Twenty years ago, the U.S. faced the unprecedented attack of terrorism known as 9/11. This attack killed 2,996 people, leaving thousands with the loss of loved ones as well as increasing Muslim hate crimes to breaking records. How did this all happen?
On this day, nineteen members sponsored by the extremist Islamic group called al Quaeda of Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden boarded four planes. All of them were headed to LAX Airport from three different East Coast airports (these planes were chosen for their large amount of fuel for the transcontinental journey). The group easily smuggled box-cutters and knives through airport security checkpoints, boarded their flights, and hijacked each cockpit, transforming these commercial passenger planes into deadly weapons.
“It was a beautiful Tuesday morning. There was not a cloud in the sky, and I even drove to work with my convertible roof down,” said Carolyn Marceda, a community member and mother of students at San Marcos. She was there during 9/11 across from the world trade center, in the same neighborhood. She witnessed the event live from her office window, “It was right before nine in the morning when the first plane made contact with the Northern Tower of the World Trade Center.”
Its impact instantly killed hundreds. The plane wedged into the 101st and 80th floor of the tower. This left the people at the top of the building virtually trapped for what was left to come. Many, including Carolyn, initially thought it was a freak accident. Eighteen minutes later, though, the Southern Tower was struck by another plane at about the 60th floor of the building. During sheer panic in the city, flight 77 circled the Pentagon until it crashed into the military headquarters.
Less than 15 minutes after that, the southern and northern towers collapsed in virtue of smoke and dust; the buildings could not withstand the heat of the burning fuel. The last plane, flight 93, was delayed and passengers, through calls, knew what would happen. The calls of four civilians on the flight can still be traced as they tell their loved ones their last goodbye. They decided to take over the plane, attack the terrorist, and crash the plane on a rural field in Pennsylvania.
At the 9/11 memorial this year former President George W. Bush said, “The terrorists soon discovered that a random group of Americans is an exceptional group of people. Facing an impossible circumstance, they comforted their loved ones by phone, braced each other for action, and defeated the designs of evil. These Americans were brave, strong, and united in ways that shocked the terrorists — but should not surprise any of us. This is the nation we know. And whenever we need hope and inspiration, we can look to the skies and remember. God bless.”
To this day, it is not confirmed where the plane was supposed to hit, but many guess it would have been aimed at the White House. Following these attacks, we created the U.S. Homeland Security and many other extended security measures throughout the nation.
Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the attack, was tracked down and killed by U.S. Military Forces in 2011, ten years later. President Barack Obama announced the mass withdrawal of U.S. military troops from Afghanistan, and it took until 2021 for all American forces to withdraw. On this past Tuesday, September 8th, currently stated by the Taliban, their new elected government officials have lots of linked correlations to 9/11, and other terrorist attacks across the world. Khalil Haqqani, who has had a 5 million dollar bounty for his past relations with al Qaeda. Two senior members of the Haqqani network, a US-designated terror group aligned with the Taliban and al Qaeda will also be in the interim government.
New questions also are beginning to arise as Khalid Shay Muhammad and other co-conspirators of the 9/11 attack still have not gone to trial yet, since being detained. Last year, claimed that the judge and juries all were not able to bring the subject in for justice due to biased opinions. But others even claim that it took this many years now to secrecies with the government detention centers in which he is being held. Many predict it to take even more years till the officials bring Muhammad to court.
As we look back on this day, we remember our past and never forget our history. As we look into the future, remember to always be prepared and live to the fullest.
Olivia Marceda is a sophomore at San Marcos High School…