Students participate in true-to-life counterterrorism simulation

Apr 06, 2023 | Criminal Law Program

On April 7, the College of Law held a live simulation exercise as part of the “Global Perspectives on Counterterrorism” course. The event—which is the only one of its kind in the country—simulates fictional but true-to-life terrorist incidents and places students in key decision-making roles as they navigate terrorism scenarios in a high-pressure environment.

Students participating in the simulation were tasked with applying domestic and international law as they attempted to mitigate loss of life and the geopolitical consequences of domestic and international terrorist attacks. They addressed complex dilemmas as they decided on appropriate responses by U.S. military forces and political leadership. They were then required to justify their decisions before a panel of legal and political experts.

The annual simulation is directed by Amos Guiora, a professor, retired lieutenant colonel of the Israel Defense Forces Judge Advocate General Corps and an expert in terrorism and geopolitics.

“The subject matter of this unique simulation bears directly on matters of national security and foreign policy that command the public’s attention today,” said Guiora. “The invasion of Ukraine—along with recent ISIS-motivated attacks in Israel—remind us that we face a continued threat from domestic and international terrorism, as well as significant challenges posed by chemical and nuclear war, interstate conflict, economic consequences, and refugee crises.”

Four simulations took place throughout the day, with each simulation ending in a 45-minute debriefing before the expert panel. The debriefings allowed experts to challenge and critique the decisions made by students during each simulation—and presented students with an opportunity to defend their choices and build the confidence needed to respond to similar challenges in the real world after they graduate.

The counterterrorism simulation and Global Perspectives on Counterterrorism course are entirely unique: No other university or law program offers students the opportunity to apply classroom-based counterterrorism skills in an environment that simulates the pressures and real-time consequences of the student’s actions.