11.09.2001 – Two planes disappear from radar at around 8:30 EST. At around 8:45 EST a Boeing 767 jet flies into the South tower of the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York. Eighteen minutes later, a second 767 jet flies into the North tower of the WTC, both these attacks cause huge explosions causing debris to fall over the city of New York.
Horrified New Yorkers stop their work to watch and wait for what could happen next. Less than an hour after the initial attacks, the unthinkable happens, the North tower of the WTC collapses, killing several hundred firefighters and causing a huge cloud of smoke to cover downtown Manhattan. The South tower collapsing causing more debris and smoke to fall over Manhattan followed this soon after. The smoke could be viewed from space. The world stares in shock.
The first I heard of these tragic attacks was at around 15:20 GMT (around 10:00 EST) when I logged on to the BBC News website. At that time all that was available was that the WTC had been attacked and the Pentagon was on fire. My first thoughts were of disbelief, terrorist attacks on the US were things found only in films, the thought of this happening to the world’s biggest super-power was unreal. As I was still in school at this time I was unable to watch any live footage of the attacks and no pictures were yet available. As you could imagine, everyone around me was also in horror and disbelief as everybody heard about the attacks.
The class was let out early so that we could keep up with the latest news. As I walked home I noticed there seemed to be few people or cars on the streets. Whether or not this was just coincidence I don’t know. But I eventually got back.
I opened the door, took my shoes off and turned on the television. The images that greeted me I will never forget. My mouth was open with horror at the destruction that had been created. As very little news was available on the Internet, I had no idea that the twin towers of the WTC had collapsed and that thousands of people were feared dead.
This was at around 16:00 GMT. I don’t think I moved from my seat until about six, when they temporarily stopped the live coverage. Nothing else mattered for the rest of the night; all that concerned me was what might happen next.
Would there be further attacks? What would the US do about the attacks? Is this WWIII?
12.09.2001 – The rescue operation began. Overnight, another building had collapsed delaying rescue efforts further. The plaza where the twin towers once stood was now no more than a twisted pile of metal and concrete rubble. The scene looked more like a battlefield of nuclear war than one of the world’s busiest and most proud cities. President George W Bush addressed the world.
“We will smoke these folks out of their holes”
Personally, not the best of phrases to use the day after the attacks. The use of the word ‘folks’ to refer to terrorists is not a good political move in my opinion. It sounds as if he is talking about the attacks in a casual manner. Much of the world’s media picked up on this and tried to make a fool out of ‘Dubya’ with it, but at a time of crisis, no-one was really interested as people were more concerned with what might happen next.
Traders worldwide immediately started worrying about a possible global recession, already starting before the attacks. People in the City were evacuated with fears of possible attacks in the UK. All flights in the US were cancelled until further notice and no planes were allowed to enter US or Canadian airspace. Up to 7000 people were feared dead in New York. The world stood in silence – and waited.
13.09.2001 – Tony Blair announces he will help the US government win the war against terrorism with the aid of military support, President George ‘Dubya’ Bush greets this by saying, ‘Britain is now our closest friend’. EU officials declare Friday 14th September as an international day of mourning and three minutes of silence are to be held on Friday morning. Osama Bin Laden and his terrorist organisation, ‘al-Queda’ (The Base) declared as prime suspects.
The world definitely now seemed a different place, I wasn’t sure what it was exactly, but nothing felt right. Although people tried to make the best of the situation, plenty of anxiety could be felt in the air. The sites of the attacks in New York are now described as ‘ground zero’ as rescuers start to sift through the rubble of the once mighty WTC, hoping to find possible survivors.
Everyone is talking about the event, everywhere you look there are things to remind you look there are things to remind you. The world’s press carries pictures of the WTC, the TV is full of live coverage and breaking events, and it just all seems too overwhelming.
Just over a month after the event, the world is a very different place. US strikes on Afghanistan have begun causing Osama Bin Laden to send out several threats to the US and the UK warning over further attacks. Bio-terrorism has now been confirmed as several letters containing anthrax have been sent to US media companies and US congress. Six cases have now been confirmed and thirty-nine people have been exposed to the disease (as of 19/10/2001) as citizens of the US and around the world start to panic.
There have been record numbers of sales of gas masks and sales of anthrax treatments in both the US and the UK.
Anthrax doesn’t particularly worry me as in order to launch a large-scale attack; it would be nearly impossible. What does worry me is what the terrorists may do in response to the attacks on their own people by the US and the UK; we may have not yet seen what they are fully capable of.
I believe that the US are justified in retaliating against Osama Bin Laden and the ruling Taliban regime in Afghanistan, if some innocent people are killed then so be it, it is worth killing the lives of some in order to prevent the loss of the lives of many. I also believe that the UK should help the US as many Britons were killed in the WTC bombings and we are also a close ally to America. I also personally believe that if a world war were to happen again, I would want to be on the side of the world’s biggest superpower.
The 21st Century began on September 11, 2001. In June 1914, the assassination of Franz Ferdinand caused the first war that would define the 20th Century. The attack of September 11 will be the turning point for of a new kind of war that will define a new century. This war will be fought in shadows, and the opposition will continue to target the innocent and defenseless. President Bush made it clear in his September 20th speech to the world, that this threat has not achieved its objectives of fear.
More that it has set the almighty US military machine into action. This threat is not directed solely against the US – it is a threat directed against all countries that seek freedom, peace, and stability. The world’s response to terrorism will change not only international efforts with respect to terrorism; it will change governments as countries take sides and see interests where few were seen before. A worldwide strategy is an important step in the US government’s response to terrorism. But terrorism will forever remain a continuous, ever-changing threat that is responsive to countermeasures. Terrorism must be confronted before it acts.
The attacks on September 11th have been compared to Pearl Harbour. That comparison does contain one useful analogy – lessons on organising the intelligence community. The first line of defense against terrorism is intelligence. It is also the key to finding those responsible and bringing them to justice.
All in all, my personal thoughts are that the war against terrorism can never be won as there will always be people who oppose the thoughts of others, and there will always be people who are willing to sacrifice the lives of others for their beliefs; and no matter how much intelligence there is, people will always succeed if they persevere.