The 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, conducted by the international terrorist organization al-Qaida against the U.S., is this Sept. 11. The shock brought by the live broadcast of terrorism beyond imagination — hijacked planes crashing into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, which symbolize economic and military power, and the loss of nearly 3,000 people — is still vivid. It was such a huge event that anyone would agree with the analysis that the world’s modern history can be divided into before and after 9/11.
In response, the United States attacked Afghanistan and Iraq, both of which defended al-Qaida, to overthrow regimes, and assassinated Osama bin Laden after 10 years of pursuit. However, the war against terrorism, which we had hoped would be settled, was not over. According to the U.S. State Department, the number of international terrorist organizations more than doubled in the meantime rather than shrinking. Although incidents such as 9/11 did not recur, the Middle East had to deal with the extreme forces of Islamic State and domestic terrorism increased in many parts of the world.
The recent withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan also increases the risk of terrorism from the Middle East. The Taliban have a different identity from radical terrorist groups such as al-Qaida, but if chaos persists in the region, there is a high chance that such a force will take root. The Islamic State group terrorist attack at Kabul’s airport in the midst of the Afghan exodus may be a tragic prelude. In the United States, which is worried about the instability in Afghanistan, public opinion that people are less safe from terrorism increased by 15% from a decade ago.
In order to not repeat the tragedy of 9/11, the international community must cooperate closely to eradicate terrorism. Above all, it is important for the U.S. and China to fulfill their international responsibilities through dialogue and communication, as U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed in a phone conversation on Sept. 10, rather than focusing on confrontation. International cooperation must not be limited to the monitoring and prevention of terrorism by force. The painful lesson of 9/11 — that unfair discrimination based on religion and ethnicity and exploitation of weaker nations by powerful nations putting their own interests first are the foundation of extreme forces — should be remembered.