9/11 – 18 Years On, The War Continues
As the 2019 September 11 rolls round, there is little hope that what started in 2011 will be ending anytime soon. And the world watches, as it did on September 11, 2001 with baited breath, writes Tahir Wadood Malik.
I had just returned from a three-month holiday in the United State and was back to work. September 11th, 2001 was just another day in the university. But since I had an evening class, I did not go home at 5 PM like I normally did.
The evening class was scheduled from 6 to 8:30 PM, and as I went to the staff desk to collect the student attendance register, all the staff were watching the television. One of them asked me to come behind the counter to see the news.
CNN was covering the first airplane hitting the World Trade Centre as Breaking News.
Seeing the news, I was taken back to my visit to the US and how, during a trip to New York, I had opted to go up the Empire State Building rather than the WTC which I put off to the next time. Looking at the TV screen, I thought there would not be a next time.
I went for the class and found that most of the students had been commuting to the university, so none had seen or heard the news. The attack was mentioned in passing and left to be followed up after class.
Back home, I found all the TV channels beaming direct from New York, and the WTC was the news. By now, the second tower had also been hit as was the Pentagon. And a fourth passenger airliner had been brought down in Pittsburg (Pennsylvania), and the news was now about the WTC and Pentagon collapsing, plane wreckage, deaths and how the world was reacting. The name Al-Qaeda had by now become the key to the whole imbroglio.
Like with all such incidents, be these domestic or overseas, the hype soon goes down for the rest of the world and it is only the affected who keep living the nightmare and facing the lies and propaganda spewed by the various opinion makers.
But at the heart of it all, the pain endures.
No matter how many enquiries, fact finding missions, public interest hearings and claims of cover up verses selling the truth, the fact remains that there remains some ambiguity around the ‘official’ version of the catastrophe.
Today as the world marks yet another anniversary of the attacks, my thoughts go back to that fateful 11th day in September 2001 when 2,996 people lost their lives, (2,977 victims + 19 hijackers). US President Bush convinced that the attacks were masterminded by Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda addressed the United States Congress on 20 September 2001, declaring a ‘War on Terror’, warned the war would start with Al-Qaeda but would not end there.
The result was the United States invasion of Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, followed by the invasion of Iraq on 20 March 2003.
The War in Afghanistan is the longest running war fought by the US military and has lasted 17 years, 11 months; out lasting the Vietnam War by 7 months with no sign of ending, as the US keeps changing its stance on negotiating with the Taliban over US troops withdrawal from Afghanistan and leaving the country to self-govern.
In the long run, the region suffers from an 18-year-old supposedly Al Qaida action with no signs of abating even after losing nearly 2,400 American service members and over 20,000 wounded till mid-2019.
As the 2019 September 11 rolls round, there is little hope that what started in 2011 will be ending anytime soon.
And the world watches, as it did on September 11, 2001 with baited breath – only this time the TV will be showing the stubbornness of the world powers rather than what the bereaved families want.
The writer is a freelance contributor and survivor of terrorism.