The failure of the intelligence. The beginning of an era under the sign of asymmetric conflicts and fears. This is what September 11, 2001 represented. The “holy Tuesday”, as the operation was defined by Osama Bin Laden, became one of the cornerstones of the third millennium. From that day on, both our good and bad certainties ceased to exist, and the world discovered its own fragility. The failure of the security in the dominant countries that had underestimated signs, reports and even surveys foretelling the certainty of an attack of vast proportions against the United States from the sky.We are not part of the crowd of conspirationists. The attack on America was designed and implemented by Al Qaeda, but the United States had underestimated the threat and this has certainly facilitated the success of the operation. In 2000 the CIA pursued and shot four of the future Saudis suicide bombers.
Italy had provided an interception in which two alleged Al Qaeda affiliates were talking about transforming “New York’s sky into a ball of fire”. Israeli secret services were already on the rail of assumed attackers close to Islamic extremism. The list of failings is made even longer by the reports of the FBI, that warned about some suspect qaedists that were trained in a flight schools of Arizona. More than that, one of them, the French-Algerian Moussaoui was even arrested in August 2001.
In July 2001, during the G8 summit in Genoa, came out several reports on the risks of an attack from the sky, to the point that the Ligurian capital was protected by missile systems and interceptors. On that occasion Putin spoke to President Bush of the risk of an American aircraft to be hijacked. Yet, everything remained a dead letter. The different federal agencies in the USA, that were responsible for security, did not exchange information in their possession. None of them urged the state of alarm to be announced. The famous “blue-notes” from August 2001, that arrived on the table of the President Bush ended up being neglected amidst dozens of other reports.
Then happened “nine-eleven”. The Twin Towers exploded, 2,700 people lost their lives. The United States and the world observed history’s most blatant terrorist act in real time. Even its inspirer, Osama Bin Laden, was surprised. Yet, it was a plan designed for three years by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, one of the Al Qaeda’s operatives and the inventor of the terrorist act. The project was partly modelled on the example of the previous “Bojnka-plan”, which projected to hijack ten American aircrafts and explode them in flight. Bojnka’s details had been in the hands of the USA security since 1996, when in Manila had been arrested Imad Murad and was sequestered his computer containing the files about this act. Murad was sized as part of the investigations carried on the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II during his visit to the Philippines. Moreover, eleven of the nineteen hijackers were Saudis and their visas were all issued by the US embassy in the capital of Saudi Arabia. Benefited from the “visa” also the four terrorists who had been tracked by the CIA since 2000 and recorded in Kuala Lumpur.
The attack has unleashed a chain reaction that is still in motion nowadays. The dramatic consequences of September 11 have not come to an end yet. The United States attacked Afghanistan and Osama Bin Laden fled together with his followers. The Sheikh of Al Qaeda was sized and killed ten years later; others, such as his deputy and the new leader of Al Qaeda, Ayman al Zawahiri, are still hiding. In Afghanistan the Talibans are not in power, yet they control 75% of the country and the new government is constrained negotiate with them. Guerrilla warfare is active and the loyal security forces fail to maintain the control over the territory. Al Qaeda has not been defeated, and now Osama’s son, Hamza Bin Laden, claims leadership on the jihadist world movement by attacking ISIS and its chief, whom he accuses of apostasy and treason.
September 11 and the attack on Afghanistan pushed the Bush presidency to declare war on Iraq and to eliminate Saddam Hussein in 2003. The USA have broken the equilibrium in the Middle East without concrete plans for its reintroduction after the end of the war. No leadership, only zombie-politicians who led Baghdad into chaos. The USA, as it had happened also in Vietnam, fought a war without having clear-cut plans and strategies on what to do once victory was theirs. In Iraq, America involved also the allies and the result was that the qaedist warfare against the foreign aggressor transformed into a civil war which led to the birth of the Caliphate.
September 11 was the beginning of a World War which was first denounced by Pope Francis. A conflict that is asymmetrical and in whose bosom ferocity and destruction are sovereign the Middle-East countries. The jihadist terrorists evolved and transformed into a militia that conquers territories and proclaims States, and does not forget to punish the infidel enemy at home. Al Qaeda, as it was announced by Ayman al Zawahri a few days ago, points its finger at ISIS and at the Caliphate in Baghdad. Besides, it invites the loyal groups to fight them. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Ansar al Sharia in Yemen and in Libya, Al Nusra in Siria, Al Qaeda on the Indian subcontinent, and the groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, ISIS makes new proselytes using its terror and blood propaganda and obtaining more followers than the sermons of Osama Bin Laden.
14 years after the tragic Tuesday the world has changed. It has destroyed the balance in the Middle East without establishing a new one. Peoples are fleeing, millions of migrants are moving. In the West, terrorism is feared more and more. Walls are built, nationalist and populist leaders feed xenophobia and clashes between civilizations. Welcome to the third millennium, a new dark century illuminated by the fire of the Twin Towers in New York, on a September Tuesday someone called ”holy”.