Fotografía de Irfan Saeed con ilustraciones decorativas azules en el fondo|gráfico de Irfan Saeed, Director de la Oficina para Combatir el Extremismo Violento (Countering Violent Extremism, CVE) y un gráfico de vigilancia

What Is Counterterrorism?

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Preventing terrorism in the United States and across the world is a key objective for the U.S. Department of State. Counterterrorism and countering violent extremism are practices that governments and organizations take to stop terrorism or to stop people from becoming terrorists. The State Department and its employees work on these complex topics and solutions to ensure global security.

In this video, Irfan Saeed introduces how terrorism and violent extremism are addressed at the State Department.

Discussion Questions

Use the following discussion questions to guide your classroom conversations about this video. Refer to the timestamps to find the answers to these questions.

  1. What is counterterrorism and countering violent extremism? What is the difference between them? (0:30 – 0:55)
  2. How are diplomacy and “engagement” related to each other? (1:40 – 2:20)
  3. What is meant by “working with interagency partners,” and how does it work? (2:35 – 3:30)
  4. In what ways do the internet and social media pose challenges for counterterrorism? (3:40 – 4:45)
  5. In what ways is counterterrorism a long-term goal? (4:50 – 5:25)
  6. Explain your thinking about this quote from the video, ”We cannot arrest or kill our way out of this problem. We need to be sure we are preventing terrorism.” (0:07 – 0:15)
  7. Identify some current ways that the United States does counterterrorism work.
  8. What is one thing you learned from the video that you found interesting, surprising, or confusing?
  9. Summarize what you learned about counterterrorism.
  10. What is one question you want to ask the speaker in this video?

Video Vocabulary

The following terms are referenced in this video.

  • Counterterrorism – Strategies and approaches to stop terrorism.
  • Extremism – Holding extreme political, social, economic, or religious views.
  • Radicalized – The process by which an individual or a group comes to adopt increasingly extreme views in opposition to political, social, economic, or religious norms.
  • Fundamental – Basic and important for action.
  • “Two-way street” – A phrase that suggests that relationships involve two or more parties and must be mutually beneficial.
  • Multilateral – Involving more than two nations (which would be bilateral). International organizations, such as the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, are multilateral in nature.
  • Interagency – Cooperation between agencies such as the State Department and Department of Justice.
  • Prevention – To stop from happening or existing.
  • Prolific – Very active or productive.
  • Unfettered – Not controlled or restricted.

AP and IB Course Connections

Use this video in your Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes. Below are prompts for each course.

AP Comparative Government

Suggested Course Units: Unit 1: Political Systems, Regimes, and Governments; Unit 2: Political Institutions; Unit 5: Political and Economic Changes and Development

Question Type: Conceptual Analysis

Prompt: Answer a, b, c, and d.
(A) Define counterterrorism and its role in addressing violent extremism.
(B) Describe a situation when a democratic or authoritarian government used
counterterrorism practices to promote its interests.
(C) Explain two ways governments enact counterterrorism measures.
(D) Explain how counterterrorism practices might bring unwanted outcomes.

IB Global Politics

Paper Type: Stimulus-based paper on a topic from one of the four core units.

Prompt: “We cannot arrest or kill our way out of this problem. We need to be sure we are preventing terrorism.” Discuss this claim using the video and your own knowledge.