Americans across the country watched in horror as the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, left nearly 3,000 people dead. The government scrambled to deal with the aftermath. Security was of paramount importance. The government rushed to build a massive infrastructure to protect against terrorist attacks. The Department of Homeland Security is one of them.
Actions taken post 9/11
George W. Bush, who had become president just months earlier after a fiercely contested election, authorized the federal agencies, FBI, and its partners at the CIA, National Security Agency, and the Pentagon, to wage war against Al-Qaida. The U.S. military invaded Afghanistan, which was considered the base of Al-Quida, the terrorist group responsible for the 9/11 carnage. The federal agencies hunted down suspected Al-Qaida operatives worldwide and tortured many of them in secret prisons.
FBI centralized the bureau’s international terrorism investigations and transformed the FBI from a crime-fighting organization into a terrorism-fighting, intelligence-driven organization with priority to prevent the next attack.
Trigger for the Two Decade long War
Over the next two decades, the federal government kept on pouring money and resources into protecting the United States from continuously evolving threats of terrorist attacks. In the name of national security, the Bush administration also instigated its futile war in Iraq, which resulted in bloodshed spanning two decades that shook the Middle East and bred another generation of terrorists.
The military invasion, which was proclaimed as the ‘War on Terror,’ targeted the Taliban for sheltering terrorists but then moved on to Iraq, Libya and Syria. The war was more about toppling governments that didn’t accept American supremacy and certainly not about promoting ‘democracy’ or ‘human rights. Iraq was invaded to remove Saddam Hussein from power, like Assad in Syria and Gaddafi in Libya. The war had more to do with profits than prophets.
Response to American Terror
As a consequence of Western military interference, weak or failed states have become the centers for terrorist activity. The areas most affected by the acute rise in terrorist attacks are South Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa. There is considerably more terrorism – both domestic and international – in countries with a predominantly Muslim population. Jihadist terrorism has become more enduring and extensive in the past two decades.
The original Al-Qaida operatives, which included loyal followers of Osama Bin Laden and were plotting to carry out attacks against the U.S. as late as 2016, have been annihilated mainly by the United States forces through targeted assassinations using drone strikes and special operations. But now, the Islamic State poses a new danger to the current world order as it has emerged as a self-styled rogue nation not likely to comply with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
ISIS uses social media platforms to recruit followers through cleverly produced propaganda videos. People influenced by ISIS could go from watching these videos to acting swiftly without setting off alarms.
But America’s most lethal terror threat stems not from international terrorists but the country’s domestic radicals, as evident from a series of high-profile attacks by people advocating white supremacist views in Charlottesville, Virginia, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Poway, California, and El Paso, Texas. Another case of domestic threats is anti-government extremist groups, as seen in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021, when people boldly stormed the U.S. Capitol as Congress declared Joe Biden’s presidential win.
It is important now more than ever to promote a culture of live an let live. Everyone needs to start being more emphatic towards other communities, groups and nations to promote peace worldwide and not increase separitism.