Back in Time is ED’s newspaper type column that reports an incident from the past as though it has happened just yesterday. It allows the reader to re-live it several years later, on the date it had occurred.
For this incident, we go back in time to 2001.
New York, Tuesday, 11 September: Millions across the world in the United States, and abroad watched in horror as hijacked, civilian aircrafts destroyed the Twin Towers in New York and The Pentagon in Washington D.C this morning. Thousands are feared killed in the attack where civilian aircrafts were used as coordinated, guided missiles on a suicide mission in what is certain to be the deadliest terror attack on American soil in history.
On a Tuesday morning which began as any other working day, terror unleashed itself in episodic bursts as America found herself under attack. It began with American Airlines Flight 11 out of Boston, crashing into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 am E.T, followed by United Flight 175 which rammed into the corresponding South Tower at 9:03 am E.T, an event that was broadcast live across the world by media outlets who were covering the alleged ‘fire’ in the North Tower.
More devastation was to follow as American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon at 9:40 am E.T while another hijacked plane, United Flight 93 was found downed in a field in Pennsylvania.
When the devastation was complete, the dust was yet to settle as the Twin Towers lay wasted, crumbled and felled, the foremost symbol of American power destroyed.
Within a few hours of the mayhem, even as Mayor Rudy Giuliani called for citizens to stay well within their homes, Manhattan and The Pentagon saw one of the largest buildups of relief work in recent history as, volunteers and agencies from across New York and New Jersey made their way to the crash site in an effort to assist rescue and relief work by the NYPD and the New York City Fire Department, who are severely handicapped after their losses in the collapse of the Twin Towers.
On a grimmer note, the crash site also saw hundreds of others wandering with old polaroids and pictures in hand, looking for lost ones in the haze that is South Manhattan. And although, the number of people dead, other than the 246 on the planes, is yet to be confirmed, the number is sadly expected to go into thousands as the weeks pass by.
Early eavesdropping intercepts and reports from the FBI suggest that Osama Bin Laden, the Saudi-born Sheikh responsible for the 1998 American Embassy Attacks and the 2000 Aden Attacks is behind the attacks this morning. And although the hijackers, who are suspected to have been armed with knives and box-cutters, have not been identified as of now, it is now virtually certain that they were members of Laden’s Organization, Al-Qaeda.
Meanwhile, although an official address by the President of the United States, George W. Bush is yet to come, the President who is currently on his way from Florida has asked the nation and the world to pray for the friends and families of the hundreds feared dead. However if sources are to be believed, The President is scheduled to make a statement from the White House this evening, even as his administration prepares, in principle at least, to go on a war-footing.
Post-Scriptum: 2,977. Almost 3,000 souls lost their lives on that fateful September day. And, as clichéd as it sounds, the political reality remains that 9/11 followed B.C and A.D as the next chapter in the history of time. Not only were the 9/11 attacks a significant marker as to the chaos modern-day religious extremism can wreck but, it was also a loud wake-up call as to how ill-equipped many of our nations, even the best of us are against asymmetric and guerrilla terrorism, especially when coupled against our own complacency.
Almost 15 years later, the War on Terror rages on many fronts. The question of whether it has been a success or not, is for history to judge. 9/11 remains the most significant act of terrorism in recent history and indelibly, marked the day that opened the floodgates to more acts of terrorism to follow such as the Madrid bombings, 7/11 Attacks in London and our very own 9/11, the 26/11 Attacks in Mumbai. As apprehensive as we may be to admit it, 9/11 remains the date the world began to live in fear.