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On September 11, 2001, the United States of America was attacked by a terrorist organization named al-Qaeda. Four planes were hijacked from America and were crashed into the World Trade Center buildings one and two, the Pentagon, and the fourth plane was intended for the Presidential White House. On that day, the United States lost over 3,000 innocent lives. This event, also known as 9/11, sparked major U.S. initiatives to combat terrorism. After years of war, the U.S. was able to eliminate the leader of al-Qaeda, his name was Osama bin Laden. A great day in U.S. history, which is only a small fact in the reasons behind why America is safer today than it was before the attacks on 9/11.
Terrorism has been on this planet longer than any human alive today. Terrorism is a savage act that many humans alive practice and wish to terrorize other humans. The complete definition of terrorism is as follows, “the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.” Terrorism is an act that should not exist on this planet, but sadly it does. This is the history of terrorism and 9/11.
The word “terrorism” comes from the French Revolution and the “Reign of Terror,” when terror was used as an instrument of state policy. Terror was used to eliminate counterrevolutionary elements in the population, save France from anarchy and military defeat, and suppress hoarding and profiteering. Unapologetic about the use of terror to eliminate political enemies, Robespierre, the radical leader, said that “Terror is nothing but justice, prompt, severe and inflexible.” An estimated 40,000 people were sentenced to death during the Terror in France. Altogether, about 12,000 people were executed during the reign of terror.
One common misconception is that terrorism is a new and unprecedented phenomenon. In actuality, terrorism is not an invention of modern times. Indeed, the very words we use to describe terrorists show what a timeless phenomenon it is. Our word zealot comes from a group of first-century Jews who tried to overthrow Roman rule over Biblical Palestine through the use of murder and assassination. The Zealots later committed mass suicide at Masada. Our word assassin comes from a Shiite Muslim sect that sought to assassinate Sunni Muslim leaders from the 11th through the 13th centuries. Supposedly, this sect used hashish before committing acts of violence, giving rise to the word assassin. The word thug originally referred to a group of revolutionaries in India before the 18th century.
Another misconception is that terrorism is essentially a Middle Eastern or left-wing phenomenon. In fact, terrorism has been used by many groups in different parts of the world for diverse purposes. Recent events underscore the terrorism’s complexity. During the days surrounding the September 11th, 2001, attack, there were at least three other attacks that might be described as acts of terror, including an attack in Colombia were right-wing paramilitaries killed fifteen villagers they accused of collaborating with Marxist guerrillas.
On November 24, 1917 a bomb thought to have been planted by anarchists killed nine police officers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. On June 2, 1919, anarchists were suspected of setting off a series of bombs in eight cities, including Washington, D.C., where a bomb partially destroyed the home of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer. On September 16, 1920, an explosive-laden wagon exploded on Wall Street, across from the headquarters of J.P. Morgan & Company, killing 40 and wounding 300.
September 11, 2001 was not America’s first experience with terrorist violence. Bombings in 1886 at Haymarket Square in Chicago during a labor rally, in 1910 at the Los Angeles Times Building during a labor dispute, and in 1963 at Birmingham, Alabama’s 16th Street Baptist Church are only a few earlier examples of indiscriminate violence.
On September 11, 2001, 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda hijacked four airliners and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. Two of the planes were flown into the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, a third plane hit the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C., and the fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Often referred to as 9/11, the attacks resulted in extensive death and destruction, triggering major U.S. initiatives to combat terrorism and defining the presidency of George W. Bush. Over 3,000 people were killed during the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., including more than 400 police officers and firefighters.
The attackers were Islamic terrorists from Saudi Arabia and several other Arab nations. Reportedly financed by Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terrorist organization, they were allegedly acting in retaliation for America’s support of Israel, its involvement in the Persian Gulf War and its continued military presence in the Middle East. Some of the terrorists had lived in the United States for more than a year and had taken flying lessons at American commercial flight schools. Others had slipped into the country in the months before September 11 and acted as the “muscle” in the operation. The 19 terrorists easily smuggled box-cutters and knives through security at three East Coast airports and boarded four flights bound for California, chosen because the planes were loaded with fuel for the long transcontinental journey. Soon after takeoff, the terrorists commandeered the four planes and took the controls, transforming ordinary commuter jets into guided missiles.
Those who think new safety protocols are working argue that the proof is in the pudding: Nothing like the 9/11 terrorist attacks have happened since. Others argue that hostility toward the U.S. has grown because of its post-9/11 policies and wars, making the threat of terrorism greater now than it was. Still others say that threat is (and always was) overblown, and that vast federal spending on counterterrorism has detracted from fighting ordinary crime.
Now, there are some that believe that America is less safe today than it was before 9/11, these people are very incorrect. Author Paul Donahue wrote an article titled, “9-11: Is America safer 14 years later?” In Donahue’s article, he has many interesting and vital points in the argument that America is safer now than it was before 9/11. Donahue argues that Americans are more alert today than they were before 9/11. Stating that, “While we are not airtight safe, we are clearly safer today than 14 years ago.” Donahue brings up the point of how many people there are in this world and that everyone cannot be one hundred percent safe at all times. Donahue also brings up the fact that pre-departure airport screenings have become exponentially safer and smarter than they were prior to 9/11.
Paul Donahue brings up the point that prior to 9/11, America was not necessarily unsafe, Americans simply did not know what to expect. America itself had not been attacked for almost 225 years, making Americans feel safe and not expecting an event like 9/11 to occur. These are many of the important facts about 9/11 and America today.
Donahue’s argument is very accurate, America today realizes the threat of Muslim extremist groups that potentially wish to harm America and other countries in the world. This is what makes us a lot stronger today than we were before 9/11. He brings up a very good point by saying that America is now firmly aware of the situation they are in and that they need to keep an eye out for any sort of immediate danger that the country could be in.
Another author, Charles Krauthammer, writes his article all about how America demonstrated their military power. Krauthammer wants the public to know that the U.S. government did not overreact to the events that took place on 9/11. Krauthammer brings up the facts that the U.S. invaded Afghanistan and demonstrated out power to eliminate a large portion of the Jihad sanctuary. Krauthammer states that, “In the end: 10 years, no second attack (which everyone assumed would come within months).” Krauthammer believes that 9/11 was this generation’s Pearl Harbor. Krauthammer explains how 9/11 is devastating like Pearl Harbor, however it is different. There was no set target, no set home for the U.S. military to eliminate like they were able to do in World War 2. This is why Krauthammer believes that the U.S. did not overreact to the events that unfolded on September 11, 2001.
Krauthammer proves his point that the U.S. military is stronger than these muslim extremist groups. He wants the public to know the facts that America’s military is the strongest in the world, and that America will not stop until terrorist threats and acts against America have come to a stop.
America today is very different than it was before 9/11, in some ways that is good, however there are negative thoughts in Americans heads today. The 9/11 attacks were illustrated onto America by Muslim extremists. Because of the fact that Muslim extremists are Muslim, people all over the world now have a fear and a disguised hate for the Muslim people. While these thoughts are terrible because not every Muslim is an extremists, it has helped us to point out and possibly identify possible terrorist threats.
Omar Ashmawy has some different points of view about the aftermath of 9/11. After Ashmawy graduated from Law school, he joined the U.S. military to help defend the U.S. against Islamic extremists. Ashmawy spent eight years in the U.S. Air Force where he played a role as a war crimes prosecutor. Ashmawy states that, “After so many years and so much sacrifice, nothing has changed.” Ashmawy states that, “Our greatest weakness remains today what it was 10 years ago, that we don’t understand Islam or Arab culture, and that ignorance prevents us from accurately predicting our relationship with Arab and Muslim countries and identifying our enemies. Ashmawy goes on about how the U.S. continues to make decisions based on inaccurate, biased information.
“Over the last several years, we have consistently taken the fight to terrorists who threaten our country,” President Barack Obama said in a speech to the nation describing his plan to wipe out ISIS Wednesday night. “We took out Osama bin Laden and much of al Qaeda’s leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We’ve targeted al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, and recently eliminated the top commander of its affiliate in Somalia. We’ve done so while bringing more than 140,000 American troops home from Iraq, and drawing down our forces in Afghanistan, where our combat mission will end later this year. Thanks to our military and counterterrorism professionals, America is safer. Still, we continue to face a terrorist threat. We cannot erase every trace of evil from the world, and small groups of killers have the capacity to do great harm.”
Along with Ashmawy, many other Americans feel that America is unsafe now. They believe that these terrorist organizations are able to freely walk into our country and commit acts of horror onto America like the act that was committed on 9/11. There has been 3,106 people killed by muslims in 75 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. 2,752 of the killed people in America were killed in the world trade centers, another 184 were in the pentagon that morning. Since the attacks on 9/11, about 60 people have been killed in America from terrorist acts.
While it seems like that is a lot of people who have died, and it is, it does not compare to the death counts of other less protected countries. Also the majority of people killed by muslims in America was on 9/11 and since then security has been increased in every way possible in america. Because of the acts on 9/11, America launched an all out war against terrorists and muslim extremists. America invaded many middle eastern countries and destroyed the terrorist organization known as al-Qaeda. While this was a great victory, it took many american soldiers lives in the process.
America today has become a hundred times safer than it was before 9/11. You walk through an airport and notice the increase in authority presence along with the advanced security screening checkpoints that airports have today. Law enforcement officials’ post-9/11 power to investigate leads on terrorism without legal holdups and restrictions has indeed led to much tighter security in the past decade. Largely because of the Patriot Act, legislation signed into law by President George W. Bush on Oct. 26, 2001 (and extended by President Barack Obama), the FBI can now freely search emails, phone records and financial records without a court order, the Secretary of the Treasury can oversee any and all overseas financial transactions, and immigration authorities have total freedom to detain or deport immigrants suspected of activities related to terrorism.
Alongside policy changes that enable faster reactions to intelligence, there are also now vastly many more ears dedicated to listening out for it. “Remember that there was no Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at all before 9/11,” Banks told Life’s Little Mysteries. “This is a $60 billion per year entity formed after 9/11 that is entirely devoted to preventing terrorism.” According to DHS spokesman Chris Ortman, approximately 240,000 people work for the department’s 22 agencies, which include U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the National Guard, the Secret Service and the Transportation Security Administration. The FBI and CIA both operate separately but in collaboration with the DHS, with the FBI focusing on terrorist activities that fall mostly within U.S. borders and the CIA keeping tabs on terrorism abroad. DHS also collaborates with state and local law enforcement officials on issues related to terrorism.
In conclusion, the increases in security, Americas new knowledge of terrorist organizations and the fact that America was able to eliminate the majority of al-Qaeda leaves anyone to believe that America is indeed safer than it was before 9/11.
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