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File:White House photo by Eric Draper.jpg

Immediate responseEdit

The 9/11 attacks had immediate and overwhelming effects upon the American people.[1] Many police officers and rescue workers elsewhere in the country took leaves of absence to travel to New York City to assist in the process of recovering bodies from the twisted remnants of the Twin Towers.[2] Blood donations across the U.S. also saw a surge in the weeks after 9/11.[3][4]

Over 3000 children were left without one or more parents.[5] Children's reactions both to these actual losses, yet also to feared losses of life and a protective environment in the aftermath of the attacks are well-documented, as were their effects on surviving caregivers.[6][7][8]

For the first time in history, SCATANA was invoked forcing all non-emergency civilian aircraft in the United States and several other countries including Canada to be immediately grounded,[9] stranding tens of thousands of passengers across the world.[10] Any international flights were closed to American airspace by the Federal Aviation Administration, causing about five hundred flights to be turned back or redirected to other countries. Canada received 226 of the diverted flights and launched Operation Yellow Ribbon to deal with the large numbers of grounded planes and stranded passengers.[11]

Military operations following the attacksEdit

At 2:40 p.m. in the afternoon of September 11, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was issuing rapid orders to his aides to look for evidence of Iraqi involvement, according to notes taken by senior policy official Stephen Cambone Wikipedia. "Best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H." — meaning Saddam Hussein — "at same time. Not only UBL" (Osama bin Laden), Cambone's notes quoted Rumsfeld as saying. "Need to move swiftly — Near term target needs — go massive — sweep it all up. Things related and not."[12][13]

The NATO council declared that the attacks on the United States were considered an attack on all NATO nations and, as such, satisfied Article 5 of the NATO charter.[14] Upon returning to Australia having been on an official visit to the U.S. at the time of the attacks, Australian Prime Minister John Howard invoked Article IV of the ANZUS treaty. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, the Bush administration announced a war on terrorism, with the stated goals of bringing Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda to justice and preventing the emergence of other terrorist networks. These goals would be accomplished by means including economic and military sanctions against states perceived as harboring terrorists and increasing global surveillance and intelligence sharing.

The second-biggest operation of the U.S. Global War on Terrorism outside of the United States, and the largest directly connected to terrorism, was the overthrow of the Taliban rule of Afghanistan by a U.S.-led coalition. The United States was not the only nation to increase its military readiness, with other notable examples being the Philippines and Indonesia, countries that have their own internal conflicts with Islamic terrorism.[15][16]

Domestic responseEdit

File:President George W. Bush address to the nation and joint session of Congress Sept. 20.jpg

Following the attacks, President Bush's job approval rating soared to 90%.[17] On September 20, 2001, the U.S. president spoke before the nation and a joint session of the United States Congress, regarding the events of that day, the intervening nine days of rescue and recovery efforts, and his intent in response to those events. In addition, the highly visible role played by New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani won him high praise nationally and in New York.[18]

Many relief funds were immediately set up to assist victims of the attacks, with the task of providing financial assistance to the survivors of the attacks and to the families of victims, such as the Coalition of 9/11 Families. By the deadline for victim's compensation, September 11, 2003, 2,833 applications had been received from the families of those who were killed.[19]

Contingency plans for the continuity of government and the evacuation of leaders were also implemented almost immediately after the attacks.[10] Congress, however, was not told that the United States was under a continuity of government status until February 2002.[20]

Within the United States, Congress passed and President Bush signed the Homeland Security Act Wikipedia of 2002, creating the Department of Homeland Security, representing the largest restructuring of the U.S. government in contemporary history. Congress also passed the USA PATRIOT Act Wikipedia, stating that it would help detect and prosecute terrorism and other crimes.[21]

Civil liberties groups have criticized the PATRIOT Act, saying that it allows law enforcement to invade the privacy of citizens and eliminates judicial oversight of law-enforcement and domestic intelligence gathering.[22][23][24] The Bush Administration also invoked 9/11 as the reason to initiate a secret National Security Agency operation, "to eavesdrop on telephone and e-mail communications between the United States and people overseas without a warrant".[25]

Hate crimesEdit

Numerous incidents of harassment and hate crimes were reported against Middle Easterners and other "Middle Eastern-looking" people in the days following the 9/11 attacks.[26][27] Sikhs were also targeted because Sikh males usually wear turbans, which are stereotypically associated with Muslims. There were reports of verbal abuse, attacks on mosques and other religious buildings (including the firebombing of a Hindu temple and assaults on people, including one murder: Balbir Singh Sodhi was fatally shot on September 15, 2001. He, like others, was a Sikh who was mistaken for a Muslim.[26])

According to a study by Ball State University, people perceived to be Middle Eastern were as likely to be victims of hate crimes as followers of Islam during this time. The study also found a similar increase in hate crimes against people who may have been perceived as members of Islam, Arabs and others thought to be of Middle Eastern origin.[28]

A report by South Asian American advocacy group SAALT documented media coverage of 645 bias incidents against Americans of South Asian or Middle Eastern descent between September 11 and September 17, including vandalism, arson, assault, shootings, harassment, and threats.[29][30]

Muslim American reactionEdit

Top Muslim organizations in the United States were swift to condemn the attacks on 9/11 and called "upon Muslim Americans to come forward with their skills and resources to help alleviate the sufferings of the affected people and their families".[31] Top organizations include: Islamic Society of North America, American Muslim Alliance, American Muslim Council, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Circle of North America, and the Shari'a Scholars Association of North America. Along with massive monetary donations, many Islamic organizations launched blood drives and provided medical assistance, food, and shelter for victims.[32][33][34]

International responseEdit

WTC-remnant highres

A New York City firefighter looks up at the remains of the South Tower.

The attacks were denounced by mass media and governments worldwide. Across the globe, nations offered pro-American support and solidarity.[35] Leaders in most Middle Eastern countries, and Afghanistan, condemned the attacks. Iraq was a notable exception, with an immediate official statement that "the American cowboys are reaping the fruit of their crimes against humanity".[36]

Tens of thousands of people attempted to flee Afghanistan following the attacks, fearing a response by the United States. Pakistan, already home to many Afghan refugees from previous Afghan conflict, closed its border with Afghanistan on September 17. Approximately one month after the attacks, the United States led a broad coalition of international forces in the removal of the Taliban regime for harboring the al-Qaeda organization.[37] Pakistani authorities moved reluctantly[38] to align themselves with the United States in a war against the Taliban. Pakistan provided the United States a number of military airports and bases for its attack on the Taliban regime and arrested over 600 suspected al-Qaeda members, whom it handed over to the United States.[39]

Numerous countries, including Canada, China, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, Germany, India and Pakistan introduced anti-terrorism legislation and froze the bank accounts of businesses and individuals they suspected of having al-Qaeda ties.[40][41] Law enforcement and intelligence agencies in a number of countries, including Italy, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines arrested people they labeled terrorist suspects for the stated purpose of breaking up militant cells around the world.[42][43]

In the U.S., this aroused some controversy, as critics such as the Bill of Rights Defense Committee argued that traditional restrictions on federal surveillance (e.g. COINTELPRO's monitoring of public meetings) were "dismantled" by the USA PATRIOT Act.[44] Organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union Wikipedia and Liberty Wikipedia argued that certain civil rights protections were also being circumvented.[45][46]

The United States set up a detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba to hold inmates they defined as "illegal enemy combatants Wikipedia". The legitimacy of these detentions has been questioned by, among others, the European Parliament, the Organization of American States, and Amnesty International Wikipedia.[47][48][49]

The international events and reactions immediately after the attacks affected the impact of the World Conference against Racism 2001, which had ended in discord and international recriminations just three days before.[50]

As in the United States, the aftermath of the attacks saw racial tensions increase in other countries between Muslims and non Muslims.[51]

Conspiracy theoriesEdit

Main article: 9/11 conspiracy theories

Some question the official version of the bombings, the motivations behind them, and the parties involved, and have engaged in independent investigations. Most of the alternative theories see the bombings as a casus belli through a false flag to bring about increased militarization and police power. Participants in the 9/11 Truth movement have been called "truthers."

Proponents of 9/11 conspiracy theories have suggested that individuals inside the United States possessed detailed information about the attacks and deliberately chose not to prevent them, or that individuals outside of al-Qaeda planned, carried out, or assisted in the attacks. Some conspiracy theorists claim the World Trade Center did not collapse because of the crashing planes but was demolished with explosives.

This controlled demolition hypothesis is rejected by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and by the American Society of Civil Engineers, who, after their research, both concluded that the impacts of jets at high speeds in combination with subsequent fires caused the collapse of both Towers.[52][53][54]

U.S. foreign policy and relations shiftsEdit

As a result of the 9/11 attack, U.S. foreign policy shifted abruptly and dramatically. The attacks resulted directly in U.S. military action in Afghanistan Wikipedia beginning in 2001, even though the Taliban offered to put bin Laden on trial in a third country.[55]

During the first few years after the 9/11 attacks, international support for an aggressive response by the U.S. ran high. However, international support for Bush administration policies withered subsequently and the public, as well as the governments of several countries, including European military allies of the United States, turned antagonistic towards the policies pursued by the United States government.

Ultimately, Bush left office with an international approval rating of his foreign policies of less than 20%.[56] After the American 2008 election results indicated that Americans had grown weary of pursuing aggressive militaristic policies as a response to the 9/11 attacks, and after a government had been elected that had pledged to reverse such policies, popular international support for America began to rebound.[56]


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