Friday, September 11, 2009
9/11: Eight years on
Until the financial meltdown of 2008, there was no event this decade that came anywhere close in significance to the September 11 attack on the World Trade Centres and the Pentagon. Perhaps no single incident in the history of humanity has had as much immediate coverage across the globe as the fall of the two towers. The sad truth is, though, that despite all that has been said and written in the past eight years, the vast majority of Americans know little about the motives of the hijackers.
I wish some news organisation in the US would conduct a poll in which the lone question was: "Name the primary grievance behind the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001." I'd be interested to know what percentage of the public gives the right reply: "The presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia". My guess is that less than one in ten Americans will do so, having been fed on a diet of, "They don't like our values", and "They want to take away our freedoms".
All but four of the hijackers were Saudi nationals. Al Qaeda, the umbrella organisation behind the assault, was formed largely as a response to the creation of US military bases in the oil rich nation. 'Crusader warriors controlling the Holy Land' was the spin given by Osama bin Laden and his acolytes to the agreement between the House of Bush and the House of Saud following the First Gulf War.
Two years after the 9/11 outrage, the United States withdrew its forces from the largest country in the middle east, shutting down bases built recently at massive cost. A handful of US personnel remain, but as trainers rather than combatants. In that narrow sense, Osama got exactly the outcome he was seeking when he and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed planned the operation.