It was just another regular working day in New York City, when an American Airlines Boeing 767 crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Centre, soon followed by a United Airlines flight crashing into the south tower. The devastation was not just limited to New York. A third plane flew into a wing of the Pentagon, right outside Washington DC, while another crashed at a field in Pennsylvania. America was witnessing its most dreadful attack. The death of more than 3000 people had left the country scarred for years to come.
September 11, 2001 was a defining moment, not just for America but for the world at large. The attacks that were claimed by the Islamic radical organisation “Al-Qaeda” would change the global order of things forever.
The war on terror
Three days following the brutal attacks, a White House lawyer came up with the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). Once approved by the Congress, it gave all power to President George Bush to carry out force against any country without legal approval. As per the AUMF:
That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons in order to prevent any future act of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations, or persons.
These 60 words would go on to produce some critical moments of world history such as the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2002 and the Iraq war of 2003, the impact of which could be felt in its worst form today.
On September 20, 2011, President Bush in his speech, coined the phrase “war on terror”. His speech laid out that in their struggle against terror, America would not distinguish between terrorist organisations and nations that aided these organisations. “We will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime,” said Bush.
A year later, America invaded Afghanistan which was the haven of the Taliban, who according to intelligence reports were aiding the “Al-Qaeda”. The following year, the Bush administration embarked upon its first “preventive war”, which laid out the necessity of acting against a country before the danger seemed imminent.
On the basis of a presumption that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, America with the support of the United Kingdom, Poland and Australia invaded Iraq. The most devastating result of the armed struggle with Iraq was the terror that envelops the world today in the form of the Islamic State.
In an interview to CNN in 2015, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair remarked that without the Iraq war, there would be no ISIS. Having its origins in the “Al-Qaeda”, the prime grievance of the Islamic State has been that the invasion disturbed the order of things in the region, shifting power basis from the Sunnis to the Shias.
The outrage against the United States provided a unifying force. This, along with the American policy to imprison the Sunni Jihadists in Camp Bucca made the ideal environment for the formation of the radical terrorist organisation.
Immigration and travel since 9/11
Since the attacks of September 11th, America’s focus on internal security has been paramount. The clearest result of this has been on the immigration rules. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, the Transport Security Administration (TSA) was created. The TSA is involved in carrying out detailed screening and security measures in airports. Further the Aviation and Transport Security Act was passed by the Congress, which is the reason behind reaching airports earlier than usual and the removal of shoes in the screening process.
Immigration policies had changed drastically. The Homeland Security Act and the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Reform Act of 2002 made it much harder for tourists and students to obtain an American Visa. Policies for Visa approval including the collection of fingerprints and other biometric data were also an outcome of the security measure undertaken in the aftermath of the WTC attacks.
Security measures for flights across the world changed like never before. Even inside aircraft, passengers felt the changes as there is always an air of tension preventing people from congregating in the aisles or even speaking loudly.
USA and India since 9/11
In 2008, journalist Fareed Zakaria mentioned in his book, “The post-American world”, that George Bush is the most pro-Indian president in American history. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, relations between America and India had been on the upswing due to converging economic interests. The attacks on the WTC accelerated the process wherein India’s role in combating religious extremism in Asia was seen as vital. Since 2001 there has been a sustained effort in increasing military cooperation between the two countries.
In June 2005, the two countries signed the 10-year defense framework agreement which was renewed again in 2015. The objective of the agreement was to build upon joint military capabilities. In July 2005, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Geroge W. Bush entered into the Indo-US nuclear deal.
President Bush’s strategy of ‘war on terror’ had come as a ray of hope for India that was struggling to develop security measures in the aftermath of several terror attacks in the subcontinent over the past decade. However, 15 years since the 9/11 attack, India is yet to become full immune when it comes to terror activity within its domains.