This month marks the 21st anniversary of the terrorist attacks in the U.S. Two hijacked airplanes crashed into two World Trade Center buildings in New York, killing approximately 3,000 people, including 24 Japanese. A memorial ceremony was held at the site of the buildings and other locations this year, in which the victims’ names were read out and a moment of silence was observed to mark the time of the attacks and the collapse of the buildings.
Some family members attended the ceremony for the first time in three years due to the coronavirus, while others gave up attending the ceremony and quietly mourned the deceased at home. Our sympathies extend to those who are still bearing the weight of their loss.
After the attacks, the U.S. intervened militarily in Afghanistan, where the international terrorist organization al-Qaida had a stronghold, claiming that it led the attacks. Despite the establishment of a pro-U.S. government, the Taliban, an Islamist group, seized power when U.S. troops stationed in the country for about 20 years withdrew last August.
The Taliban is pursuing an authoritarian political system that restricts women’s education and suppressed minority groups. Many of the people in the country are suffering from malnutrition and starvation due to the lack of food and medical supplies caused by economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and other countries. The U.S. bears a heavy responsibility for failing to create a democratic nation.
In July, the U.S. killed suspected al-Qaida supreme leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a drone strike. U.S. President Joe Biden emphasized the achievement, saying “He will never again — never again allow Afghanistan to become a terrorist safe haven.” But the extremist ideology has not disappeared, and the “war on terror” has not been settled.
To prevent Afghanistan from continuing to be a hotbed of terrorism, the U.S. should seriously confront and engage in dialogue with the Taliban. The international community must also put pressure on the Taliban to solve poverty and hunger and focus on humanitarian assistance.
In August, the 9/11 Tribute Museum in New York, which had been operated by the families of the victims of the attacks and had held exhibitions and storytelling tours related to the attacks, closed its doors. The museum said it became difficult to operate due to the decrease in the number of visitors caused by the coronavirus. There is also the state-run 9/11 Memorial Museum nearby, but there are concerns that it will go away.
To break the cycle of hatred and violence and prevent the repetition of the same tragedy, it is essential to share the history. We need to make efforts to pass on the memory of the incident.