THERE was muted commemoration in the US and in its allies of the worst attack ever on American soil that totally destroyed the World Trade Center Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001, killing 2,996 people. There were very few articles and opinion columns in US newspapers about it, several significantly even ruing that Americans seem to be forgetting the horrific event and its implications.
It was only Ben Kritz, an American colleague in this paper, who wrote about it the other day, in a bitter tone. He reported that his and a CNN broadcaster’s comment as they watched live the towers burning was: “Our world has forever changed.” Several paragraphs later, however, he writes: “The only thing that has really changed is that everyone’s execrable attitudes and behaviors have gotten a lot worse. The same theocratic authoritarian regime in Iran that carefully cultivates one brand of extremists to maintain its hold on power is still there.” He misses what really happened in the 23 years after 9/11.The subdued commemoration of 9/11 in America and elsewhere arises from a creeping feeling that two decades after that horrifying attack, Osama bin Laden, the Saudi Arabian architect of that diabolical deed has achieved what he actually intended to do.Born to a billionaire family and educated in that oil-rich nation’s best universities, bin Laden was certainly not stupid to think that the attack would frighten America to withdraw its interventions in the Islamic Middle East, and give up its massive financial support that has made an Israel exist.
What bin Laden wanted was to anger Americans so much they would intensify their wars against Muslims so as to even invade nations they deemed to nurture terrorist groups.The result of such American vengeful wars would enrage Muslims all over the world so they would intensify their jihad against the World Satan, Osama bin Laden calculated.
This is exactly what happened after 9/11. An all-out war against the Taliban in Afghanistan was launched — melodramatically called “Enduring Freedom” — less than a month after 9/11, as it was believed Osama and his al-Qaeda forces were hiding in tunnels in the country’s mountainous region. US intelligence had even in a few months pinpointed Osama’s hideouts in the Tora Bora area. The Americans though committed a huge mistake in not undertaking the assault against Osama themselves but let their Afghan puppets do it, in order, many analysts point out, to get the Afghans themselves to kill the terrorist leader, a better PR optics than having the American invaders execute a famed mujahideen.Osama however managed to escape the area and Afghanistan itself, tipped, some reports claim, by Afghan soldiers sent to capture him. The Americans would track him down and kill him only 10 years later, hiding near a military camp in Pakistan, the staunch US ally.While the US managed to control most of Afghanistan, it certainly didn’t satisfy its people’s desire for vengeance, er, justice. Claiming that — oops — it was after all Iraq which nurtured the al-Qaeda, and Osama might after all be hiding in Iraq, and more importantly, that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” that their agents would bring to the US, following the 9/11 template, the US invaded that country in March 2003, violating the very charter of the UN that authorized such a war only if approved by the UN Security Council. US intelligence, after demonizing the country’s ruler Saddam Hussein, hunted him down, to even televise his execution by hanging. The invasion this time was code-named Operation Iraqi Freedom — “Freedom” had become the soul-stirring “For God and Church” slogan that European Crusaders used when they invaded the Muslim world in the medieval times.A master of propaganda, the US portrayed its invasion of Iraq as a project to save mankind by getting rid of Saddam’s “weapons of mass destruction” and saving Iraqis from a murderous dictator. The “weapons of mass destruction” turned out to be pure fiction, with UN officials revealing a year later that Iraq had long ago dismantled even their makeshift labs that were supposed to produce chemical weapons. Iraq had not even started to build a nuclear fission plant, a requirement for building nuclear weapons.
Iraq’s invasion was in essence a nation’s bloodlust in seeking vengeance for 9/11. After all, how could the leader of the free world, the most militarily powerful and economically richest nation, be attacked by Islamists without their brethren suffering? There was however an underlying agenda for the invasion: US secured for its needs, a major oil-producing country.Iraq though wasn’t enough to satisfy the US lust for vengeance. The Republican Bush had his Afghanistan and Iraq to beat to a pulp. The Democratic Obama invaded Libya, on the excuse that Muammar al-Gaddafi, that oil-producing nation’s longtime dictator was killing his own people in response to the protests against his dictatorship. Gaddafi was killed by Libyan rebels in October 2011. As in the case of Saddam, Western media was given videos by US operatives of the Libyan leader being brutally killed.How many were killed as a result of the US “war on terror” and to avenge the 2,996 of its citizens killed in the World Trade Center?Nearly a million in direct deaths, half of whom were civilians, and 4.5 million as result of the destruction of economies, public services, infrastructure and the environment. This is according to a rigorous study by researchers at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs in Massachusetts. The US government spent $8 trillion in these wars, a major factor for the American and global economies’ weaknesses today.In a conference at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. in 2022, terrorism expert Fernando Reinares pointed out he impact of the US’ wars of vengeance:”The global war on terror has been, generally speaking, a failure. And that failure has been observed all throughout the West. But, speaking from Western Europe, if we divide the past 20 years into two significant periods, the period between 2002 and 2011, and the period from 2012, what we can see is that, during the second period, the number of fatalities caused by jihadist terrorism is greater than in the first period.”If we look at the second period, the level of radicalization in the region is far greater than in the first period. Actually, over the past 10 years, we have experienced in Western Europe an unprecedented cycle of jihadist mobilization. If you just look at the number of individuals who became foreign terrorist fighters in Syria over the past 9 to 10 years, you will find that 1/5 of them were living in Europe, which means that Muslims aged 18 to 35 and living in Western Europe are more than 20 times over-represented among foreign terrorist fighters, jihadist terrorist fighters, when compared with individuals coming from other regions in the world. So, we still have to learn how to tackle the issue of radicalization. We haven’t learned how to deal with the spread and the impact of jihadist ideologies.”Reinares emphasized: “The last two decades have witnessed the globalization of terrorism. The recruitment of foreign fighters continues to be a leading cause for the sustained expansion of terror groups. In particular, violent extremist groups leverage social media and new technologies to recruit supporters from around the world.”Those developments are hardly surprising. For the Muslim world, the US killed 4.5 million of its faithful and destroyed the economies of several Muslim nations to avenge the 2,996 Christians killed on 9/11. Hate against Americans, the West, and even Christianity now flows in the blood of Muslims — the fastest growing religious group — and their children’s children.Isn’t this exactly what the diabolical bin Laden wanted? Kritz was right in 2001: 9/11 has forever changed the world.
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