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20 years of 9/11: The heroes and the villains

September 11th, 2001 – Nearly 3000 people lost their lives during an attack on USA’s World Trade Center. Only 19 of them were Al Qaeda terrorists.

All 19 of them divided themselves into four groups. Three groups of five and one group of four. Every group had a trained pilot who could change the course of the flight.

While the terrorists were able to control three of those flights, the passengers and crew members of United Airlines Flight 93 didn’t give up. They tried to fight and because of that, the plane couldn’t land on its target. Everyone died but the heroes of that flight saved the US Capitol building (or the White House) from collapsing.

There are several such stories of heroism associated with the tragedy. “9/11 was, to understate, one of the darkest days in our history – but out of it also came these demonstrations of profound humanity, compassion, strength and courage. Above all, it showed our remarkable resilience. It showed our capacity to defend the pluralism that has long been one of our country’s greatest strengths, including by embracing our Muslim American brothers and sisters. It showed the risks that so many are willing to take to save the lives of complete strangers,” US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said at a ceremony (10th September) in Washington.

The attack was masterminded by Osama Bin Laden who had a $25 million bounty on his name until 2011. In a 2004 videotape message broadcasted by Al Jazeera, Laden explained his motivation behind attacking the towers. “God knows it did not cross our minds to attack the Towers, but after the situation became unbearable—and we witnessed the injustice and tyranny of the American-Israeli alliance against our people in Palestine and Lebanon—I thought about it. And the events that affected me directly were that of 1982 and the events that followed—when America allowed the Israelis to invade Lebanon, helped by the US Sixth Fleet. As I watched the destroyed towers in Lebanon, it occurred to me punish the unjust the same way: to destroy towers in America so it could taste some of what we are tasting and to stop killing our children and women,” he said. In 2011, Laden was located by US Navy Seals in Pakistan’s Abbottabad and killed.

Even today, family members of those who lost their lives in the disaster are grieving. The saddest part is that Taliban have captured Afghanistan and are now ruling the country. It’ll certainly be a breeding ground for terrorism if military powerhouses like USA and India don’t act now.

We have to accept that weapons and bombs have developed considerably. In fact, we recently did an article on how military drones will change the way wars are being fought. If the terrorists execute their mission correctly, they’ll be able to cause multiple times the damage they could cause 20 years ago.

To our credit, they haven’t been able to break our spirit and stop us from moving forward. “While the terrorists imposed their burden of grief and suffering, and while the threat persists today, we can now say with the perspective of 20 years that they failed to shake our belief in freedom and democracy; they failed to drive our nations apart, or cause us to abandon our values, or to live in permanent fear,” UK’s PM Boris Johnson (67 victims were British) said at a recent event organized by the September 11 UK Families Support Group.

It has been 20 years but the war against terrorism is still ongoing. US has waged a war against Afghanistan and a war against Iraq (to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s government) which has resulted in several more lives being lost.

Every day, someone loses a family member, a child picks up a gun and billions of dollars are spent to prevent further attacks. Airport security has become stricter and you’re checked at every corner. Even when it comes to getting a Visa and travelling to other countries, there are stern rules.

Even though we’ve moved on from the tragedy, we’ll always carry a scar with us. Even though we’ve been able to numb the pain, we haven’t grown indifferent towards it.


1. How the world — and India — changed in the 20 years after 9/11 (The Indian Express)

2. Attackers Failed To Destroy Western Values: Boris Johnson On 9/11 Anniversary (NDTV)

3. 'God knows it did not cross our minds to attack the towers' (The Guardian)

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