First shock, then terror, followed by sorrow and lastly rage were my emotions on September 11th, 2001 when a hijacked airliner crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City. Tunh! Tunh! Tunh! All circuits are busy; please try again at a later time. This message kept repeating as I tried to call my cousin in New York, who was working in the South Tower. At the time the American Airlines flight 11 just moments earlier crashed into the North Tower. I sat in my car in shock and terror.
Then at 9:05 am, about twenty minutes after the first collision, United Airlines flight 175 crashed into the South Tower. I began to feel the knot in my throat getting tighter and tighter until I just finally began crying. I still didn’t have any word from my cousin and when both of the buildings plummeted to the streets below, I thought for sure he was dead. When I returned home, my mother informed me that he had gotten out before the buildings went down. Turning on the television was another ordeal in itself.
All of the news stations repeatedly exhibited the buildings plunging to the ground. I felt extreme sorrow for the families of those who had not made it out alive. They had to relive that horrible moment over and over again. I was also outraged. How could such an act be committed on American soil? The only way we can answer this question is to look at the terrorists who could do such an act and what possible reasons they have for doing it. Many analysts, researchers, and professors have tried to define the purpose of terrorism.
Some believe that can only be achieved when we know how the mind of a terrorist works. The Encyclopedia Britannica describes terrorism as, “The systematic use of violence or threat of violence by organized groups to achieve specific goals. Terrorist activities may be directed against individuals, organizations or governments. Terrorism is employed by radical groups to obtain concessions from established governments, such as a change in policies unfavorable to them or the release of imprisoned members of their organizations” (Encyclopedia Britannica.
Terrorism” 1987 T-169) Who can be identified as the terrorists responsible for the September 11th attacks? New reports are pointing at Osama Bin Laden, the leader of Al-Qaida (Arabic for “the base”), an international network responsible for the strikes on U. S. targets. According to the Washintonpost. com article “Osama Bin Laden and His Group,” numerous small conspiracy cells, which are thought to be carrying out Osama’s terrorist orders, are operating in countries throughout the world.
Such countries include Algeria, Uzbekistan, Syria, Pakistan, Indonesia, Philippines, Lebanon, Iraq, Kosovo (Yugoslavia), Chechnya (Russia), West Bank and Gaza (Israel). In addition, such conspiracy cells may as well be in the Unites States, although their positions are unsteady, and after completing a mission they must be replaced. As seen in recent weeks by the arrests in the European countries, these locations from which the al-qaida (the formal name of Osama Bin Laden’s conspiracy cells) operates is constantly under threat of being revealed and destroyed.
Revenge appears to be one of the terrorists’ motives of the attacks on September 11th, a sort of a payback by Osama Bin Laden. Osama is the man U. S. officials say could be behind the hijacking attacks and other numerous international terrorist assaults. These attacks were the result of a “holy war”, declared against the United States by Osama Bin Laden. Laden’s anger began with the United States’ 1990 decision by Saudi Arabia to allow the U. S. to stage attacks on Iraqi forces in Kuwait and Iraq. After the U. S. victory, the U. S. military presence became permanent.
In a CNN interview with bin Laden in 1997, he said the ongoing U. S. military presence in Saudi Arabia is an “occupation of the land of the holy places. ” (Anti-Defamation League, “Osama Bin Laden: Profile”). He left Saudi Arabia in 1991 after feuding with the Saudi monarchy, taking assets that had grown to an estimated $250 million with him, according to U. S. officials. In 1996, bin Laden issued a “fatwah,” a religious ruling urging Muslims to kill U. S. troops in Saudi Arabia and Somalia. A second fatwah in 1998 called for attacks on American civilians.
These terrorists are not born as killers, but made through Osama Bin Laden’s terrorist training camps, but whichever part of the world these vicious attacks stemmed from, it is someplace where people have had a long acquaintance with body counts and death raining down from the sky Though the attacks may have stemmed from revenge, our response to it cannot be the same. The world has changed for all of us, worldwide, whether we lost friends and family, or only know those who did. While terrorism has been around for ages, our approach to it, and to finding and punishing those who practice it, has to be changed dramatically.
While searching out terrorists is completely different from making war against a nation, no single nation has ever been willing to spend the time and energy in this pursuit that the U. S. , and perhaps other nations, are Suddenly willing to spend The attacks in New York and Washington were anonymous. They put an exclamation point on a trend of increasingly violent and lethal attacks designed not so much to gain political control, but to attack the United States. But something emerged that the terrorists did not count on: the rapid unification of Americans, and perhaps of the world, behind a worldwide campaign to exterminate them.
Instead of chaos, terror and dismay, they have found, in the American response to date: pride, dignity, and resolution to respond, far beyond anything they must have imagined. When I hear everyone say that the attacks on September 11th have changed America forever, I think to myself that it has changed us, but for the better. These events made us stronger people, and gave us a new sense of who we are, at time when we really needed it. We should now take comfort in the fact that the threat of terrorist attack under which we live is the price we pay for our true greatness.