It’s been twenty years since the attacks of September 11, 2001, when terrorist group Al-Qaeda flew two passenger jets into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York City. Another plane hit the Pentagon in Washington DC, while a fourth plane – headed, it is thought, for the US Capitol – instead crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.
The attacks stunned the US and shook the myth of American invincibility. Military strikes on Afghanistan followed in October 2001 as then-US President George W. Bush demanded the Taliban, the country’s de facto ruling power, hand over Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the attacks.
The US-led ‘war on terror’ expanded to include Iraq in 2003, in search of its reputed weapons of mass destruction.
In August 2021, the Taliban reasserted control over Afghanistan just as the last American troops withdrew from the region.
As we mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11 on Life & Faith, we speak to Mark Maclennan, an Australian tourist who found himself at the World Trade Centre right after it had been hit.
David Smith, Associate Professor at the United States Studies Centre and the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Sydney, summarises the impact of the event and its aftermath on the United States and beyond.
Christian ethicist Stanley Hauerwas, artist Makoto Fujimura, and the work of Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, also feature in this episode.
Interview with Makoto Fujimura
Interview with David Smith on US Politics and Religion