Kuwait. Kuwait, an international business center, was taken completely by surprise and within one day, Hussein's army was in control. The United Nations Security Council demanded an "immediate and unconditional" withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait and called for a trade boycott of Iraq.
    • Hussein ignored the UN ultimatum set for January 15, 1991. Consequently, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) peacekeeping forces were mobilized and operation Desert Storm began. Following prolonged bombing raids and a ground advance, the Gulf War was over and Hussein withdrew his military forces from Kuwait.
    • Because Hussein did not leave Kuwait until the NATO bombing raids and ground advances ceased, he and many of his fellow Iraqis believe the Gulf War was a victory for Iraq.
  4. As a result of the Gulf War and non-compliance with the UN resolution, the United States spearheaded economic sanctions against Iraq. The embargo - which is still in place today - has three key goals:
    • To remove Hussein from a position of power in Iraq.
    • To allow United Nations inspectors to view and ultimately destroy Iraq's capabilities to manufacture and use nuclear and chemical weapons.
    • To economically depress Iraq to the point of Hussein's submission to the United Nation's requests.
  5. The sanctions have dramatically effected Iraq's economy as well as contributed to the deteriorating living conditions, increasing infant mortality rates, and shortages of basic medical supplies, food, and clean water.
  6. The sanctions are the root of rising anti-American sentiment in Iraq. A new generation of young Iraqis have grown up with these sanctions and many have joined the ranks of a radical contingency of Iraqis who hate the United States and blame Americans - not Hussein - for the diminishing political and social conditions within their nation.
  7. Hussein continues to have the backing of most Iraqis who admire him for his outright defiance of America and our allies. To them, Hussein is a freedom fighter and his anti-American actions are seen as acts of freedom against an evil empire - the United States. But to the US government, Hussein is the mastermind of state-directed terror.

F. The Militant Palestinians are a small percentage of Palestinian people who believe that terroristic violence against the State of Israel is justified in order to gain their historical right to a national homeland in some or all of the current state of Israel. [Refer to overhead map of Israel.] How has the press portrayed the Palestinian response to the terrorist attacks of September 11th? Groups of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip cheering and celebrating. Do you think this portrayal will make Americans believe all Palestinians are happy when Americans die at the hands of terrorists?

  1. Like most Palestinians throughout the world, they argue that their land was taken by force when the State of Israel was created in 1948 and that the Israelis must return all of some of it to Palestinian control.
  2. The Palestinians and their Muslim allies have fought four wars with the Israelis who were backed by their Western allies - the most prominent of which has been the United States. However, since the outcome of each war did not culminate in the creation of a Palestinian homeland, some Palestinians turned to terror in order to achieve their goal.
  3. Operating under the political umbrella of the Palestine Liberation Organization since its creation in 1964, many different Palestinian terrorists have targeted Israel over the past four decades.
  4. From 1987-1993, the Palestinians and Israelis were involved in an internal civil war known as the Intifada. When peace negotiations were finalized, the Palestinians who had been living in "the occupied territories" of Israel for over two decades were given some semblance of home rule in those areas through the jurisdiction of he newly-created Palestinian Authority. But there was no guarantee that an actual Palestinian nation would be created within the boundaries of Israel. [Show overhead of Israel and the occupied territories.]
  5. When the United States became involved in the peace process, some fundamentalist Palestinians identified the US as yet another enemy against the cause of a Palestinian state in particular, and against Islam in general.
    While tensions between the fundamentalist Palestinians and the US have been tenuous over the past several years, they came near a breaking point during the first week of September 2001.
    • At the United Nation's first international conference on racism held in South Africa, the US refused to send a high-level delegation over language that implied that Israel's handling of the Palestinian question was guided by racism.
    • When that language was not deleted from the discussion, the lower-level delegation that agreed to attend actually withdrew from the conference.
    • To the Palestinians, Americans acted as an ally of Israel and an enemy of the Palestinians. Palestinians felt that actions of the US government directly contributed to the terroristic policies the Israelis use against the Palestinians. Therefore, actions against the US government were acts of freedom fighters, not of terrorists. To the Israeli and US governments, however, any anti-US actions would be construed as terroristic.

G. American White Supremacists are white people who claim to be Christian and who also claim racial, spiritual, and cultural superiority over all non-white persons. They believe that all Jews, Catholics, immigrants, non-white persons, and gay people are inferior, subhuman, and enemies of society and of Christianity.

  1. Such people often join hate groups - groups that hate people based upon their ethnicity, race, national origin, or sexual orientation. Many of these hate groups commit acts of terrorism against those they hate.
  2. They rationalize their involvement in terrorism because they believe that the US government, as well as American schools, churches, and the media, has been taken over by white race traitors and Jews. They also believe that by preaching racial equality, the government has stripped honest, hard working white people of their rights and have diminished their chances to achieve the "American Dream."
  3. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center which has been collecting data and documenting activities of such groups for years, there were 554 white supremacist hate groups that were active in the US during 2000. These groups were found in 48 states and the District of Columbia, with the largest number operating in Alabama and Florida (each with 39 groups), followed by Texas (38), Georgia (30) and California (29).
  4. White supremacists believe that the American government continues to ignore the needs and concerns of white Americans. Therefore, it must be overthrown and reconstructed so that white, Christian men are returned to positions of power within the US government.
  5. To the white supremacists, the US government and all its representatives are the terrorists. In order to end the terrorist regime of American leaders, they argue, they must fight for their freedom!
  6. American Patriot Militias are involved in groups that arm themselves and train regularly for the upcoming and inevitable war with the United States government which they believe has ignored the Constitution and the other laws of America. In general, they believe that the federal government is responsible for
    • decreasing the number of high pay, low skill jobs available to Americans;
    • imposing unjust and immoral taxes upon the people without their consentl trying to take away the rights of citizens to own and use guns; and
    • subverting the original intent of the Constitution and Bill of Rights as written by the founding fathers.
  7. For the patriot militias, the time for legal political reform has passed and that freedom can only be secured by resisting the nation's laws and attacking its institutions. Thus, they have armed themselves to fight the real enemy - the US government whom they believe has terrorized them into living under tyranny. The government has ignored the law of the land and in so doing, has become the terrorist. The militias perceive themselves as fighting for their freedom as guaranteed under the Constitution.
  8. So when militia sympathizers like Timothy McVeigh destroy federal buildings and kill federal employees such as what happened with the Oklahoma City Bombing, militia members believe McVeigh to be a hero for the true cause of American freedom - not a terrorist.

IX. Conclusion. If we examine the views of all six of these types of terrorist individuals, groups, and leaders, we see a common thread - they all hate the US government because they perceive it has done them a great wrong. To them, the US government is the terrorist and their fight against the United States is a battle for some type of freedom - religious, political, ideological, or combinations of all three. In their minds, they are not terrorists. In short, their beliefs mirror our theme for today that "What is one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" - that what is and is not terrorism is often defined by the perceptions of both the terrorists and their victims.

This does not mean that we should feel sorry for these groups or that we should not think of the persons belonging to such groups as terrorists. They most definitely are terrorists who commit acts of violence because they wish to instill fear and to gain some kind of political power. But it does give us some knowledge about who these people and groups are and why they would hate Americans so much. So, let's end with a final discussion question:

Do you think this type of information is important for America's policy makers to understand? Why or why not? (For some useful background papers on policymaking about terrorism over the past 15 years as well as some interesting commentary that will help you in leading this discussion, see http://www.theatlantic.com/unbound/flashbks/terrorism.htm.)

X. Evaluation. To evaluate how well students understood the information in this lesson, as well as the overall theme, give a homework assignment due within two days in which they would address the following question in no more than two pages:

Before Nelson Mandela was elected to the Presidency of South Africa in 1994, he was in prison for 26 years. Why was he imprisoned? In your opinion, was he a terrorist or a freedom fighter? You will have to conduct some research about the activities for which he was imprisoned in order to explain your answer.

Alternatively, if you did not want to make this a homework assignment, you could use some background materials on Mandela that are available on the Internet, pass these out to students working in assigned groups, and have them discuss the above question and present their answers in class.

* * * * * * * * * * *

California Standards addressed in the above lesson:

7th Grade Standards

7.2 Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures of civilizations of Islam in the middle ages, in terms of... (2) the origins of Islam and the life and teachings of Mohammed ...(3) the significance of the Qur'an and the Sunnah as the primary sources of Islamic beliefs, practice and law, and their influence in Muslims' daily life; (4) the expansion of Muslim rule through military conquests and treaties, emphasizing the cultural blending within Muslim civilization and the spread of Islam and the Arabic language...

8th Grade Standards

8.3 Students understand the foundation of the American political system and the ways in which citizens participate in it, in terms of:... (5) the significance of domestic resistance movements and ways in which the central government responded to such movements (e.g., Shays' Rebellion, the Whiskey Rebellion); (6) the basic law-making process and how the design of the U.S. Constitution provides numerous opportunities for citizens to participate in the political process and to monitor and influence government...

10th Grade Standards

10.4 Students analyze patterns of global change in the era of New Imperialism in at least two of the following regions or countries: Africa, Southeast Asia, China, India, Latin America and the Philippines, in terms of...
(3) imperialism from the perspective of the colonizers and the colonized and the varied immediate and long-term responses by the people under colonial rule; (4) the independence struggles of the colonized regions of the world, including the role of leaders and the role of ideology and religion...

10.9 Students analyze the international developments in the postwar world, in terms of...(2) the causes of the Cold War, with the free world on one side and Soviet client states on the other, including competition for influence in such places as Egypt, the Congo, Vietnam, and Chile... (5) how the forces of nationalism developed in the Middle East, how the Holocaust affected world opinion regarding the need for a Jewish state, the significance and effects of the location and establishment of Israel on world affairs; (6) the reasons for the collapse of the Soviet Union, including the weakness of the command economy, burdens of military commitments, and growing resistance to Soviet rule by dissidents in satellite states and the autonomous republics; (7) the establishment and work of the United Nations, the Warsaw Pact, SEATO, and NATO, Organization of American States and their purposes and functions.

10.10 Students analyze instances of nation-building in the contemporary world in two of the following regions or countries: the Middle East, Africa, Mexico and other parts of Latin America, or China, in terms of...(1) challenges in the region, including its geopolitical, cultural, military, and economic significance and the international relationships in which it is involved; (2) the recent history of the region, including the political divisions and systems, key leaders, religious issues, natural features, resources, and population patterns
(3) the important trends in the region today and whether they appear to serve the cause of individual freedom and democracy.

11th Grade Standards

11.9 Students analyze United States foreign policy since World War II, in terms of...(1) the establishment of the United Nations and International Declaration of Human Rights, IMF, the World Bank, and GATT, and their importance in shaping modern Europe and maintaining peace and international order; (2) the role of military alliances including NATO and SEATO in deterring

12th Grade Standards

12.3 Students evaluate, take and defend positions on what the fundamental values and principles of civil society are ... their interdependence, and meaning and importance for a free society, in terms of...(4) comparisons between the relationship of government and civil society in constitutional democracies and the relationship of government and civil society in authoritarian and totalitarian regimes.

12.8 Students evaluate, take and defend positions on the influence of the media on American political life, in terms of... (1) the meaning and importance of a free and responsible press; (2) the role of electronic, broadcast, print media, and the Internet as means of communication in American politics; (3) how public officials use the media to communicate with the citizenry and to shape public opinion

12.9 Students analyze the origins, characteristics, and development of different political systems across time, with emphasis on the quest for political democracy, its advances and obstacles, in terms of:... (1) how the different philosophies and structures of feudalism, mercantilism, socialism, fascism, communism, monarchies, parliamentary systems, and constitutional liberal democracies influence economic policies, social welfare policies and human rights practices.