As a nation remembers, the forces responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks may be gaining new strength.
“22 years ago, time stood still in a city that never sleeps,” tweeted NYC Mayor Eric Adams’ office. “The aftermath of #September11 ripples throughout this nation to this very day. A reminder of the unfathomable, a remembrance of the unthinkable.”
“9/11 victims honored at a memorial ceremony in Lower Manhattan,” reported Mira Wassef for PIX New York. “Monday marks 22 years since thousands of people were killed in the terrorist attack at the World Trade Center in New York City.”
Everyone remembers where they were on the morning of September 11, 2001, when a series of coordinated terrorist attacks struck the United States, forever altering the course of history.
Everyone knows the story: Four commercial airplanes were hijacked by 19 terrorists belonging to the extremist group al-Qaeda. American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 were flown into the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, causing both iconic structures to collapse within hours.
A third plane, American Airlines Flight 77, targeted the Pentagon, the nation’s military headquarters, in Arlington, Virginia. The fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, crashed into a field in Pennsylvania after passengers heroically attempted to regain control from the hijackers.
“I’ll never forget how bright and blue the sky was in New York City the morning of September 11, 2001,” tweeted former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg as a part of a 2023 #RemembertheSky social media campaign.
The 9/11 Memorial Museum led followers through a day of remembrance, with moments of collective silence for each of the major tragic moments of that fateful day.
“The 9/11 Memorial & Museum is the country’s principal institution concerned with exploring 9/11, documenting its impact, and examining its continuing significance,” says the Museum of its charter. “Honoring those who were killed in the 2001 and 1993 attacks is at the heart of our mission.”
The Pentagon memorialized 9/11, and the 184 people killed in the attack on Washington, D.C., with a ceremony.
Vice President Kamala Harris spent the anniversary honoring the victims and acknowledging first responders in New York City.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden visited Alaska where he is scheduled to spend the somber anniversary with U.S. troops and first responders.
“On Monday, President Joe Biden will mark the 22nd anniversary of the September 11th attacks in Alaska instead of the traditional New York City, Virginia or Pennsylvania events,” reported Joseph Konig for Spectrum News 1 New York. “The president will be returning from his overseas trip to India for the G20 summit and his first visit to Vietnam since taking office. He is set to speak in front of 1,000 first responders and their families at a military base in Anchorage, Alaska, the White House said.”
People around the world still mourn the anniversary of the tragic events of 9/11 with memorial events, vigils, and ceremonies to honor the victims and show solidarity with the United States.
These commemorations are often organized by governments, international organizations, and local communities to remember the tragic events and express support for the principles of peace, unity, and global cooperation in the face of terrorism.
“The 343 Reasons a Small Town in Ireland Mourns on Sept. 11,” revealed Claire Fahy for the New York Times. “Kinsale, an Irish fishing village, is home to a 9/11 memorial honoring the firefighters who were killed in New York that day.”
“On the morning of Sept. 11, while administering last rites to firefighters, Father Judge, 68, was struck by falling debris and died,” wrote Fahy. “His death was the first loss recorded that day. Father Judge was the son of Irish immigrants and made his first visit to his ancestral home in the village of Keshcarrigan, in the northern county of Leitrim, in 2000.”
Over the past 22 years, there has been some measure of justice.
On May 2, 2011, the world received the momentous news that Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, had been located and killed by U.S. Navy SEALs in a daring nighttime raid on his compound.
The operation, ordered by then-President Barack Obama, marked a significant milestone in the global war on terror. The successful mission provided a sense of closure for the victims of 9/11 and signaled a major victory in the ongoing battle against international terrorism.
Unfortunately, the death of Osama Bin Laden didn’t mean the end of terrorism. ISIS soon emerged as the successor to Al-Qaeda.
The roots of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) can be traced back to the aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, which led to the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime and the subsequent power vacuum and sectarian strife in the country.
ISIS’s precursor was Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian extremist. AQI was responsible for numerous attacks, particularly against Shiite Muslims, and aimed to establish an Islamic state in Iraq. After al-Zarqawi’s death in 2006, AQI evolved into the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI).
ISIS’s brutal tactics, including mass killings, public executions, and the use of social media for recruitment and propaganda, drew international attention and condemnation. The group’s territorial control peaked in 2014 when it captured significant portions of Iraq and Syria, but it faced opposition from various local, regional, and international forces.
A coalition of countries, including the United States, launched military operations to counter ISIS. By 2019, the group had lost most of its territorial holdings.
While ISIS’s territorial presence has significantly diminished, it remains a global security concern due to its ability to inspire and coordinate attacks by sympathizers around the world. The group’s history is marked by violence, extremism, and its aspiration to establish a radical interpretation of Islamic governance in the region.
Since the destabilization of Afghanistan, ISIS-affiliates and similar organizations have been taking advantage of the opportunity to reorganize and step-up recruitment.
The Taliban, now in full control of Afghanistan, is not in partnership with ISIS; but under the Taliban, the country is sure to be moving in a more extreme direction.
Under Taliban leadership, Afghanistan is already facing a humanitarian crisis. With one-half of its workforce hamstrung by lack of education and resources, Afghanistan is certain to be facing tough economic times in the decade to come.
That combination and environment — high unemployment, young population, destabilized government, desperate poverty — is ideal for jihadist recruiters building an army for their terrible cause.
9/11 was 22 years ago today, but the fight against terrorism continues.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)