One Man's Freedom Fighter is Another Man's Terrorist

You have just been handed a copy of a press release from the FBI. Included in this document is the bureau's latest summary of the threats to the United States national security. As advisors to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), it is your team's job to analyze all aspects on terrorism, both at home and abroad, and to provide concise summations in the form of threat assessments. You and your team must determine where and when the next wave of terror might strike and who the guilty parties might be. Most of what you do today and in the future will be known only to yourselves, but the impact of that work will last for generations by securing the safety of our country and its citizens. It is with great excitement that we await your report. The committee thanks you for your hard work and dedication.

The Task

You and your advisors are to determine the extent of the threat to the United States from terrorism, both domestically and internationally. In order to fully research and prepare a proper report, you need to answer these questions:

  1. Identify the groups most strongly linked to terrorism activities here in the U.S. and abroad.
  2. Be able to identify the goals and objectives of each group as a means of providing the committee with as much pertinent information as possible.
  3. Be able to explain why the U.S. has been the target of so much terrorism both domestically and internationally.
  4. Examine and explain the impact Nationalism has on spawning terrorist organizations.

The Process

In order to make the best use of your time, it is the committee's recommendation that you divide the research into two categories: International Terrorism, and Domestic Terrorism. Be sure to relate all research to the idea of threat assessment, basing your summations on what you perceive to be the major threats. Utilize your time in this way:

  1. Identify and list five terrorist groups.
  2. Determine the goals and objectives of each group as they relate to its activity (e.g: why they do what they do).
  3. Prepare your findings in both written and oral forms. Since the committee's time is limited, you and your team need to be prepared to speak before the SSCI and provide the necessary information so it can prepare policy.


The Terrorism Research Center

Hot Links Info on Terrorism


Learning Advice

Remember to stay focused on the task at hand. When doing your research on the Internet, it is important to authenticate your sources. As the title suggests, many terrorists are perceived as heroes for the work they do. Propaganda is often distributed as truth, when in reality it is a truth built on opinion, not fact. To ensure that your information is truth-based, a good idea would be to stay with sites related to the government of the United States or those similarly aligned.


You and your team will be evaluated on the quality and authenticity of your research. As you report on your findings, you will be assessed on recommendations and the skill in which you deliver them. To receive an "excellent" rating your report must clearly define the terrorist aspects of the group you studied and why you consider them threatening to the U.S. Your writing and oral presentation must be clearly written and persuasive.


Answer these questions as a supplementation to your evaluation.

  1. Does the threat of terrorism for the United States lie mostly within or outside our borders?
  2. Based on your research, do the groups you listed as terrorists have any legitimate arguments to support their activities and beliefs?
  3. Do you think the fact that you are a citizen of the United States shades the way you might perceive a terrorist's activities and beliefs?

Teacher Notes
Grade 10: Unresolved Problems-Terrorism
Grade 12: Executive Branch

Lesson Purpose:

To raise student's awareness of the facts and myths surrounding terrorism and the objectives and goals of those who by way of their activity are out to bring down the United States.


Language Arts Grade 10-12: Reading Comprehension Students read and understand grade level appropriate material. [Students] generate relevant questions about readings and synthesize the content and ideas from several sources dealing with a single issue. Listening and Speaking: Students formulate adroit judgment about oral communication. They deliver focused and coherent presentations of their own that convey clear and distinct perspectives and solid reasoning.

History-Social Science Grade 10: Students analyze instances of nationalism in the contemporary world and connect contemporary world events to their origins to their origins.

Information Literacy

Length of Lesson:

With the current climate surrounding both domestic and international terrorism, you could easily spend up to four weeks analyzing the different issues.

Materials Needed :

With terrorism being an ever evolving issue, it would be best to have the most current research available. Most will find adequate information on the Internet, but feel free to use newspapers, selected CD-ROM encyclopedias, (World Book 97/98) and other relevant sources to enhance students' opportunities at research success.

Interdisciplinary Connections:

In terms of this project, Language Arts and Social Science are intertwined. Some adaptations could be made for Mathematics in terms of graphing the escalation of terrorist attacks since WWII.

Adaptations for Special Needs Students

  1. Having students working closely in pairs will aid in getting work done. Try and distribute the work according to students' strengths and weaknesses.
  2. You could modify the lesson to include only domestic terrorism or only international terrorism if you feel the workload is too much.

David MacDonald
Fillmore Middle School
Fillmore USD