Terrorism is defines as the premeditated application of methods or tactics to combat. According to the FBI, terrorism is the unlawful application of violence against people or property with the aim of coercing, influencing or intimidating a government or a specific group or even the general population all geared to furthering one’s political or social ideologies. There are two major types of terrorism namely the domestic terrorism which is perpetrated by citizens of the attacked countries and international terrorism which is said to occur when the foreign terrorists establish a base and attack another country rather their own. This paper focuses on the 911 attack and explains or rather offers an analysis of who committed the attack and their objectives as well as how it was executed.
The September 11 Tuesday morning appeared a normal day to most Americans who had no idea of what awaited them and the need for caution or worry was quite irrelevant. However, the events that would take place between 7 and 10 am on that day shook the entire world as how a super power would fail to protect her citizens from a serious terror attack remained a puzzle to many. (Langley A, 2006). Terrorists from the international terror gang, al Qaeda had breached the security systems in four airports and successfully hijacked four airplanes which were to be crashed in major American symbols. The war at hand was not of military power but was a total rejection of the American ideologies and aimed at invoking fear in the citizens. The attack led to the loss of lives of approximately three thousand people as well as a massive destruction of property.
In Boston, the terrorists had successfully passed the computer assisted passenger prescreening system and boarded two planes (American flight 11 and United flight 175) bound for Los Angeles between 7.23 and 7.40 am. In Washington, other terrorists successfully passed the screening process and boarded the American flight 77 also bound for Los Angeles. Other terrorists passed similar screening processes at Newark to board the United Airline flight 93 which was also bound for San Francisco. In total 19 terrorists had successfully boarded four intercontinental planes which they were to use in perpetrating their heinous acts. (The 9-11 Commission Report, 2007). Minutes after take off the terrorists murdered the pilots and anyone who posed a threat to their objectives. Soon they accessed the cockpits and controlled the planes towards attaining their goals. The terrorists used mace and knives as well as the threat of a bomb to scare the passengers and make them comply with their demands. (The 9-11 Commission Report, 2007). The fact that the knives had not been detected in the screening processes was a clear indication of how faulty the screening procedures in American airplanes were. The hijackers in the American 11 flew it erratically and crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York at around 8.46 am. All the people on board and scores of others in the tower were killed instantly. Barely 17 minutes later, the United 175 crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center also killing all on board as well as others in the tower. After about half an hour the American 77 crashed into the pentagon killing all on board as well as several civilians and military personnel who were in the building. The United 93 had been expected to take off at around 8 but had some delays. The news of the multiple hijacks began to spread at around 8.50 and there was much confusion as no party was prepared for such a serious attack. (The 9-11 Commission Report, 2007).
By all standards this was unimaginable as it had never occurred on the American soil. There were communication problems or delays from all corners of power or leadership ranging from the FAA and NORAD, the military as well as the White house. The United 93 did not succeed in crashing into the Capitol or the White House as the informed passengers assaulted the terrorists. (The 9-11 Commission Report, 2007).
The causes for the 911 attack vary depending on the side of coin tossed. This is to say that the objectives raised by the Americans as the attacked party or the victim are varied from those adopted by the terrorists or the perpetrators of the attack. According to
Andrew in his distinguished book, “September 11: Attack on America” there has been strained relationships between the US and the Middle East countries for many years. Religious differences among the Christians, Muslims and Judaism were also to blame for the immense hatred that could lay grounds for terrorism. (Langley A, 2006). The teachings of Sayyid Qutb had played a significant role in cementing Islamic fundamentalism in the Arab world. Qutb who had traveled to the US disliked the way of life where Americans embraced secularism. Despite their frequent attendance to churches the Americans showed no commitment for religion something that Qutb dreaded happening in the Muslim world. He perceived the western culture as immoral and corrupt and sought for collaborative efforts to prevent such occurrences in the Arab world. Jihads or holy wars were adopted to ensure that ‘the tyranny of non believers” was over powered. (Langley A, 2006). These wars began in 1967 against Israel and the Arab states. . The al Qaeda has its roots in the soviet Afghanistan war. The need to show that the Arab countries also had power especially ‘the economic power’ from their rich oil resources also emerged. The economic power increased the Muslim’s confidence and support for traditional Islamic ideals and values. Islam extremists conceive that jihads will persist until Islam ruled. (Langley A, 2006). From this perspective, one can comfortably deduce that the need to attain power had a role to play in steering the 911 attack.
According to the American government, the 911 attacks were as a result of dictatorship and political alienation. Most Islamic nations have failed to embrace democracy and this leads to their adoption of violence as a means to air their views. (National Strategy for combating terrorism. 2006). The autocratic governments and the high levels of inequality make the young Muslims prone to exploitation by those who perceive violence as a solution to their problems. The Americans reject poverty as a factor triggering terrorism citing the fact that the top leadership of the al Qaeda movement were from well up families for instance Osama bin Laden. Terrorists associate past incidences to explain current issues. The use of misinformation and propaganda or conspiracy theories is applied to lure people to support them and their viewpoints. The US also rejects the argument that terrorism by the al Qaeda can be associated with US policy in Iraq as investigations proved that plans for the attacks started long before the US made a stand on Iraq. The attacks were also perceived to be beyond the Israeli Palestine issues. (National Strategy for combating terrorism. 2006).
To the terrorists, the attacks were a way of communicating their dissatisfaction towards the west ideologies. They argued that they were discontented with the US exploitation and dominance in the Arab countries especially on its control in the production of fuel which was their source of economic power.
The effects of the 911 were both psychological but also economical. The attack successfully created fear across the globe and it was clear that ‘enemy’ was capable of doing the unimaginable. It was a wake up call to relevant parties or authorities in the US to prevent such an occurrence. It was clear that more needed to be done if the US was to handle emergencies amicably in future. Immediately after the attacks many businesses were paralyzed as flights were cancelled. This is in additional to the destruction of property especially on the attacked buildings. The fear of attack was also a disincentive to investors eying the US as a viable country to invest in worsening the economic effects of the attack. Those who lost their loved ones in the attack as well as those who witnessed the attack suffered psychological and some experienced mental problems. There are also fears that the debris as well as contaminated gases emitted in the attacks posed a health risk to the Americans. (Michaels W, 2002). There was the establishment of the 911 commission to investigate the actual details of the attack before appropriate measures could be adopted. (The 9-11 Commission Report, 2007). Since then, more surveillance has been incorporated in the major cites which tend to be attractive to terrorists. The immigration policies also became stricter and the screening procedures in the airports were also tightened. Other approaches adopted by the US to curb such an occurrence were the creation of a specified department to handle related matters, the introduction of the US Patriotic Act as well as the carnival program.
Langley A. (2006). September 11: Attack on America. Compass Point Books,
William M. (2002). No Greater Threat: America After September 11 and the Rise of
a National Security. Algora Publishing.
National Strategy for combating terrorism. 2006.
The 9-11 Commission Report, 2007