Introduction to the Event and its Impacts
Terrorist attacks seriously threaten a nation’s security, leading to long-lasting impacts on citizens and government authorities. The September 11 attacks, often known as 9/11, were a series of aircraft kidnappings and suicide bombings carried out in 2001 by 19 militants affiliated with the Islamic extremist organization Al Qaeda (Ohio, 2019). The American government’s support for Israel and its military deployment to Saudi Arabia were cited as some of the reasons for the attack, as detailed in Osama Bin Laden’s letter to America (Observer Worldview, 2002). The event has come to be known as the deadliest terrorist attack in the history of the United States, following the number of casualties and the extent of its coverage.
The assaults on New York and Washington, D.C. resulted in many deaths and destruction and a massive U.S. counter-terrorism campaign. In New York, 2,750 civilians died, out of which 184 were at the Pentagon, and one of the hijacked planes crashed in Pennsylvania, resulting in the death of 40 passengers on board (Ohio, 2019). In addition, all 19 terrorists were killed during the attack (Ohio, 2019). New York’s police and fire agencies were particularly heavily hit: hundreds of cops and firefighters were slain as they hurried to the scene of the attacks. The U.S. had to undertake several policy changes that impacted its obligation toward the American people and its diplomatic relations following the attack.
One of the notable effects of 9/11 was a shift in Americans’ security awareness. A focus on “homeland security” led to the creation of a White House division and, later, a cabinet department with the same name (Ohio, 2019). Citizens were urged to be watchful, report suspicious behavior, and prepare for calamities in advertising. The Patriot Act of 2001 enabled the use of previously regarded excessive domestic monitoring and law enforcement measures (Ohio, 2019). Federal officials detained and questioned 1,200 Middle Eastern males, prosecuted suspected terrorists in military commissions, suspended attorney-client privileges, and inspected business and communication data without the agreement or warrants of their owners (Ohio, 2019). Through the collaboration of several military units, a series of investigations were launched, leading to the discovery and ambush of Al Qaeda.
Investigations Leading to the Confounding of Al Qaeda
Although much focus on the destruction of Al Qaeda was developed after the 9/11 attacks, investigations into the terrorist group’s operations had been ongoing for some time. To combat the growing threat of terrorism, Presidents Clinton and Bush dispatched intelligence, law enforcement, diplomatic, and military officers. However, they could not uncover bin Laden’s most daring plot to attack New York and Washington, D.C. The U.S. responded to the 9/11 incident in a number of ways.
Notably, the attack revealed the extent to which terrorist groups were willing to go to achieve their goals. Osama bin Laden had indicated in his letter that the U.S. had attacked and killed many Middle East nationals and was willing to avenge his people (Observer Worldview, 2002). At this point, he was ready to use all the resources within his power to counter the attacks and ensure that Al Qaeda was eliminated from its roots. Ohio (2019) records that President George Bush authorized a penetration into Afghanistan just weeks after the 9/11 attacks. The Taliban system, which had provided Osama bin Laden with a safe haven, was deposed from power. Still, their defiance continues to this day – from bases in Afghanistan’s mountainous southeast and adjacent Pakistan (Ohio, 2019). Powered by the pain of losing thousands of Americans and the destruction of business hubs within the U.S., President Bush authorized several operations into Afghanistan to ambush and completely eliminate the terrorist group.
The global community ordered the Taliban to surrender the individuals responsible for the 9/11 incident, but the Taliban declined. Consequently, with the help of U.S. and British troops, an anti-Taliban Afghan army dubbed The Northern Alliance pushed on Kabul a month later (Ohio, 2019). The combined forces made quick progress, pushing the Taliban out of authority and driving Al-Qaeda across the border into Pakistan, where Osama Bin Laden was murdered in 2011 (Ohio, 2019). Despite the death of Al Qaeda’s leader and limited operations by the terrorist group, several conspiracy theories have been advanced, indicating the people’s doubts and lack of clarity on the incident’s occurrence.
9/11 Conspiracy Theories
For centuries, conspiracies have been formed regarding several events in history. Sáfrány (2013) defines a conspiracy as an agreement between two or more individuals to undertake the illegal or criminal activity. From the standpoint of the U.S. government, the 9/11 attack resulted from a series of attacks by Al Qaeda. Reports were given by the U.S. security department detailing the attack and the consequences. At first, people believed the accounts, blaming the terrorist organization. However, Knight (2008) records that people started noticing anomalies in the government’s reports, leading to the formulation of several theories. As time passed, the views became more common and were journalized, giving rise to criticism from many citizens within and outside the U.S.
While the cover-up theories are based on different elements of the event, they all revolve around the involvement of U.S. authorities in the incident, either willingly or through complacency. According to Sáfrány (2013), conspiracy theorists believe that just as Adolf Hitler bombed his capital facility in 1933, President Bush is supposed to have done the same to gain control of the Middle East and the American people. Following this theory, some people believe that Al Qaeda did not exist as a terrorist group, raising questions about the motives behind the attacks.
The involvement of the U.S. government in the event has been supported by anomalies in the report and the actual expectations. According to Knight (2008), conspiracy theorists argue that although the government claimed the capital was destroyed by a plane crash, its pillars were seen standing in the mainstream media reports, revealing the government’s cover-up. Other views revolve around the fact that no Jew was killed in the incident, blaming Mossad (Sáfrány, 2013). Lastly, it is believed that the U.S. had full knowledge of the threat, contrary to the state reports. Therefore, the Bush administration has been blamed for covering up the incident to advance its political moves while implicating the American people and the international community. Regardless of the different perspectives presented, the attack significantly altered the Muslim community’s social relations within the country.
Effects of the 9/11 Attack on the Muslim Community
The historical terrorist attack affected American society’s political, social, and economic dimensions. Social theorists have been concerned by the significant changes experienced by Arab Americans after 9/11. According to Tindongan (2011), the concept of ‘otherness’ has been developed to imply racial segregation and rampant discrimination across all spheres of society. While American society welcomed and accommodated Arabs and other minorities before the terrorist attack, the association of 9/11 with the Islamic extremists presented opportunities for the American society to view all Arabs as terrorists. As Ohio (2019) indicated, the government wrongfully arrested and investigated Arabs within the country, linking them to the attack. Years after the operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the murder of Osama bin Laden, Muslim nationals within the U.S. are still facing racial discrimination.
Although the challenges facing Arab Americans increased after 9/11, ethnic identity is believed to have played a crucial role in determining their fate. Salaita (2006) uses the terms orientalism and Islamophobia to describe the social-constructed identity reflecting Americans’ perspectives of Arabs and other minorities after 9/11. It is believed that the stereotypes advanced toward the Islamic community in America were politically motivated to give the government additional control over the Middle East. This theory adds to Knight’s (2008) account of conspiracies that linked political domination to social segregation after the event. In response to anti-Muslim movements, President Bush advised the U.S. citizens to resist the impulses causing them to treat the Arabs within the country unfairly. However, Arab Americans have not yet attained the equality and equity they would desire in American society.
The education sector has also been affected, with clear differences noticed within the curriculum development and programs designed for non-Arabic and Arabic students. Panagopoulos (2006) reveals that Arabic students face numerous challenges navigating the highly contested education system within America. In addition to being people of color, Muslim students lack a sense of identity and patriotism as they are alienated on the basis of their religion and their homeland. American imperialism has been abolished as a topic of study in schools, covering up the painful experiences of minorities within the U.S. Essentially, 9/11 turned the focus of Americans from nationalism to racial, religious, and ethnic divisions that have continued to affect Arab Americans, denying them access to valuable resources and inclusion in society.
Summary and Conclusions
In summary, the 9/11 terrorist attack on the U.S. has formed a basis on which the American society can be evaluated in regard to its political and social dimensions. The historical event occurred on September 11, 2001, with Islamic extremists targeting two major cities- New York and Washington, DC. Thousands of American civilians died during the attack, and many military personnel and rescue teams also fell victim to the incident. President Bush reacted to the event by initiating several operations into the perceived Al Qaeda base, forcing the terrorist to flee to Pakistan, where the ambush continued. The main players in the attack were Al Qaeda, the Taliban, the U.S. government, and the international community.
Following the association of 9/11 with the Islamic terrorists, Americans began an anti-Islamic movement that led to racial and religious discrimination towards Arabs within the U.S. Contrary to the government reports on the incident; critics advanced several theories implicating the government and blaming it for covering up the 9/11 events to advance its political ambitions. Arabic nationals within the U.S. have been segregated in various areas, including education. Although President Bush advocated for equal treatment for all citizens regardless of race or religion, this has not been realized among Arab Americans.
Knight, P. (2008). Outrageous conspiracy theories: Popular and official responses to 9/11 in Germany and the United States. New German Critique, 103, 165–193. Web.
Observer Worldview. (2002). Full text: bin Laden’s ‘letter to America’. The Guardian. Web.
Ohio. (2019). What caused 9/11 – and the consequences that linger. Ohio State Insights. Web.
Panagopoulos, C. (2006). Trends: Arab and Muslim Americans and Islam in the aftermath of 9/11. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 70(4), 608–624. Web.
Sáfrány, B. (2013). 9/11 conspiracy theories. Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies (HJEAS), 19(1), 11–30. Web.
Salaita, S. (2006). Beyond orientalism and islamophobia: 9/11, anti-Arab racism, and the mythos of national pride. CR: The New Centennial Review, 6(2), 245–266. Web.
Tindongan, C. W. (2011). Negotiating Muslim youth identity in a post-9/11 world. The High School Journal, 95(1), 72–87. Web.