“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent” ‒ Isaac Asimov 

 It is rather amazing how a decade has passed so quickly!  The terror attacks that took place exactly 10 ten years ago on the eastern seaboard of America in which more than 3000 lives perished needlessly had us all lose faith in humanity albeit for a brief period of time.  The world that we live in now bore the marks of these senseless killings which most pundits now believe to be the handiwork of a few madmen of Middle Eastern origin.

The war in Afghanistan, which is raging now as of this writing, was spawned by the action of Osama bin Laden and his cohorts aided by the one-eyed monster by the name Mullah Omar who was groomed in Pakistan by equally infamous and rogue institution by the name Inter-Services Intelligence of ISI. The blueprint of the terror attacks through hijacking of commercial aircrafts of American companies was drawn in Kandahar, Afghanistan by none other than Osama bin Laden much earlier.  The al-Qaeda terror cells located in Germany and elsewhere in Europe did the execution of the plan in which 4 commercial aircrafts loaded with passengers were hijacked.  Two of those ill-fated flights, America Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, both originating from Boston’s Logan International Airport, were commandeered and then rammed onto New York City’s World Trade Center – a symbol of American Mercantilism ‒ that resulted about 2750 being dead after the towers had collapsed.  The third plane, American Airlines Flight 77 which flew from Dulles International Airport in Virginia had crashed at one of the sections of Pentagon at about 9:38 am causing the death of few hundred Pentagon workers. The last plane, UA Flight 93, started from Newark International Airport in NJ, which made some erratic movements while airborne and then crashed mysteriously at 10:03 am at Shanksville, Pennsylvania – a rural place.

As I recall, September 11, 2001 was deceptively a pristine fall day in America with hardly any cloud in the sky.  After the collapse of WTC buildings most Americans were glued to their TV sets listening to the news and commentators’ analysis. I also recall that the entire air traffic system in America came to a screeching halt immediately after the enactment of the tragic drama in east coast.  Mr. Bush, the president, was visiting a kindergarten school in Florida on that fateful morning. He was then flown to an air force base for safety reason. The vice president, Dick Cheney, was in Washington DC who was then taken to an undisclosed fortified space in an underground location. The entire day was a chaotic one and we gleaned news from the Internet too. 

Later in the day Americans learnt that the hijacking and subsequent collapse of the WTC towers and a portion of the Pentagon building was the work of al-Qaeda terrorists.  By afternoon, Muslims in many urban areas were subjected to taunting and derisive remarks.  In Dallas, Texas, an immigrant woman from Pakistan clad in hijab was almost run downed by an irate driver.  Sikh Indians in the west coast were roughed up by some angry Americans wrongly thinking that the turban-clad immigrants were Arabs.  In summary, temper flared and many Americans wrongly thought that Arabs and other Middle Easterners were all sympathizers of al-Qaeda who perpetrated the crime against Americans. In retaliation, some evangelists in America even invoked Crusades citing the terrible events of the day as merely being “the clash of civilizations” as put forward by Samuel Huntington in 1996.   

Ten years have passed since the terrible terror attacks took place in the eastern seaboards of America.  And that spate of hijacking passenger airliners by Arabs and subsequent wanton killings of civilians in New York City, Virginia, and western Pennsylvania had spawned a full-scale war in Afghanistan.  The tragic events of that day had changed our world as we knew it forever. The details of the terrorists’ attack may have erased from our mind but the war in Afghanistan still continues and is a grim reminder that our world had gone a bit awry on September 11, 2001.

Nearly 4 months before the 10th anniversary of 9-11 an event took place on May 1 in a remote corner of Pakistan. A team of U.S. Navy SEALs stormed a fortified building in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where they killed the mastermind of 9-11 terror attacks, Osama bin Laden.  In December 2001 when American jet fighters were pounding the mountains at Tora Bora Mountain, Osama bin Laden crossed the porous border to enter Pakistan. The U.S. intelligence now thinks that the terror master had lived the entire duration in different parts of Pakistan being assisted by none other than some members of ISI and Pakistani military.  It is an irony that Americans have spent billions of dollars helping Pakistani military all the while sharing intelligence data with them to eradicate al-Qaeda from tribal areas of Northwest Frontier Province while a section of Pakistani army aiding Osama bin Laden to evade the American intelligence. 

To tighten the security in airports all across America in the aftermath of 9-11 terror attacks the American government sought legislative act to institute new laws such as the Patriot Act by virtue of which new measures were put in place to make the air travel safer.  Department of Homeland Security was established for the first time after the terrible terror attacks hit America.  The government had established a new department calling it Transportation Security Administration (TSA) whose agents now check and man passengers in the airport.  Some of the techniques that the TSA agents routinely use to screen passengers at the airport have made many Americans quite apprehensive about air travel.  Some even say that their privacy is being breached by new imaging devices that are being installed in all airports.  This is just an example how American lives have been affected by the terror attacks on September 11, 2001.

In the decade since September 11, 2001 terror attacks public opinion on global terrorism and Afghanistan War were being sought by many pollsters.  Americans now believe that there will be another terrorist attack, but they don’t believe they will be the victims. About 69% told CBS News/New York Times pollsters in May 2011 that there would be another terrorist attack on American soil. In another CBS question, 22% were concerned about an attack where they lived.

These days as American economy is heading south and public cynicism aroused by a dysfunctional Congress in Washington is widespread; Americans still believe the country is safer due to the government’s quick action. They also believe George W. Bush made the nation safer and that Barack Obama has kept America safe.  A 69% told the Pew Research that the government was doing very or fairly well in reducing the threat of terror.

While things look promising for Americans as far as combatting terrorism in American soil, this could not be true for al-Qaeda and its leaders.  The West waged a full-scale war against the terror outfit in early 2000s by dismantling the pipeline through which the terror organization used to procure their funding.  Also, the widespread use of the drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan had resulted in the killings of many top echelon al-Qaeda leaders. In fact, the remnant of the leadership of the terror network is on the run. It is doubtful whether this one-time powerful terror network could execute any serious attack against the West.  All we hear these days is how al-Qaeda influenced fringe organizations all across Pakistan and Afghanistan are wreaking havoc as they blast bombs to terrorize the members of respective civil society.

In summary, ten years have gone by since al-Qaeda terrorists caused hijacking of 4 passenger airliners in America. Since then the world has experienced a profound change.  Two full-scale Wars have been waged by President Bush in Afghanistan and Iraq and the war still lingers in one of them.  In many western nations the governments have instituted stricter safety codes, which infringe civil rights of people.  This is the greatest tragedy of all.  The work of about 2 dozens terrorists on that fateful morning in the eastern seaboard of America had changed the life of 6.5 billion people on earth.  However, the chief leader of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, won’t be there to “celebrate” the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks, which al-Qaeda routinely does. Nor would there be any video or audiotape forthcoming from him that could have energized the al-Qaeda foot soldiers. It is to be hoped that a good sense would prevail and the terror organization would become so weak that going forward people will eschew violence of all forms and shapes and make our orb a better place to live.——————————-

Dr. A.H. Jaffor Ullah, a researcher and columnist, writes from New Orleans, USA