September 11, 2001, attacks on World Trade Towers and the Pentagon in the United States changed the world forever. One of the biggest terrorist attacks in the world’s history resulted in one of the longest wars, on terror.
This ongoing global war for 15 years now is not only against the Taliban or Al-Qaeda but their eventual by-product Islamic State as well.
The Islamic State – also known as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh – was non-existent before the USA and NATO launched the proverbial Global War on Terror.
But today, its impact can be felt across the globe. With an aim to establish Sunni Islamic state ‘caliphate’, the IS has been killing people mercilessly, including Muslims across the world.
The radical Islamist group, which saw its meteoric rise in 2014 after it seized Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul and declared an Islamic ‘caliphate’ covering large swathes of Iraq and Syria, had been building its presence for years.
It has emerged from the remains of Jama’at al-Tawḥid wa-al-Jihad, founded by Abu Musab al Zarqawi in 1999. Al Zarqawi, after swearing allegiance to Osama bin Laden, renamed the group as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) in 2004 which later became the Islamic State.
Link between Islamic State and 9/11
On September 11, 2001, in one of the biggest terrorist attacks on American soil, 19 members of al-Qaeda hijacked four commercial air crafts.
Two planes were crashed into the North and South towers, respectively, of the World Trade Center complex in New York City while the third one crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia.
The fourth plane, which was heading towards Washington D.C., crashed into a field in Stonycreek Township near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
The attacks resulted in the death of almost 3,000 people while over 6,000 were injured. Property and infrastructure worth $10 billion was destroyed. Investigations pointed fingers towards al-Qaeda.
Soon after the deadly attacks, the US invaded al-Qaeda’s safe haven Afghanistan.
The US, with the sole aim to dismantle Al-Qaeda, demanded that the Taliban government hand over Osama-bin-Laden. But Taliban denied and on October 7, 2001, America and Britain launched Operation Enduring Freedom.
In 2003, the US, United Kingdom, Australia, and Poland invaded Iraq. The invasion was a continuation of the war in Afghanistan.
According to a CBS poll conducted in 2003, 62 per cent Americans believed that the war will further increase terror threats to the USA.
The then US President George W Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said the coalition’s mission was “to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people.”
However, due to the invasion, the regional order in Iraq was destroyed and Sunni discontent fuelled up.
The little known Iraq’s Sunni extremist group Jamāʻat al-Tawḥīd wa-al-Jihād founded by Salafi jihadist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi renamed itself as Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
A US airstrike killed al-Zarqawi and Abu Ayyub al Masri took over al-Qaeda in Iraq.
In 2006, Al-Masri established the Islamic State in Iraq (ISI) and made Abu Omar al Baghdadi its leader.
However, the group remained in silence and US air strikes killed or captured most of its members in 2008.
Sectarian tensions increased in 2009 after the then Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki targeted Sunni leaders. Following the attacks on its community leaders, Sunni tribals started supporting the Islamic State.
The group started killing majority Shias out of discontent.
The United State-run prisons in Iraq were also one of the reasons behind the rise of Islamic State. The Sunni jihadists believed the prison system was their most effective organizing tool.
“It made it all, it built our ideology,” said a senior Islamic State leader in an interview with the Guardian.
According to a UN report, the Islamic State has killed over 24,000 Iraqi civilians in the first eight months of 2014 alone.
A UK based watch dog AirWars says that 3,800 people have been killed in coalition airstrikes on Islamic State. The number could be even more.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in an interview given to CNN in 2015, partially accepted that without the Iraq war there would be no Islamic State (ISIS) and Iraq invasion which was earlier called Operation Enduring Freedom was a carryover of the war in Afghanistan.
John Steinbeck had once said, “All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.”
The United States’ global war on terror post 9/11 has not achieved the purpose in a real sense, rather created more difficult times for the whole world, especially America and its allies.