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November 1, 2017

Using media literacy with students to discuss New York City terror attack

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This video summary has been updated with new information as of  Nov. 1, 2017 :
  1. Eight people died and more than a dozen were injured after a rented pickup truck plowed into a busy bicycle path near the World Trade Center Memorial in Manhattan on Tuesday. Five of the victims were old friends from Argentina who were reuniting in New York City for their 30-year high school anniversary. It was the deadliest terror attack in New York City since 9/11.
  2. The suspect, 29-year old Sayfullo Saipov, is from the Central Asian country of Uzbekistan, and came to the U.S. legally in 2010. He is a legal permanent resident of the U.S. Saipov was taken into custody after sustaining a gun shot wound by a New York City police officer.
  3. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday morning that Saipov was “radicalized domestically” after he arrived in the U.S. Officials said Saipov was influenced by the Islamic State but that it appears as though he acted as a ‘lone wolf.’
  4. A note was found near the truck stating the attack was done in the name of ISIS, Cuomo said, and that the incident is a “classic case of a radicalization of a domestic jihadist who associated with ISIS.”*
  5. Mayor de Blasio said “New Yorkers need to be New Yorkers,” referencing the popular New York City Halloween parade which went on later Tuesday night as scheduled.
  6. *Media literacy: See this BBC explainer that describes the difference between the terms jihadists and Islamists to learn how Western media and lawmakers use the term “jihadist” versus how many Muslims use it. You may also want to check out this Washington Post article on the subject and this PBS NewsHour piece on why President Obama did not use the term radical Islam or radical Islamists.
Discussion questions:
  1. Essential questionWhy is terrorism difficult to combat?
  2. Why is it important for law enforcement officials and members of the public to work together to defeat terrorism, including groups like ISIS?
  3. What are the different challenges involved detecting lone actors or lone wolfs like Sayfullo Saipov and terror cell networks like al-Qaeda that attacked the U.S. on 9/11?
  4. The government has prevented many attacks through intelligence efforts. What do you know about these anti-terrorism efforts? How could you find out if you are not sure?
  5. Do you agree with Mayor de Blasio’s statement about “New Yorkers need to be New Yorkers” with regards to not being deterred from carrying out their normal everyday lives?
  6. Media literacy questions:
    • Why is it important to understand key terms like radicalization, violent extremism, Islamists and jihadists when discussing efforts to thwart terrorism? Why might using these terms incorrectly make efforts more difficult?
    • It is well established by intelligence officials that there is no single profile for a domestic or foreign terrorist. Therefore, why is it important to think critically when discussing current events that involve terrorism and not paint a whole group of people with a broad brush?
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