Just sending an excerpt from a very thought provoking newspaper article I read regarding 9/11.
At 8.45am New York time on 11 September 2001, Stephen Mulderry, a young American with big dreams, was at work as usual at his office on the 88th floor of the World Trade Centre’s South Tower; Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, Saudi acolytes of Osama bin Laden, were in their seats aboard American Airlines Flight 77, a Boeing 757 that had taken off from Washington 25 minutes earlier; John O’Neill, the World Trade Centre’s brand new head of security, who had quit only two weeks earlier as head of the FBI’s al-Qa’ida squad, was at his desk on the 34th floor of the North Tower, where the first aircraft struck at 8.46am.
They would all be dead, along with around 3,000 others, by 10.30am. Ten years later, the death toll from the most earth-shattering terrorist atrocity in history stands immeasurably higher. The four co-ordinated aircraft hijackings and suicide attacks carried out by Mihdhar, Hazmi and 17 other holy warriors on that infamous 9/11 triggered two wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq, that have cost, at a conservative estimate, 250,000 lives. The number of overall casualties is impossible to know but if one calculates that for every one of the 6,000-plus American soldiers killed seven have been wounded, the number must stand at well over a million. To all that one can add the mental trauma inflicted on innumerable soldiers and civilians touched by those wars, the global frenzy sparked by the generalised perception – however simplistic – of a clash of civilisations between Islam and the West and, at a more mundane but far-reaching level, the impact on travellers everywhere of increasingly severe airport security measures. As to the financial cost, on an investment by al-Qa’ida generally calculated at no more than $500,000, the American outlay sparked by the events of 11 September has almost equalled the amount spent by the US, in real terms, during the Second World War. According to a recent study by Brown University, the total figure stands at an unimaginable $4trn.
It could all have been avoided. One blunder, one failure of communication between the CIA and the FBI, one vital clue they failed to share, opened the way for the terrorists. At the centre of it were Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, the two hijackers who boarded their aircraft in Washington. If the CIA had passed on critical information that they had collected early in 2000 regarding these two men to John O’Neill’s al-Qa’ida squad, known internally as I-49, the mother of Stephen Mulderry and all the other mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, children, grandchildren, relatives and friends of the thousands upon thousands of people who have lost their lives as a consequence of the 11 September attacks might not have had cause to grieve.