The acts of 9/11 were antithetical, anathema and against the principles of Islam. Al-Qaeda’s avowed aims were political, not religious or spiritual. As such their strategic ‘success’ can be weighed against what al-Qaeda did on 9/11 against what the USA, leading the West, did subsequently with human, political, economic social and reputational consequences.
Aim of 9/11: ‘All that we have to do is to send two mujahideen (holy warriors) to the furthest point East to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaeda, in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies.’
2001: Total Number of people killed in 9/11 Attacks: 2,996 deaths, largely by al-Qaeda
2011: Total Number of people killed in the 9/11 Decade as part of the War in Afghanistan, Iraq and the War on Terror: 225,000 deaths, largely by the United States of America
Impact: USA kills 75 times more people than al-Qaeda in the 9/11 Decade around the world
Consequence: ‘America is the biggest terrorist state of the world’
Aim of 9/11: ‘After our victory in Afghanistan and the defeat of the oppressors who had killed millions of Muslims, the legend about the invincibility of the superpowers vanished. Our boys no longer viewed America as a superpower.’
2001: In 2001, the United States of America was the world’s solo superpower and was challenged by Al-Qaeda.
2011: In the 9/11 Decade, the US invades two countries, bankrupting itself and violates the principles of human rights it states it upholds with government-sanctioned torture.
Impact: ‘U.S. no longer superpower, now a besieged global power, scholars say’
Consequence: ‘China tells U.S. “good old days” of borrowing are over’
Aim of 9/11: ‘We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy’
2001: Total Cost to mount 9/11 Attacks: USD 500,000, largely by al-Qaeda
2011: Total Costs of the War on Terror in the 9/11 Decade including War in Afghanistan and Iraq: USD $4 trillion, largely by the United States of America
Impact: USA spends 8 millions times more than al-Qaeda did in the 9/11 Decade War on Terror
Consequence: ‘United States loses prized AAA credit rating from S&P’
Aim of 9/11: ‘These events have split the whole world into two camps: the camp of belief and the camp of disbelief.’
2001: The aim of 9/11 was to drive a wedge against the USA and the Islamic world at it core.
2011: The USA invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and bombed Pakistan at a military level. But it changed the lifestyles of ordinary Muslims and others with similar skin colour or perceived religious affiliation around the world with increased security profiling, surveillance, indefinite detention, torture, extraordinary renditions and military tribunals.
Impact: ‘Hatred of America unites the world’
Consequence: ‘With Fewer U.S. Opportunities, Home Looks Appealing to Expats’
Aim of 9/11: ‘I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The U.S. government will lead the American people in — and the West in general — into an unbearable hell and a choking life.’
2001: Al-Qaeda gave the world the image of the World Trade Center burning after planes crashing into them. It also gave the world its first live snuff film, showcasing mass murder.
2011: The US in the 9/11 decade has given the world the images of The War in Afghanistan, The War in Iraq, the Global War on Terror and the images of torture in Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib Prison and Baghram Airbase.
Impact: ‘Abuse scandal ‘terrible’ for U.S., Powell concedes’
Consequence: The most sickening images in TIME’s Defining Moments of the Post 9/11 Era belong not to the acts of war by the USA or terrorism by al-Qaeda but belong to the US Government’s policy of torture in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo
Summary: The USA, leading the West, made two mistakes after 9/11 – they sought to fight al-Qaeda using asymmetric war, when symmetric warfare would have sufficed – fighting fire with greater firepower. Secondly, they very publicly broke the principles of human rights and freedom they espoused, appearing to be hypocrites at a global level. As such, the United States perpetrated 9/11 tens, hundreds, thousands and millions times over in terms of human, economic, political, social and reputational costs, leading to its decline within the 9/11 Decade. It was then not al-Qaeda that brought the USA down, but the USA itself, scorching the earth on the way down as the American Dream became a Global Nightmare.