US Response to 9/11 Attack

The Enemy of America

Following the 9/11 attack, President Bush made a public announcement on national television, addressing Americans on the U.S. response to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, a declaration of war on Afghanistan.

President Bush
“Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make:
either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”1

September 20, 2001 – Based on reports given by the Central Intelligence Agency, president Bush delivered an ultimatum to the Taliban, who are accused of sheltering Al-Qaeda, the terrorist group believed to be responsible for the 9/11 attacks.2 The U.S. demanded the closure of all Al-Qaeda training camps and the immediate surrender of Osama bin Laden and any information regarding Al-Qaeda terrorists.3 Naturally the Taliban did not agree to the demands delivered by Pakistan from the U.S. Thus the State Department began to make plans for an invasion of Afghanistan and the hunt for Osama bin Laden despite the lack of any tangible evidence that proves his involvement in the attack of 9/11.4

Osama bin Laden’s Tape                                                                                                              On october 7, 2001 in a video tape that was broadcast on Al-Jazeera, the Arabic television station based in Qatar, near Saudi Arabia, Osama Bin Laden responds to the attack of September 11, declaring that no one in the United States would be safe while the West continued to meddle in Muslim affairs in Palestine and the Arabian Peninsula.

Osama bin Laden’s response to 9/11 “Here is the United States. It was filled with terror from its north to its south and from its east to its west. What the United States tastes today is a very small thing compared to what we have tasted for tens of years. Our nation has been tasting this humiliation and contempt for more than 80 years. I swear by Almighty God that neither the United States nor he who lives in the United States will enjoy security before we can see it as a reality in Palestine and before all the infidel armies leave the land of Mohammed.”5

Terrorism Prior to 9/11                                                                                                             On August 7, 1998 two car bombs was denoted outside two U.S. embassies in East Africa that killed 224, majority of whom were Kenyans.6 The U.S. responded by launching missile attacks from warships stationed in the Persian Gulf, striking Sudan and Afghanistan, countries that supposedly harbored Al-Qaeda terrorist camps, two weeks after the bombings.7 Although, the targets were Islamic fundamentalist headquarters, Osama Bin Laden was not there during the attack. The U.S. attack therefore made Osama bin Laden a hero in the eyes of fundamentalist Muslims.8

Spokesman of Al-Qaeda                                                                                                            In 1998, Osama bin Laden announced at a press conference in Afghanistan that he was forming a World Islamic Front in order to fight against the United States of America.9

Osama bin Laden       “To kill Americans and their allies is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it.”10

Osama Bin Laden was born in 1957 in Saudi Arabia. He was the son of a millionaire developer. Studied engineering in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He came under the influence of a militant Islamist named Abdullah Azzam.11 In the early 1980s he went to Pakistan and helped the training and recruitment of guerrilla fighters. By 1996 his citizenship of Saudi Arabia was revoked due to his extremist views. After September 11, which caused the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden disappeared and has yet to be apprehended.12

Saudi Arabia and Wahhabism                                                                                              The majority of the terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attack were Saudi nationals, which suggests that they like many Muslims of Saudi Arabia were Wahhabis. Osama bin Laden is a Sunni Muslims belonging to the Wahhabi sect, an extremely conservative Islamic group that rejects impurities like idol worshipping and the establishment of shrines and tombs because they believe that only Allah should be worshiped.13 Wahhabis interpret the Koran very literally which explains why they are considered conservatives in the Muslim world. Osama bin Laden believe that the Saudi Royal family have become corrupt due to their affluence and sees the U.S. presence in the Middle-East and their meddling in the politics of the Arab as a threat. How much does Wahhabism influence Osama bin Laden’s actions is debatable because many believe that he is not a true Wahhabi nor does he represent the majority of Wahhabis. Unfortunately, western media have presented Wahhabism in a negative light since 9/11 and associate it with acts of religious militant groups like Al-Qaeda and their jihad against Americans.  

The Taliban of Afghanistan After the failed government backed by the Soviet Union collapsed in 1992, the Taliban, literally meaning “seekers of religious knowledge” came to power.14


The group originated from training camps in Pakistan, promised to end the 15 year
civil war amongst the warlords in Afghanistan. Eventually the people turned
against the Taliban due to their strict and old-fashioned version of Islamic law.
Afghanese were not allowed televisions, men were forbidden to shave their beards,
and the women were forced to cover themselves in robes called burka and they
were not permitted to go to school or have jobs.16

The Domestic Change After 9/11 in the United States

The Creation of Homeland Security                                                                                    On September 20, 2001 – President Bush announced the creation of a new branch of government, Office of Homeland Security, its sole purpose is to protect the borders of the United States and to prevent any domestic or foreign threats.17 Ultimately it is a conglomeration of different government agencies; Coast Guard, Transportation Security, Immigration and various other agencies responsible for military and biological threats.18


Mission of the New Department

Prevent terrorist attacks within the United States;

Reduce America’s vulnerability to terrorism; 

Minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur.

The Department of Homeland Security (costing 37,450$ millions) essentially analyse information obtained through the various federal and national communications infrastructure.20 It has the power to coordinate across government agencies, utilise federal and state resources in the private and public sector to respond to threats directed at the United States and its people. 

Beefing up Airport Security to Prevent Future Attacks


The above picture shows an X-ray scanner called the Compass Body Scanner a highly detailed scanner that can easily detect any smuggling of weapons onboard airliners, it is currently in use in Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.22 This perticular scanner was considered by the Federal Aviation Administration to augment airport security. Unfortunately due to the lack of business immediately following 9/11, many airports have yet to implement new advance scanning devices such as the Compass Body Scanner due to budget issues.23

Considering the fact that the terrorists on 9/11 were able to pass the security screening with box cutters, today’s airport screening process demands passengers to arrive three hours ahead of time to go through a gauntlet of security checks including the removal of shoes and socks. Recently there have been a backlash to the heighten security process, passengers are complaining about the body contact when security officers apply the pat down. Many items have since been disallowed or banned from being carried on airplanes, lighters is one such item.24

The Patriot Act 

Signed by President Bush on October 26, 2001, this lengthy document was created in response to 9/11 in order to maximize the powers of authorities to conduct investigations and execute plans to thwart acts of terrorism. The name of the act is actually an acronym; Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act.25 

The Act allows for federal authorities to launch investigations on foreign and domestic individuals regardless of whether or not they are US citizens; access to property without consent, freezing of funds linked to terrorism, interception of electronic information, wire tapping without probable cause and warrant, renditions of suspected terrorists and detaining any individual suspected of act of terrorism for 90 days to six months without charge.26

While the act expands the legal power for authorities like the FBI almost giving them a blank check to do whatever they want, it also fields additional agents in order to carry out the missions defined by the Homeland Security as well as augmenting salaries and funding to the different border agencies whom are charged with the security of US.27


Naturally due to its encompassing powers, the Patriot Act have since been challenged several times due to elements in the Act that possibly breaches civil liberties. Some have even commented that the majority of congressmen did not read the bill when it was passed, Micheal Moor suggests in his film, Farenheit 9/11, that the Act was rushed, thereby taking advantage of the environment caused by 9/11.



 1) DontDeleteMyVideos, “CNN – Ex-President George W. Bush’s Post 9/11 Speech.” YouTube. 15 Oct. 2006, 27 Nov. 2010 <;.

2) Langley, Andrew. September 11 :Attack on America. (Minneapolis, Minn.: Compass Point Books, 2006) 69.

3) Ibid, 68.

4) Ibid, 69.

5) Ibid, 71.

6) Ibid, 44.

7) Ibid.

8) Ibid.

9) Ibid, 46.

10) Ibid, 44.

11) Ibid, 46.

12) Ibid.

13) Ibid, 31.

14) Brian Cordyack, “Hostile Region.” The Washington Post. 14 Sept. 2001, 13 Dec. 2010. <>.

15) Ibid.

16) Ibid.

17) Langley, 67.

18) “Homeland Security.” U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Government of the United States of America. 2010, 13 Dec. 2010 <;.

19) Ibid.

20) Ibid.

21) Doug Stevens, “Scanning Passengers With X-Ray Precision.” The Washington Post. 01 Nov. 2001, 13 Dec. 2010 <>.

22) Ibid.

23) Ibid.

24) Ibid.

25) “USA Patriot Act.” Washington, 13 Dec. 2010 <;.26) Ibid.

27) Ibid.

28) “The Bill of Rights as World Trade Center” 12 Dec. 2010 <>.