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Roots of Terrorism
teachers guide

Pre-Viewing Lesson Plans

Examining Primary Documents

  • A Note to Teachers

  • Pre-Viewing Lesson Plans
  • Examining Primary Documents
  • Reviewing Events

  • Post-Viewing Lesson Plans
  • Analyzing Information
  • Media Messages
  • Considering Sources

  • Internet Resources

    Student Assignment Sheets

    Glossary and Identifications

    The time required to complete this is two 50 - 60 minute class periods.

    Lesson Objectives:

    In this lesson students will:

    • Locate the areas that are visited by the FRONTLINE reporters.
    • Compile information on one of the countries covered in the documentary.
    • Examine the causes of potential bias in reporting the news.
    • Evaluate the reporters' ability to measure the strength of Al Qaeda.
    • Explain why Iraq has been selected as a potential target in the war on terrorism.

    Materials needed:

    1. Computers with Internet access
    2. Student assignment sheet to cover the questions for the group presentations
    3. A map of the Middle East


    1. Ask students to locate Middle Eastern countries, their capital cities and the areas visited by the reporters. They can use an interactive map developed by FRONTLINE for the "In Search of Al Qaeda" Web site.

    2. Divide the students into seven groups and give them the student assignment sheet. Six of these groups will research the countries and regions that are visited by the FRONTLINE reporters: Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Pakistan's tribal areas, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates and India. [Note: The documentary covers Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Pakistan's tribal areas and Yemen. The reporters' visits to the United Arab Emirates and India are described in the dispatches on the Web site for "In Search of Al Qaeda.". The seventh group will look at Iraq (see #4 below).]

    Research on each country should include:
    • government structure
    • economic development
    • dominant religions
    • human rights
    • political alliances
    • presence of Al Qaeda

    3. The first six groups will read the dispatches that are relevant to their country/region. They should use the FRONTLINE site at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/search/behind.

    4. The seventh group will look at U.S. concerns about Iraq. Although the reporters did not visit Iraq, President Bush has identified Iraq as a potential target in the war against terrorism. In a statement to the American public, he outlined his reasons for this stance. CNN reported on this development in the following excerpt:

    "Reaction from around the world Tuesday to President Bush's call for increased global pressure on Iraq over its weapons programs ranged from skepticism to support. Bush presented his case against Iraq to the American people in a televised address Monday night, calling Iraqi President Saddam Hussein a 'murderous tyrant' and a threat to the United States and other countries.

    "Bush also contended that some Al Qaeda leaders fled Afghanistan and went to Iraq and that a senior Al Qaeda leader associated with planning chemical and biological weapons attacks received medical treatment in Baghdad this year.

    "Saddam's possible ties to Al Qaeda have been hotly debated. Some of Bush's critics have suggested the president's focus on the Iraqi leader drains resources from the war on terrorism." (Oct. 2, 2002)

    In addition to the general research about Iraq, the seventh group should research the current situation in Iraq and answer the following questions:

    • Has a United Nations inspection of Iraqi weapons occurred?
    • Do current events seem to support President Bush's concerns?

    Method of Evaluation:

    1. Completion of the map activities.

    2. Map test to be given during a later class period.

    3. Each of the groups will make a short presentation that covers major points about their country prior to viewing the documentary.

    4. After viewing the documentary, six groups will analyze the effectiveness of the resources used by FRONTLINE.

    • What additional resources could have been used?
    • What factors hindered the reporters' ability to collect data?

    5. The seventh group will report on the current situation in Iraq and the United Nations investigation of Iraq's weapons.

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