A WebQuest on Telling the Difference

by Tom March

Introduction · Question · Background Info · Individual Roles · Group Process
Rubric · Conclusion · Teacher's Guide


Introduction

Many people have said that the world changed on September 11, 2001. Undoubtedly it did for many people and in many ways. Since then, the US and its Coalition of the willing have entered into a War on Terror. Deciding the merits of this war or those who struck the US on 9/11 is a larger topic than this WebQuest can tackle. However, we can increase our understanding by looking more closely at what we think about terrorism. To start with, we can view two videos that capture two sides of the Arab view:


Islam Remembers September 11


Growing Up Muslim in post 9/11 America


These powerful videos capture the feelings of many Muslims around the world.

Okay, so what's the point here? In an atmosphere where almost any group can be blamed as terrorist, it's important to move beyond sound bites and look more closely at real examples of what are considered Terrorist acts. Why should you bother? Without a doubt you will be paying for the current War on Terror and you may even be called upon to fight in it. So let's get clearer on what we're talking about...



The Question

The main question you will be asked to find an answer for is:

Question: What is terrorism? Is there such a thing as a 'just cause?'

Task: As a team you will survey a collection of definitions, then apply what you have learned to individual examples (or Cases) of terrorism. Finally, through a group process, you will evaluate this range of real life cases to decide what terrorism is exactly and if it is ever justified and if so, under what conditions. At the end of the activity, you may be asked to explain your own personal understanding through an Insight Reflector on the topic. Don't forget to review the Evaluation Rubric for this WebQuest.



Background Information

Before becoming an expert on one example of a 'Terrorist' act, let's learn how some experts define it. Use the links below to choose or create a definition of 'Terrorism' that everyone on your team agrees with. Then move onto your individual roles.
Important points to make sure you consider in the definition you choose or create are:

  1. Does it matter if the victims are soldiers or civilians?
  2. Does it matter if the act happen on military or public areas?
  3. Does it matter if it happens during war or peacetime?
  4. Does it matter if the act is performed for a good cause?
  5. How do you define a good cause?
  6. Does it matter if those responsible for the attacks are oppressed and are prevented from enjoying their basic human rights?
  7. Can governments perform acts of terror or only non-government groups?
  8. Does the threat of attack qualify as 'terrorism' or must the attack actually take place?
  9. What are the differences between acts of war and acts of terrorism?

Make sure your definition can address these questions. The links below offer many ideas and perspectives, many which agree in some areas and disagree in others.

Click to download a Definition Worksheet (Word .doc).

Towards a Definition of Terrorism
Ayatullah Shaykh Muhammad 'Ali Taskhiri - Vol V No. 1 (Muharram 1408 AH/1987 CE)

Document: Terrorism: No Prohibition Without Definition
Suggests a clearly delineated definition

The definition of terrorism - from the Guardian Unlimited
Raises many questions about the US state department's definition

Definition of Terrorism - from About.com
Very brief definition offered by one individual

FREEDOM FIGHTER: Dictionary Entry and Meaning - from hyperdictionary
Dictionary definition

TERRORISTS AND FREEDOM FIGHTERS - from the CBC News
Provides a comprehensive overview of the implications and the media's use of the word.

CIA: Statements on Terrorism & Usama bin Laden
Provides a timeline of US



Individual Roles

Now that you have come to a common understanding of what 'terrorism' is, it's time to look at specific examples and apply the definition to the real world. Because the main question for this WebQuest is very complex, it's a good idea to have a few people working on it at one time. Team members will now become experts on different cases / examples of 'terrorism.' With your teacher's help, decide how many people will work together in groups (from 6 +) and whether each case should have one or more students working on it within each group. It's best if students can choose their own cases, but it's actually most appropriate if the groups are thrown together, not necessarily made up of best friends (this gets you involved in problem-solving complex decisions with people you may not have chosen to work with - a lot like what happens in real world relations).

Click to download an Individual Case Worksheet (Word .doc).


Nelson Mandela & the ANC

Use the links below to learn more about your role. Specifically, answer the following questions:

1) What is apartheid?
2) What is the ANC?
3) What was Nelson Mandela's role in the Umkhonto we Sizwe?
4) How was the Umkhonto we Sizwe wing different from the general ANC?
5) What special award did Mandela receive in 1993?
6) What historic event took place in South Africa in 1994?

Common Questions: Focus on the Koeberg Nuclear power plant attack and Umkhonto we Sizwe
1) Who was the group?
2) Where were they from?
3) What was their motivation? (cause?)
4) What did they do? (the Act?)
5) What happened immediately? (the result of the Act?) (# of deaths or casualties or type of damage)
6) What, if any, were the long-term outcomes of the Act?
7) Did the end justify the means? (did the outcome make the act okay?)
8) Do you believe this was an act of terrorism or a fight for freedom?

The Nobel Prize page for Nelson Mandela

Manifesto of Umkhonto we Sizwe

Umkhonto we Sizwe: We are at War! (December 16, 1961)

MOBILISE OUR BLACK POWER - Statement by O R Tambo

Umkhonto we Sizwe Logo

Umkhonto we Sizwe - from NationMaster

Nelson Mandela - Nobel Lecture


The Oklahoma Bombing

Use the links below to learn more about your role. Specifically, answer the following questions:

1) Where was McVeigh in 1991?
2) What was inside the rental trucked parked outside the Murrah Building?
3) How did McVeigh support himself before the bombing?
4) What were Ruby Ridge and Waco and what impact did they have on McVeigh?
5) What happened to McVeigh in June, 2001?

Common Questions: Focus on the actual bombing of the Murrah Building
1) Who was the group?
2) Where were they from?
3) What was their motivation? (cause?)
4) What did they do? (the Act?)
5) What happened immediately? (the result of the Act?) (# of deaths or casualties or type of damage)
6) What, if any, were the long-term outcomes of the Act?
7) Did the end justify the means? (did the outcome make the act okay?)
8) Do you believe this was an act of terrorism or a fight for freedom?

History Channel: Oklahoma City Bombing

What happened at Waco?

Timothy McVeigh Timeline - from CNN / People Magazine

Oklahoma City Bombing Remembered - by Time Magazine

Silence, reminiscences mark 10th anniversary of Oklahoma City bombing

Imitating Turner - from Crime TV's Crime Library


The Black Panthers

Use the links below to learn more about your role. Specifically, answer the following questions:

1) What were some of the most important of the 10 Points in the Panther's program?
2) What were the reasons for the arrests of Black Panthers in 1967?
3) Are the Black Panthers and Nat Turner's rebellions mostly similar or different? In what important ways?
4) By the end of 1969, how many children every day were fed through the efforts of the Black Panthers?
5) What happened to Fred Hampton in 1969? How many shots were fired and by whom?
6) What is the source for most of the references used by the KKK to argue for raciqal separation?
7) How did the Black Panthers' see Democracy in America? Do you think this is reasonable and logical? Explain.

Common Questions: Focus on the armed demonstration at the California state capital.
1) Who was the group?
2) Where were they from?
3) What was their motivation? (cause?)
4) What did they do? (the Act?)
5) What happened immediately? (the result of the Act?) (# of deaths or casualties or type of damage)
6) What, if any, were the long-term outcomes of the Act?
7) Did the end justify the means? (did the outcome make the act okay?)
8) Do you believe this was an act of terrorism or a fight for freedom?

The Black Panther: Guerrilla War in the US

Nat Turner's Rebellion - from PBS's Africans in America

Racial Equality - from the White Camelia Knights (KKK)

Fred Hampton

from the Vision of the Black Panthers


Eco-Terrorism

Use the links below to learn more about your role. Specifically, answer the following questions:

1) What are some of the typical targets of Eco-saboteurs?
2) What book of fiction inspired the rise of eco-terrorism?
3) How do activities by 'elves' of the ELF relate to policies being considered by the Bush administration?
4) Why is it suggested that 'ecoterrorism' needs redefinition?
5) Give three examples of how nonviolent civil disobedience has been used for positive ends at times in U.S. history.
6) Give three reasons why some people see SUVs as the main reason for the environmental crisis.

Common Questions: Focus on the acts committed by Adam Virden Blackwell, Aaron Labe Linas, and John Burton Wade.
1) Who was the group?
2) Where were they from?
3) What was their motivation? (cause?)
4) What did they do? (the Act?)
5) What happened immediately? (the result of the Act?) (# of deaths or casualties or type of damage)
6) What, if any, were the long-term outcomes of the Act?
7) Did the end justify the means? (did the outcome make the act okay?)
8) Do you believe this was an act of terrorism or a fight for freedom?

How Eco-terrorism works - from How Stuff Works

Extreme environmentalists target vehicles, buildings

Blue Planet: Ecoterrorism redefined

ONE MAN'S ECOTERRORIST IS ANOTHER'S SMOKEY BEAR

Timeline of Earth Liberation Front actions


Islamic Fundamentalism

Use the links below to learn more about your role. Specifically, answer the following questions:

1) What are the three reasons given by Usamah Bin-Ladin for a Jihad against Jews and American Crusaders? (What is a Jihad?)
2) What religious ruling (fatwa) is ordered in this same document?
3) What was the stated aim of the attacks in Mombasa, Kenya?
4) How do the Muslim people of Mombasa feel about the Americas whose Navy vessels dock there?
5) In recent years, what percentage of U.S. aid to Israel has gone to the Israeli military? How much does this amount to each year?

Common Questions: Focus on the attacks in Kenya.
1) Who was the group?
2) Where were they from?
3) What was their motivation? (cause?)
4) What did they do? (the Act?)
5) What happened immediately? (the result of the Act?) (# of deaths or casualties or type of damage)
6) What, if any, were the long-term outcomes of the Act?
7) Did the end justify the means? (did the outcome make the act okay?)
8) Do you believe this was an act of terrorism or a fight for freedom?

Modern strife in the Holy Land - Two Peoples, One Land, from the Seattle Times

Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders

'Al-Qaeda' claims Kenya attacks

The Costs of Terrorism - Sleepless Nights in Kenya


The State of Israel

Use the links below to learn more about your role. Specifically, answer the following questions:

1) What were the goals of the 'Committee X?'
2) What did Mike Harari want those involved in the Munich Massacre to feel?
3) Survey the list of Hamas terrorist attacks and describe what happened.
4) How many separate terrorist attacks does Israeli Foreign Minister Shalom say occured in the past 3 and a half years?
5) What happened the day after Israel declared independence? What countries were involved?

Common Questions: Focus on the response to the 1972 Munich Olympic Massacre
1) Who was the group?
2) Where were they from?
3) What was their motivation? (cause?)
4) What did they do? (the Act?)
5) What happened immediately? (the result of the Act?) (# of deaths or casualties or type of damage)
6) What, if any, were the long-term outcomes of the Act?
7) Did the end justify the means? (did the outcome make the act okay?)
8) Do you believe this was an act of terrorism or a fight for freedom?

Wrath of God: The Israeli Response to the 1972 Munich Olympic Massacre

Hamas Terrorist Attacks

Modern strife in the Holy Land - Two Peoples, One Land, from the Seattle Times

Saving Lives - Israel's Security Fence




Group Synthesis

At the beginning of this WebQuest, you were asked the Question: What is terrorism? The answer isn't so simple, is it? As writer John Feffer says in Who's A Terrorist?)

The term 'terrorist' is controversial, as is the list of terrorist organizations that the State Department updates regularly. The ANC in South Africa, Likud in Israel, Sinn Fein in Ireland: these groups have all grown out of movements that were and sometimes still are called terrorist. The U.S. government has in the past supported groups that could easily be labeled terrorist, from the Contras in Nicaragua to RENAMO in Mozambique.'
Here a few Web pages that make this point:

Task: You learned so much by choosing / creating your own working definition of terrorism and then looking carefully at one example / case. Now, through a group process, you will distinguish between these cases in an effort to decide whether terrorism is justified and if so, under what conditions. You are not responsible for deciding whether each of these causes is right or wrong - but specifically if an example act is more about terrorism or freedom (this is hard enough!)

In an effort to be fair to all groups and beliefs - to limit personal bias as much as possible - we're going to make this last group process a little more challenging. Let's look at an act committed by the US in its War on Terror and decide whether the answers you find change your thinking. Maybe, maybe not. It's always you who gets to decide what you think.

The US War on Terror
1) What are three current top stories presented by the US Department of Defense, Al-Jazerra, and a random sample from Google News? Read through the same topic from each of the three sites and decide whether the sources present different views in their coverage.
2) What prompted the seige in Falluja? How does this relate to Sadam Hussein or weapons of mass destruction? Does this matter?
3) Does it matter that the attack on Falluja took place long after President Bush declared the war in Iraq over?
4) Several different tallies have been given for the number of civilians killed in Falluja. State two of them. How does the lowest number compare to the number of civilians killed in the Bali nightclub bombings or the Madrid train bombing?
5) What do all the people on the FBI's Most Wanted list have in common?

Common Questions: Focus on the attacks in Falluja.
1) Who was the group?
2) Where were they from?
3) What was their motivation? (cause?)
4) What did they do? (the Act?)
5) What happened immediately? (the result of the Act?) (# of deaths or casualties or type of damage)
6) What, if any, were the long-term outcomes of the Act?
7) Did the end justify the means? (did the outcome make the act okay?)
8) Do you believe this was an act of terrorism or a fight for freedom?

Links on the US War on Terrorism
Department of Homeland Security - Preventing Terrorism
The FBI's Terrorism sites
'War on Terror' - drawn from Google News
Al-Jazeera - Arab media source
As fighting flares in Baghdad, reporter readies for 'Fire Week' from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Why the Killings in Fallujah Resonate with Americans from Time magazine columnist Tony Karon
Americans Slaughtering Civilians in Falluja - from ElectronicIraq.net
US loses control of two cities - from the Guardian Unlimited (UK)
Bush and Blair have lit a fire which could consume them - comment in The Guardian Unlimited (UK)
The Most Wanted Terrorists - from the US FBI

Some people call this kind of thing terrorism, would you? Where do you stand?
terror

freedom


Redefining Terrorism
Your team might find it helpful to read through the following articles to help if the last exercise or group discussions bring your team to revise its definition of terrorism.


Now that you have had a chance to work together on analyzing the US battle in Falluja, let's move on to the heart of the Group Process. With your team members gathered together, carefully read and try answering the main question for this WebQuest. See where you all agree and where differences arise. Use this helpful Group Worksheet to move through the process of analyzing each of the Cases individually and then in comparison. In short, you will use the downloadable Grid worksheet and the graphic below to 'Place' each example your team studied somewhere along the continuum. Your group must use a consensus decision making process (like: http://www.npd-solutions.com/consensus.html). Later you will be able to state your own personal decision, but this group task is an exercise in seeing how it feels to reach an agreement that may not be totally to your liking.

Your WebQuest team should complete the Group Worksheet. You must order the cases listed below at unique places along the continuum. They do not have to be spaced evenly (all could be on one end of the scale or the other), but they can't 'stack up' on the same place. It will be tough - and somewhat artificial - but the task should sharpen your thinking and arguments.

Cases

continuum

On the Worksheet you will be able to Drag the icons below onto the spot along the continuum that you decide on. The icons for the cases are not listed in any particular order below.

ANC Oklahoma Panthers eco-terrorism Islam Israel US
Nelson Mandela & the ANC · The Oklahoma Bombing · The Black Panthers
Eco-Terrorism · Islamic Fundamentalism · The State of Israel · US War on Terror


Directions: Use the space below to explain why you placed the icons in the order and location you did. Start with the Case that your team felt was the most wrong or least right) and carry on until youíve reached #7 (the least wrong or most right). Use as much space as you need to explain completely. (The worksheet for the Group Process includes this list below as part of the editable document).

# 1 case: (name)
Reason for ranking:

# 2 case: (name)
Reason for ranking:

# 3 case: (name)
Reason for ranking:

# 4 case: (name)
Reason for ranking:

# 5 case: (name)
Reason for ranking:

# 6 case: (name)
Reason for ranking:

# 7 case: (name)
Reason for ranking:

Now it's time to finally address the big Question for this WebQuest:
What is terrorism?Is there such a thing as a 'just cause?'

You are now to answer this question individually so that your personal opinion can be expressed as you want. Itís suggested that you use the 1 ñ 7 ranking above and the graphic continuum to decide which if any of these acts were justified. In your essay you should consider what you analyzed in the Assessment Table at the beginning of the group handout. If you need help on writing a persuasive essay there are many online resources to help you. One good one is The Paradigm Online Writing Assistant, especially its Arguing for Consensus.

Putting the Learning to Work
What should you do once you have come such a long way? Don't you feel like doing something? Use what you have learned about fighting for causes (just and otherwise) and apply your understanding to Action. Reach out into the Real World by using one of the 198 ideas listed below, then contact your government representatives, local media, students in other parts of the world, and real people who care about this subject.

Oh, and about the Action you take, we'd like to suggest something nonviolent...

Real World Feedback:
        Try one of these 198 methods of Nonviolent Protest and Persuasion




Conclusion

You deserve a lot of praise for all the work you've done. And so does your brain. You've sure put the gray stuff to the test. You gained background information, developed expertise in one particular area and got into some pretty expert analysis. At times, you must have felt confused with ideas spinning every which way. That's normal when you're building new mental connections. How will you use these ideas and strategies as you continue to grow and learn? It's all up to you. Before leaving off, how about one more challenge?

Note: If you would like to pursue your thinking on how US actions in the War on Terror relate to your definition of terrorism, you can try this Insight Reflector.





Web and Flow, by ozline.com created by Tom March
email: tom@ozline.com
http://edge-ucator.com/members/tmarch/freedom2/webquest.htm