IMPACTS OF THE SEPTEMBER 11TH
The September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks had a major impact on both the United States and the world. While the incident had an immediate impact in a major loss of life and destruction of property, it also had several long-term impacts. For instance, several long-term impacts included: increased security measures, Non-Muslim versus Muslim tensions increased, the War in Afghanistan began, and economic downturn.
IMMEDIATE IMPACTS OF THE SEPTEMBER 11TH TERRORIST ATTACKS
The terrorist attacks occurred on the morning of September 11th and led to a few immediate impacts, which caused some dramatic changes in the United States. First, was the terrible loss of life that occurred as a result of the terrorist attacks. In fact, the September 11th attack is the most deadly terrorist act in human history. Each of the four airplanes was filled with passengers who were taken hostage when the planes were hijacked by the terrorists. As a result, these people were killed when the planes were crashed into the different sites. As well, the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. were full of people who were there for their work. As such, many people were also hurt and killed at the sites of the crashes. In total, 2,977 people were killed as a direct result of the September 11th terrorist attacks. This number includes the 19 terrorists that hijacked the planes, 246 passengers that were on the crashed airplanes, 125 people in the Pentagon, and 2,606 in New York City. This was a tremendous loss of life and it had a profound impact for families who lost a member of their family.
Furthermore, the events of September 11th, also resulted in a terrible loss of life for emergency responders in New York City. When the airplanes hit the two towers of the World Trade center, it created an immediate crisis for people working in the buildings. For instance, the jet fuel from the airplanes lit large fires at the site of the crash and trapped people in the upper floors of the twin towers. As a result, New York City firefighters entered the towers in an effort to help people escape and contain the massive fires. Unfortunately, both towers of the World Trade Center collapsed and killed the emergency responders that were present. The total losses to emergency responders included: 343 firefighters and 71 police officers. It was the most deadly event for emergency responders in the history of the United States.
The second immediate impact of the September 11th terrorist attacks was the enormous amount of destruction that resulted from the crashed airplanes. All four of the planes that were hijacked were filled with large amounts of jet fuel. As such, when they crashed they caused extensive damage and large fires. For instance, both the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City suffered large holes and fires following the crash of the airplanes. In fact, the damage was so devastating that it destroyed the structural integrity of the buildings, which led to their eventual collapse. The south tower collapsed after burning for 56 minutes and the north tower collapsed after burning for 103 minutes. The collapse of the two towers caused widespread destruction throughout the area and heavily damaged several surrounding buildings. As well, the cloud of debris that resulted from the collapse of the two towers spread throughout much of the southern portion of Manhattan, New York.
The Pentagon in Washington D.C. was also severely damaged by the impact of an airplane. In fact, the crash of American Airlines Flight 77, and the resulting fires, led to the eventual collapse of a portion of the building. As it approached the Pentagon, the airplane's wings knocked over light poles and its right engine smashed into a power generator before crashing into the western side of the building. The plane hit the Pentagon at the first floor of the building. The plane was destroyed on impact and caused an enormous amount of damage to the building. The resulting fires led to further damage.
The third immediate impact of the September 11th terrorist attacks was the quick changes that needed to be made to air traffic in the United States right after the attacks. Since the military leadership did not know what other planes may also be part of the attack, the United States ordered all flights to land. More specifically, on September 11th, 2001 all aircraft within the airspace of the United States and Canada were ordered to immediately land at the nearest airport. All aircraft flying to the United States from international locations were ordered to land either in Canada, Mexico, other Caribbean nations or turn around and go back. This was a dramatic measure, as many smaller communities were overwhelmed and received numerous flights. For instance, the town of Gander, Newfoundland in Canada received 38 flights that had been bound for the United States. In total, over 6,600 passengers arrived in the town that had a population of just 9,600.
Furthermore, all flights to the United States from throughout the world were immediately cancelled. The situation remained this way for several days as the United States made sense of the attacks. As such, air traffic in the United States did not resume until a few days later.
LONG-TERM IMPACTS OF THE SEPTEMBER 11TH TERRORIST ATTACKS
As stated above, there were several long-term impacts of the September 11th terrorist attacks. These included: increased security measures, Non-Muslim versus Muslim tensions, the War in Afghanistan, and an economic downturn.
The first long-term impact of the September 11th terrorist attacks was the War in Afghanistan. Quite quickly after the events of the attacks it was determined that the people responsible were from the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda. At the time, Al-Qaeda operated mostly from the country Afghanistan, which is located in Asia, next to other countries such as Iran and Pakistan. Afghanistan was led by the Taliban, which is a fundamentalist Islamic organization. This means that they hold very traditional views and stressed the importance of Islamic faith in all aspects of Afghan life, including politically and socially. However, the Taliban was also known for allowing Al-Qaeda to operate in Afghanistan. As well, Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al-Qaeda was supposedly living in Afghanistan and directed the September 11th terrorist attacks from there.
In response to this, the United States, along with its allies, launched an attack (Operation Enduring Freedom) against Afghanistan and the Taliban on October 7th in 2001. More specifically, the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 was a mission led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which included other nations such as Canada, England, Australia and Germany. The goal of the mission was the overthrow the Taliban and remove or capture any members of Al-Qaeda, including Osama bin Laden.
The war in Afghanistan has been a major event of the first part of the 21st century and centered on the ‘War on Terrorism’ that United States President George W. Bush launched following the September 11th terrorist attacks. The United States and its allies drove the Taliban from Afghanistan by December of 2001 but Osama bin Laden and other high ranking members of Al-Qaeda fled the country to the neighboring Pakistan. The War in Afghanistan continued throughout the first part of the 21st century and as of the writing of this article (September 1st, 2020) continues, although with much less focus and resources from western nations. Regardless, the War in Afghanistan that erupted following the 2001 terrorist attacks displays a clear long-term impact of the September 11th attacks. As well, Osama bin Laden was killed on May 2nd in 2011 when United States Navy Seals stormed his secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
The second long-term impact of the September 11th terrorist attacks was the need for increased security measures in the United States and around the world. Due to the nature of the September 11th terrorist attacks, many people became fearful of airplane travel and other mass gatherings. As a result, governments across North America and Europe passed new laws in an effort to try to contain and stop terrorist acts before they are carried out. For example, in the United States the Department of Homeland Security was created in 2002 to coordinate domestic anti-terrorism efforts between the different agencies in the country.
Another important security law the was created following the September 11th terrorist attacks was the Patriot Act. Officially titled the ‘Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism’ Act, the Patriot Act was signed into law by U.S. President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001. In general, the Patriot Act was aimed at helping law enforcement agencies in the United States to investigate potential terrorists in an effort to stop terrorist attacks from occurring. For example, the Patriot Act introduced the following: allowed law enforcement agencies more authority to tap the phones of Americans, allowed different law enforcement to communicate more effectively, and allowed for harsher penalties for those found guilty of terrorism. The introduction of the Patriot Act was controversial, because some viewed it as unnecessary and an invasion of their freedoms. Whereas, others viewed it as an important step towards preventing terrorism.
Finally, airports across the world began introducing much higher security measures following the September 11th terrorist attacks. Since the September 11th attacks were the result of four airplanes being hijacked in the United States, many countries found it necessary to increase airport security as a means of preventing a similar future attack. The increase in airport security mostly involved enhanced search methods including the search of people and their baggage. For instance, airports across the world (most notably North America and Europe) introduced several measures, including: increased pat-downs by security officers, body-scanning devices to detect metal or other devices under peoples clothes, and scanning devices to inspect people’s luggage. The increase in airport security has continued and expanded over the recent years. Therefore, this has been a long-term impact of the September 11th terrorist attacks.
The third long-term impact of the September 11th terrorist attacks was the increased tensions that were created between Muslims and non-Muslims. Since the September 11th terrorist attacks were carried out by members of the Islamist terror group, Al-Qaeda, it led to an increase in prejudice towards Muslim people. In fact, Muslim people across much of the North America and Europe have experienced instances of hate and prejudice directed towards them. For instance, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported a 1,700 percent increase of hate crimes against Muslim Americans between 2000 and 2001. The fear or hatred of Muslim people is referred to as ‘islamophobia’. The issue of islamophobia has continued into modern day and erupts following other terrorist acts carried out by Islamic terrorists. As such, the modern tensions between non-Muslims and Muslims can be seen as a long-term impact of the September 11th terrorist attacks.
The fourth long-term impact of the September 11th terrorist attacks was the economic downturn that resulted from the attacks. Like any major catastrophe, the attacks of September 11th, 2001 caused a widespread economic downturn that negatively impacted businesses and people across the United States. For instance, since airplanes were used to carry out the attacks, many people were fearful of travelling. This led to a major economic loss for airline companies and tourist destinations because people were traveling far less. This economic loss related to tourism continued for many months after the original attacks in September of 2001.
Another important indicator of the economy is the stock market, which is the collection of all of the different businesses and their shares. Following the September 11th terrorist attacks, the stock markets in the United States experienced a profound and prolonged loss. For example, stock markets in the United States did not open on September 11th, 2001 and remained closed until September 17. When it did reopen, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which is the main stock index in the United States, fell 684 points. This amounted to a drop of over 7% value and represented the largest single-day drop in United States history. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell another 7% by the end of the week to over 14%. Again, this was the largest one-week loss in United States history. In 2001 dollars, the United States stocks lost approximately $1.4 trillion in valuation for the week. It took the United States years to overcome this economic loss. For example, it wasn’t until around 2003 or 2004 that the stock markets of the United States returned to levels that they had been at before the 2001 terrorist attacks. Therefore, a major long-term impact of the September 11th terrorist attacks was the economic downturn is caused.
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