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Students told to write 9/11 'historical account' from Al-Qaeda's point of view

Students in an Iowa State University international studies class were instructed to write an "historical account" of the 9/11 terrorist attacks from Al-Qaeda's point of view. The twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. (Robert Giroux/Getty Images)

Students in an Iowa State University international studies class were instructed to write an "historical account" of the 9/11 terrorist attacks from Al-Qaeda's point of view.

A copy of the assignment was obtained by  the College Fix:

Let’s focus on the 911 terrorist attacked [sic] and how it might be interpreted differently by different people around the world. For this exercise, you have to "get out of the box" of our thinking about what happened on 911 and view it from a completely different perspective. While this may seem difficult to do, it is merely an exercise in how different people, cultures, and historical perspectives may actually be.

Write a paper that gives a historical account of 911 from the perspective of the terrorist network. In other words, how might Al-Qaeda or a non-Western historian describe what happened. Use your imagination and make it as interesting as you like. There is no correct answer here, just your ability to look at what we consider a heinous action from other perspectives. Don’t worry about the fact you don’t agree with the terrorists, the point of the exercise is to consider completely different perspectives. ...

James Strohman, the course lecturer, didn't reply to the College Fix's request for comment about the assignment — but a university spokesman did.

Rob Schweers, Iowa State's director of communications, told the outlet "the assignment was in no way an attempt to diminish the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Nor was it designed to support the goals of Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations."

Instead, Shweers told the College Fix the assignment is only an exercise in strengthening critical-thinking skills and analyzing international events through a “different lens.”

“This is similar to the vital work being performed in our nation’s diplomatic and intelligence operations," he continued in an email to the outlet, "such as the Central Intelligence Agency, or the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research."

(H/T: The College Fix)

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