Ten Years On

Today, the world marks the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. The deliberate strikes on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Virginia were carried out clandestinely by Osama Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network. The barbaric acts of terror claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 innocent civilians; they include parents, siblings and co-workers who would forever be missed by their loved ones.

A period of mourning would then be replaced by an era of hatred, feelings of sorrow would be replaced by the longing for vengeance . After the culprits became public knowledge, anger was directed at terrorism and the worldwide campaign to eradicate terrorists was promulgated. Aimed at making the world a safer place, global superpowers joined forces to crush terrorist factions in Afghanistan and Iraq. But ten years on, has the world really become a safer place? Has terrorism been debilitated, more-so put to a stop?

The infamous image of the World Trade Center attacks in 2001.

Ten years on, the threat of terrorism is as real as it was before. Although Osama Bin Laden has already been killed, the lives of thousands of Americans lost in the 9/11 attacks are yet to be vindicated. And how could we say otherwise when the threat of terrorism looms almost every year in the U.S.? On Christmas Day 2009, suspected Al-Qaeda member Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab planned to take down Northwestern Airlines Flight 253 en route to Detroit, Michigan from Amsterdam using plastic explosives sewn to his underwear. Umar’s plans didn’t come to fruition after being apprehended by fellow passengers on the flight. Americans are also suffering from travel restrictions as they are prime targets of terrorist crimes all over the world.

The United States’ campaign in Iraq has stretched for almost eight years but an end is nowhere to be seen, at the same time their mission in Afghanistan is far from being accomplished as well. The United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Canada, the rest of the North Alliance Treaty Organization and several non-NATO and U.S. allies have also taken part in their conquest and because of this they have paid for their participation.

In July 2005, 56 people perished in the London train bombings in the United Kingdom. A year earlier, 191 people were killed also from train bombings in Madrid, Spain. Two years beforehand over 202 people, over 88 of them were Australians and most of them tourists, were killed in car bombings in Bali, Indonesia. The Beslan School Siege in Russia, carried out in 2004 by Chechen separatists, took the lives of 334 victims but most of them were casualties of a botched rescue attempt by Russian special forces soldiers and the inadequate medical facilities available in the small city of Beslan. The booming city of Mumbai in India have been devastated as well by two major terrorist attacks. First the 2006 train bombings which took the lives of 209 people and then the 2008 hotel bombings which left 175 people dead.

Victims lie on the railway tracks during the 2004 Madrid train bombings.
The carnage during the 2005 London Bombings.

In the Philippines, we are no strangers to terrorism. The worst terrorist attack on Filipino civilians happened in 2004 during the Super Ferry 15 bombings which killed 118 people. At the same time, the country also has several Islamic separatist factions lurking in the South such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Indonesian faction Jemaah Islamiyah, communist New People’s Army and the notorious Abu Sayaff. The latter made worldwide headlines when the group kidnapped tourists from the island of Sipadan, Malaysia in 2000.

The war against terrorism is far from being won, and as the days go by more and more civilians and soldiers get killed in the fighting in terrorist hotspots such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. This means that more families will lose their loved ones in the fighting. There will be more empty seats in the dinner table for most households. There will be more grieving and sympathy amongst all people. And most of all, there will be more fighting and hatred towards people of different ethnicities and religions.

The question that comes to mind is one that is echoed throughout the people who have lost their loved ones, throughout the residents living inside the warzone: “when will all of this end?” When will the guns be silenced? When will the bloodshed stop? Is it really through war that we can attain peace?

Ten years on, the answer remains unknown to all. The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Mindanao and the like shows no signs of slowing down; in fact, it is as active as it always was. Support for the war on terror is slowly diminishing, with most global leaders growing tired of the fighting in the Middle East. There has also been calls in the U.S. to end the war in Iraq and to send their troops home. At the same time, more youths are enlisting themselves in terrorist networks worldwide and eliminating terrorist commanders render useless as they can easily be replaced. The clamor of the world is still the same: stop terrorism and apprehend its’ sympathizers. The response however, continues to be an enigma.

Ten years after 9/11 terrorism is yet to be stopped, instead it is as strong as it ever was.

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