On September 11, 2001 members of Al Qaeda were able to take over US planes in an act of terrorism. Two of the planes struck the Twin Towers in New York and caused them to fall taking many lives in the process. Another plane struck the Pentagon and caused damage and casualties. The last plane was on its way to another attack when it abruptly crashed in a field in Pennsylvania and killed all passengers and terrorists on board.9/11 attacks were orchestrated by Al Qaeda in a move to disrupt the Western economies and to strike fear in our country and the world. It was a form of both economic and social terrorism. As well, the attackers intended to impose the direct and secondary costs on the target nation, the United States.
Other nations in the western hemisphere were also part of the target and felt the burden of this attack. The attacks caused immense damage in terms of physical infrastructure as well as loss of lives and earnings. The effects caused many families to lose their earnings, and also slowed down the growth of the global economy. Capital losses were experienced in the stock markets around the world as well.
Some of the effects included higher insurance and shipping costs. On the other hand, it had a massive impact on public confidence. It affected tourism and travel in a great way. The effects led to the invasion of two nations, Iraq and Afghanistan and meant the beginning of the global war on terrorism. To this day the war in Afghanistan is still going on. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, more terrorists attacked other countries as well including Morocco, Bali, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and Spain.
By hurting the Western economies these attacks were a huge success for Al Qaeda. “A strategy of Al Qaeda is to hurt the Western world by attacking economic nodesand avenues of commerce. Osama Bin Laden has pegged the cost of the 9/11 attacks onthe U.S. economy at $1 trillion.” (Nanto, 2004)
Apart from economic damage, the attacks were also supposed to raise fear levels. This meant that governments, corporations and individuals had to change their lifestyle and how they behaved. Many precautionary policies were put into place in the case another terrorist attack occurs. People’s eyes were now open to the fact that terrorism can occur to any country at any time. However, the center stage of the attacks was the economy. Other countries across the globe were also set up to feel the ripples of the attack in terms of a shrinking economy. “The 9/11 terrorist attacks affected the world economy at different levels depending on how the attacks are viewed.” (Nanto, 2004)
However, to better understand the impact the attacks had on the global front, it is vital to keep in mind the historical and contemporary causes. The UK’s Prospect Magazines published that analysis and commentators highlight poverty in the Middle East as a possible factor in the attacks. “Some political leaders even argued that the Doha round of trade talks, launched soon after 9/11, was intended partly to quash terrorism.” (Bergen, 2006)
As well, the magazine goes on to name Madrassas and the teaching of Jihadist as being part of the fuel that encouraged the attacks. However, it goes on to show that this was a simplistic view since there is little record of Madrassa graduates carrying out an anti-western attack. Another explanation against this argument is that most of the attackers were actually college graduates who actually never attended Madrassa classes. Therefore, blaming the Islamic religion in this is unfounded. Osama Bin Laden, the person who funded the attacks, never attended religious classes. “Bin Laden went to the European-influenced Al Thagr high school and then studied economics at King Abdulaziz University, both in Jeddah.”
It is possible to summarize some of the explanations on the causes of the 9/11 attacks. Radicalization resulting from the Afghan Jihad is a major concern. Following the Afghan war with the Soviet Union, the radicalization of Arab militants began. This led to the founding of Al Qaeda in 1988. This aimed to establish jihad in other parts of the world. The religion of Islam is rarely mentioned as a root cause. However, the radicals underwent training and made to believe that their kind of jihad was meant to protect Islam. Selective reading and interpretation of the Quran coupled this. In his book, Bernard Lewis argues that after the Afghan-USSR war, problems in the Middle East were compounded by the introduction of two western ideologies. It became a battle between socialism and Arab Nationalism. The situation became worse when the ideologies did little to change the quality of life of the said societies.
Assessing the historical interpretations of the event takes various angles. Some quarters believe it is part of Nostradamus’ predictions. However, assessing how the former US president George W. Bush interpreted it is an important factor when looking into the post 9/11 period. Bush interpreted the event as a target to the US, mainly because of its stand on “Freedoms and high ideals, and the attacks constituted a declaration of war, to which the United States could respond in kind against targets of its choice.” (O’Brien, 2011)
With the Bush Administration framing the attacks as thus, they had set the grounds for attacking Afghanistan and Iraq. However, the war on terrorism failed to yield any justification and gained a lot of opposition across the world. Another interpretation by individuals who were anti-Muslim is that, the entire religion, together with the followers, was to blame. However, even nations in the Muslim world came out to condemn the attacks and defend the religion of Islam. The Bush Administration also came out against the demonization of Islam. However, this still created a major divide between the Jewish, Christian and Islamic religions.
Different cultures also perceive the event differently. When Yueh-Ting Lee, Seiji Takaku, Victor Ottati, and Gonggu Yan surveyed how different cultures perceived 9/11 and its aftermath, they got mixed results. For instance, one of the respondents said, “I think it was a terrorist behavior when the American air-ﬁghters and soldiers dropped bombs onto other countries (e.g., Afghanistan, Iraq, or Yugoslavia),” (Lee, Ottati and Yan, n.d)
The difference in the varied perception of different groups may be attributed to their exposure to different news forms and their degree of accuracy. The word terrorism can have a major variation, with one group perceiving it as an attack to freedom, while the other group views it as a heroic act. This narrows down to the need for both groups to forge an understanding to each other. As much as the 9/11 event cost lots of lives, one thing is clear, all religions considered the act a cowardly act. This clearly shows that the perception that this was a war of religions is wrong. It also shows that there are many other deeply rooted issues that ought to be addressed.
After the 1990 collapse of communism and the seemingly triumph of capitalism, democracy and freedom that most of the western world is part of, there was the emergence of three possible trends across the Middle East. Therefore, it is possible to come to a general perception of 9/11. One, the larger Mid-East region was largely impervious to total change to democracy in a time when most nations were moving towards that direction. The moment was superseded by autocratic regimes. Two, at the end of the Cold War, ideological ties that had frozen the Middle East region had broken. Some states began new ventures. Third, the view that the US, UK and Israel dominated policies in the Arab world led most states to pre-empt possible change in regimes. Rami G. Khouri writes, “Since 1990, the Middle East has remained mired in a legacy of local and global extremism, terror, and military violence. The Anglo-American-Israeli politicians who seek to define the Middle East for the rest of the world have simplistically framed this trajectory of violence as a straightforward war against terror that was triggered by the odious crime of 9/11.” (Khouri, 2006)
The wake of the 9/11 attacks came with a lot of negative effects. These were felt by the entire globe. Financial markets suffered the most especially in the US. As well, one other sector of the economy that was equally affected was the airline industry. Many more individuals suffered from the horrors of the Twin Towers collapsing. The increased insurance costs had a toll on most economies since food companies that transported their produce on airplanes had to pay more in insurance charges. These higher insurance costs always end up being the burden of consumers which further hurts the economy.
Consumers altered their behaviors as well due to theses attacks. With the heightened awareness, US government reviewed the danger ratings for their citizens. US citizens now knew what to look for when dealing with terrorist and that it takes the efforts of every American to help spot terrorist actions. Travel advisors increased and many other nations suffered from declining tourism.
Being a veteran of the US Navy I was an active member during the war in Afghanistan. I saw the effects of war and what widespread fear that terrorism arises in people. After 9/11 all ships were called to arms and sent to fight the war on terrorism either at home or abroad. The US military’s active members rose extremely with many young people joining because of the acts that happened on 9/11. They didn’t want any more acts of terrorism to happen in American and also wanted the people who orchestrated 9/11 to be brought to justice. I’m proud to have served in the military during this period and believe that collectively all American’s have done their best to make it past this terrorist act.
With 9/11 still causing ripples in most companies, some chose not to reinvest. This affected the level of employment and many people across the US lost their jobs and subsequently their earnings. Governments across the world also chose to boost budgets for defense systems. Perceived as the world capital, New York City suffered most economic damage. A good portion of its infrastructure lay in ruins which also affected production and workforce. To this day our economy still feels the affects of 9/11 and the world as we know it will never be the same because of it.