Ten Years After, We are Still on ‘Ground Zero’

On September 11, 2001- exactly ten years ago- some cowards in the name of Jihad on the West, and with the view to kill and destroy, hijacked some domestic flights in the United States and rammed two of them into the twin-tower of the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York. It was a suicide mission, timed to simultaneously occur along with two other attacks, the targets being The Pentagon, America’s security base; and Washington DC, the seat of power. The dare-devils crashed the plane into the WTC, killing in the process, 2,753 persons and reducing the tallest buildings in the US to rubbles, a development that informed the christening of the site, commemoratively, Ground Zero. The crashing into The Pentagon killed 184 people, and destroyed a part of the ‘power house’; while the United Flight 93 billed for Washington DC was almost inconsequential, as the passengers overpowered the hijackers and diverted the plane to Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where it crash-landed and unfortunately killed the 40 passengers on board. Al-Qaeda, headed by Osama bin Laden, was responsible for those tragic incidents.

The 9/11 attacks were not just another terror act in the history of Islamic extremism; it also became the very first example of well planned and almost impeccably executed terrorist strike in global politics. It was the first act of international terror on the soil of the world’s most powerful nation, and it has remained the most devastating cowardly attack on harmless and innocent targets in human history. Altogether, about 3,000 persons died, and with this new twist of suicide attacks, human civilization stands on a cliffhanger.

Ground Zero implies more than the coordinated strikes of 9/11 that wrought destruction on the US. It definitely means more than an eye-opener to the porosities and rustiness of the American security system by the beginning of the 21st century. It means much more than the bringing of Americans to terms with the dark reality of the depth of hateful sentiments towards them that were already flowing across certain parts of the world. Ground Zero represents a ‘paradigm shift’ of sorts in world politics.

September 11 opened a new chapter of terrorism. Hitherto, terror was marked primarily, by vehicle and plane hijack with the passengers held hostage and used as bargaining chips or ransom for the hijackers with the view to realizing certain ends and interests. When it got worse, hostages were either killed, or important personalities were kidnapped. Terrorist strikes stepped up as suicide missions took the centre-stage. Attackers now offer themselves as victims of their own acts, thus implying that life is nothing, and can as such be taken en masse. Bombings of public arenas, churches, offices, recreation centres, schools, embassies, hotels, market places, pubs, etc, have become the pastime. The success of 9/11 has thus served as a boost in the age-long fight against western and ‘Christian imperialism.’

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The way it shook the US and the rest of the world massaged the ego and soothed the sadistic passion of Osama and his agents of death. This also drove them wild, leading to the establishment of networks all over the world, particularly in the poorer countries that have security and economic setbacks. Such places have been identified as fertile grounds to recruit and breed terrorists, as it is believed that such society often has more desperate, frustrated and ignorant elements that could be easily enticed and brainwashed.

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The outcomes of these have been the bombings in different parts of the world in quick succession. In 2007, the United Kingdom came under attack; Germany was attacked; Mumbai in India was hit; Russia got pounded; and we have had many more. These data show that since 9/11, virtually all the known Powers have come under terror attacks. The Medium Powers too have not been spared. The poorer states, including Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, and Syria have been the worst hit as terrorist activities cannot be extricated for their collapse or near-collapse as a state. In the case of Somalia, the death-knell was sounded by Al-Shabab, an Al-Qaeda protégé in that beleaguered state, which ruined all attempt at establishing order and took total control of the place a major base of Al-Qaeda in Africa.

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Terrorism after 9/11 has also spread to most unlikely places, such as Nigeria. The country was first linked to terrorism in 2009, with the arrest of one Abdulmutalab, son of a prominent Nigerian banker, constituting ‘human bomb’, attempting to detonate in a Delta Airline flight, in Detroit, USA. The post-Abdulmutalab era has opened an ugly chapter for an already battered international perception. One Boko Haram suddenly reorganized and picked up the pieces of what was left of them in 2009 to become an alleged partner of Al-Qaeda in Nigeria. It has been attacking churches, police headquarters, army barracks, government offices and personnel, in a spate of suicide bombings, until the attack on the UN building a few weeks ago: leaving behind scores of deaths and destruction!

While terrorism has also made some nations to reorder or restructure their security systems; it has exposed the dearth of strategic thought and intelligence capacity in the security apparatuses of other states. In Nigeria, former security chiefs were suggesting a dialogue with the ‘rebels’, and the National Security Adviser was almost admitting that he had no business occupying that position by disclosing, to our bewilderment, that Nigeria was not prepared to take on the monster of terrorism when it occurred.

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Ground Zero may have become another tourist attraction in Manhattan, New York; but it means much more for global politics. It shows the pathetic state of human reason, leading him to plan the mass execution of fellow men and himself for the sake of vanity; and it demonstrates the dangers ahead in which human civilization may come tumbling if the scourge of terrorism is not quickly put out, by engaging divine and strategic forces to combat it.

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