September 11 20 years on

Various authors

2021-09-01

AMERICA

DEFENCE AND SECURITY

This interactive article first appeared on the Lowy Institute

Towers v2
Did 9/11 Change our world

Six experts debate the legacy of September 11

Introduction

By Lydia Khalil

In 2001, Afghanistan was ruled by the Taliban. They governed the country through rigid interpretations of Islamic law and were notorious for their human rights abuses and abhorrent attitudes and rules restricting the freedom of women. They had also given sanctuary to al-Qaeda, a transnational jihadist terrorist organisation that had opposed the United States and its military presence in the Muslim world. It was from the mountains of Afghanistan and the border cities along the Afghanistan–Pakistan border that Osama bin Laden and senior al-Qaeda operatives conceived of and launched the Septem‍ber 11 attacks against the United States — hijacking domestic aircraft and flying them into targets including the World Trade Center towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC. It was the most successful and spectacular terrorist attack ever conducted. It was also the largest attack by a foreign entity on US soil, at a time when the United States was, arguably, at the peak of its power.

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