The 9/11 tragedy has left a mark on history. In fact, there are many researches and investigative studies that are yet to unveil the truth and flaws behind this tragic event. This unfortunate turn of events has indeed led to controversies and debates on multiple levels hanging too many questions at the back of our minds that are yet to be answered. Yet, this also led to our consciousness in terrorism and how we can effectively prevent it. This research aims to give the readers concise details with regards to the 9/11 tragedy and provide a better understanding concerning this issue.
Looking back: 9/11 attacks September 11, 2001– the day when the world witnessed a horrifying and unbearable scene as a terrorist plot was executed to bring terror in the country. Terrorists associated with al-Qaeda hijacked four passenger aircraft and used it as weapons for terrorism acts with New York and Washington DC as their main targets. The first two aircraft, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 were plummeted into the twin towers of the renowned World Trade Center in New York City.
The third aircraft, American Airlines Flight 77 then punctured a hole at the Pentagon leaving nearly 3000 lifeless bodies on the spot. The fourth airliner, United Airlines Flight 93 on the other hand, crashed into a field near Shanksville after the attempt of passengers and crew members to take control of the plane as revealed on its black box recordings. Sadly, there are no known survivors from any of the flights. Minutes after the appalling attacks, New York City fire companies and crews were sent to the site to give further assistance to the victims and affected civilians. Almost 200 units were deployed by the FDNY and more than 400 firefighters to help them.
Paramedics and medical assistance also stand by on the scene. Unfortunately, a total of 411 emergency workers died as they perform their duties. The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) lost 341 firefighters and 2 paramedics. The New York City Police Department on the other hand lost 23 officers. The Port Authority Police Department also lost 37 officers while EMS lost 8. It took months to complete the recovery. Amidst the grief of this tragic event, speculations started to arise as to who, why and how this unfortunate tragedy marked the history. Behind the Plot: Revealing the people involved
The tragic 9/11 attacks showcased an evident act of terrorism. It was said to be associated with a terrorist group al-Qaeda. Al Qaeda dated way back 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan as headed by Osama Bin Laden. The idea of the 9/11 attacks came from a certain Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who presented the idea to Bin Laden in 1996. During that time, Bin Laden and Al Qaeda have just transferred to Afghanistan from Sudan. In late 1998 to early 1999, the terrorist group leader gave approval to Mohammed to pursue the plot. Together with Mohammed Atef, Bin Laden and Mohammed had several meetings concerning their plot.
Bin Laden even provided leadership and financial support for the plot. He was also responsible for choosing Mohammed Atta as the lead hijacker. As many as 27 members of the said group participated in this terrifying plot. The attacks were consistently holding on the mission statement of al-Qaeda, “Slay the Pagans wherever ye find them” as quoted in the Koran. Bin Laden interpreted the said quote in his “Letter to America” of October 2002: “you are the worst civilization witnessed by the history of mankind.
You are the nation who, rather than ruling by the Shariah of Allah in its Constitution and Laws, choose to invent your own laws as you will and desire. You separate religion from your policies, contradicting the pure nature which affirms absolute authority to the Lord and your Creator. ” Thus leading to the execution of the terrifying 9/11 attacks. After the attacks, Bin Laden initially denied any involvement in the said incident. But after further investigation, Bin Laden publicly acknowledged Al-Qaeda’s involvement in the said attacks. In 2004, shortly after the U. S. Presidential Elections, Bin Laden stated his direct connection to the attacks via video-taped statement.
The Fire Department City of New York (FDNY) and the New York City Police Department (NYPD) The Fire Department City of New York (FDNY) also known as the New York City Fire Department has played a huge role during the 9/11 tragedy particularly in providing emergency medical services and technical rescue. With approximately 11,400 officers and firefighters and over 2,500 EMTs and paramedics, the department pledge to perform their tasks and face challenges the best way possible. This without a doubt clearly reflects their motto “New York’s Bravest”. New York Firefighters rushed to the scene on that very day of the attack.
Brave as they can be, the FDNY deployed their men to snake through stairwells and hallways of the collapsing structure. While the rest of the people are struggling their way out of the building, some firefighters were racing their way up to reach people trapped on the upper floors. They never made it out. More than 300 firefighters and paramedics have lost their lives saving others. It was perhaps the most traumatic respond ever made by the FDNY. The New York City Police
Department, which was established in 1844, also extended their help to victims of the 9/11 attacks. Being the largest police force in North America and considered as one of the first “modern” style police departments in America, the NYPD just like any other department came rushing to the scene to provide assistance needed. They also conduct further investigation after the attacks. What went wrong? During the 9/11 attacks, evident flaws occurred, which definitely created a huge impact in the said incident. Some of which took place due to technical difficulties, unpreparedness and lack of cooperation from the people involved. Take for instance, the flawed radio communication. This drew problems especially to the part of the firefighters.
Troubled radio communications caused commanders to lose contact with many firefighters who waited for evacuation orders inside the building. There was also no communication with the police who had helicopters at the scene. There were claims of fatal confusion regarding command and control. With defective communication, at least 121 firefighters died helplessly when the north tower fell. During the final minutes, most firefighters inside the north tower had no idea that building had started to fall down. They were waiting for orders in the lobby which obviously didn’t come or at least fell short. Mr. Thomas Von Essen, city’s fire commissioner from 1996 through 2001, and a former president of the main fire union, believes that the number of firefighter casualties in north tower is a serious matter.
The fact that more than a third of the 343 firefighter deaths were from the north tower even though it stood 29 minutes longer than the south baffles the department Amidst the crisis, the two largest emergency departments barely spoke to coordinate strategy thus creating speculations that tribal feud is also one of the flaws that severely affected the incident. Problems involving the police also arise-jammed phone lines, missing radio, unavailable
personnel to pick up the calls to name some. Yet it was pointed out by Chief Pfeifer that there was no police supervisors at the lobby command posts set by the fire department to coordinate efforts. Instead, the police established their command post three blocks away. Not a single firefighter was able to board the police helicopters as well. And when police pilots reported “large pieces” falling from the south tower, only police officers had seen it and heard their warnings leaving the firefighters uninformed. But police officials blame the firefighters’ lack of paramilitary discipline.
Although there were several talks between the police and fire departments during the previous years, there was no final agreement making it more complicated for the two. Another flaw is the lack of concrete plan and control. Although it was not evident in the footages, some firefighters talked about aimlessness of the respond. Obviously, it has exceeded anybody else’s expectation. The report also pointed out that the police department’s disaster plans in large scale measures failed. These technical difficulties and other issues added to the burden of surviving the turmoil of the attacks.
After the traumatic incident and the harsh lesson, some changes have been made to at least prevent another disaster. Emergency medical workers can now create contact to the police directly via radio. Fire officials can now use information from police helicopters and law enforcement officers and emergency service agencies came hand-in-hand in holding joint drills at high-rise buildings, jails and the city’s tunnels. After the said attacks, a safe and secure network has become a priority since the Police and Fire Departments could not communicate properly at the rescue.
There were plans of improving the technology of communication as well as the improvement of strategic skills in rescuing. In fact, the Fire Department has conducted more than 10 drills in the past two years at high-rise office buildings to practice their rescue skills. Emergency Management or Disaster Management Emergency Management, also known as Disaster Management is the discipline of dealing with and avoiding risks by preparing for disaster before it happens. It also involves disaster response (e. g. emergency evacuation, quarantine, and mass decontamination), as well supporting and rebuilding the society after a certain disaster-whether it is natural or human-made- have occurred. It is a process by which the society manages to at least lessen the burden of the disasters’ impact by taking proper actions.
Every activity being conducted at each level is interconnected and might affect each other. There are four phases of emergency management. One is the so-called Mitigation. Mitigation involves exerting attempts to prevent hazards from being disasters or to reduce the effect of a certain disaster when it occurs. Compared to other phases, the mitigation phase focuses on long- term measures for reducing or eliminating risk. Applied recovery process after a disaster can be considered a part of mitigation strategies while actions that reduce or eliminate risk are considered mitigation efforts. In mitigation, measures can be structural or non-structural. Structural measures use technological solutions while the Non-structural includes legislation, land-use planning and insurance. One of the essential activities in mitigation is the identification of risks. It is the process of identifying and evaluating hazards such as earthquakes, floods, and riots which pose a risk to community within the area assessed.
Next phase is the so-called Preparedness. In this phase, emergency managers develop plans of action when disaster hits a certain area. Some of the preparedness measures include the communication plans with easily understandable terminology and chain of command; development and practice of multi-agency coordination and incident command; proper maintenance and training of emergency services; development and exercise of emergency population warning methods; as well as stockpiling, inventory, and maintenance of supplies and equipments needed.
Aside form the above-mentioned, another efficient preparedness measure is an emergency operations center (EOC) and the development of volunteer response capability among civilians. Since there is an increasing number of volunteers and is neither as predictable nor plan able as professional response, they are deployed on the periphery of an emergency. Also, the Casualty Prediction is another essential aspect of preparedness. The study of the number of deaths or injuries to expect on a certain event gives the planners an idea of what resources are needed. The next one is the Response.
This includes the necessary emergency services and responds in the affected area. Emergency services such as firefighters, police and ambulance crews can be supported secondary emergency services such as specialist rescue team. There are also volunteers and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) which may provide immediate assistance such as first aid provision. Next to Response is the so-called Recovery. It is the phase wherein the restoration of the affected area took place. Recovery is concerned with issues and decisions that must be made after being addressed.
This may include rebuilding destroyed property, re-employment and the repair of other infrastructure. In line with all of the emergency management measures, some International Organizations also provided their assistance to further utilize the disaster management discipline. The International Association of Emergency Managers is a non-profit educational organization which dedicates itself in promoting the goal of saving lives and protecting properties during disasters and emergencies. The group provides information, networking and professional opportunities and advance emergency management profession to its members.
Another international organization is the renowned Red Cross/ Red Crescent. This organization is known for its pivotal roles in responding to emergencies and extending help to those who are in need. They also deploy assessment teams to affected countries and specialize in the recovery component of emergency management framework. The United Nations, another international organization also devotes itself in emergency management. They can provide international response to affected countries as requested by the country’s government, by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-
OCHA) and by deploying a UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDC) team. The World Bank is another international organization which has approved more than 500 operations related to disaster management amounting to more than US$40 billion. The said operations include post-disaster reconstruction projects, as well as projects aimed at preventing and mitigating disaster impacts in countries like Argentina, Bangladesh, Colombia, Haiti and India. In the United States, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the lead agency for emergency management. FEMA covered one of ten regions of the U. S. and its territories.
Emergencies are managed in the most local-level possible but if the emergency is related to terrorism act, it is then declared an “Incident of National Significance”. The secretary of Homeland Security will then initiate the National Response Framework, which involves federal resources, integrating in with the local, county, state, or tribal group. Another organization involved in emergency management is the Citizen Corp which conducts volunteer service programs, administered locally and coordinated nationally by the DHS.
They seek to mitigate disaster and prepare for emergency response through public education, training, and outreach program. The Aftermath After the turn of events of the 9/11 attacks, the United States together with other countries around the globe became more cautious against potential follow-up attacks. Air travels across the United States was almost entirely suspended for three consecutive days. In other countries like the United Kingdom, aircrafts were also prohibited from flying for several days due to the fear of encountering terrorist attacks. Numerous memorials were conducted all over the world. It is as if the whole world became united during the most distressing time.
In Berlin, over 200,000 German soldiers marched whole- heartedly to show their condolences and solidarity with the United States. On the other hand, a French newspaper released a front page headline: “Nous sommes tous Americains”, meaning “We are all Americans”. A national day of mourning was also held in Ireland on September 14 and the U. S. national anthem was played during the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham palace. All of which aims to show support the best way they can. With all the immediate aftermath, the United States expressed their right to defend themselves gathering support across
the world and the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1368. People in the United States also showcased their support in their own little ways. They started gathering around the popularized phrase “United We Stand” with hopes of being strong and keeping the American spirit alive. Numerous people never hesitate to extend their help to the victims. They also paid tribute to the brave men and women who risk their lives to save others by wearing NYPD and FDNY hats. Even the rescue dogs were paid a tribute during the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Only weeks after the attacks, blood donations climb to its
highest point, greater than the corresponding weeks of the previous year. The economic status of the country was also affected due the attacks. The New York Stock Exchange, American Stock Exchange and NASDAQ were closed on September 11up to September 17. It was said to be the longest closure since the Great Depression in 1933. By the end of the week, stock market index fell 1369. 7 points (14. 3%), the largest one-week point drop in the history. United States had lost $1. 2 trillion value for the said week. Health problems also arise after the attacks, mostly respiratory disease.
The pulverized concrete on the streets has caused the increased cases of serious lung and cardiovascular disorders as covered in a recent article “Tracing Lung Ailments that Rose with 9/11 Dust, May 13, 2008”. In 2004, almost 500 screened rescue-and-recovery workers and volunteers were reported to obtain persistent respiratory problems and psychological symptoms. The incident also created a huge emotional impact to children especially to those whose parents are working at the World Trade Center. The U. S. responded to attacks by declaring a War on Terrorism. They launched an invasion of
Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban, the place who cater al-Qaeda terrorists. The administration also stick to their goals of bringing Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda down to justice and avoid further terrorists network. Other nations also pushed on strengthening their anti- terrorism laws and expanded its powers. The 9/11 attacks also prompted George W. Bush’s job approval rating soaring up to 86%. The same attacks also created a focus on domestic security issues as well as the creation of a new cabinet-level federal agency called the “Department of Homeland Security”. Also, the USA
Patriot Act of 2001 was passed enabling the law enforcement agencies to impose search and surveillance powers over the U. S. Citizens. This has led to the creation of the Information Awareness Office, headed by John Poindexter. The said office has amended a program called Total Awareness in May 2003 which aims to develop technology that would enable the collecting and processing of information that might help in predicting terrorists activities. On the other hand, the Muslim community had a mixed reaction to the attacks. Majority of the political and religious leaders condemned the attacks.
The media even picked up on a number of celebrations of the attacks as if enjoying the every minute of the 9/11 tragedy. But there were some less publicized activities such as public displays of sympathy by candle lighting in Iran. The attacks also triggered some incidents of harassment and hate crimes against Middle Easterners and even those who look like one. Discrimination and false accusations were also experienced by those who were believed to be from the Middle East. Almost 762 suspected Muslims were rounded up by the United States. Reports stated that some 60 Israelis were among them.
According to the Federal investigators, the said people were believed to be a part of a long-running effort to spy the American government officials for further plans. But none of them were ever charged with terrorism. Following the attacks, almost 80,000 Arab and Muslims immigrants were asked to be fingerprinted and registered under the Alien Registration Act of 1940. The 9/11 has indeed changed the face of national security. It has created a scar not only to the country, but to the victims and their families as well. Terrifying as it could be, the 9/11 attacks
are only some of the numerous violent attacks by terrorists not only in the United States but in other countries too. This calls for the immediate action of the appropriate people. Preparations and awareness has to be addressed to prevent encountering yet another horrific incident. With the fast-paced technology, acts that might bring terror to countries become easier. But being cautious, well-informed, and focused during times of terror will definitely prevent severe aftermath. The 9/11 attacks were way over but the sympathy towards each other remains intact. This incident opened doors to show concern to each other.
This incident also proved that during times of terror and hopelessness, people-regardless of their nationalities, beliefs and vision- can become united and stand as one. References Kleinfield, N. R. (September 7, 2007). September 11, 2001. The New York Times from http://topics. nytimes. com/timestopics/subjects/s/sept_11_2001/ Fritsch, Jane, (September 12,2001). A day of terror: The Response; Rescue Workers Rush In, And Many Do Not Return. The New York Times from http://query. nytimes. com/html? res=9F06E2DB1238F931A2575AC0A9679C8B63 Hauser, Christine. (July 31,2008) Police and Fire Radios Are Talking to Each Other.
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