The events of September 11, 2001 were tragic. The day will always be remembered for the lives lost and the heroics of the first responders who selflessly gave their lives. Not since the Cold War had the West been under threat from a foreign power. The difference this time is that we would not be at war with a nation.
Many still wonder why the events of 9/11 happened. Most Americans still do not know that Osama bin Laden had actually declared war on the U. S. in 1996 when he issued a fatwa entitled “Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places”. Bin Laden accused the U. S. and its allies of committing massacres and other crimes against Muslims around the world. In 1998, a second fatwa was issued over the occupation of parts of the Arabian Peninsula by American military bases and America’s continuing support for the State of Israel.
Although bin Laden declared war on the U. S. in 1996, he and al-Qaeda began their campaign against the U.S. in 1992 when they bombed the Gold Mohur hotel in Yemen targeting U.S. Marines. They struck again in 1993 with the first attack on the World Trade Center killing six and injuring over one thousand. In 1998, after the declaration of war al-Qaeda attacked two American embassies, one in Kenya and the second in Tanzania killing over 200 people and injuring over 5,000. The last move before September 11 was the 2000 USS Cole bombing. America, unbeknownst to its people, had been at war for nearly a decade before the 9/11 attacks. Since that fateful day the West has been at war for a decade against not a nation but an idea and a belief that our governments’ actions in the Muslim world have desecrated holy lands, insulted their beliefs and trampled their rights.
Since 9/11 our governments have turned a blind eye to the reasons why hundreds if not thousands of young Muslim men have flocked to extremists organizations like al-Qaeda. Collectively we invaded Afghanistan and although we had more than enough reason to do so our American allies turned their attentions away from the people who housed Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda to an enemy of theirs, Iraq. We would soon learn that the reasons for invading Iraq were wrong; that one of the most reputable Generals in the United States would be used as a pawn in front of the United Nations for reasons that we can still only speculate over.
Thankfully since December 2010 a new grassroots movement has taken place in the Muslim world which has been dubbed the Arab Spring. A revolutionary movement that has disposed of three dictators and forced other rulers to make concessions and is in the process of eroding a number of other dictatorships. Grudgingly Western governments have had to line up behind the popular movements watching mainly from the sidelines.
On this solemn anniversary of 9/11 not only do we remember those people who were taken by a handful of extremists but I believe we need to ask ourselves “have we learned enough to prevent this from happening again?”