ON September 11, 2001, Lleyton Hewitt had just won his first Grand Slam tennis tournament, Australian news was dominated by the slow collapse of Ansett Airlines and John Howard was in the US, having hosted a lamb barbecue for senior American officials as he pushed forward a free trade agreement with the world's biggest economy. Then, the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, where hijacked planes were flown into the heart of US commerce and confidence, killing more than 3000 people, changed things forever.Read the whole thing, for the essay has a brief but thorough history of Al-Qaeda's campaign of destruction against the West, dating back to the group's 1992 attacks on American forces in Somalia.
Despite some revisionist wishful thinking, the 9/11 attacks remain the defining moment of the past half century. The repercussions continue to reverberate around the globe. The world's most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden, remains at large, still boasting and taunting his pursuers. Further attacks have been successfully mounted in London, Madrid, Indonesia and elsewhere, while others have been thwarted. The world has been forced to tighten its defences in anticipation of worse to come. The very notion of suicide attacks confounds security planners who fear terrorist groups will make good their threat to access, and use, a nuclear bomb....
Some continue to doubt the war on terror, preferring instead to believe the US has brought the conflict on itself. But those who, sometimes secretly, cheer al-Qa'ida from the sidelines misunderstand the threat. It is disturbing that so many people are still prepared to believe conspiracy theories that the US or Israel were somehow behind the September 11 attacks, despite bin Laden having claimed responsibility. To commemorate the fifth anniversary of the attack, the Arabic al-Jazeera television network this week aired a video showing bin Laden reportedly meeting some of the September 11 masterminds. Two of the 9/11 attackers, Wael al-Shihri and Hamza al-Ghamdi, were shown presenting their taped "wills". If any were needed, the video provides further proof that the 2001 attacks were part of a calculated and long-term campaign against the West.
On the anniversary of September 11, there is cause to reflect on the scope of the challenge at hand. There remains a need for vigilance and understanding that the fight is real and that a false sense of security can breed deadly consequences.
I wrote about Australian conservatism in a recent post, and The Australian's commentary here gives me even more confidence that we have solid ally in Canberra.