CAUSES OF THE SEPTEMBER 11TH TERRORIST ATTACKS
The September 11th terrorist attack of 2001, is a significant moment in both American history and world history. In fact, it is likely one of the most important events in modern memory and had a profound impact on the world today. Also commonly referred to as ‘9/11’, the attack involved four different passenger airplanes being hijacked by terrorists and crashed intentionally at different sites in the United States. The sites of the crashed planes included the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and a field in Pennsylvania.
The four deadly crashes that occurred on the morning of September 11th, 2001 were caused by several different factors. In fact, historians have identified three different main factors, including: Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, and tensions in the Middle East.
The first main factor that led to the September 11th terrorist attacks was the creation and development of Al-Qaeda. In general, Al-Qaeda is an international Muslim terrorist organization that was first founded in 1988. It was founded by prominent Islamist extremists of the time including Osama bin Laden. At first, the organization was aimed at removing Soviet troops from the Middle East following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Soviet-Afghan War, which occurred throughout much of the 1980s. However, Al-Qaeda soon turned its focus to the United States and its influence in the Middle East, including the Gulf War of the early 1990s.
At its core, Al-Qaeda was an extremist Muslim organization. This means that it promoted violence as a means of completing its goals. For instance, Al-Qaeda leaders often promoted violence against Americans in the Middle East, including American soldiers who were stationed in the region. Furthermore, throughout the late 1990s, Al-Qaeda leaders called for a military ‘jihad’ against Americans living in the different countries of the Middle East. The Arabic term ‘jihad’ translates to ‘struggling’, but is often used by extremists as a word relating to an armed or violent uprising against non-Muslims. As such, by calling for a ‘jihad’ Al-Qaeda was openly calling for violence against Americans in the years leading up to the September 11th, terrorist attacks of 2001. As a result, historians consider the development of Al-Qaeda as an extremist organization to be an important factor in what led to the deadly attacks. For example, the 19 hijackers of the September 11th terrorist attacks were members of Al-Qaeda and carried out the attacks as part of a suicide mission against the United States.
The second main factor that led to the September 11th terrorist attacks was Osama bin Laden. In fact, the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization was funded and led by Osama Bin Laden who lived in the country of Afghanistan. As such, he was identified as a central figure in the Al-Qaeda leadership and played an important role in organizing attacks against the United States, including the September 11th terrorist attacks. He also organized attacks against American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.
Born in Saudi Arabia in 1957, Osama bin Laden was radicalized for extremist Islamic causes in the 1980s. He helped create Al-Qaeda in 1988 alongside other Islamic radicals, and quickly became involved with terrorist forces in Afghanistan. This eventually led to him calling for attacks against the United States, which inspired his followers to carry out attacks. While he first denied involvement in organizing the September 11th attacks, bin Laden later admitted to calling for them as a means of hurting the United States. In fact, he later made a statement that “as you undermine our security, we undermine yours”. As such, for his role as the head of Al-Qaeda, he is often considered to be one of the main causes of the September 11th terrorist attacks. In fact, he was one of the main factors behind the planning and organizing of the attacks.
The third main factor that led to the September 11th terrorist attacks, was the tensions that existed in the Middle East in the years before 2001. The Middle East has long been a site of tensions between the nations in the region. For instance, the creation of Israel in 1948 led to an increase in tensions between it and its neighbors. This clash, like many in the Middle East, centered on control over territory and religious differences. More specifically, Israel is primarily a Jewish nation whereas the nations that surround it (Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon) are Muslim nations. As well, the United States generally aligned itself with Israel and supported the policies of the Israel government. As such, this created anger among some in the Muslim-world including members of Al-Qaeda. Further to this idea, tensions in the Middle East increased between the Muslim nations and the United States during the Gulf War. Occurring throughout 1990 and 1991, the Gulf War saw the United States invade the country of Iraq after Iraq invaded the nation of Kuwait. The United States’ involvement in the Gulf War angered some and led to organizations such as Al-Qaeda focusing their anger on the United States and American soldiers. As such, the lingering tensions of the Middle East are now considered to have helped set the stage for the eventual September 11th terrorist attacks. This is because the long-term tensions in the Middle East helped lead to the rise of extremist groups and people.
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