An international studies class at Iowa State University was assigned to write a “historical account” of the 9/11 terrorist attacks from Al-Qaeda’s point of view.

The assignment according to 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. …”

The class’s syllabus states that the course’s goals are to educate students about globalization and “to develop a basic understanding of broad contemporary themes of the world. Among these are issues involving the environment, economies, technology, communication, socio-cultural change and conflict.”

The class is taught by James Stohman, who has taught several political science and public administration classes at the university. The lecturer is a Democrat, former member of the Story Counter Board of Supervisors, and current member of the Iowa Employment Appeal Board.

While Stohman did not respond to the College Fix for comment, Rob Schweers, Iowa State’s director of communications, did reach out.

Schweers told the College Fix that “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.”

He said the assignment is aimed to strengthen critical-thinking skills while 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, “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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