About the Exhibit

Most Americans remember the moment they learned that terrorists had attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, and regard that day’s events as a turning point that forever changed their sense of security. The reality is, American civilians have endured hundreds of incidents of violence or subversion by domestic terrorists and foreign agents, militant radicals and saboteurs, traitors and spies.

“The Enemy Within: Terror in America – 1776 to Today,” a creation of the International Spy Museum, offers an unprecedented perspective on terrorism in American history. The exhibit presents the events and times when Americans were threatened within their own borders and explores the questions: How do we identify who is the enemy? And how do we keep the country safe without compromising the civil liberties upon which it was founded?

The topics examined include:

  • Revolution: City of Washington Captured and the White House Burned (Aug. 24, 1814)
  • Sabotage: Explosion of Munitions Depot in New York Harbor (July 30, 1916)
  • Hate: Ku Klux Klan March on Pennsylvania Avenue (Aug. 8, 1925)
  • Radicalism: Bombing of the Home of U.S. Attorney General Mitchell Palmer (June 2, 1919)
  • World War: Hostage-Taking after Pearl Harbor Attack (Dec. 7, 1941)
  • Subversion: Reorganization of Communist Party in U.S. at Kremlin Urging (April, 1945)
  • Protest: Vietnam anti-war groups undertake violence to challenge government authority and policies (1970s)
  • Extremism: Bombing of Oklahoma City Federal Building (April 19, 1995)
  • Terrorism: Beyond September 11th - Terrorism Today

Visitors will be able to experience these events through historic photographs, themed environments, interactive displays, films, video and artifacts – including fragments of one the planes used to attack the World Trade Center in 2001. Other exhibit elements include a timeline that traces more than 170 acts of terror on American soil since 1776, replica artillery shells and bombs, a Ku Klux Klan robe, FBI files on suspected communist Lucille Ball, an interview with a member of the 1960s radical group the Weather Underground and “Under Siege,” an eight-minute film featuring exclusive interviews with leading experts in terrorism and security that delves into national security in the aftermath of 9/11. A map locating active hate groups in the United States is included in the exhibit and in these press materials.

In addition, throughout the exhibit, polling stations allow visitors to express their opinion about questions such as “How do you balance civil liberties and national security?” Visitors can also see how Americans have answered similar questions posed by the Gallup Poll at other times in history. This exhibit is most appropriate for children ages 12 and up.