Why Did 9/11 Happen: An Event That Changed US History


Terrorism has been a thorn in the smooth running of the United States. The 9/11 attack, as it is normally known, caught the US unaware. In Sept. 11, 2001, 19 radicals who are associated with al Qaeda, an Islamic extremist unit, took control of four airlines and did suicidal strikes against various areas in the U.S. Many ask the question why did 9/11 happen, and what did it mean for the US. Two of the hijacked planes were taken to the World Trade Center tower in New York City. The third plane was used to blow the Pentagon, outer of Washington D.C. Another plane ran into Pennsylvania field. The 9/11 attack resulted in massive deaths and destruction, causing key US initiatives to fight terrorism. Around 3,000 people were feared to be dead due to the attack (Hampton, 2003).

The assailants were basically Islamic extremists from Saudi Arabia and various other Arab countries. It is reported that the terrorists were funded by the fugitive Al Qaeda terrorist organization under the leadership and command of Osama Bin Laden. They were supposedly doing a revenge for the support that the Americans were giving to the Israelites, its connection to the Persian Gulf War and its continuous military being in the Middle East. A number of the assailants that undertook the attack were living in the U.S. for more than 12 months and had completed flight classes at the American commercial flight schools. Other managed to slip into the nation some months before the Sept. 11 and tended to act as a force in process.

After the incidences of Sept. 11, 2001, the entire America and people from across the globe started to realize the threat that terrorism poised to humanity. Many 9/11 survivors have given extensive interviews since the tragedy. By definition, terrorism is basically the threatened or illicit use of violence or force by a structured group or an individual against a certain property or people with a goal of forcing or threatening governments or societies, mostly for political or ideological motives. Terrorism normally involves activities such as hijacking, assassinations, random killings, and even skyjacking (Berman, 2003, p. 17). It is essential to note that terrorism is not used for military reasons but rather for religious or political reasons. History asks the question how many deaths related to 9/11, and the answer will seem scary to you. Terrorist activities usually target religious groups, ethnic communities or groups, political parties, media enterprises, governments and even companies. The terrorist organizations that take part in terrorism activities are always small in size and have limited resources as compared to the institutions and populations that they oppose. “Due to the publicity as well as the fear that is generated by the violence acts, they tend to increase their power and influence to facilitate political change on an international or local level. Despite the fact that counter-terrorism can alter change many of our daily operations, enforcement of strict rules, laws, and security assures the people of life that is less of constant terror threat” (Innes, 2008, p. 38).

Several nations have strengthened laws regarding anti-terrorism and also improved the extent of enforcement. More details about this can be found in the 9/11 essay. Additionally, there has been in place intelligence agencies that help in preventing future terrorist attacks (Innes, 2003, p. 64). This is the path that the United States had to take to protect its citizens in the wake of the increasing terrorism attacks. Even though Osama bin Laden at the beginning denied any connection, he later took charge of the attack. The Al-Qaeda as well as Bin Laden claimed issues like U.S backing of Israel, the existence of the U.S. soldiers in Saudi Arabia, and the injunctions put against the Iraq as reasons for the attack (Langley, 2006).

The 9/11 attack resulted in the death of Americans and destroyed property worth billions. The demolition of the World Trade Center and the close infrastructure resulted in a grave impairment to the economy of the Lower Manhattan and huge effects on global markets leading to the closure of the wall Street and the resident Airspace in the US and Canada for a given period (Hampton, 2003).

As a result of the increasing terrorist attacks, the United States has heightened its security. The attack can be considered as a wakeup call. The question that rises now is whether the security measures that the US have taken to safeguard the country against future attacks are enough to protect the country. There are several measures that the US have taken and these includes;

Air Travel

The operations at the airport are basically the immediate and obvious changes that were made after the attack. Barely binary months after the attack, was airport security federalized by the Congress by ratifying the Aviation and Transportation Act that formed the Transportation Security Administration. Before the 9/11, security was being handled by the airports which meant outsourcing private security organizations (Bolton, 2003, p. 412).

The new TSA executed processes which entailed more strict guidelines on luggage and passenger scanning. It was made that only the passengers with tickets were allowed to go through the security and ever altering chain of procedures and machines were incorporated to scan destructive items and weapons. Many new threats were discovered after the 9/11 attack, and these made the US introduce new procedures that included the removal of shoes and even banning of liquids.

Major overhauls were also done on the airplanes themselves. It marked the introduction of fortified cockpit doors. Some planes also took the initiative of dropping first class cabin curtains. The pilots were also made to submit an application to be considered a state daily flight officer enabling them to have a loaded gun and serve as a federal executive onboard.

The new security measures at the airport were not at a free cost. To counterbalance the charge of the extra security dealings a was appended onto the tickets of passengers with the TSA gathering approximately $15 billion gathered in nine years (Fee Notice, 2001). Some of the airlines were providing part of their baggage screening budgets to assist in offsetting the costs. The air carrier fee collections went to around $2.9 billion between 2002-2010 (Bolton, 2006).


The year after the attack, the 107th Congress passed more than 130 pieces of legislations related to the 9/11 attack. 48 resolutions and bills were approved to become law (Bolton, 2006, p. 92). A lot of work has been done to figure out the total deaths on 9 11. However, the Patriotic Act is considered to be the most distinguishable piece of legislation. In corporation with the Transportation Security Act and the Aviation Act, the Congress includes the Visa Entry reform Act and Enhanced Border Security that expected the State Department and Immigration to share immigrant data and visa with one another. The following years resulted in the announcement of the Post 9/11 G.I Bill that offered educational financial support to the soldiers.

After the 9/11, the government woke up from security let down sleep. It created agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security that combined other organizations like the U.S Immigration and Naturalization Services. Over 263 public organizations were reorganized or created after the attack.

Tourism, Deportations, and Immigration

Pakistan is considered the country with the largest significant decrease in the provision of visa after the 9/11 attack. A number of tourist visas given to Pakistan citizens since 2002 reduced by around 70%. The immigration visa also reduced to about 40% as compared to 2011 (Innes, 2003, p. 40). This lasted until 2008 that tourist and immigrant visas of Pakistan also reached the pre-9/11 rates. Apart from Pakistan, Morocco and Egypt also faced sharp drops in numbers, particularly in 2002 and they have since rebounded (p. 47).

Global tourism flow to the US also reduced for around three years after the attack. From 2004, the amount foreign tourists coming to the United States started increasing and even passed the numbers that were there before the 9/11 in 2007. It is recorded that around 60 million foreign tourists visited the country in 2010 (Innes, 2003, p. 78). Similarly, it was observed that the number of American tourists who visited other reduced after the 9/11.

Should the US take more advanced security measures to protect the country?

With such security measures in place, the question that I ask myself is whether these measures are enough to safeguard the country. It is no doubt that these measures are not 100 percent effective considering the security loopholes that are still being witnessed. Because of this, the US should further improve their security tactics beyond what they currently provide considering the increasing advancement of the terrorist groups.

1. The Department of Homeland Security

The formation of the Department of Homeland Security in 2002, immediately after the 9/11 attack has put fresh regulations on major areas including border security and natural disaster management. It is considered as the overarching mega-agency that was created from the attack. The basic values of the Department of Homeland Security is to protect the people of America from terrorism. Bolton (2006) mentions the responsibilities of DHS which are based on three objectives:

a) Prevention of terrorist activities

b) Prevention of the unlawful acquisition, movement, importation or even the application of biological, nuclear, radiological or chemical materials and capabilities in the US and

c) Decrease the susceptibility of essential infrastructure as well as significant resources, important leadership, and certain key events to terrorist activities and other threats.

The DHS reorganized and absorbed 22 present agencies that dealt with local safety, immigration and law enforcement (Bolton, 2006, p. 39). However, the borders are very open notwithstanding all the new agencies and the covers of government as well as the number of illegal and legal immigrants that come from the jihadist areas particularly in Africa and the Middle East which increased under the Obama administration. It was noted that the government has been doing less regarding border security in the latest times.

The State Department is continuing to offer many visas yearly to citizens of different countries which decline to take back their citizens who are supposed to be removed from the US (Bolton, 2006, p. 62). Many first responders on 9/11 gave very candid interviews. Quite a number of which are violent criminals and a threat to the country. The ability of DHS to share information with within government agencies and the private sector should offer a fresh model for the federal government to handle other threats that do not have any connection with Islamic terrorism. It is essential for them to develop a new “paradigm” which can be applied in several ways and work against the threats of cyber security. The DHS should not only target the Muslim community to guard the country against terrorism attacks but also focus on other sectors that bring security loopholes in the country.

2. Transportation Security Administration

The public servants issued blue uniforms should basically man the airports, and this should be considered as one of the most significant implications of the 9/11. “Previously, the airports were using private security guards, and it is important for the Congress to give this agency a sweeping responsibility of doing warrantless searches, scan, pat down including sensitive parts of the body, and log the facial elements and also capture American citizens regardless of the age. Extensive regulations should be in effect to ban liquids and other key items on planes” (Gerson & Jerry, 2001, p. 71). It is also important to forbid anything that profiles or comes closer to profiling people from the Middle East as the mastermind or the perpetrators of the 9/11 attack.

3. USA Patriot Act and anti-money-laundering rules

Around a month after the 9/11, the USA Patriotic Act was ratified by the Congress, and its impacts can still be witnessed today. The Act amended several present laws that include the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 and the federal anti-money laundering statute, purportedly making them be more strict on terrorism. However, the laws reduced the freedom and privacy of the regular American citizens.

The revised Bank Secrecy Act has certain sweeping provisions essentially in a section that requires data exchange between the policing agencies and banks in the US and abroad whenever an individual or business is involved in terrorism or money laundering. You can find more resources if you find essays on 911. The Act should be implemented strictly by the US administration to enable the government has a complete picture of the finances of its citizens.

The government provides itself with the right to one’s property and undertakes the façade of civil asset forfeiture. Hampton (2013) argues that this is a government activity in which agents (normally the police) grab private property that they suspect can be connected to any criminal involvement. It is no doubt that this will help fight the problem of terrorism in the country.

4. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

Major changes were made after the 9/11, and a lot of controversies also surrounded the privacy of the people. In 2001 and 2008, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that created the secret court was revised. This reduced the legal block for the government to take part in monitoring and other investigation activities. It is also argued that after 9/11, the National Security Agency (NSA) turned inwards, from being an agency which watched on foreign governments and terrorists to an agency that mostly tracks communication of the American people locally with no warrant.

5. Improved anti-terrorism trials under material support laws

The” material support laws” increase the capabilities of anti -terror agencies by enabling the US Department of Justice to take legal actions against terrorists and even those providing monetary support, weaponry or training of terrorists. Even though this has been a very significant tool in the prosecution of terrorists, the persistent attempt by the Obama administration to enlarge the meaning of terrorism to entail home-based right wing extremist has made it possible that the “material support laws” can be applied against the usual moderate Americans who contribute money to groups that are considered “extremists” by the law.

Many countries have made major steps towards eliminating the presence of terrorists’ activities within their societies, but also prevent further terrorist attacks in their territories (Innes, 2003, p. 95). “Nevertheless, the rise in the number of terrorists every day has thwarted many of these efforts and stopped their triumph. Feasibly, this has shaped the right moment for the U.S. to understand the segmented and varied attributes of terrorism as this will ensure proper mechanisms are taken to fight against terrorism in the world. Advancement in technology and globalization have influenced terrorist activities and metamorphosed its nature” (Berman, 2003, p. 101). In addition, the introduction of the use of weapons of mass destruction has also enhanced the influence of terrorists and changed the nature of terrorism in the world today. Understanding the new diverse characteristic of terrorism in the contemporary day can be useful in creating new mechanisms for counteracting and combating terrorism. The mechanisms used in the war against terror in the U.S. have been unsuccessful due to the dispute between the need to combat terrorist activities and observing the rights of humans (Berman, 2003, p. 21).

Considering a global perspective in the approach to combating terrorism is something that can prove effective in the long run. Nations across the world should develop a collective effort through collaboration with one another to combat terrorism. Fighting terrorism should not be a concern for the United States alone. By coming together to fight terrorism, the momentum and enthusiasm will basically be increased. Lack of proper coordination between countries gives room for the terrorist to undertake their activities with little or no obstacle. Just as any other criminal act, terrorism is basically punishable by the law and therefore countries should ensure that their criminal justice system works together. By considering terrorism as a crime within the legal system will enable different countries to fight terrorism while also ensuring that the freedom and rights of the suspects and criminals are respected. It is no doubt that the US will be peaceful as a world superpower if the bordering countries first begin putting stronger measures to fighting terrorism.

The introduction of a strong and functioning criminal justice system which instills penalties for terror suspects will as well be an effective preventive measure because it will assist in highlighting different issues associated with terrorism. For instance, an inclusive criminal justice system will give disciplinary procedures and help in dealing with those supporting and funding terrorists. The DHS should have increased powers and resources to combat terrorism.


Following the 9/11 attack, the U.S. must take a comprehensive methodology to homeland defense and reconsider what can be a near isolationist tactic to the aspect of homeland defense. A lot of the information supposes that the US will be the main target of attacks and the mere center of attacks. It is argued that the universal attribute of the US role as the world superpower makes it the main target of terrorist activities. There is also a propensity to suppose that the U.S. prevention, protection, responses, and political as well as an economic action can take place. The 9/11 attack was a wakeup call to the U.S. to improve its security measures to evade future attacks. After the attack, the U.S placed certain security measures but this requires further improvement because many of the terrorist groups are increasing their intensity and knowledge of the attack. It is therefore important for the U.S. to intensify its security operations in all its states and borders. Terrorism poses bigger challenges to unity, peace, and co-existence of nations in the world. Advancement in technology and globalization has facilitated the growth of terrorism and resulted in the employment of armaments of mass destruction and cyber security technology. Because of this, there is urgent urge to counter the increasing terrorism activities.