(New York, N.Y.) – On September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda terrorists killed 2,977 people in coordinated attacks on U.S. soil. In the attacks, which were orchestrated by Osama bin Laden, 19 men hijacked four commercial airplanes, deliberately crashing two of the planes into the World Trade Center and a third into the Pentagon. After learning about the other hijackings, passengers of the fourth plane fought back, and the plane was crashed into an empty field in Pennsylvania.
The Counter Extremism Project’s (CEP) senior leadership released the following statements, honoring those who gave their lives to save others and reflecting on 9/11’s long-term impacts on U.S. and international security 20 years later:
CEP President Frances F. Townsend
Former U.S. Homeland Security Advisor
“The long-term effects of 9/11 are still unfolding today, as the U.S. government works to curb terrorist threats emanating from the homeland and internationally. The tragic attacks from 20 years ago are a reminder that our military, intelligence agencies, and law enforcement communities must be unyielding in the ongoing effort to disrupt and destroy terror networks. We honor those who have served to preserve American safety and security. The victims of that day and the families that they left behind as well as the heroic policeman and firefighters who still suffer the after effects must ever remain our inspiration to be committed, vigilant, and continue the fight.”
CEP CEO Ambassador Mark D. Wallace
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations for Management and Reform
“Terrorism did not begin nor end with the tragedy of September 11. However, the attacks showed that groups like al-Qaeda are highly motivated to attack the United States on its territory. Recent events in Afghanistan have ignited concerns that the country will once again become a sanctuary to jihadist groups, which could plot and direct attacks against the U.S. and its allies. There is still much work to do to combat terrorists and the regimes that enable or harbor them.”
CEP Senior Director Dr. Hans-Jakob Schindler
Former Coordinator, ISIL (Da'esh), Al-Qaida and Taliban Monitoring Team, U.N. Security Council
“The September 11 attacks brought to the forefront questions about who funds, harbors, arms, and trains terror groups, and what the international community can do about it. International and regional bodies like the United Nations, the European Union, or the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) have a duty to respond to these persistent threats and to continuously develop and adjust their capacities to meet emerging terrorism challenges and evolving financing methods. In this regard, private industry also plays a key role and has to share the burden. Failure to do so would allow terror groups to access key financial resources, weapons, and advanced training to stage and carry out attacks.”
CEP Advisory Board Member Ambassador Nathan A. Sales
Former U.S. Coordinator for Counterterrorism
“As we remember those who lost their lives in the attacks 20 years ago, we must remain vigilant against today’s terrorist threats. Our terrorist enemies have evolved since 9/11, and the U.S. government must continue to use all tools of national power—diplomatic, economic, military, and others—to stay well ahead of them. Our leaders have no greater responsibility than to defend America and protect us all.”
The 9/11 terror attacks provoked the U.S. to fight against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other sanctuaries worldwide. Since then, however, the group has established five major regional affiliates pledging their official allegiance to al-Qaeda: in the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, East Africa, Syria, and the Indian subcontinent.
In addition to directing and carrying out the 9/11 attacks, al-Qaeda is responsible for terrorist atrocities including the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the 2002 Bali bombing, the 2003 Saudi Arabia bombings, the 2004 Madrid bombing, and the 2005 London bombing. Al-Qaeda is also responsible for several failed operations, including the 2009 Christmas Day plane bombing attempt, the 2010 Times Square bombing attempt, and the 2010 cargo plane bombing attempt.
To read CEP’s resource Al-Qaeda, please click here.