Terrorism is the use of pre-meditated, unlawful violence by an organised group against a person or place with the objective of intimidating, coercing and threatening governments or societies, often for political or ideological reasons. One of the most well known terrorist organisations is an Islamic group called Al Qaeda. Lead by Osama Bin Laden, Al Qaeda’s objectives include the end of foreign influence in Muslim Countries and the creation of a new Islamic caliphate. During the morning rush hour of September 11th 2001, four American planes were hijacked by the terrorist group Al Qaeda.
The hijackers intentionally impacted two of the four planes into the World Trade Centres Twin Towers. Another of the planes flew into the Pentagon, headquarters of the department of defence. The final airliner crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, destination unknown. At one minute to eight, the morning of the attacks, American Airlines Flight 11 departed Boston Logan Airport heading for Los Angeles International Airport, however only 47 minutes after departure, 08:46am, the plane hit the World Trade Centres North Tower between the 94th and 98th floors.
Minutes later New York’s Fire Fighting department arrived and tried to rescue those on higher floors. However, with the sheer amount of equipment they had to carry it would take a minute to climb only 1 floor, the fire fighters soon discovered they needed another plan. Many had already died and those above the inferno, surrounded by fire and heat, realising they would also die, jumped from the tower.
Meanwhile in Boston Logan Airport, Flight 175 had departed at 08:14am with the objective of going to Los Angeles International Airport, however at 09:03am, less than an hour later, Flight 175 crashed into the World Trade Centre’s south tower between the 78th and 84th floors. The plane crashing into the tower caused debris to fall and hit many by-passers. Until now, onlookers believed that the first plane to impact was a horrific accident, yet it soon became apparent that this was not the case when the second plane hit the south tower only 17 minutes after the first. 3 minutes previous, American Airlines Flight 77 departed from Washington Dulles Airport heading for Los Angeles.
At 09:38am the aeroplane impacted on the west wall of the Pentagon. The area attacked was shut off by metal doors to prevent the fire from spreading. The final plane United Airlines Flight 93 departed Newark, New Jersey Airport at 08:42am, 41 minutes late, heading for San Francisco international airport. After being informed about the disaster in New York passengers of flight 93 realised the plane had been hijacked.
They then re-took control of the plane from the hijackers, however as none of the passengers had flying experience the plane crashed at 10:03am in a field in Shanksville. The fourth airlines destination is unknown however as Al Qaeda had already attacked the World Trade Centre, Americas main place for Business and trade, the pentagon, Americas defence, the plane is believed to be going to the White House which is political.
Meanwhile, minutes earlier in New York at 09:59am the south tower collapsed without warning 56 minutes after being struck by the second plane, dust spread everywhere which included the remains of ashes of the occupants burned or crushed alive. In addition, at 19:28am the North Tower of the World Trade Centre collapsed 1 hour and 42 minutes after being struck by the first plane. It took approximately only 10 seconds for each of the towers to fall to ground level. The terrorist attacks had an overwhelming and immediate effect upon the Americans.
Across the US flights were halted or redirected to other countries and many mourned the 2992 people who died. Many police officers and rescue workers elsewhere in the country took leaves of absence to travel to New York City to assist in the process of recovering bodies from the remains of the Twin Towers. Hospitals were alerted for massive injuries however hardly any arrived as they had been killed in the destruction. Although it wasn’t needed, blood donations across the US surged in the weeks after the attacks. The News of the attacks shocked the world: UK paper The Daily Mail’s headline ‘The Tomb’ shows the loss the attacks caused.
Their next headline ‘Apocalypse’ suggested the end of a nation after the attacks and shows how sudden the deaths were. Al Qaeda’s reason to attack these sites are that: Before the attacks the Twin Towers were seen towering all other buildings in the skyline, as New York has the biggest economy, it would be a direct strike that would shatter the image that the countries defence is impregnable. The Pentagon is a representation of Americas Military Force. To execute such manoeuvres as they did, the terrorists would have to have flight experience, they would also have to know which planes would have a great deal of fuel to cause the most damage.
There are several motives that are believed to have been behind the terrorist attacks on September 11th, including America’s involvement in the Middle Eastern countries, Religion and Globalization. To be able to access these motives it is necessary to consider not only Al Qaeda and there history but also the history of the Middle East and their links with America. There are also many conspiracy theories, for example; some believe that the floors of the two towers could not have gave way just from pressure of fire and heat, bombs would have to be placed on the floors that went off when the plane impacted.
In addition, some dismiss the idea of co-ordinated terrorist attacks and blame the USA, who – they think – had attacked their own citizens for a reason to invade the Middle East to gain oil, however, I am going to dismiss these as there is not enough evidence to support it, and also Osama Bin Laden has admitted that is was Al Qaeda who perpetrated the attacks. One of the main motives behind the 9/11 attacks is American involvement in the Middle Eastern countries. During the Roman Empire, Palestine was formally known as Judea; which at this point in time was populated largely by Jews, and was occupied by the Romans as part of their Empire.
The Jews fought a terrorist campaign to rid the land of Romans. The Roman Empire adapted Christianity as their official religion and by the 12th century Christianity had spread north into Europe. However, the dominant religion of the Middle East was Islam. The Jews had been forced to leave the Holy Land and made their way into Europe, this was called the Diaspora. As Islam spread through Europe the Christians felt threatened and decided to fight for the sacred land themselves – their aim was to unite all Christians and defeat the Muslims to recover the Holy City of Jerusalem – this was called the crusades.
Ultimately the Crusades failed and the Holy Land remained in Muslim control, which went back and forth between the Jews and Muslims. As a result of World War 2 pressure increased for a Jewish homeland as a response to the Nazi Holocaust, many people felt sympathetic towards the Jews, however Britain still refused to concede, worried about the rights and future of the Palestinian Arabs who had lived on the land for centuries. This unfortunately lead to the Jewish terrorism organisations ‘The Stern Gang’ and ‘Irgun’ who attacked British property and personnel.
The two groups started in the 1930’s and continued until 1948 when Israel was declared an Independent state. Because of unrest between the Jews and Palestinian Arabs the United Nations drew a plan to divide the land – Jews one side and Arabs the other – however the Jewish government refused to give away newly won land. Known as the six day war, the Israelis attacked their Arab neighbours; Jordan, Egypt and Syria, without warning. In 1973 the Arab states hit back, attacking Israel on the day of Yom Kippur (A Jewish festival).
The Americans and United Nations supported Israel, this caused the Palestinian Arabs to distrust them, they had sided with their enemy and allowed the Jews to live there, pushing the Arabs out, and invading nearby Muslim countries. This is supported by a statement made in May 1998 by Osama Bin Laden, who claimed ‘all those who participate in, or help the Jewish occupiers in killing Muslims’, later, in October 2001, Osama Bin Laden stated, ‘We swore America wouldn’t live in security until we live it truly in Palestine’.
This supports the motive of Americas Involvement and siding with Israel, in addition, this is a reliable as it is a statement by the leader of Al Qaeda, moreover a month later, Bin Laden declared ‘if avenging the killing of our people is terrorism then history should be a witness that we are terrorists,’ the word ‘avenging’ gives the impression of being noble and makes the public wonder why they would want to avenge. Saudi Arabia, a country in the Middle East, is a large producer of oil. The country contains two of the most sacred sites in Islam – Mecca and Medina, the birth place of Mohammed.
The government of Saudi Arabia supply oil to America and in Return America sells weapons to them, making allies. In addition, the USA has military bases in the region that they use to launch attacks in Muslim counties e. g. Iraq and Afghanistan. Another main motive behind the terrorist attacks is religion. Jews, Muslims and Christians all have a religious hold over Israel – It is the place in which Jesus died, the home to Mohammed and the location of the temple of Solomon. As a result the Jews and Muslims create war over Israel as they both believe the land is more sacred to them.
Furthermore, AL Qaeda’s extreme belief in Religion meant that the hijackers believed they were taking part in a Holy War against the Americans who were occupying the country of their most sacred religious sites. ‘To him who fights in the course of Allah – whether he is slain or gets victory-soon shall we give him a reward of great value,’ this extract from the Koran (4:74) implies that those who die in the name of Allah will be rewarded in the afterlife, some reports mention 99 virgins who will offer themselves to the individual in heaven.
This is supported by source 1, a video statement by Osama Bin Laden, released on October 7th 2001, in which he says ‘he allowed them to destroy the United States. I ask God almightily to elevate their status and grant them paradise. Globalization is what America is aiming for throughout the world. Muslims disagree with this and have set out to expose the weaknesses of the USA, and make them out to being not all-powerful and as vulnerable as other countries. Furthermore, flying planes into landmarks was the only effective weapon as the USA has a huge army and means of nuclear and destructive weapons.
Lastly, a hardly considered motive; publicity would grab the attention of the world and make Arab/Muslim grievances heard. In conclusion, it is difficult to establish one main motive for the terrorist attacks on America; this is because combinations of motivations are identified from a build up of tension and hostility over hundreds of years. These motives can be linked by the Israeli and Arab (Palestinians) war, who are fighting over the land that is sacred two three major religions.
In addition Americas support in Israel over palatine mean the Palestinians feel let down by the rest of the world. Also, the USA’s military bases across Saudi Arabs intimidate Muslims who are supposed to visit the sacred sight Mecca (in Saudi Arabia), at least once a year. Moreover Saudi Arabia supply oil to the Americans who in return provide weapons, this is frowned upon as it could better the Arab and Muslim countries with an improved economy. To conclude, I believe these motives combined together is the main motive of the terrorists who carried out the September 11 attacks on the USA.