September 11 Attacks
In the USA, September 11 is marked as the most tragic day of the calendar. More than ten years ago, in New York, Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were destroyed. Today, the memorial complex including the museum, terminal and a concert hall are constructed on their place. Annually, on September 11, people in the United States pay a tribute to the memory of victims of the terrorist attack of 2001. On that day, suicide bombers hijacked four planes, two of which attacked Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York. The third hijacked plane hit the Pentagon building in Washington, DC, and the last one, the crew and passengers of which tried to neutralize terrorists, crashed in Pennsylvania. The number of victims of the terrorist act was so enormous that it became a tragedy not only on a national, but also on a world scale. Thus, the reasons and interpretations of the terrorist act of September 11 should be studied in more detail in order to estimate the later consequences of this event.
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Identification and Description of this Historical Event
Terrorist act of September 11, 2001 (sometimes called 9/11) is a series of four coordinated, self-destructive acts of terrorism, which have occurred in the United States of America. Today, the terrorist organization Al Qaeda is known to be responsible for these attacks. That morning, nineteen terrorists referring to Al Qaeda, having divided into four groups, hijacked four passenger airliners. Each group had at least one member who had had the initial flight training. As a result, 2974 persons became the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, and 24 are reported missing. 19 terrorists also are registered as victims of these acts of terrorism (Kellner, 2011).
Four commercial airliners following to California from the airports of Logan, Dulles and Newark were hijacked by terrorists during the flight, approximately simultaneously, some time after the departure. At 8.46 a.m., the Boeing 767 belonging to American Airlines, following from Boston to Los Angeles, crashed between 93rd and 99th floors of the Northern Tower of the World Trade Center (WTC), located on the island of Manhattan in New York. On board, there were 11 crew members and 81 passengers (Kellner, 2011).
At 9.03 a.m., another Boeing 767 belonging to United Airlines crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center between the 77th and 85th floors. The plane was going from Boston to Los Angeles. Aboard the plane, there were nine crew members and 56 passengers. At 9.37 a.m., the plane Boeing 757 of American Airlines crashed into the Pentagon building. Boeing 757 was going from Washington to Los Angeles. Aboard, there were six crew members and 58 passengers. At 10.03 a.m., the plane Boeing 757 belonging to United Airlines that was going from Newark (state New Jersey) to San Francisco fell in the field in the southwest part of Pennsylvania, 200 km from Washington. Aboard, there were seven crew members and 37 passengers. As a result of severe fire, the Southern Tower of the WTC collapsed at 9.59 a.m., and at 10.28 a.m. the same happened to the Northern Tower of the WTC (Rockmore, 2011).
These events caused large-scale information chaos throughout the USA. All commercial flights were cancelled, and landing of planes on the territories of the USA was forbidden (except the internal flights, which were already in the air). The planes arriving in the USA from other countries were sent back to the airports of departure or directed to the airports of Canada and Mexico. Patrol by fighters of the Air Force and National Guard was organized over the large cities of the USA. For the first time in the history, all civil aircrafts landed in the territory of the USA and Canada, except those belonging to the police or performing medical flights; this has affected tens of thousands of passengers worldwide.
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The Historical and Contemporary Causes of the Terrorist Act 9/11
Nowadays, there is a great variety of theories explaining the causes of these attacks. The most reasonable theory refers to the America’s foreign policies in the region of the Middle East, particularly, the support of Israel, provided by the U.S. Another theory supposes that 9/11 attacks were a response to the U.S. foreign occupation (Bergen, 2006).
Experts state that the first reason of attacks was the U.S. foreign policy directed on the support of Israel. The former leader of Al Qaeda, Bin Laden, stated that this was the major reason why they attacked the United States. Bin Laden never had any negative attitude to the U.S. culture, but he did not approve its foreign policy of the support for Israel. Bin Ladens anti-Americanism was actually triggered when the United States supported the Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon in 1982. The first act of retaliation of Bin Laden was a boycott of the American commodities in the 1980s (Bergen, 2006).
However, the political problems and misunderstandings escalated; as a result, many nations of the Middle East began to obtain the same attitudes to the United States as Bin Laden had. During that period, interrelationships between the Middle East and The United States have dramatically aggravated. The reason for further worsening of the political relations between the U.S. and the Middle East countries was determined by the decision of the former to bring 500,000 American troops into the territory of Saudi Arabia after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990 (Khouri, 2006).
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Experts also determined the second reason of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, namely America’s occupation of territories in the Middle East including Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Some researchers claim that the actions of the modern groups of terrorists are directed not by the religious ardency, but by the cases of foreign occupation of the other states. The U.S. is one of such cases. This fact can explain why fifteen terrorists of those involved in the terrorist act of the 9/11 were Saudis. The main reason is a presence of significant number of the American troops on the territory of Saudi Arabia around that time. However, it can not explain the presence of four other hijackers of such nationalities as Lebanese, Emirati, and Egyptian. As a result, one can say that terrorist attacks of 9/11 were mainly based upon the ideas of nationalism, but not religious beliefs (Khouri, 2006).
The third reason of the 9/11 attacks pointed by experts refers to the impact of the CIA campaign. In the mid-1979, when the Soviet Union brought its troops into Afghanistan, the U.S. was spending a few hundred million dollars per year to make the Afghan Mujahedeen struggle against the Soviet Union and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. The troops of Afghan Mujahedeen also consisted of Muslim volunteers, who came from other countries. These volunteers were widely known as Afghan Arabs, the most famous of which was Osama bin Laden. At that time, Bin Laden was known as a wealthy and devout Saudi, who provided financing for the army of insurgents and assisted in involvement of other rich people into the struggle funding (Khouri, 2006).
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Later, Bin Laden formed the organization of Al Qaeda, which was aimed to lead armed jihad on the territories of other countries. The United States were the primary goal of this group despite the fact that the U.S. government helped to finance the Mujahedeen fight against the invasion of the Soviet Union. Some analysts described attacks of Al Qaeda as an unintended assistance of the USA to the Mujahedeen (Bodden, 2006). Responding to these statements, the U.S. government and the Pakistani officials dined them, claiming that the aid was first sent to the Pakistani government, and then it was distributed among the Mujahedeen. From a financial viewpoint, this interrupted the connection between Al Qaeda and the U.S. Obviously, Osama bin Laden had a great anger towards the United States; as a result, two towers of the WTC were destroyed, and thousands of civil people were killed (Bergen, 2006).
Historical Interpretations of the Event
The official cause of the September 11 tragedy is still being criticized by journalists, numerous supporters of the “conspiracy theory”, and witnesses of the act of terrorism. In particular, videos and numerous witnesses of the collapse of twin towers testify that buildings collapsed as a result of controlled demolition. Thus, supporters of the “conspiracy theory” claim that the September 11 attack was organized by the Government of the United States. Disputes in this regard are still conducted (“9/11 conspiracy theories”, 2011).
The researchers of this incident, being supporters of the “conspiracy theory”, specify that “termite” and “nanotermite” traces were found in the dust and fragments of the buildings, which were ruined on Manhattan. “Termite” and “nanotermite” are the explosives used for the demolition of shabby buildings. However, this version of scientists subjected to harsh criticism. Firstly, it has no scientific proofs; secondly, the National Institute of Standards and Technology of the USA (NIST) claims that the demolition of the World shopping center requires a lot of “termite”, but subsequently scientists declared that support bars of twin towers were damaged by “supertermite”. At last, thirdly, samples of beams, which were investigated by scientists, could be cut off by the special tools, for example, an acetylene torch, which could leave the “termite” traces (“9/11 conspiracy theories”, 2011).
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The National Institute of Standards and Technology claims that as a result of a stroke of the passenger plane and the subsequent explosion, its fuel led to slackening of steel beams. Their version is based on the assumption that the fast combustion of fuel resulted in weakening of the steel beams. Therefore, the top plates fell on the bottom ones, and because of the force of gravitation, the collapse of the bottom plates followed. Supporters of the “conspiracy theory” declared in reply that neither before nor after the September 11 act of terrorism, any tower collapsed as a result of a fire (Bodden, 2006). The NIST parried that no tower was subject to attack of the passenger plane before. Nevertheless, the official version does not explain why both towers of the World Trade Center collapsed with a huge speed, and numerous witnesses of the tragedy declared that they heard some explosions in buildings before the collapse. Thus, the reasons of the collapse of the World Trade Center during the September 11 attacks are still unknown and cause a lot of questions, which can be answered neither by the official version nor by assumptions of supporters of the “conspiracy theory” since both theories have defects and disagreements (Thomas, 2011).
The Later Consequences of this Event
Certainly, the death of three thousand people who died in four planes seized by suicide bombers, and the death of those who happened to be in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon during those events became the main consequence of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. However, those attacks have become a global factor, which has affected a set of events, phenomena, processes, and groups of the population around the world (Morgan, 2009).
Thus, activation of the special foreign policy of the USA in the Middle East region became one of the main consequences of a terrorist attack. Almost immediately after the September 11 tragedy, American leaders declared the “War against terrorism”. However, this war was not limited only to Al Qaeda search. Operation turned into large-scale action in the entire Middle East. Soon, it was declared that Osama bin Laden and other leaders of terrorists disappeared in the mountains of Afghanistan and cooperated with the Taliban regime. Thus, an invasion into Afghanistan began almost immediately (Scott, 2007).
The strengthening of the executive branch in the United States with respect to the legislative and judicial functions and the expansion of functions of the “police state” became another consequence of the conducted terrorist attack. After the September 11 attacks, laws that expanded the powers of the President in terms of the use of military force to virtually unlimited and not accountable to the Congress were passed. These laws also made possible intervention of intelligence services into a private life of citizens of the country without judicial sanctions. Thus, since 2002, intelligence service got access to telephone records and electronic correspondence of Americans in cases when the authorities consider that it will help to protect the national security (Morgan, 2009).
The September 11 attacks have also significantly affected the American economy. Huge losses were incurred by the city of New York, which business center was destroyed, and the normal activity of city services and infrastructure stopped. Insurance companies had to pay some billion dollars to the owners of the destroyed towers of the World Trade Center (Scott, 2007). Within a week after the attack, the share index fell to 14 percent and that became the biggest week falling in the history, which exceeded even the Great Depression era figures. Essential losses were sustained by the American airlines since flights were suspended for some time. In addition, for a certain period after the attacks, the number of passengers decreased because of psychological fear of Americans of the new attacks (Jenkins, Godges, & Dobbins, 2011).
Finally, after the acts of terrorism, growing tensions in the relations between the West and the Muslim world were noticed. Due to the fact that the attacks were committed by the Islamic fundamentalists, all suicide bombers were Arabs, and al-Qaeda positioned its activity as a jihad, i.e. a holy war of Muslims against the infidel, the tension in the relationship between Americans and Westerners in general and all Muslims has significantly increased (Bodden, 2006). Muslims came to be regarded as potential terrorists without delving into their religious affiliation to a particular course of Islam. Thus, immediately after September 11, more than 80 thousand Muslims living in the United States have been subjected to mandatory registration and fingerprinting. At the same time, fundamentalists experienced the lesser support of the majority of Muslims, first of all, because mostly innocent people, including Muslims, perished during acts of terrorism (Jenkins, Godges, & Dobbins, 2011).
Taking into account all abovementioned information, it should be noted that the September 11 attacks will forever be marked in the history of America as a tragedy, which killed thousands of innocent people. The debate about who is actually involved in the September 11 attacks still continues to this day. Supporters of the “conspiracy theory” blame the government of the United States for it, finding more and more proofs of that. In their turn, the authorities try not to join in the debate, preferring to refer to the official version of the events of those days. In any case, no matter what purposes were pursued by the true organizers of the September 11 attacks, they obviously were not worth the lives of nearly three thousand people, which have become the victims of someone’s hate, or ambition. Consequences of the catastrophe include not only the death of thousands of people, but also geopolitical conflicts and wars, and internal political and economic undermining of the United States. The September 11 attacks became a lesson to be learned for the future generations.