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21st Anniversary of 9/11

by Salaamedia Intern

Yesterday marked the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks that occurred in the United States. The attacks would spark two decades of conflict and occupation, costing the United States government over $2 trillion and creating one of the most inhumane detention centres in the world.


Invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq following 9/11

Al-Qaeda, the terrorist organization, had claimed responsibility for the hijackings and the destruction that happened on September 9th. Before the invasion, the Taliban had refused the United States’ request to hand over Osama Bin Laden, the man accused of masterminding the attacks, into their custody. They were, at the time, harbouring Al-Qaeda militants in Afghanistan. They denied the request due to the United States inability to provide evidence of Bin Laden’s involvement in the attacks. After a few months, the U.S. and their allied forces invaded the country. The U.S.-led coalition defeated the Taliban and Al-Qaeda within a matter of months. Removing the Taliban from power and forming a new government in Afghanistan. The U.S. occupied Afghanistan for 20 years until the current U.S. President, Joe Biden, announced their withdrawal from the country. In 2021 after he stated that the U.S. had achieved its goal in combatting terrorism. There was no need for them to remain in Afghanistan. Their abrupt withdrawal from Afghanistan would allow the Taliban to retake control of the country just a few days later. The invasion of Iraq was more controversial as intelligence agencies claimed that the Iraq government was housing “weapons of mass destruction”. The inaccurate information gave justifiable cause for the invasion as no such weapons were ever found in Iraq.

“It was primarily Dick Cheney who tried to find false connections between Al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. Partly through the torture program so that he could attempt to justify that completely illegal invasion of Iraq and for which there was no basis.”

In later years many viewed the invasion of Iraq as a terrible consequence of 9/11. A result that was not supposed to be allowed to happen but did regardless, causing the death of thousands of innocent people.

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Guantanamo Bay

The U.S. Naval Base was built over 100 years ago during the Spanish-American War. And now the base is used as a centre that detains and interrogates fugitives with ties to terror networks worldwide. However, not all the prisoners detained were guilty. The Bush rhetoric “you are either with us or against us” has permitted discrimination and hatred, not only in the U.S., by making no distinctions between terrorists, Middle Eastern refugees and Muslims.

“We are still in a situation where the majority of those men held at Guantanamo are accused of nothing more significant than having been in Afghanistan before the 9/11 attacks. When they were engaged in one way or another in helping the Taliban in a civil war against other Muslims, the northern alliance, 9/11 happened. And the United States instantly declared everybody a terrorist”.

Guantanamo, or Gitmo, was opened during the Bush Administration after the 9/11 attacks and was heavily criticized later for the harsh treatment of its prisoners and the cruel interrogation techniques used by the U.S. military.

“21 years after the terrorist attacks, we’ve got the prison at Guantanamo Bay which was shamefully set up to hold people outside of the norms, in which you are allowed to deprive people of their liberty. These men are, for the most part, have been held indefinitely without charge or trial, which is the hallmark of a dictatorship, not of a country that claims to respect the rule of law. I think it is very sad on this 21st anniversary that we’re talking again and that we have to talk about Guantanamo because it’s still open”.

Since its opening, Gitmo has imprisoned nearly 800 men, with less than 40 remaining. The “forever prisoners” are set to be released as the U.S. government does not have evidence to warrant their imprisonment.

“I would say it is clear that the people within the Biden administration care of the men that were inherited from Donald Trump by Joe Biden. A large number of these 36 men have been approved for release since Joe Biden took office. Through a review process that Obama set up, that was still running under Trump. But under Trump, literally, nothing happened. The prison was effectively sealed shut. So, they have been approving men for release, and these are men [have] been held for all this time without charge or trial”.


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