The causes of the 9/11 terrorist attacks are rooted deeper than most Americans realize. The trail of historical events that led to this catastrophe are widely unknown. Many Americans believe that the war on terror began with the tragedy of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and ended with the death of Osama Bin Laden, but in reality, the war on terror has a long and complicated history. This paper will explore the historical events that culminated in the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001..
In 1978, a communist government gained control of Afghanistan. The Soviet Union supported the new government, but the unrest of Afghan citizens with this regime was so great it prompted a “Jihad” or holy war(Jacobson, 31). This Jihad brought Muslims from around the world to train, fight and rally against their enemy. They believed that no Islamic country should be ruled by non-Islamic foreigners. By fighting against Russia, they felt they were doing the work of Allah. Many of those that joined the fight were Muslim extremists including Osama Bin Laden. These extremists used their faith to justify claims that non-Islamic foreigners were infidels or people without faith who must be destroyed. The U.S. supplied the rebel Afghans, including Bin Laden, with billions in secret funds and military training to fight the communist Russian forces (Appleby). That training would soon be used against the U.S.
U.S. Embassies in the Middle East became a popular target for terrorists. In 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini seized power in Iran. The U.S. Embassy in Teheran was overrun by a group of Iranian students and 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days (Dudley,21). Some viewed this attack as a backlash on America for undermining the Iranian Revolution. In 1983, the U.S. Embassy in Beirut was attacked and 63 Americans were killed. More attacks on Americans by militant Islamics followed in Lebanon and other Middle Eastern countries (Dudley,22). Each attack seemed to embolden the terrorists with more joining the jihad, or holy war, and being trained to fight against America.
April of 1988 was the year that brought victory to the rebel Afghans. The Soviets were out of Afghanistan within nine months. The Soviets’ humiliating defeat by the Islamic rebel forces in their 10 year long conflict inspired Osama Bin Laden and other Islamic radicals to believe their victory in Afghanistan could be replicated around the world (Jacobson,34-35). With the war over, the weapons and training the rebels received were put to use. Bin Laden used the skills he acquired during his years of securing hideouts and fighting the Russians as the basis for the al Qaeda organization which began to create a secret network based in Afghanistan (Appleby) . This was the beginning of al Qaeda, whose leaders received training and weapons from America and would one day use them against it (Bergen).
In 1990 the Gulf War began. Iraq invaded Iran and America was fighting to remove Iraqi...