Words on Terror


Six years earlier, all hell broke lose.

Six years earlier, the pages of history were tainted red.

Six years earlier, the repulsive face of terrorism surfaced.

September 11, 2001. A day when the world was muted as the majestic twin towers crumbled to the ground, while millions and millions of us sat bewildered in front of our television sets, witnessing the horror, in its raw gore.

It has been six long years. Years filled with more acts of brutality, each time intensifying the terror that they spread. Terrorism has acquired new connotations, and each day is a threat to the lives of millions of innocent citizens around the world.

Yet, it is the 9/11 attacks that chill us to the bone. Never before in contemporary times, had the world witnessed such a mass massacre on the lives of the innocent. Yet we grappled, managed to survive. The pain remained, but we managed to collect the broken pieces of our lives and rebuild a new existence. Only to be cut short on the road again by another face of terror, and another, and another…

Days before the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, a message was sent to the citizens of the United States of America. Osama bin Laden had spoken again.

With consecutive videos which emerged on Saturday (9th Sept.) and Tuesday (12th Sept.) respectively, bin Laden made sure that he consumed enough media coverage after his year-long hiatus. Al-Qaeda has commemorated each anniversary with the release of a video tape and this year was no different.

However, speculations have arisen concerning the colour of bin Laden’s beard, which has mysteriously acquired a youthful black overtone, than about the actual message itself. In the new videos, bin Laden stated his regular disliking for President Bush, followed by a sermon urging Americans to embrace Islam before it is too late. The video that followed on Tuesday, had Osama advising the citizens of America to join the ‘caravan’ of martyrs, as he went on to praise Waleed al-Shehri, one of the 19 hijackers involved in the 9/11 attacks. The face of terror then went on to preach ‘pseudo-Marxist’ thinking and sermonized on how Americans should denounce capitalism, and liberate themselves from ‘insane taxes’ and credit card debt.

Although the terror leader has been criticized on many grounds post these video messages, and often been dismissed as the ramblings of an old man who is seeking to find his lost glory, it would be foolish on our part to reject these videos altogether. With references to the greatness of leftist intellectual Noam Chomsky, and accusations towards the indifference shown to global warming, bin Laden has left deep messages. What might appear to be incoherent addresses, could actually be the light to letting us know where Al-Qaeda is headed – towards a towering Anti-American belief designed to affect all those in Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and other countries, who have been alienated by the great power.

As Craig Whitlock sums up crisply in The Washington Post, the tape’s acid message is a clear referral to the sentiment of ‘We have survived’. Six years after the horrific attacks, which claimed the lives of thousands, and after several attempts to destroy the terror group, Al-Qaeda has managed to pull itself through and remain alive. Counterterrorism experts agree that in spite of intense efforts, the ability of the Al-Qaeda to spread terror across the globe remains greatly unhindered.

Where leadership is critical, the Bush administration has remained largely unsuccessful in destroying the Al-Qaeda, preferring to transfer the responsibility to Pakistan’s President Musharraf. Recent reports suggest that the group is currently somewhere in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, yet hardly any proactive action is being taken against them.

As some argue that bin Laden is clearly feet ahead of the United States of America, many disagree. According to Homeland Security Official, Clark Kent Ervin, in the San Francisco Chronicle, the fact that there have been no further attacks on America since 9/11, goes onto prove that United States’ increased vigilance has foiled many attacks. The flip side of this remains that this might infuriate the Al-Qaeda further and make them more determined to wreak horrors on the United States of America, surpassing the bar that they left untouched on the 11th of September, 2001.

Amidst this chaos, thousands of people gathered to commemorate the sixth anniversary, in New York City, Washington, D.C, and Shanksville, Pa. A list of victims from the attacks was read out in a park near the World Trade Center site, and amidst the names, for the first time, was the name of a woman who had survived the attacks. She died five months later from the toxic dust she inhaled.

Life still carries on, and in spite of the constant threat in today’s world of bitter hatred and raging feuds, the civilians continue to put on a brave front. Each day is a new battle, and although the greater wars are being fought for the greater good, we continue to fence our own emotions and struggle for daily existence.

Shayoni Sarkar