Onwhat many consider to be one of the most tragically gruesome days in Americanhistory, September 11, 2001, a total of nearly 3,000 lives were lost because ofa strategic attack carried out by a group of 19 Islamic terrorist militants.
Usingnothing more than “boxcutters, knifes, and pepper-spray” (Govinfo.library.unt.edu,2004), these Islamic extremists successfully hijacked four large Americancommercial airliners, essentially transforming the planes into guided weaponsto carry out suicide attacks against various selected targets throughout thecountry. Out of the four airliners hijacked, three of them successfully reachedtheir target destination. Two of the planes targeted the twin towers of theWorld Trade Center, a third plane striking into the Pentagon, while the fourthplane failed to reach its selected target destination and crash landed justinside the state lines of Pennsylvania. These gruesome attacks made against theUnited States prompted the kickstart several major initiatives to combatterrorism, which ultimately defined the legacy behind the presidency of GeorgeW. Bush (HISTORY.
com, 2010). The nineteen individuals responsible for the 9/11 attacksall originated from various Arab countries, with intelligence indicating theyreceived substantial funding by an al-Qaeda terrorist group that was operatedunder the extremist leader Osama bin Laden. However, it was later discoveredthat a sizable number of the terrorists deemed responsible for these horrificattacks had already positioned themselves within our nation’s borders a longbefore carrying out the intended act. Members of the al-Qaeda terroristorganization claimed that the purpose for carrying out these grisly attacksagainst the United States was in retaliation for demonstrating support andallegiance to of Israel, its involvement in the Persian Gulf War and its sustainedmilitary presence throughout much of the Middle East (HISTORY.com, 2010).
The terrorist-related attacks made against our nation on9/11, heavily exposed several major underlying issues occurring within variouslevels of our government that allowed the Islamic attackers to be successful intheir intended operation. It appears that the two primary reasons involved aserious lack of communication, as well as gathering and sharing of intelligenceamongst federal, state, and local levels of government. In fact, this proved tobe a reoccurring dilemma for the intelligence community in the years and monthsleading up to attacks. Throughout the 1990’s, the United States government’sintelligence community had tremendous difficulty when collecting intel on thegrowing threat of transnational terrorism.
The reasons for this were due to awide range of major problems including, “an overwhelming number of priorities,flat budgets, an outmoded structure, and bureaucratic rivalries” (Govinfo.library.unt.
edu,2004). Prior to the attacks made on 9/11, the FBI made efforts to modify andreinforce our nation’s defensive capabilities in hopes to circumvent possibleterrorist-related attacks from being carried out in success. However, none ofthe suggested modifications were applied prior to the events on 9/11,ultimately narrowing the already constricted power of the FBI when developingand implementing a preventive counterterrorism strategy or respond in a timelymanner. It’s never easy to admit when mistakes have been made.
The horrific actions carried out by the 19 Islamic extremists exploited severalkey mistakes made by the United States in the moments prior to, during, andfollowing the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This is never an easy nor acceptable way tohave to learn a lesson, but If the issues have been addressed and handled priorto the 9/11 attacks, it very well could have been prevented. However, theUnited States government has since learned from past mistakes, incorporatingseveral new adjustments towards improving government methods of communications andgathering and sharing classified information. By doing so, our nation’s approachon its counterterrorism strategies have been enhanced drastically to ensure thatsuch an attack would be prevented in the future.