0931 GMT May 27, 2022
The U.S. marked the milestone anniversary Saturday under the pall of a pandemic and in the shadow of a frantic withdrawal from Afghanistan, which fell to the same militant rulers who gave safe haven to the plotters of the 2001 attacks, AP reported.
“It’s hard because you hoped that this would just be a different time and a different world. But sometimes history starts to repeat itself and not in the best of ways,” said Thea Trinidad, who lost her father in the attacks and has signed up to read victims’ names at the ceremony at ground zero in New York.
President Joe Biden traveled to all three attack sites: New York’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
“Children have grown up without parents, and parents have suffered without children,” said Biden, a childhood friend of the father of a Sept. 11 victim, Davis Grier Sezna Jr.
But the president also spotlighted what he called the “central lesson” of Sept. 11: “That at our most vulnerable ... unity is our greatest strength.”
Using hijacked planes as missiles, the assailants inflicted the deadliest terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, taking nearly 3,000 lives, toppling the twin towers and ushering in an age of fear.
A “war on terror”, which claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, led to invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, where the longest U.S. war ended last month with a hasty, massive airlift punctuated by a suicide bombing that killed 169 Afghans and 13 American service members and was attributed to a branch of the Daesh terrorist group. The U.S. is now concerned that Al-Qaeda, the terror network behind 9/11, may regroup in Afghanistan.
A whole generation has grown up since the morning of September 11, 2001, AFP wrote.
In the interim, Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden has been hunted down and killed. A towering new skyscraper has risen over Manhattan, replacing the Twin Towers. And less than two weeks ago, the last U.S. soldiers flew from Kabul airport, ending the so-called "forever war."
But the Taliban who once sheltered bin Laden are back ruling Afghanistan, the mighty U.S. military humiliated. In Guantanamo Bay, accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other men continue to await trial, nine years after charges were filed.
Even the full story of how the attack came to happen remains secret. Under pressure from the families of the victims, last week Biden ordered the release of classified documents from the FBI investigation over the next six months.
Biden’s executive order comes amid mounting pressure from families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks to release documents from the government’s investigation, which they believe may contain evidence of a link between Saudi leaders and the Al-Qaeda terrorists.