120 Months

Ten years ago today the world as we know it changed forever. Not only was it one of my best friends birthdays, but it was a day that would alter my view of the way in which we live.

I was 14 years old, enjoying secondary school and taking advantage of the teenage bubble that I lived in. Nothing, or no one, could touch me. I was happy living completely care free and to be honest, taking everything for granted. However, the events that unfolded on September 11th 2001 turned my world upside down.

It wasn’t until about a week after what’s now known as 9/11, that the event and its repercussions really began to affect me. Obviously I had been sickened by the images I’d seen on the news, and the reports about the loss of life was something I’d rarely seen on this scale, especially in the worlds most powerful country. For some reason that thought made it seem so much closer to home compared to other global tragedies, perhaps because of my Dad’s close ties with the U.S. and the friends we had over there.

As I continued to read the papers and watch the news over the following weeks and months, it became clear that this was not a freak accident, and that in-fact these awful scenes had been caused by other human-beings. I had never heard the word terrorist used so openly before. The idea that someone could think of, and carry out what happened that day baffled me, and I distinctly remember asking myself, “Why would somebody want to do this?”. It was this question that attached itself to me and changed my life.

About one month after the attacks in New York and Washington, I was browsing the internet and came across a book that I hoped would help shine some light on the questions I wanted… no… needed, answering. Jonathan Barkers No Non-sense Guide to Terrorism was the title, so I decided to purchase it. Little did I know that it would be the very same book that would instil a life long passion for finding out more about these interesting topics.

9/11 changed so much for so many. The people who lost loved ones, colleagues and friends will never forget what happened or the people that were taken from them. It showed us how susceptible to violence we are from other people, and how determination and belief can drive people to extreme forms of terror. It wasn’t just America that felt the effects, politicians the world over now refer to everything as being “post 9/11”. There’s been wars and mass murder from both sides over the past ten years, which I can only imagine will get worse before it gets better.

For me it embedded a bizarre passions to learn more about the events, which in turn lead me onto other topics that I felt I needed to learn more about. Al-Queda’s Road to 9/11 was a book that helped me understand the basics of what happened and drove me to read more. A name that appeared a lot on the pages was Sayyid Qutb, one of the first people to openly write anti-western literature. His book, Milestones was difficult to process as it seemed be so narrow minded, but it showed me where this early hatred had started to develop. Martin Amis’s book The Second Plane was a collection of articles the British author had written for various publications. Some of them critically analysed the events and the world around us, whilst others were fictional accounts of the day. A particular favourite was one written from the point of view of Mohammad Atta, the man that flew the first plane into the north tower. Instead of the article being about what happened during the hijacking, it was about the morning leading up to the attacks. His thoughts as he drove to the airport, the fear of going through security and the idea that he had piles to deal with, made you believe that you were reading about any normal person.

I have become a little obsessed with my desire to learn more about the world after September 11th 2001 and I still feel that there is a lot more to understand. The bad news is that there will inevitably be other tragedies like 9/11 in my life time. We are never going to truly eradicate terrorism, no matter how much we try.

Ten years ago nearly 3000 people were killed in the blink of an eye. So, whilst we remember what happened and the lives that were lost, also take a moment to think of the innocent people who have been affected since 9/11, thanks to the force our nations have been using in the never ending “War on terror”.

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