- Last Updated: 5:55 AM, October 29, 2012
- Posted: 1:15 AM, October 29, 2012
It’s Terrorism 101.
A New York University class on transnational terrorism is requiring students to “hypothetically plan a terrorist attack” — and shocked cops say the outrageous lesson plan is an insult to the officers killed on Sept. 11.
The controversial course, taught by former Navy criminal investigator Marie-Helen Maras, asks the pupils to “step into [a terrorist’s] shoes” and write a 10- to 15-page paper on their battle plan.
“Some of the most notorious terrorists, including Anwar al-Awlaki, got their start on American campuses. It looks like after the CIA killed al-Awlaki, NYU is helping to produce successors,” said an outraged law-enforcement expert on terrorism.
Awlaki was the al Qaeda propagandist who studied at Colorado State University and later mentored three 9/11 hijackers, Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan and “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Adbulmutallab.
He was blasted to hell in Yemen last year in a CIA drone strike.
For the assignment, Maras — who has a Ph.D. from Oxford and is also an associate professor at SUNY Farmingdale — instructs her pupils to consider all aspects of the attack.
“In your paper, you must describe your hypothetical attack and what will happen in the aftermath of the attack,” Maras wrote in the syllabus obtained by The Post.
They must factor in the methods of execution, sources of funding, number of operatives needed and the target government’s reaction, according to the paper’s outline.
At the same time, students must realistically stay within their chosen terror group’s “goals, capabilities, tactical profile, targeting pattern and operational area,” the syllabus states.
Given the detail required — and possibly concerned that the how-to terror manuals could land in the wrong hands — Maras warns that each page of a student’s paper must bear the disclaimer: “This is a hypothetical scenario for a university course on transnational terrorism.”
When told of the term paper, one ranking police officer who lost coworkers on 9/11 called it “the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”
The NYPD lost 23 cops on that dark day, and the Port Authority saw 37 cops vanish in the rubble.
“I’m disgusted,” said the source. “What is this, we have our students do the work for the terrorists?”
Another source worried that the assignment could become a primer in plotting attacks rather than counter-terrorism.
“This flies in the face of the 11 years of hard work the NYPD has done in tracking down terrorists to the far reaches of the globe to make sure they never strike again,” said the source.
Other terrorists who studied in the US include 9/11 architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad and most recently Quazi Ahsan Nafis, the Bangladeshi student accused of plotting to bomb the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The professor defended the course assignment.
“The exercise is meant to prepare students for the field, to prepare them for careers in intelligence, policing, counterterrorism. This is a grad-level assignment for a grad-level course,” Maras told The Post.
“Why didn’t the police call me if they have concerns? I have NYPD officers in my class,” she said.
The students are also supposed to imagine the counter-terrorism measures implemented in the attack’s aftermath, she added.
The class is being offered by NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies Center for Global Affairs.
The NYPD declined to comment.