Posts Tagged ‘9/11’
When the World Trade Centre was built in 1970, it was a symbol of American prosperity. The two towers sat in New York, of which the highest dominated the skyline, although I doubt any of the builders or workers could predict its untimely demise. Even now, ten years after that morning, the destruction of the biggest symbols of American capitalism are hard to comprehend.
A plane slammed into one of the towers at roughly the 93rd floor, and another later in the morning; bringing the towers to their absolute ruins and thousands of people murdered in the process. Roughly around two thousand body parts were collected by search and rescue teams in the aftermath, and 1,612 bodies were never found, but were issued a death certificate.
Despite the horrific human tragedy at the hands of terrorism, 9/11 wasn’t the worst to come. A three thousand page piece of legalisation called the US Patriot Act, crushing civil liberties in its process, was quickly ushered in under the premise of “You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists”. It was this mindset which brought in the War on Terror, today leaving us with two wars within the Middle East and in Central Asia that we cannot win, along with millions of killed civilians and thousands of killed military personnel. Backlash victimised minority groups on both side of the Atlantic, and often saw people kidnapped and murdered. Torture was commonplace within the Iraq war, most infamously with the Abu Ghraib Prison scandal where soldiers were brutally torturing, sexually abusing and killing prisoners within their care.
In addition to the somewhat seemingly institutionalised system of brutality within the military on civilian populations (re: the second battle of Fallujah which saw nuclear weapons used, resulting in a generation of children being born with devastating deformities) MI5, our own secret service agency, have been revealed as complacent within international torture, such as in the case of Binyam Mohamed. Muhammad was abducted at Karachi airport in Pakistan, being incarcerated within a number of countries including Morocco and Afghanistan before being finally transferred to the infamous Guantanamo bay where he was subject of torture, torture that the UN “bans under all circumstances”.
9/11 was not the first terror act in the world; far from it. 9/11 was the first terrorist attack on US soil. A pivotal moment in world history saw the US victim to the effects of its invasive military policy after years of foreign policy intervention. Human beings are not collateral damage, although in this post 9/11 world including illegal wars, torture, widespread fear, nationalism, widespread racism, stereotyping of minorities, war crimes and Islamic terrorism, it seems that we are seen as collateral damage in the eyes of both our leaders, and of our enemies.
The news of Osama bin Laden’s death spread like wildfire through social mediums and the blogosphere barely seconds after President Barack Obama made the announcement late Sunday evening. Several news agencies reported scenes of celebration in the US, as crowds of people gathered outside prominent locations such as The White House and Ground Zero to mark the demise of the world’s most wanted terrorist.
Osama bin Laden’s death has been heralded as a huge step forward for the “war on terror”, which has been raging for almost ten years, and certainly as an electoral coup for the Obama administration. No one can deny that bin Laden’s death will do wonders for President Obama’s ratings. Here in the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the news, saying in a statement: “It is a great success that he has been found and will no longer be able to pursue his campaign of global terror.”
Without a doubt it’s a success for those who have suffered at the hands of bin Laden; his capture was always going to be a cathartic victory, particularly when he evaded capture for so long. Yet, there is the worry that these celebrations could come crashing down on us. The UK’s Foreign Office today urged Britons abroad to “exercise caution in all public places and avoid demonstrations, large crowds of people and public events,” making it abundantly clear the authorities recognize the potential repercussions of bin Laden’s death.
While Al-Qaeda may have been driven from Afghanistan in 2001, its status as a global network of smaller groups is one which is particularly viable for those who have been disenfranchised and look for a political home. Killing the figurehead doesn’t solve the larger problem of why such extremists band together, nor will it stop it from happening. President Obama stressed in his announcement that “his death does not mark the end of our effort,” making it clear the U.S “is not – and never will be – at war with Islam.” What we need to do now is understand why so many turned to Al-Qaeda and make a real effort to connect with those who have little faith in their Government structures.
The unfortunate blaze of glory through which bin Laden lived his final few moments will no doubt be used to paint him as a martyr. He himself has stated: “If I am to die, I would like to be killed by the bullet.” In essence, the US have given him this wish, while also evading the problem of where and how to hold a globally wanted man to trial. The crux of how this war on terror will pan out will depend on how or even if bin Laden’s death will affect al-Qaeda operations. As Julian Borger of The Guardian pointed out: “The struggle against terrorism does not give itself easily to neat beginnings and endings.”
The wider effects of bin Laden’s death remain to be seen, but the way I see it, we shouldn’t be celebrating just yet.