“Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror. The pictures of airplane flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness and a quiet, unyielding anger” – President George W. Bush
It was nine years ago that 19 Islamic Jihadi terrorists highjacked four planes in the skies over America and crashed them into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. Just shy of 3000 people died that day, murdered by an ideology full of hatred.
The attack shocked us. We had been attacked before by the terrorists, but never with this much destruction. It wasn’t the first time that radical Islamists had succeeded in attacking US targets, but it was the most violent. A partial list:
April 1983 – a car bombing at the U.S. embassy in Beiruit killed 17 Americans.
October 1983 – a truck bomb at the U.S. marine barracks kills 241.
October 1985 – Palestinian terrorists hijack the Achille Lauro and murder American Leon Klinghoffer.
April 1986 – a bomb destroys a West Berlin club killing one American and wounding 44.
December 1988 – Pan Am flight 103 is blown up over Lockerbie, Scottland, killing 189 Americans.
February 1993 – a van bomb explodes in the World Trade Center, killing 6 and wounding 1042.
November 1995 – a car-bomb in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia kills five Americans.
June 1996 – a fuel truck bomb kills 19 Americans and wounds 240 in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia (Khubar Towers).
August 1998 – Terrorists simultaneously destroy U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killing 13 Americans.
October 2000 – Yemeni terrorists use an explosive laden rubber dingy to attack the USS Cole, killing 17 sailors.
September 11, 2001 …
I was at home that morning. Some friends were in from out of town, heading to a conference in DC, and I stayed home to have breakfast with them before they left. My wife called from work (we worked at the same place back then) and told me of the first plane.
I remember watching live as the second plane hit. (Shortly thereafter I was told not to come to work as we were closing down for the day.) I remember watching with my two friends in disbelief as the first tower went down, then the second.
Maybe this time they had our attention.
It’s nine years on now. The world looks different. We laid the smack down in Afghanistan, but weren’t quite able to pull in Bin Laden or Mullah Mohammed Omar. The fight with the Taliban now continues to ebb and flow from their safe haven in Pakistan. Saddam Hussein is gone and a measure of freedom has come to Iraq.
I sometimes wonder if they still have our attention.
The attacks from Islamic terrorists never really stopped. Every year since 2001 there have been American fatalities in terror attacks. None have been on the same scale as 9-11 of course. For how long? I have no idea.
I generally like to believe that we, as a country, are doing the necessary work to stay safe. That we are working diligently to deal with the dangers. Besides, we’ve faced far bigger enemies than this and come away successful. But, we had to face those enemies. I suspect we haven’t seen the last of this one – but I really hope I’m wrong.