Today, Saturday, September 11, 2021, marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the largest terrorist attack in American history. In the space of less than 90 minutes on a late summer morning, the world changed.
Three ways in which the world changed after 9/11 attacks in America
20th anniversary of 9/11.
On that Tuesday morning, 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four American commercial flights destined for the West Coast and intentionally crashed them.
Two planes—American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175—departed from Boston and Flight 11 struck New York City’s World Trade Center North Tower at 8:46 am and Flight 175 the South Tower at 9:03 am, resulting in the collapse of both towers.
A third plane, American Airlines Flight 77, leaving from Dulles International Airport in Virginia, crashed into the Pentagon at 9:37 am, and the final plane, United Airlines Flight 93, departing from Newark, New Jersey crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, at 10:03 am, after passengers stormed the cockpit and tried to subdue the hijackers.
Nearly 3,000 people were killed that day and the United States soon found itself mired in what would become the longest war in its history, a war that cost an estimated sh.800 trillion.
The events of 9/11 not only reshaped the global response to terrorism, but raised new and troubling questions about security, privacy, and treatment of prisoners. It reshaped the world's immigration policies and led to a surge in discrimination, racial profiling, and hate crimes.
Before 9/11, removing articles of clothing and electronic devices before boarding a plane — or disposing of bottles of water, cigarette lighters and shampoo — were unheard of.
While X-ray machines and security did exist, they were hardly afforded the same level of attention.
For example, the 9/11 hijackers boarded flights with box cutters and knives, which were allowed on certain flights at the time.
Just months after the attacks, the US launched the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a multi-billion-dollar US Homeland Security apparatus that monitors air travel and employs nearly 50,000 security officers.
It resulted in hours-long queues and pat downs now associated with US airports.
Variations of similar security measures and entities soon followed around the world, as did tens of millions of CCTV cameras on street corners in urban areas and in small businesses.
Increase in terror attacks
Before 9/11, "terrorism" was not a household term and it was generally reserved for political discussions involving hardline communists or anarchists.
After 9/11, there were waves of terrorist attacks targeting Western cultural centres, resulting in mass casualties: 2002 Kikambala Hotel bombing and Arkia Airlines missile attack in Mombasa, Bali in 2002 and 2005, Madrid in 2004, London in 2005 and many, many more.
Despite Bin Laden explicitly saying he hoped the attack would drag the US into conflict, and that war was what Al Qaeda wanted, within weeks the US invaded Afghanistan in an attempt to dislodge the Taliban from power and clear out Al Qaeda operatives.
Within 18 months, US forces had also invaded Iraq, chasing claims that former president Saddam Hussein was harbouring weapons of mass destruction.
In October 2011, a coordinated operation between the Somali military and the Kenyan military began against the al-Shabaab group of jihadi insurgents in southern Somalia.
The mission was officially led by the Somali army, with the Kenyan forces providing a support role.
Since then, a series of explosions have rocked various areas in Kenya, bombings which are believed to have been retaliatory attacks by Al-Shabaab. In early June 2012, Kenyan forces were formally integrated into The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
Those conflicts would eventually lead to hundreds of thousands of casualties, regional instability and millions of refugees, while more than an estimated sh.100 trillion has been spent by the United States and its allies.
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