• America Marks 20 Years Since 9/11 Attacks as Biden Searches for Closure

    The 9/11 terrorist attacks unfolded in less than two hours, killing 2,996 people. The war in Afghanistan, launched a month after the 9/11 attacks lasted 19 years, 10 months, three weeks and two days, with DOD counting 2.325 American military deaths. On Saturday, 11 September, President Biden will try to draw a line under these events, saying that a new era in American foreign and defense policy has begun. “But we will also see, as we always do, that one era does not end when a new era begins,” notes one historian.

  • Lessons from 9/11

    Beyond their painful human toll, the 9/11 terrorist attacks changed and continue to influence life in America in many ways. Harvard professors detail how the tragedy reshaped U.S. homeland security and foreign policy, study and treatment of PTSD, and crisis planning and management.

  • Declassifying the 9/11 Investigation

    President Biden says he will open up the government’s secret files about the plot, but will they answer the questions that remain?

  • Reflecting on September 11, 20 Years Later

    Steven Simon, a counterterrorism expert: “[R]esilience is futile if counter-terrorism policy devolves to yet another partisan tool. Of all challenges, terrorism is mostly likely to spur a dangerously excessive reaction while degrading the state of American politics if the two parties have not cooperated on building and implementing effective defenses. If politics are too broken to permit such preparedness, then a successful strike against the U.S. will be more likely, the partisan blame game more poisonous, and an appropriate response far more difficult to engineer.”

  • 9/11 Conspiracy Theories Debunked: 20 Years Later, Engineering Experts Explain How the Twin Towers Collapsed

    The collapse of the World Trade Center has been subject to intense public scrutiny over the last twenty years, prompting several investigations and spawning a variety of conspiracy theories. FEMA’s report was published in 2002, and NIST’s 3-year investigation produced a report which was published in 2005. While there have been critics of both reports, their explanation for the buildings’ collapse is widely accepted. They conclude it was not caused by direct impact by the aircraft, or the use of explosives, but by fires that burned inside the buildings after impact.

  • 9/11 Prepared Firms for COVID-19 Economic Effects

    Companies which experienced the financial impact of 9/11 were more resilient to the economic effects of COVID-19, according to new research.The research is the first of its kind to compare the events of the last eighteen months with 9/11.

  • Trial of 2015 Paris Terror Attackers Begins

    Twenty people involved in the November 2015 terrorist attacks in France – the largest terrorist event in France — in which 130 were killed and 490 wounded, went on trial in Paris Wednesday – six of them in absentia.

  • The Tel Aviv Plot

    Recently declassified information from the first-ever interrogation of someone presumed to be a senior al-Qaeda operative captured after 9/11 provides new insights into Osama bin Laden’s plans for a follow-up attack to Sept. 11. Bruce Riedel writes that, specifically, bin Laden was plotting a major attack in Israel. The attack was thwarted at the last minute, but information about it has been classified until now.

  • Violent Extremism in America: Pathways to Deradicalization

    Top law enforcement officials have described violent extremism — especially racially or ethnically motivated extremism— as the greatest domestic threat facing the United States. The Biden administration has requested tens of millions of dollars to fight it. Yet the research on what an effective strategy might look like has too often failed to engage the people who might know best: those who have lived that life and left it behind.

  • Massoud Vows to Fight on as Taliban Claims Victory Over Resistance

    The Taliban has taken over the Panjshir Valley, saying that with the defeat of the last hold-out of the anti-Taliban forces, the valley is now open for travel and supplies. In a twitter message, resistance leader Ahmad Massoud said his forces are still present in Panjshir and will continue to fight the Taliban, but admitted that “hard decisions” had to be made, with ammunition running in the face of furious enemy attacks.”

  • 9/11: Twenty Years Later, Responders Still Paying a Heavy Price

    More than 91,000 responders were exposed to a range of hazards during recovery and clean-up operations, with 80,785 enrolling in the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) set up after the attacks. 3,439 are now dead – far more than the 412 who died on the day of the attacks – and many of those alive have been suffering from a series of ailments related to the work at the Twin Towers site.

  • Twenty Years after 9/11, Germany Still Struggling with Militant Islamists

    Twenty years ago, Islamist terror was still largely an unknown for German security authorities. Now, the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) has a newly established Islamist-Motivated Terrorism/Extremism Department. Around 500 criminal investigators, scientists, translators, and analysts work there to investigate Islamists, monitor dangerous individuals, and try to prevent attacks.

  • How the Taliban Exploited Afghanistan’s Human Geography

    The Taliban managed to seize power so quickly because it used Afghanistan’s human geography to exploit that state’s fragility: The country’s low population density empowers fast-moving and cohesive attackers, for which the poorly trained, disorganized, corrupt, and unmotivated Afghani army was no match. Alec Worsnop writes that, still, the evacuation could have been made safer and more orderly if a small Western contingent with air support would have been left behind to hold the Taliban at bay for a few more weeks — but this would only have delayed the inevitable: “Leaving a limited outside force in place, without significant reinforcement, could not have prevented an inevitable Taliban takeover within a matter of months,” he writes. “There were few prospects for long-term stability without a notably larger foreign troop presence.”

  • Calculating the Costs of the Afghanistan War in Lives, Dollars and Years

    The war in Afghanistan, like many other wars before it, began with optimistic assessments of a quick victory and the promise to rebuild at war’s end. President George W. Bush warned of a lengthy campaign, but few thought that would mean decades. Twenty years later, the U.S is still counting the costs: the U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan lasted 7,262 days; 980,000 U.S. soldiers have served in Afghanistan; 2,455 U.S. service members were killed; 20,722 members of the U.S. military wounded in action; 46,000 civilians killed by all sides; the U.S. has spent $2.3 trillion so far; experts estimate that the future costs of medical and disability care for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars between now and 2050 will likely be  about $2 trillion.

  • Afghanistan Always Defeats the West

    William Dalrymple, a Scottish historian and author of Return of a King: the Battle for Afghanistan 1839-42, writes that the West’s 20-year failed effort in Afghanistan was as inevitable as it was predictable for anyone with “a grasp of history”: In Afghanistan, there had been only the briefest of “moments of anything approaching a unified political system. Afghanistan has always been less a state than a kaleidoscope of competing tribal principalities governed through maliks or vakils, in each of which allegiance was entirely personal, to be negotiated and won over rather than taken for granted.”