Unifor Leaderboard

9/11 and the ‘War on Terror’

Had the US done the right thing, thousands of lives could have been saved

Middle EastWar ZonesUSA Politics

New York police stand near a wanted poster printed by on a full page of a New York newspaper for Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden in the financial district of New York. Photo by Russell Boyce-Files/Reuters.

Ten years after close to 3,000 people died in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, we are witnessing hundreds of sympathetic events, reading millions of words, and seeing and hearing tens-of-thousands of hours of TV and radio coverage–nearly all of it dealing with the terrifying events, the suffering of the survivors, and the impact of the event on the United States.

The fiery destruction of the World Trade Centre’s Twin Towers was the most shocking terrorist attack of modern times–clearly an attack of such horror and magnitude that it must be considered a crime against humanity.

Yet, from day one, the US government and mainstream media have lied to the public about “why” the attacks occurred and misled us about “who” was responsible for the attacks.

The silence and deceit paved the way for an enraged United States to bully several Western countries, including Canada, into a savage “War on Terror” that has taken the lives of at least 225,000 people, changed forever the lives of tens-of-millions of Arabs, and cost the US up to $4-trillion and Canada $92 billion.

But was it all necessary?

Following the 9/11 attacks, US President George Bush went on television and lied about the reasons for the brutal attack. “America was targeted for attack because we are the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world … .” Bush said on national TV.

George Will, a leading right-wing pundit, repeated Bush’s lie, as did many other journalists. Will wrote in his Washington Post column: “Americans … are targets because of their virtues–principally democracy, and loyalty to those nations which, like Israel, are embattled salients of our virtues in a still-dangerous world.”

The mainstream media also spread claims that the attack occurred because of a clash between the Christian and Muslim religions. This argument led to hatred and even hysteria among Americans. In the weeks after 9/11, the FBI counted at least 400 brutal attacks on Muslims, Arabs or people who looked Muslim or Arab. Three people were murdered, and there were some 35 arson fires.

Real reasons for the 9/11 attack

The 9/11 attacks occurred first and foremost because members of the loosely knit al-Qaida network wanted primarily to protest the fact that the United States supports and makes financially possible Israel’s brutal treatment of the Palestinians.

Secondly, the many speeches of Osama bin Laden clearly show that al-Qaeda opposed US military bases in the Persian Gulf area, most notably in Saudi Arabia; opposed US support for corrupt Middle Eastern countries; and the US invasion of Iraq. In 1997, bin Laden was interviewed by CNN’s Peter Arnett and explained many of al-Qaida’s grievances.

During the attacks, the three iconic symbols of America’s global supremacy were targeted: the Twin Towers represented America’s mighty strength around the world; the Pentagon was the centre of US military power; and the third target, which was not struck, was the Capitol Building, from where the US government operates.

One of the attack organizers believed their actions would help the Palestinian cause because it would make the American public focus on “the atrocities that America is committing by supporting Israel,” authors Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan wrote in their recent book The Eleventh Day.

Later, in 2004, the official 9/11 report was a whitewash. The Eleventh Day explains that the main commissioners admitted that they “settled on vague language” concerning the motive behind the attacks because “listing US support for Israel as a root cause of al Qaida’s opposition to the United States indicated that the United States should reassess that policy.”

The US government appears to have also lied about who carried out the attacks. They soon pointed the finger at Osama bin Laden, but bin Laden, denied the attack was his doing.

The official bin Laden Wanted Terrorists page said he was wanted in connection with attacks on US properties in Tanzania and Kenya, but made no reference to 9/11.

No evidence linking bin Laden

In 2006, the now-defunct Muckraker Report published an interview with the FBI about why 9/11 was not mentioned. The interviewer was shocked by the response of Rex Tomb, Chief of Investigative Publicity for the FBI.: “The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on bin Laden’s Most Wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting bin Laden to 9/11.”

While they have no proof, US authorities speculate that the plan for the 9/11 attacks was developed by al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan, carried out by 19 radicals from the European cells, and funded by unknown people from the United Arab Emirates.

However, the finger was pointed at the well-known, evil bin Laden, who had gained notoriety for the earlier attacks al-Qaeda attacks he organized in Africa, and who would be a colourful target for the media.

Everything considered, the so called “War on Terror”–initiated on the falsehood that Islamists hate American values–was based on lies from the very beginning.

Illegal invasions and torture

So it began: Bush falsely links oil-rich Iraq to the attacks; a huge US military build-up begins; the mainstream media fall into line; the illegal invasion of Iraq occurs; Chrétien lies that Canada is not supporting the US effort in Iraq; there’s no sight of ‘weapons of mass destruction’; oppressive laws are introduced in many countries; Guantánamo Bay, located in no-man’s land, is opened so that prisoners can be brutally interrogated; the US invents ‘extraordinary rendition’, sending suspects to several countries so they can be tortured; Afghanistan is illegally invaded with Canadian military participation; Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay weasels out of responsibility for the fact that prisoners handed over to the Afghans were tortured; suspects and many innocent people are killed by remote-controlled drones flying over Pakistan; an unarmed Osama bin Laden was murdered in his bedroom in Pakistan and his body thrown in the ocean; and the withdrawal of US and allied forces, including Canadians, begins from a battered Iraq and an unstable Afghanistan.

The invasion of two Islamic countries and incursions into several others was exactly what al-Qaida desired. They wanted Arabs to hate Americans, and they wanted to see the United States spend so much on warfare that it might eventually bankrupt the country.

Obscenely, while millions of Americans are practically destitute in the streets, US military operations worldwide associated with the War on Terror costs $386 million per day and, even though US President Obama has stopped using the original name of the war, the war still continues in many countries around the world.

In Canada, the Rideau Institute provided comparisons on what the $92 billion spent by the Harper government on the War on Terror could purchase. “It could have been used to rebuild the transit systems in each of Canada’s 10 largest cities or it could have provided a national childcare program”, wrote economist David Macdonald.

Why didn’t Bush do the right thing?

The very limited discussion concerning the most important aspects of the legacy of 9/11 is being discussed around the world in the context of destructive lies and disinformation. By convincing millions of people that the attacks occurred because Muslims are jealous of Americans, the US government, with the cooperation of the mainstream media, has pulled off a giant whitewash and fabrication that even the Nazis would have been proud of.

Meanwhile, the US mainstream media–renowned for having the best investigative journalists in the world–have not dug deeply into the “why” or the “who” of the story, possibly because they have been intimidated by the US government, and pro-administration corporate media owners.

The mainstream Western media, amid its massive coverage leading up to the 10th anniversary of the attacks, did very little or nothing to acknowledge the deaths of tens-of-thousands of Arabs in the Middle East who were killed by US and allied forces.

The question is: Had the US government and the mass media admitted the real reason for the attacks and, just for clarity’s sake, acknowledge that they didn’t know if bin Laden planned 9/11, could the US and its allies have done the right thing and forced Israel to end its decades-long policy of grinding down and wiping out the Palestinians, as well as deal with other issues–some of which are being addressed by the upheavals in the Middle East?

While all leading American, British, and Canadian media are devoting enormous attention to the grief associated with 9/11, journalist Simon Jenkins is one of a very few analysts to touch on other important aspects of the legacy of 9/11 in an interview with the Guardian:

The billions of dollars expended (by the US) was financed largely from borrowing, which in turn has destabilized the world economy. All this was out of all proportion to the attacks on 9/11. The peace dividend so eagerly awaited at the end of the 20th century evaporated as the security industry exploited counter-terrorism and seized every chance of profit and risk aversion. The decade since 9/11 must rank among the most inept and counterproductive eras in the story of modern statesmanship.

US and allies still vulnerable

Since 9/11, Western countries have been remarkably successful at detecting and stopping many terrorist attacks. It appears that the number and strength of Islamic terrorists has been diminished considerably. Yet, young Islamic men continue to join the al-Qaeda cause. Americans are still very afraid.

The United States and its allies, including Canada, are likely to be vulnerable to terrorist attacks until legitimate issues in the Middle East are resolved. There is always the possibility that some group will eventually carry out another major attack. America’s greatest nightmare is a makeshift nuclear device.

In reflecting on the disastrous last decade we might ask: what would the world be like today if the United Sates, Britain, Canada and the other countries using their military might to kill fanatical young people had instead used that money to buy school books, drill wells, educate people, and promote religious tolerance throughout the Middle East—and at home?

Nick Fillmore, an award winning investigative reporter, worked as an editor and producer for the CBC for more than 20 years. He is now a Toronto freelance journalist and activist. Comments welcome at: fillmore0274[at]rogers[dot]com.


Broadbent leaderboard

Browse the Archive