On September 11, 2001, terrorists from the Al-Qaeda * group carried out a series of major terrorist attacks in the United States. About 3 thousand people were killed, another 6 thousand were injured. According to analysts, the events of September 11 largely determined the further development of the domestic and foreign policy of the White House. In particular, Washington has significantly expanded the powers of the intelligence services within the country, which has led to massive surveillance of US citizens. In addition, under the slogan of fighting terrorism, the United States invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. The campaigns in the Middle East have led to the strongest destabilization in the region, experts say. At the same time, experts emphasize that objective assessments of the geopolitical consequences of American foreign policy over the past 20 years have yet to be formed.
20 years ago, on September 11, 2001, the largest terrorist attack took place in the United States. President Joe Biden declared 10, 11 and 12 September 2021 as days of prayer and remembrance on the anniversary of the tragic events.
The 9/11 attacks claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 people and, according to analysts, had a profound impact on American society and the geopolitical situation in the world.
On the morning of September 11, 2001 at 08:46 local time, an American Airlines Boeing 767 hijacked by terrorists crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York. There were 92 people on board, including five terrorists.
17 minutes later, a United Airlines Boeing 767 with 65 passengers on board (including five terrorists) crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
As a result of the collisions, a massive fire started in both skyscrapers, which weakened the internal structures of the buildings, which ultimately led to their collapse. At 09:59, the South Tower collapsed, and about half an hour later, the North Tower. Debris from skyscrapers damaged nearby buildings, including the 47-storey high-rise WTC-7, which also collapsed.
- WTC buildings on September 11, 2001
- © AP Photo / Richard Drew
Simultaneously with the terrorist attack in New York, terrorists carried out a similar attack on the headquarters of the US Department of Defense. The attackers also planned to commit a fourth attack. To do this, they hijacked another plane – a United Airlines Boeing 757, en route from Newark (New Jersey) to San Francisco, but the liner fell in a field 200 km from Washington. There were 44 people on board, including four terrorists.
In total, 2,977 people became victims of the September 11 attacks, including 343 firefighters and dozens of police officers, and over 6,000 were injured. Among the victims of the tragedy were not only Americans, but also citizens of more than 90 other countries.
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A commission set up to investigate the tragedy found that the September 11 attack was organized by the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda *. In 2004, its leader, Osama bin Laden, announced for the first time that the group he led was responsible for the attack.
It should be noted that among the 19 terrorists who were directly involved in the hijacking of the planes, there was not a single citizen of Afghanistan, which was subsequently invaded by the United States in response to the attacks. Most of the criminals (15 people) were from Saudi Arabia, two were UAE citizens. In addition, the group of terrorists included a Lebanese and an Egyptian. Bin Laden himself came from a wealthy Saudi family.
In this regard, many relatives of the victims of terrorist attacks are still confident that the leadership of Saudi Arabia could have been involved to some extent in these events. In 2017, they filed a class action lawsuit against the kingdom in court.
According to experts, the events of September 11 strongly influenced the situation inside the United States.
One of the main consequences in the context of the domestic political situation in the country was the adoption on October 26, 2001 in response to the terrorist attacks of the law “On rallying and strengthening America by providing adequate means required to suppress and discourage terrorism”, known as the Patriot Act.
This document expanded the powers of American intelligence services in the field of wiretapping, reading e-mail, tracking bank transactions and people’s activity on the Internet. From now on, they could use these tools without a corresponding court order.
The FBI also received the right to track the religious and political preferences of citizens, studying, in particular, their library forms.
During the vote on this law in the upper house of the US Congress, only one senator – Democrat Russell Feingold – voted against. In his opinion, the fight against terrorism should not lead to the infringement of freedoms in the country.
“We must protect both people and their freedoms,” he said. – The Patriot Act does not strike the right balance between law enforcement and civil liberties. The Bush administration’s demands for haste were misplaced. ”
According to Feingold, the law was “fraught with disclosure of all data in the absence of reasonable suspicion that could justify” such a verification.
“It simplifies the procedure for undercover police searches. This is a permanent rule that will never fail. (Police officers .- RT) will be able to search your house while you are not there, and not even tell you that they have visited you. There is a colossal expansion of the powers of law enforcement agencies without judicial supervision, ”the senator explained.
According to analysts, after the adoption of the law, the rights and freedoms of US citizens were indeed infringed upon.
“This law seriously infringed upon the civil rights and freedoms of Americans. Some of the actions of the US leadership of those years clearly went beyond the legal framework of the American Constitution, the principles on which it was built. What is the prison in Guantanamo? ”
At the same time, the analyst notes that some of the measures of the law can be called reasonable: “For example, increasing the degree of coordination between various American special services – it was necessary to do this.”
The era of American wars
According to analysts, the September 11 attacks marked the beginning of the era of American wars in the Middle East, which had catastrophic consequences for the entire region.
The US first invaded Afghanistan. This happened less than a month after the terrorist attacks – on October 7. The military operation was named Enduring Freedom. Its main task was to fight the Taliban ** movement and the Al-Qaeda group.
- US military leaves Afghanistan
- © Senior Pilot Taylor Krul / United States Air Force via AP
The US military stayed in Afghanistan until 2021. The United States contingent was withdrawn from Afghanistan only at the end of August, while even before the final withdrawal of the US military, the pro-American regime in Kabul fell under the onslaught of the Taliban, who eventually established control over the whole of Afghanistan.
According to analysts, the relative ease with which the United States initially managed to take control of Afghanistan, to some extent inspired Washington to a new military adventure, this time in Iraq. On March 20, 2003, the US military, with the support of NATO allies, invaded the country, despite the absence of a corresponding UN sanction.
The reason for the start of the intervention was Washington’s accusations against Baghdad of developing weapons of mass destruction. Later, these accusations were not confirmed, however, as experts note, many American citizens believed for a long time that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was involved in organizing the September 11 attacks.
The American army managed to win a military victory relatively quickly due to the fact that the Iraqi armed forces practically did not offer serious resistance. So, the capital of the country was taken without a fight on April 9. In the same year, Hussein’s regime was overthrown, he himself was detained and executed in 2006.
The elimination of the Hussein regime led to the destabilization of the situation in the country, where a civil war between Shiites and Sunnis actually began. Iraq has been engulfed in violence and terrorist attacks, turning the country into a hotbed of terrorism, analysts say.
- US military in Iraq
- © REUTERS / Kai Pfaffenbach
In particular, according to experts, the invasion of Iraq and the chaos that followed it became the main reason for the strengthening of the terrorist group “Islamic State” ***, which subsequently managed to seize vast territories in Syria and Iraq.
According to the American Watson Institute, during the military conflicts unleashed by the United States after September 11, more than 929 thousand people, including about 387 thousand civilians, were killed, directly or indirectly. Another 38 million people became refugees.
According to the institute, the total losses among the American military in these wars amounted to 7 thousand. However, it is worth noting that this does not include losses among the contingent of private military companies that were actively involved in the hostilities. There is no publicly available accurate data on casualties among employees of such organizations. In addition, this figure does not include data on the deaths of soldiers from US NATO allies.
The Watson Institute also provides data on the financial costs of the Middle East wars. According to him, from 2001 to 2022, the United States spent a total of about $ 8 trillion on overseas military campaigns and the fight against terrorism.
“Democracy on bayonets”
According to the American political scientist Dmitry Drobnitsky, after the September 11 attacks, the development of the situation in the United States and beyond its borders went according to the most unfavorable of possible scenarios.
“The world missed its chance after 9/11. Even such tragic events offer opportunities. The threat of terrorism was common, and there was a very real chance to unite the world community to counter it together. But in the end, 9/11 only opened the way for a myriad of abuses in US domestic and foreign policy. Strengthening the role of special services, endless wars – that’s what Washington’s actions led to, “Drobnitsky stated in an interview with RT.
- New York, September 11, 2001
- © AP Photo / Suzanne Plunkett
He also noted that the US policy in the Middle East was extremely ideological, which largely predetermined its failure.
“There was a dominant ideology, according to which the United States comes to any country, gives people“ democracy ”- and there immediately begins an era of general prosperity. But none of this ever came close. The rise of the Taliban to power in Afghanistan eloquently testifies to this. Any imposition of ideology from the outside leads to just such consequences, ”Drobnitsky said.
Vladimir Batyuk adheres to a similar position.
“The United States fought not only against terror, it tried to bring democracy to the peoples of the Middle East, and then to the whole world. The goals were very far-reaching. But, as it turned out later, carrying democracy on the bayonets of the American marines is not the best idea. All this turned into thousands of innocent victims, the strongest destabilization in the Middle East region. The geopolitical implications of US foreign policy over the past 20 years have yet to be assessed, ”the analyst said.
As Batyuk noted, the events that followed 9/11 severely undermined the reputation of the United States around the world.
“This could not but affect the image of the United States. If after the end of the Cold War they acted as the winner, symbolized the best hopes of mankind and so on, now, as a result of all these events, America is considered as an empire in decline, ”the expert concluded.
* “Al-Qaeda” – the organization was recognized as terrorist by the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation of February 14, 2003.
** “Taliban” – the organization was recognized as terrorist by the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation dated 02.14.2003.
*** “Islamic State” (IS) – the organization was recognized as terrorist by the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation of December 29, 2014.