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US President Joe Biden to visit Alaska to commemorate 22nd anniversary of 9/11 terror attacks


A memorial in the US to commemorate victims of 9/11 terror
Image Source : AP/FILE A memorial in the US to commemorate victims of 9/11 terror attacks

9/11 anniversary: US President Joe Biden will visit a ceremony at a military base in Anchorage, Alaska later on Monday to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of the deadly 9/11 terror attacks in New York and other areas that shook the entire world in 2001 and reshaped American foreign policy.

Considered the deadliest terror attack on American soil, nearly 3,000 people were killed after a series of hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001. First lady Jill Biden is due to lay a wreath at the 9/11 memorial at the Pentagon to commemorate the fallen.

A ceremony will take place at the 9/11 memorial in New York City, where people gather every year to mourn the people killed in the 2001 attacks. Mourners will gather for an annual reading of victims of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 9/11 attacks, as well as observe a citywide moment of silence.

Similar ceremonies are planned at the Pentagon and Shanksville in Pennsylvania – the locations which bore the brunt of the terror attacks. Other communities across the country will also pay tribute with moments of silence, tolling bells, candlelight vigils and other activities.  

Vice President Kamala Harris will join a ceremony at the World Trade Center site, commonly referred to as ‘Ground Zero’. The event will be used to allow  victims’ relatives for an hourslong reading of the names of the dead. Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, is expected to attend the ceremony.

Meanwhile, the remains of two people who died in the devastatinhg 9/11 terror attacks have been identified – a first in two years. This is a part of efforts by American authorities to return victims to their families. Over 1,000 human remains are yet to be identified.

What happened on 9/11?

The leader of terror group al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, is the chief perpetrator behind the 9/11 terror attacks. The motivations for the attack stemmed from his hostility of US presence in the countries of Somalia and Saudi Arabia and decided to remove American military troops by force.

Believing the US to be weak, Bin Laden formulated a plan to ‘wage jihad’ against America. The principal architect of the 9/11 terror attacks is beieved to be Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or ‘KSN’ – who studied in America before fighting in Afghanistan in the 1980s when it was under the control of the Soviet Union.

A total of 19 terrorists, most of them from Saudi Arabia, hijacked four planes flying over the eastern US territory and flew them into the landmark buildings in New York and Washington. Two planes crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, which collapsed within two hours.

A third plane crashed into the Pentagon, which serves as the military headquarters of the US in Washington. The western portion of the building was destroyed in the crash. A fourth plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania – although some believe that the plane was intended to hit the Capitol building in Washington.

9/11 casualties

The death toll in the 9/11 terror attacks came to nearly 3,000 – some 2,750 people were killed in New York, 184 people at the Pentagon and 40 others in Pennsylvania. All 19 terrorists who hijacked the planes were also killed during the crash. Rescue operations began almost immediately and almost 400 police officers and firefighters were killed in operations in New York.

The youngest victim of the attacks was a two-year-old child Christine Lee Hanson, who died on one of the planes with her parents, while the eldest was 82-year-old Robert Norton, who was also on another plane. 

Additionally, thousands of people were injured in the plane crashes and later developed illnesses, including firefighters who had worked in toxic debris. It is said that the fires in ‘Ground Zero’ smoldered for months.

Aftermath of the 9/11 attacks

The attacks shook the entire world – as America was considered as the top global leader after the end of the Cold War accompanied by the collapse of the Soviet Union. World markets badly declined and commercial travel was closed for some days. The attacks caused tremendous distress and trauma for American citizens – while al-Qaeda took responsibility.

Amid global support, America initiated a “war on terrorism” by invading Afghanistan in 2001 to eradicate al-Qaeda and hunt down Bin Laden, in which they removed the then-Taliban government. It was followed soon by an invasion of Iraq on claims that Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction. Former US President George W. Bush also called Iran, Iraq and North Korea an “axis of evil”.

The US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were the most brutal and controversial American conflicts in history – leading to the deaths of 7,000 US military personnel and tens and thousands of Afghan and Iraqi security forces as well as civilians. It ended with a hasty, massive airlift punctuated by a suicide bombing that killed 169 Afghans and 13 American service members. Despite American losses, it managed to weaken al-Qaeda, although the terror group still remains at large in many countries.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammad was arrested in Pakistan in 2003. He has been held in US custody at Guantanamo Bay since then, and is still awaiting trial. US troops finally managed a breakthrough in 2011 when troops finally located and killed Bin Laden in Pakistan under the Obama administration. 

The terror attacks left a huge legacy on American foreign policy and has fuelled the desire of successive governments to pull back on conflicts in Middle East and Asia, while pressing for a stronger stance on terrorism.

(with input from agencies)

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