9/11 – Fifteen Years Later – OpEd


This Sunday the USA observes the 15th anniversary of 9/11. The attacks on the soil of the USA was committed not by a hostile state but reportedly by non-state Muslim zealots that were affiliated with OBL’s al-Qaeda. Nearly 3000 individuals of all faiths died in the attacks.

Since the militant group was based in Afghanistan the mineral rich country was attacked on October 7, 2011 as a retaliation by President George W. Bush. The Taliban regime of Mullah Omar was soon toppled with massive bombing campaigns from the joint Anglo-American forces. Nearly a quarter million innocent Afghan civilians who had no connection with 9/11 were pulverized in the USA-led barbarity.

Next, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, which had no connection with 9/11, was invaded. President Bush gave a new meaning to the word savagery. Truly, never before had humanity seen so much brutality and plundering, especially in the post-World War II era by a government that touted itself as the model of greatness. Probably, a million Iraqi civilians were butchered by Bush and his forces. [Note: Some reliable estimates like the Opinion Research Business (ORB) poll conducted 12–19 August 2007 estimated 1,033,000 violent deaths due to the Iraq War. The range given was 946,000 to 1,120,000 deaths.] The Ba’athist regime in Iraq (like the Taliban in Afghanistan) was replaced by a puppet government.

Saddam Hussein was hanged in Iraq. OBL was killed in May 2011 in a raid inside Pakistan. And Mullah Omar reportedly died a natural death inside Afghanistan. Hostile regimes were replaced by friendlier ones to the USA but the elusive peace and security, let alone democracy, never set in. And as it appears, such goals were not even planned or intended by the US-led invaders. Out of all the chaos which have set in, deadlier foes than al Qaeda have emerged posing greater threat to the security not only to the entire region but even to the West.

A resurgent Taliban continues to challenge the authority of the elected government in Afghanistan where the latter controls more than half the territory (and that so only during the daytime); a quarter of Afghanistan remains a contested territory. A small contingent of American forces continue to provide air support and train Afghan government forces.

Inside Iraq and Syria, with its successful terrorist attacks and the capacity to hold on to conquered territories, Daesh has emerged as a challenge not only to the current governments in those two countries, but to all people – Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

The Arab spring blossomed and withered; the desire for a people’s participatory democracy has been ruthlessly subdued in all but Tunisia. Thousands of political dissidents have been executed while another tens of thousands continue to rot in Sisi’s neo-Pharaonic Egypt. Tens of thousands of unarmed civilians have been murdered in US drone attacks in places like Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

Back here in the USA, the political news about the coming presidential election dominates the headlines. In spite of all of the talk about 9/11, many elements of the attacks and the actions leading up to them have receded from the public memory. Remarkably, fifteen years of investigation have failed to determine how the hijackers were able to get into the cockpits of the four commercial airliners. Conspiracy theories continue to remain a vibrant source of information about the attack for many internet-surfers.

When the 9/11 report was released by the US government in 2004, 28 pages of material remained classified and the subject of intense speculation about their contents. Those pages, which were released in July, showed multiple links to associates of Saudi Arabian Prince Bandar bin Sultan, ex-ambassador to the United States. The documents, as USA TODAY reported in July, “Show possible conduits of money from the Saudi royal family to Saudis living in the United States and two of the hijackers in San Diego.” The pages were not released, because the details contained in them had not been confirmed or shown to be relevant to the 9/11 attacks. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia.

To embarrass now the Obama Administration in the election year, the U.S. House of Representatives has unanimously passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA). The bill passed by unanimous voice vote, as it did in the Senate back in May.

The bill allows families of victims of the 9/11 attack to sue Saudi Arabia in US courts over the attack, based on evidence that the Saudi government played a role in supporting al-Qaeda in the lead-up to the attack. President Obama repeatedly vowed to the veto the bill if it got through Congress, claiming “taxpayers” are at risk.

It is likely that Saudi Arabia will retaliate any such court verdicts. As far back as April, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir threatened to deliberately collapse the US treasury market in retaliation for the bill by selling some $750 billion in Saudi-held assets on the market. Jubeir’s initial threat was followed almost immediately by a chorus of officials coming out against the bill.

Unanimous yes votes in both houses of Congress, however, put President Obama in a tricky situation, as he faces what could easily be the first successful veto override of his presidency. Though it is believed some Democrats won’t challenge the president, and will thus switch sides on the veto override vote, there are strong indications that there may still be enough left to override the veto.

It remains to be seen if the Saudi government follows through with threats to the US Treasury market. As noted by experts, the market has already been absorbing steady sales out of eastern Asia, particularly from China, and would likely be unable to absorb another $750 billion debt dump.

Fifteen years later, the USA remains a highly divided nation with no peace and security at home – especially, for many Afro-Americans and most religious minorities. In the last few weeks alone, 3 Bangladeshis got killed in New York City alone, which can only be described as hate crimes. With Donald Trump as a presidential candidate for the Republican Party, fascism seems to be making serious inroads within the American political landscape – further eroding the already weakened cohesion within the society and making many jittery or nervous.

It’s a nervous time for many Muslims who were apprehensive about the reaction of racist and bigot Americans should this year’s Eid-il-Adha had fallen on Sunday, September 11. [Fortunately for them, it fell on Monday, September 12.] But even then, don’t be surprised if somewhere in this so-called land of the free, some minorities would face harassment for wearing hijab or ethnic dress, or for just looking like a Muslim. That is a sad commentary that is close to the reality in today’s America!

With the specter of violence everywhere, our world seems a more dangerous place today than it was 15 years ago. Bush’s Global War on Terror (piggy-backed by Obama) has unleashed the real beast free making life worthless. While the mass murdering war-lords and -criminals remain secure and protected, most of today’s victims don’t know why they are getting killed. And regrettably, the UN remains ineffectual to curb such victimization of the innocent people.

That sums up the saga of our time!

Dr. Habib Siddiqui

Dr. Habib Siddiqui has a long history as a peaceful activist in an effort towards improving human rights and creating a just and equitable world. He has written extensively in the arena of humanity, global politics, social conscience and human rights since 1980, many of which have appeared in newspapers, magazines, journals and the Internet. He has tirelessly championed the cause of the disadvantaged, the poor and the forgotten here in Americas and abroad. Commenting on his articles, others have said, "His meticulously researched essays and articles combined with real human dimensions on the plight of the displaced peoples of Rohingya in Myanmar, Chechnya, Bosnia, Kosovo and Palestine, and American Muslims in the post-9/11 era have made him a singular important intellectual offering a sane voice with counterpoints to the shrill threats of the oppressors and the powerful. He offers a fresh and insightful perspective on a whole generation of a misunderstood and displaced people with little or no voice of their own." He has authored 11 books, five of which are now available through Amazon.com. His latest book - Devotional Stories is published by A.S. Noordeen, Malaysia.

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