Fifteen years ago on 9/11, Al Qaeda terrorists changed the course of history, and the consequences of what happened on that day are still very much with us, and are arguably even growing more complex and more dangerous.
On 11 September 2001, 19 young Arab militants affiliated to Al Qaeda who had received rudimentary flying instruction in the United States hijacked and flew two passenger aircraft at the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, one at the Pentagon in Washington and another aircraft was allegedly also flying towards the White House or the Capitol but it was brought down before it reached its target.
Nearly 3,000 innocent people were killed as the result of those terrorist outrages. In response, America launched the “War on Terror” that has killed upward of a million people, destroyed many Middle Eastern countries, ruined the lives of tens of millions, killed nearly 7,000 US troops and injured another 50,000, and has cost the United States a staggering six trillion dollars.
This was the first time in US history that the American mainland had been attacked after the British troops had set fire to the White House in 1814 during the war between the United States and England. Even during the Second World War the continental United States did not receive any direct attacks, and the closest that the Japanese got was to attack the US naval base at Pearl Harbour in Hawaii, on December 7, 1941.
Of course, during the past few decades there have been numerous terrorist attacks on the US and other targets, the most notable being the attack carried out by Timothy McVeigh on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, which claimed 168 lives and left over 800 people injured. McVeigh too had religious motivations for his attacks.
He was a religious fanatic and a follower of David Koresh, and he bombed the federal building on the anniversary of the destruction of the Branch Davidian camp in Waco by federal forces, as the result of which Koresh, 54 other adults and 21 children were burnt alive
One can think of the massacre of close to a million Tutsis and Hutus in Burundi and Rwanda. A Human Rights Watch analysis estimated that 77% of the Tutsi population of Rwanda was slaughtered in the Rwandan Genocide of 1994.
Apart from the initial slaughter of hundreds of Palestinians and the ethnic cleansing of nearly 70% of the Palestinian population in 1948, we had the slaughter of as many as 3,500 Palestinian refugees at the Sabra and Shatila Camps in Lebanon by the Christian Phalangists between the 15 and 16 September 1982, under the supervision of the invading Israeli forces led by Ariel Sharon.
However, the 9/11 attacks have assumed a significance far greater than all other terrorist acts in the world.
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