Let us look at the background of the 9/11 attacks on the US, which changed the course of the world regarding its battle against terrorism and militancy.
Crux of the Matter
What Happened On 9/11?
On 11 September, 2001, 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked 4 planes in the US for suicide attacks. 2 of the planes were crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City, 1 plane was crashed into the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C., while 1 plane was crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
3,000+ casualties were reported, while more than 6,000+ people were reported injured. All the 19 hijackers died in the attacks, which were planned by Osama bin Laden.
Background To The Incident
- 1979: Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan to support the latter’s Communist Government. The war was initiated against Mujahideen, which was radical Islamist group waging ‘jihad’ (holy war) against the Afghan Communists.
- The then US President Ronald Reagan backed Mujahideen against Communists. Reagan supported the group reportedly through ‘Operation Cyclone’, which provided funds and arms to Mujahideen.
- Incidentally, Osama bin Laden was one such supporter of Mujahideen who raised funds in their support. Bin Laden later developed anti-US stance and formed al Qaeda in 1988.
- Bin Laden facilitated several attacks on the US personnel prior to 9/11, including the 1993 attacks in Somalia, 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania etc. He also issued a ‘fatwa’ against the US for infiltrating into the Islamic world while supporting Israel in its conflict with Palestine and the Arab world.
- 2 May, 2011: Bin Laden was killed by the US troops in Pakistan.
Aftermath In US
The US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to eradicate al-Qaeda and the supporting Taliban group in a ‘War on Terror’. The then US President famously made the declaration –
Over time it’s going to be important for nations to know they will be held accountable for inactivity. You’re either with us or against us in the fight against terror.George Bush, Former President, USA
The US troops are still present in Afghanistan after almost 2 decades. The US also invaded Iraq under the same title in 2003 on suspicion of “weapons of mass destruction”, which were never found.
Airport security in the country became stricter, with several new measures employed for enhanced security. Anti-Muslim violence increased in the country, with an increase from 12 such assaults in 2000 increased to 93 in 2001. The ‘Patriot Act’ was passed in the country, which allowed security agencies to tap phones or search one’s home or internet history without notifying.
One of the most notable changes came in the form of the Guantánamo Bay Naval Station, located on the coast of Guantánamo Bay (Cuba), which was modified to hold prisoners suspected of terrorism against the US. Besides holding more than 700 detainees at its peak, the prison diminished legal rights for prisoners as the prison is outside US where the US Constitution is not applicable.
- Several countries remained on high alert after 9/11 attacks.
- UK and several EU nations joined the US in its ‘War on Terrorism’.
- The then British PM Tony Blair labelled the conflict a “clash about civilisation”, with the UK also aiding the US in its 2003 invasion of Iraq.
- Hostilities between European nations, the US, and the Middle East increased.
- Most of the Islamic nations like Syria, Libya, Egypt, etc condemned the attacks. Iraq was the only nation to justify the attacks, claiming that “the American cowboys are reaping the fruit of their crimes against humanity”.
- The 9/11 Memorial & Museum is a memorial in New York City commemorating the September 11, 2001 attacks. The memorial is located at the World Trade Center site, the former location of the Twin Towers that were destroyed during the September 11 attacks.
- Raising the Flag at Ground Zero is a photograph by Thomas E. Franklin of The Record, taken on September 11 2001. The picture shows three New York City firefighters raising the U.S. flag at Ground Zero of the World Trade Center, following the attacks.
- Ayman Mohammed Rabie al-Zawahiri is an Egyptian terrorist known for being the leader of terrorist group al-Qaeda since June 2011, succeeding Osama bin Laden following his death. Since the September 11 attacks, the U.S. State Department has offered a $25 million reward for information or intelligence leading to al-Zawahiri’s capture.
- History – 5 Ways September 11 Changed America
- CNN – ‘You are either with us or against us’
- Al Jazeera – 9/11: The world reacts
- Business Insider – What happened on 9/11, 15 years ago today
- KQED – How 9/11 Changed America: Four Major Lasting Impacts (with Lesson Plan)
- The Guardian – Blair sees Iraq as ‘clash about civilisation’