War on Terror

Lesson 1

In this lesson students will learn about the beginning of the US War on Terror and the 9/11 attacks. The War on Terror is an example of US imperialism in the Middle East. The conflict included both the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The War on Terror brought attention to the interrogation tactics used by the military. One of the legacies of that war is the scandal that broke out over prisoners being tortured in Abu Ghraib (Iraq) and Guantanamo Bay (Cuba).


A Timeline of the U.S.-Led War on Terror



Trigger Warning: Torture

Below are two oral histories from the Brooklyn Historical Society’s Muslims in Brooklyn oral history project. Choose one oral history to listen to.

Listen from minute 35:00-59:00 (hate crimes, deportations, surveillance)

Razvi, Mohammad, Oral history interview conducted by Liz H. Strong, March 21, 2018, Muslims in Brooklyn oral histories, 2018.006.10; Brooklyn Historical Society. 

Listen from minute 27:00-59:00 (suing the NYPD)

Dandia, Asad, Oral history interview conducted by Liz H. Strong, February 16, 2018, Muslims in Brooklyn oral histories, 2018.006.05; Brooklyn Historical Society.


Discussion Questions:

  1. What did the War on Terror accomplish? 
  2. How was the war influenced by racism and islamophobia? 
  3. What do you think should happen to people that were tortured by the United States? Should they get some type of compensation? 
  4. The military personnel who carried out the torture in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and other places are often described as “bad apples.” We hear that type of language also used to describe police officers who brutalize and murder marginalized people. Do you think there are any similarities to the actions carried out in Abu Ghraib and police officers here in the United States? How are the tactics (and equipment) used by the military also used by the police?
  5. What was the impact of NYPD surveillance on Muslim communities?
  6. Why did the NYPD and the FBI continue to spy on Muslims even though their efforts turned up no terrorists?
  7. Do you think ending the War on Terror would make Americans safer at home?
  8. How have these surveillance tactics and strategies been used against protestors over the past year? How are they used against other communities?