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CNN Classroom Edition: Special Investigations Unit: The War Within

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(CNN Student News) -- Set your VCR to record the CNN Special Investigations Unit Classroom Edition: The War Within when it airs commercial-free on Monday, April 16, 2007, from 4:00 -- 5:00 a.m. ET on CNN. (A short feature begins at 4:00 a.m. and precedes the program.)

Program Overview

CNN Special Investigations Unit Classroom Edition: The War Within, the first CNN Special Investigations Unit documentary, examines the troubling home-grown Muslim extremism in the United Kingdom. Reported by CNN's Christiane Amanpour, The War Within examines the cultural conflicts within Britain's Muslim communities and the alienation felt by many young Muslims living inside Western societies.

Warning to educators: Please preview this program as it contains content that might be inappropriate for some students.

Grade Level: 7 -- 12, College

Subject Areas: Current Issues, Global Issues, Civics, Government, Political Science, U.S. History


CNN Special Investigations Unit Classroom Edition: The War Within and its discussion questions and activity challenge students to:

  • Discuss the possible underlying reasons for home-grown Muslim extremism and terrorist activities in the United Kingdom;
  • Examine multiple perspectives in the debates over Islam in Great Britain;
  • Evaluate efforts to counter Islamic extremism and prevent future home-grown terrorist attacks in London and other Western societies.
  • Curriculum Connections

    World History

    Era 9: The 20th Century Since 1945: Promises and Paradoxes

    STANDARD 2: The search for community, stability, and peace in an interdependent world.

    Standard 2D: The student understands major sources of tension and conflict in the contemporary world and efforts that have been made to address them -- Students will analyze why terrorist movements have proliferated and the extent of their impact on politics and society in various countries.

    The National Standards for History ( link) are published by the National Center for History in the Schools ( link).

    Social Studies

    Standard V. Individuals, Groups and Institutions: Students will explore how institutions (e.g. schools, churches, families, government agencies) are formed, what controls and influences them, how they control and influence individuals and culture and how institutions can be maintained or changed.

    Standard VI. Power, Authority and Governance: Students will understand the historical development of structures of power, authority and governance and their evolving functions in contemporary U.S. society as well as other parts of the world.

    The Curriculum Standards for Social Studies ( link) are published by the National Council for Social Studies ( link).

    Discussion Questions

    1. How do you define terrorism? How have you come to that definition?

    2. What is your understanding of the meaning of "home-grown extremism"? How might the motives underlying home-grown terrorist acts compare with the motives of terrorist attacks committed by foreigners? How might a country's policies for addressing home-grown terrorist acts compare with its policies for thwarting external threats?

    3. What terrorist attacks occurred in London, England, on July 7, 2005? According to the CNN report, who was responsible for those attacks? Who do British intelligence officials believe is being encouraged to attack Londoners? How long does the head of Britain's MI-5 intelligence agency warn the terrorist threat will last in his country? According to the program, why have extremists been successful in recruiting new members from London's streets?

    4. Who are Anjem Choudray and Omar Brooks? In The War Within, what perspectives do Choudray and Brooks offer on Islam, democracy and the roles of women in Muslim society? What is your reaction to their comments? How do the moderate Muslims respond to Choudray, Brooks and other radicals during the debate at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland? How does Imam Usama Hassan counter those who use the Koran to justify a violent jihad in Britain?

    5. What options, if any, do you think that the British people, the British government or the international community have in addressing the threats posed by extremists like Choudray and Brooks? What role does the report suggest moderate Muslims might play in countering extremism? What challenges do you think that moderate Muslims might face in opposing Muslim extremists? What policy options, if any, do you think might be most effective for preventing future home-grown terrorist attacks?

    6. Who is Hanif Qadir? What does he say is the "new threat" that preys on kids who see no way out of their ethnic ghettos? What "cause" does this new threat provide to young British Muslims? What path does Qadir's youth center offer "disaffected and alienated" young Muslims?

    7. What efforts have Mohammed Ali, Aki Nawaz and Ayesha Hazarika made to ease the tensions within the young British Muslim community? What underlying tensions in the Muslim communities do these activists address? Do you think that the programs carried out by Ali, Nawaz and Hazarika can effectively prevent young British Muslims from participating in extremist activities? Explain.

    8. To what extent do the interviews with Rukkiya Ghani and Catherine Hossein shed light on the tensions experienced by Muslim women in London? What positions do you think that these Muslim women might take on the debates over Islam in Britain?

    9. How does architect Ali Mangera describe plans for a new "mega mosque" in London? What arguments supporting and opposing the construction of the mega mosque are presented in the program? CNN's Christiane Amanpour suggests that plans to build this mega mosque in London have become the "biggest symbol of the tug-of-war that's happening here over Islam." To what "tug-of-war" do you think Amanpour is referring? What do you think are the potential ramifications of the mosque being built or not?

    10. Why do you think that this program is titled The War Within? To what "war" do you think the title is referring? To what extent, if at all, do you think that the tensions underlying this war are religious, cultural, economic, social or political? Explain.

    11. Why does the program suggest that home-grown terrorist movements have proliferated in Western countries like Great Britain? What do you think has been, or could be, the impact of home-grown terrorist movements on the political, social, cultural or economic structures in those countries?

    12. What key questions do you think guided this CNN investigative report? If you had been the correspondent for this report, what questions would you have asked? What additional information, if any, would you have wanted to gather? What have you learned from this investigative report? What questions, if any, do you still have about Islamic extremism or the threat of home-grown terrorism in Western societies? What resources might you consult in your search for answers?

    Suggested Activity

    Preventing Terrorism

    Have students brainstorm a list of potential political, social, cultural, economic, religious or other programs or policies that could be developed by individuals, groups or governments to prevent home-grown terrorist attacks. For examples of programs, refer students to the people presented in the program, such as youth worker Hanif Qadir, singer Aki Nawaz, artist Mohammed Ali, comedian Ayesha Hazarika and U.S. Ambassador Robert Tuttle, all of whom developed programs to address the conflicts within Britain's Muslim communities. Challenge students to consider the benefits and drawbacks of each policy or program. Then, ask: Which options, if any, do you think might be most effective in thwarting home-grown attacks?


    Al-Qaeda, London, MI-5, Anjem Choudray, Islamic extremism, Mujahedeen, Sharia, Taliban, Koran, Mullah, Imam, ideology, Hanif Qadir, Omar Brooks, Pakistan, radicalism, niqab, Islamophobia, jihad



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