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A Reflection: Why Did 9/11 Happen?

Joshua Riebel  ’20, Guest Writer 

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As weird as it sounds we are still debating about the destruction of the twin towers on September 11, 2001 even after seventeen years have gone by. To specify, its not the actual event that has stirred debate, but who caused it, and why. In 2003, President George W. Bush declared wars on both Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Hamid Karzai’s Afghanistan which were labeled as the training grounds and financial backers of the terrorists responsible for the attack. All these years later, and now that the wars appear to be ending, what did America get out of it; Iraq’s fictional WMDS(Weapons of Mass Destruction) or a promise that Osama Bin Laden wasn’t in Afghanistan? Was that really worth the lives of hundreds of thousands of US armed forces? It doesn’t entirely feel satisfying, and in part that may be why we are still militarily occupying both nations. Why did Osama bin-Laden and Arabic nationalists (BBC) under his command carry out these suicide attacks? This question many have sought to avoid, has led to conspiracy theories ranging from plausible to laughably absurd.

This conversation is crucial so America can begin to understand what actually happened on that tragic day. Frequently if one was to bring this question up, they would swiftly receive many people shouting and complaining, about how anyone who did not lose a loved one or witnessed it as an adult has no credibility to discuss it. They would be treated like a first-grader trying to teach a college class (break in to two).

 In this sense we have allowed ourselves to be blinded. Blinded by pain, as 3000 people died (BBC), and it remains the largest and most lethal foreign-based terrorist attack ever perpetrated on American soil. As alluded to earlier, the response was Justinian (eye for an eye), and less than two full years went by before the United States declared war. In a rare instance of bipartisanism many democrats agreed to the declaration of war; yet, did any of them consider whether or not declaring war on these countries was the right choice? No, not at all. Admittedly, Saddam Hussein was to most accounts a despotic tyrant infamous for gassing his own people and deserved to be deposed, but the United States still supported him throughout the eighties during his genocide.

It is worth noting that Al-Qaeda, the terrorist organization behind the attacks belonged to a sect of Sunni Islam called Wahhabism. Wahhabism is the smallest sub- sect of Sunni, and promotes the ideology of “Global Jihad,” which unlike the more commonly accepted definition of Jihad is specifically anti-American and its influence under any circumstances. All other sects of Sunni denounce it as “warmongering,” “ultra-conservative,” and ultimately “too dangerous and destructive.”

Originally jihads were used to depose local rulers who were not true to the Islamic faith, not until much later did they use it to declare war on other existing nations (especially non- neighboring ones). Despite all of this, the entire Islamic faith has lost much credibility in the western world, and arguably most pronounced here in the United States. This is deeply frustrating, as it show a lack of education and insight on the behalf of the American government to not realize, that like Christianity, Islam has sects and sub- sects. This lack of knowledge is hurting the development of all Muslim kids in America, and to a lesser extent the rest of the world. They are being told what their parents, grandparents, and ancestors have always believed in is wrong, immoral, and a breeding ground for suicidal murderers. They are told to be ashamed of what they are and renounce all that they believe because a small group of people is defacing their entire belief system. The damage does not end there. There are no conversations about

Islamic faith in elementary, middle, or high schools in this country; however, Alabama for example is trying to pass a law to legalize hanging the ten commandments in their school. It tells all kids throughout the country, who are good people and who are evil without any attempt at critical analysis of why those are accepted truths let alone actual conversations as to why one religion is valued above another in a country where that shouldn’t be happening in the first place. 

This will be the longest-lasting damage of 9/11. Not the towers, nor the families torn apart through loss, not even the diplomatic damage, but what we do and do not teach to the children of the future. This damage is irreversible, as after a child’s mind is formed and developed into adulthood, they tend to be less open to suggestion, but more likely to influence others.

Heed the 9/11 terror attacks as a warning. Not a warning from a Middle Eastern power or psychopathological murderer, but as a warning from our children. To pay heed to what we teach them, and the importance of having hard conversations like this. To admit that maybe there was a reason why Al-Qaeda did what they did, albeit still certainly unjustified, but to maintain objectivity to be able to question one’s self and their own actions rather than instinctively demonizing others. Now of course there have been other terror attacks before and since, in fact, there had been a previous attempt by Al- Qaeda to blow up the twin towers in 1993 with a truck bomb. 

So instead of pointing fingers at everyone else, perhaps it’s time for America to look internally and analyze its own actions. More people die at the hands of gun violence in this nation than any other, meaning an argument could be made that there are numerous terrorist activities perpetrated by Americans to Americans every year, but for some reason that never seems to make headlines no matter how many children suffer the consequences.

Finally, before judging this piece as written by someone who witnessed the events through the eyes of a young child, and can therefore have no idea what actually occurred, perhaps give a second chance to someone whose entire life has been at least in part shaped by an event they will never forget.

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A Reflection: Why Did 9/11 Happen?