11 September 2001: The aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks still being felt today
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Johannesburg - Today marks the 20th anniversary since the attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in Manhattan, New York. It was a seismic event that totally redefined the next two decades. Deeply traumatised by the first foreign attack on their sovereign territory since the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour in December 1941, the US effectively went to war.
Today is a particularly awful time for the families and friends of the 2 606 victims of the Twin Tower attacks, the 246 passengers and crew on board the four hijacked airliners and the 125 people who perished at the Pentagon. It’s a wound that continues to weep for the New York City emergency services which lost 441 first responders.
This wasn’t an attack just on the US; the dead came from 77 countries, testimony to New York’s status as the financial capital of the world. The ramifications of the “War on Terror” were felt as widely too. We know of the battles fought on foreign fields, but very little is known of the dirty wars that were all the more ominous for that.
Trillions of dollars were spent in an asymmetric war that looked to have no finite conclusion. Attitudes hardened into hatred; Islamophobia became normalised; debate and dissent became demonised; and, in their place, opportunists and demagogues on both extremes had a field day. Critically, the death toll would rise to just shy of one-million people.
Was it worth the cost in lives, the disruption to communities, the dislocation of entire generations and all this money? Events earlier this month in Afghanistan alone would suggest not.
Today, we need to remember the dead – all of them. We need to think very deeply too about revenge and the price that subsequent generations must pay for the anger of their forefathers.