9/11: 20 Years On

Al-Qaeda, a terrorist group, hijacked several planes on the 11th of September 2001 and forced the pilots to crash the planes on the World Trade Center, WTC, in New York, the Pentagon in Washington D.C, and with another crashing in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

9/11: 20 Years On
The 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York. Source: Getty.

The 9/11 Attacks on the World Trade Center in New York were the worst and most horrific attacks in United States history. The attacks were the worst violation of the sovereignty, liberties, and freedoms of the United States and were instigated by Al-Qaeda terrorists. The 9/11 Attacks were a dark and horrific occurrence that tainted the world in so many unforgettable and unforgivable ways. It brought gloom and sadness all over the world and sparked a war that is now only ending. It darkened the face of the world and changed the United States and the world forever, leaving an indelible mark of terror.

Our hearts and prayers go to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives that day. Over three thousand people of more than 90 nationalities lost their lives that day, a loss beyond words. May their souls rest in eternal peace and may their memories be a blessing. May God comfort their families and give them strength. Terrorism has no place in our world and we condemn it in the strongest terms possible. 9/11: 20 years on is a world broken by endless or ‘forever’ wars and countless deaths and injuries. Many lives have been lost and many more have been changed forever.

Al-Qaeda Attacks

Al-Qaeda, a terrorist group, hijacked several planes on the 11th of September 2001 and forced the pilots to crash the planes on the World Trade Center, WTC, in New York, the Pentagon in Washington D.C, and with another crashing in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Four planes crashed that day, two at the World Trade Center, one at the Pentagon, and the last in Shanksville. The planes all had passengers, pilots, and crew members while the WTC and the Pentagon buildings were all packed with employees and workers who worked there. A total of 19 militants hijacked the planes and caused countless damage both to the safety of America but also to its spirit and feeling of safety.

At the time, then-president George W. Bush was visiting a school in Sarasota when he received the news of the 9/11 attacks. President Bush instigated measures to ensure resources were channeled to respond to the attack and expressed anger and disdain with the events of that day. In the following days, President Bush and his government launched several military responses to 9/11, deploying thousands of troops to Afghanistan to hunt down and eliminate Al-Qaeda, and its then-leader, Osama Bin Laden. Osama Bin Laden, however, managed to escape the onslaught and was found and killed nearly a decade later in Pakistan.

‘Forever’ Wars

The 9/11 attacks instigated a slew of wars globally that until today continue to impact the lives of millions. Cases in point include the wars in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. Iraq was invaded shortly after the 9/11 attacks in a bloody war that touted Saddam’s alleged production of weapons of mass destruction, WMDs. However, after he was ousted, the country was ravaged and thousands were killed from both sides, including Saddam himself being captured and executed, there were no WMDs discovered. Syria, on its part, suffered over a decade of war with the recent war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL.

Afghanistan, the most affected, saw two decades of war leaving thousands of people dead, and witnessing terrorist attacks even in the last days of the U.S. withdrawal. The attacks included an attack by ISIL at the Kabul airport that killed nearly 200 people and a drone attack by the U.S. The drone attack, it has now emerged, wrongfully and mistakenly targeted an aid worker even as the U.S Defense ministry maintains that the vehicle in question was carrying bombs that posed an immediate threat to Kabul airport and U.S Military forces there at the time.

Trillions Lost

The ensuing wars after the 9/11 attacks cost the United States over $2 trillion. Even more costly, were the lives lost both on the U.S. side and in Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq. Even as there were huge expenses of war associated with responding to and avenging the 9/11 attacks, the highest price was paid by those who lost their lives and their families. Tens of thousands of others were injured, lost their limbs, and scarred for life by the ensuing wars after the 9/11 attacks. Those directly affected by both the 9/11 attacks and the wars that followed saw their lives turned upside down after losing their loved ones and a huge part of their lives and livelihoods.

In the U.S., many to this day bear the burden of the 9/11 attacks in terms of the pain, anguish, and unending sorrow it brought to their lives. In other nations, invaded by a vengeful United States, millions saw their lives upended and their countries fall into decades-long wars. In Afghanistan, for instance, the vengeful invasion that sought to defeat the Taliban from power cost the country endless lives and has now ended with a victorious Taliban, that is currently in the seat of power in the country.

Is the Afghan War Justified?

Firstly, there is no justification for terrorism and the 9/11 attacks. There never was and there never will be a reason big enough to justify violence of any form. However, the Afghan war and other wars that followed the 9/11 attacks were provoked in the sense that America was attacked and violated and had the obligation and right to defend itself in the most sensible and impactful way possible.

The world would not last a day if terrorism was allowed to reign supreme. With that said, the invasions of sovereign nations, uninvited and unrequested, are not justified as it violates the rights and freedoms of the citizens of those nations. This lack of justification stems from the fact that not all citizens of a country such as Afghanistan are terrorists or engaged in terrorist activities. There is also no way to cushion said countries from collateral damage or collectively suffering the negative effects of war.

International law and ethical codes of conduct in military efforts posit that all nations are equal and they all deserve the same treatment including ensuring that their sovereignty is maintained. Even when a nation is at war with another, several tenets need to be maintained and ensured. These include the minimization of collateral damage and the avoidance of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In places such as Iraq, the United States failed in ensuring some of these tenets are catered for with practices such as torturing suspects and even disrespecting the dead bodies of executed assailants. Even so, in the context of war, there is an almost absolute probability that there will be collateral damage. There is also a high probability that the tensions and violence encapsulated in war may instigate certain wrongs that could go against international law or the code of conduct for nations at war. However, this likelihood is in no way justification for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Healing

9/11: 20 years on and the world is still healing from the effects, both physical and mental, of the occurrences on 11th September 2001. The world will never forget 9/11 and we should not forget that terrorism has no place in the world. Healing comes after recognizing the nefarious acts of terrorism committed on 9/11 and appreciating that we are all one and part of the human family. In the words of U.S. President Joe Biden, “unity is our greatest strength.”

The 9/11 attacks sought to tear the world apart but we heal by recognizing that we are one, and people of all races and religions are part of our collective human family. As such, there is no justification for Islamophobia, antisemitism, or other forms of hate based on color or religion. Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and members of all other religions are our brothers and sisters and possess dreams, hopes, and aspirations just like everyone else. Therefore, it is part of our collective responsibility to ensure that we remain united and loved one another unconditionally and heartfully as part of the human race and community. 9/11: 20 years on and the world is safer, united, and peaceful.