Sept 11, 2001, has had a momentous impact on the lives of several living in the 21st century, which extensively gets reflected in identity politics — its construction, perception and reception.
The terrorism event — now known popularly as 9/11 — has caused wars and shifts in political affiliations, led to the climb of conspiracy theories and, worst of all, gave birth to anti-Muslim mob hysteria.
The attacks were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by a terrorist group al-Qaeda against the United States on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001.
The attacks resulted in 2,977 fatalities, over 25,000 injuries, and substantial long-term health consequences, in addition to at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage.
9/11 is the single deadliest terrorist attack in human history and the single deadliest incident for firefighters and law enforcement officers in the history of the United States, with 343 and 72 killed, respectively.
Four passenger airliners that had departed from airports in the northeastern United States bound for California were hijacked by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists.
Two of the planes, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, crashed into the North and South towers, respectively, of the World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan.
Within an hour and 42 minutes, both 110-story towers collapsed. Debris and the resulting fires caused a partial or complete collapse of all other buildings in the World Trade Center complex, including the 47-story 7 World Trade Center tower.
A third plane, American Airlines Flight 77, was crashed into the Pentagon (the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense), in Arlington County, Virginia, which led to a partial collapse of the building’s west side.
The fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, was initially flown toward Washington, D.C., but crashed into a field in Stonycreek Township, Pennsylvania, after passengers thwarted the hijackers.
US accusation and al-Qaeda’s confession
Shortly after the attack, US President George W. Bush accused Al-Qaeda, headed Osama bin Laden of carrying out the attacks on the World Trade Center, which al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden later admitted.
A videotape of Osama bin Laden has surfaced in which he said: “Al-Qaeda was responsible for the attack on the World Trade Center and that we had taught the United States a lesson in anti-Muslim sentiment with great planning”.
Two dozen members of Osama bin Laden’s family were urgently evacuated out of the country on a private charter plane under FBI supervision three days after the attacks.
The economic impact of 9/11
The 9/11 attacks had an immediate negative effect on the U.S. economy. Many Wall Street institutions, including the New York Stock Exchange, were evacuated during the attacks.
On the first day of trading after the attacks, the market fell 7.1 percent or 684 points. New York City’s economy alone lost 143,000 jobs a month and $2.8 billion in wages in the first three months.
The heaviest losses were in finance and air transportation, which accounted for 60 percent of lost jobs. The estimated cost of the World Trade Center damage is $60 billion. The cost to clean the debris at Ground Zero was $750 million.
The attacks were denounced by mass media and governments worldwide. Across the globe, nations offered pro-American support and solidarity.
Leaders in most Middle Eastern countries, and Afghanistan, condemned the attacks. The government of Saudi Arabia officially condemned the attacks.
As in the United States, the aftermath of the attacks saw tensions increase in other countries between Muslims and non-Muslims.
In the aftermath of the attacks, tens of thousands of people attempted to flee Afghanistan due to the possibility of military retaliation by the United States.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1368 condemned the attacks and expressed readiness to take all necessary steps to respond and combat all forms of terrorism in accordance with their Charter.
Numerous countries introduced anti-terrorism legislation and froze bank accounts they suspected of al-Qaeda ties.
Law enforcement and intelligence agencies in a number of countries arrested alleged terrorists.
Pakistan already homes too many Afghan refugees from previous conflicts, closed its border with Afghanistan on September 17, 2001.
The coalition of international forces
Approximately one month after the attacks, the United States led a broad coalition of international forces to overthrow the Taliban regime from Afghanistan for their harboring of al-Qaeda.
Though Pakistani authorities were initially reluctant to align themselves with the United States against the Taliban, they permitted the coalition access to their military bases, and arrested and handed over to the U.S. over 600 suspected al-Qaeda members.
The U.S. set up the Guantanamo Bay detention camp to hold inmates they defined as “illegal enemy combatants”. The legitimacy of these detentions has been questioned by the European Union and human rights organizations.
A new era of anti-Muslim begun
Shortly after the attacks, President Bush made a public appearance at Washington, D.C.’s largest Islamic Center and acknowledged the “incredibly valuable contribution” that millions of American Muslims made to their country and called for them “to be treated with respect.”
However, several incidents of harassment and hate crimes against Muslims and South Asians were reported in the days following the attacks.
There were reports of attacks on mosques and other religious buildings (including the firebombing of a Hindu temple), and assaults on people.
According to a report, people perceived to be Middle Eastern were as likely to be victims of hate crimes as followers of Islam during this time.
The report also found a similar increase in hate crimes against people who may have been perceived as Muslims, Arabs, and others thought to be of Middle Eastern origin.
Another report published by the South Asian American advocacy group known as South Asian Americans Leading Together, documented media coverage of 645 bias incidents against Americans of South Asian or Middle Eastern descent between September 11 and 17.
Various crimes such as vandalism, arson, assault, shootings, harassment, and threats in numerous places were documented.
Islamophobia and post 9/11 syndrome
Rising terror attacks on the current Islamophobia post-9/11 where Islam & 1.3 billion Muslims have jointly been blamed for any act of terror by a Muslim.
This has been done intentionally to demonize legitimate Muslim political struggles. The wave of Islamophobia has seen a dramatic increase across the globe, especially in the West.
The misperception about Islam is one of the key reasons behind Islamophobia. The West faultily assumes that it is Muslims who are carrying out deadly attacks and killing human beings.
However, Islam says that killing a single person is equal to the massacre of the entire mankind.
Moreover, some countries believe Muslims are intolerant towards other religions and that is why they disdain others.
According to the Gallup 2019 survey, 87 percent of those questioned in the West think that Muslims around the globe are not tolerating people of other religions.
This figure reveals the misperceptions in the West about Islam. This is a fallacy of generalization because a few rotten eggs cannot account for the entire lot.
In 2012, in his speech, the former US President Barak Obama said the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.
These thought-provoking words show that those who accuse Islam and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) are misguided.
It is a need of the hour that UN as well as Muslims should play its role in clearing such misperceptions.
There is a need for interfaith harmony, while the West should shun propaganda against Muslims.
Most importantly, the Muslim Ummah should wake up from its deep slumber to defend Islam and the legitimate Muslim political struggles towards peace.