The morning of September 11, 2001, was and still is, a tragedy, not only for all Americans but for the whole world. First, the Al-Qaeda members hijacked four commercial airliners, then, the four aircraft were used in suicide attacks that were carried out on important buildings (one of the attacks was unsuccessful) in the USA. One of the planes hit the Pentagon, another crash-landed in a field in Pennsylvania, while the other two planes hit Twin Towers in New York. After this series of tragic events, war on terror began, that resulted in huge changes in society and security around the world.
The World Trade Centre Targeted
Because they were the workplace of around thirty-five thousand people, the Twin Towers were targeted by al-Qaeda members. Each tower had one hundred and ten floors, and each weighed over 250,000 tons. The Twin Towers were Iconic parts of the World Trade Centre, and Considering the location and the fact that the area is densely populated during the day, the towers were an obvious choice for any attacks. Furthermore, the towers were symbols of Americans’ power and influence.
The attacks were carried out by the group of terrorists called Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda is an Islamic terrorist organisation started by Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda seeks to take control of, and enforce religiously-sanctioned social and political order in the middle east. The attacks against Americans were made in an attempt to flush them out of middle eastern countries (the ones that didn’t follow al-Qaeda’s beliefs) and get rid of American support for those countries. Al-Qaeda believed that American support was a huge obstruction in creating a global rule under Islam. Several other factors made Al-Qaeda angry with America as well, such as America’s support of Israel, their role in the Persian Gulf War, and the US military presence in Middle Eastern nations.
On September 11, 2001, four airliners were hijacked by the members of al-Qaeda. The airliners were going to California and had lots of fuel. Nineteen terrorists took control of the aircraft and prepared their attacks. At 8:45 one of four planes crashed between the ninety-third and ninety-ninth floor in the North Tower. After the first attack, hundreds of people were killed and hundreds were trapped in the floors above. Evacuation began immediately, tragically though, another plane crashed into the South Tower eighteen minutes later, it wiped out everything between seventy-seventh and eighty-fifth floors. After the second crash, there was a large explosion. The Twin Towers collapsed and damaged five other buildings in the World Trade Centre area.
The last two airliners were targeting the Pentagon and Washington DC, one of them was supposed to be going to Los Angeles when it was hijacked. After being hijacked, it crashed into the West area of the Pentagon. Another one was targeting Washington dc. However, the passengers were able to take control of the plane and crash it into a field near Somerset County, Pennsylvania. The crash killed everyone on board.
The death toll was beyond catastrophic. Nearly three thousand people were killed, over twenty-seven hundred killed in the World Trade Center attack, one hundred eighty-four killed in the Pentagon attack, as well as forty-seven people killed on Flight 93. In addition to that, there were the deaths of firefighters, paramedics and police officers (three hundred and forty-three firefighters and paramedics, twenty-three police officers and thirty-seven Port Authority police officers). It was an international catastrophe.
On September 12, 2001, an emergency conference of the United Nations was held. The terrorist attack was denounced as an attack on all of humankind. It was the first time in the history of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to invoke Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. This article declares that ‘an attack on one or more NATO countries is an attack against all NATO countries’. After that, America declared to be officially at war, and they invoked their right of self-defence during wartime.
The Governments reaction
In October 2001, America passed ‘the USA Patriot Act’. This law was questionable, as many were worried that it would lead to the violation of civil rights and liberties. For example, the act enables law enforcement officials to monitor financial transactions, or eavesdrop on phone conversations, or search property without a warrant.
On October 7, 2001, the USA started an operation to topple the Taliban’s hold in Afghanistan. The operation was aimed to destroy Osama bin Laden’s base there. The Americans were successful in ousting the Taliban from power but maintained the war to defeat a Taliban rebellion campaign over Pakistan.
In 2005, it was reported that in 2002 the National Security Agency had the authorization given by George W. Bush to wiretap domestic emails and phone calls without warrants.
The American government also founded the Department of Homeland Security to ensure the national security of the country. After the events of 9/11, society changed, as from that time on they ( the public and government) needed to act together to prevent potential terrorist attacks. The ‘If You See Something Say Something’ campaign was launched to appeal to civilians to report unusual behaviour and activity. The security at airports was increased, screening of passengers entering and leaving America became a regular occurrence.
Life after 9/11
To say that 9/11 attacks left an impact on America is to say nothing. The country went to war and the everyday life of Americans changed forever. After the attacks. The government sent soldiers and marines to Afghanistan where Al-Qaeda had set up a base. In 2003, Soldiers were sent to Iraq, but in December 2011, Iraq was left in a state of unstable democracy and the American troops were removed.
In 2014, President Obama made attempts to alter the way America’s presence in Afghanistan was perceived. He aimed at it being regarded as a support mission, rather than a conflict. In the history of the United States, the Afghanistan War has been the longest, lasting from 2001 to 2011. The war brought deaths to over six thousand soldiers, depression or post-traumatic disorder to more than 18% of returned soldiers, and twenty per cent of returning soldiers had severe brain damage.
Immigration and deportation
After the 9/11 attacks, there was a large impact on immigration and deportation policy. Deportation for felons and law-breakers multiplied in America. Between the years of 2009 and 2010, almost four hundred thousand people were deported annually, half convicted of a criminal offence and the other half of low-level offences. Under the Secure Communities program imposed in 2008, people could be deported for even being convicted of minor offences such as not using a turn signal while driving.
The 9/11 attacks brought mourning, fear and depression to Americans and international citizens. The whole world felt that the attack made in the USA was the attack on freedom and liberties everywhere. The attacks brought changes to the whole world, many of which we can see to this day. The 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero was opened ten years later after the tragedy to commemorate the events on September 11, 2001, and the World Trade Center bombing of 1993. Even though Americans were left shattered and fearful, they had enough power to fight for their freedom and the United States has proven that they will always fight against those that would oppose freedom and peace.