Terrorist Attack on America| September 11, 2001
Terrorist Attack on America| September 11, 2001, the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear. Involve violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law.
American life changed dramatically on the morning of September 11, 2001. Terrorists hijacked four commercial jetliners, crashing two into the World Trade Center towers in New York City, which collapsed into smoldering rubble. Another hit the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, while the fourth plane crashed in rural Pennsylvania after what was believed to be a passenger uprising against the hijackers. About 3,000 people died in the attacks. See also September 11 Attacks.
The U.S. government quickly identified the hijackers as members of al-Qaeda, an organization that, according to U.S. officials, connected and coordinated fundamentalist Islamic terrorist groups around the world. The government also believed that al-Qaeda was responsible for other attacks, including the bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998 and the attack on the Navy ship U.S.S. Cole in Yemen in 2000. Its leader, a wealthy Saudi businessman named Osama bin Laden, had pledged jihad, or holy war, against the United States for its activities in the Middle East. The group made its headquarters in Afghanistan, where it was supported by the country’s rulers, an Islamic fundamentalist movement known as the Taliban.
Instead of launching an immediate attack, Bush spent the first days following the terrorist attacks consulting with military leaders and assembling a coalition of nations to fight terrorism. The coalition included countries in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance, such as Britain.
Fears rose again in early October when a powdered form of the bacterium known as anthrax began to appear in letters in some places around the country. Anthrax lives in the soil and is most often found in grass-eating animals such as cattle. It forms hard-to-kill spores that, when ingested, can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections. Over the next few weeks, anthrax killed five people in Florida, New York, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C. It also forced the temporary closure of two congressional office buildings. At first some investigators thought that the outbreak was another form of attack by al-Qaeda. As the investigation progressed, however, some came to believe that someone inside the United States was responsible.
In early October the United States went to war, bombing al-Qaeda training camps and missile installations in Afghanistan. Within a few weeks, U.S. marines joined with Afghan opposition groups to topple the Taliban. The U.S. forces killed or captured many al-Qaeda fighters, but bin Laden remained at large.
On the home front, President Bush signed the Patriot Act in 2001 to give the government expanded powers to monitor terrorist suspects. Some critics, however, said the new law represented an infringement on civil liberties. Bush also signed a law in 2002 that created a new executive department, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The department’s mission was to protect the United States against terrorist attacks, reduce the country’s vulnerability to terrorism, and aid recovery in case of an attack. The DHS combined dozens of federal agencies into one department, the largest government reorganization since the Department of Defense was created in 1947. See also Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
The inquiry also found that FBI headquarters failed to heed warnings from its Phoenix office about terrorist suspects seeking to enroll in flight training schools or to act properly on a request from its Minneapolis office to conduct a search of an alleged conspirator in the terrorist attacks. Prepared by a joint committee of the House and Senate Intelligence committees, the report disputed an FBI claim that none of the hijackers had contacted any “known terrorist sympathizers,” finding instead that five hijackers had contact with 14 persons who had been investigated by the FBI for possible links to terrorism. The intelligence community was aware as early as 1994 that terrorists might use aircraft in an attack and knew as early as 1998 that bin Laden was planning an attack within the United States, the report concluded.
Summary: Whether domestic or international terrorism appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.