The United States and Terrorism

Sophomore (College 2nd year) ・Political Science ・MLA ・10 Sources


Terrorism has always been a significant threat, not only to the United States but to the whole world. It is always good to ask ourselves that America has faced many terrorist attacks; has the United States taken important steps to combat terrorism since the historic September 11 raid? We will be able to know how safe we are from terror threats after this evaluation. In addition, the study would give us a history of where we have come from as a country, and how cautious we can be on terrorism issues. Terrorism has also been associated with certain religious violence that has led the populations residing in the United States to be split. How have the government come to the rescue of this religious division and the terrorism at large? It is also evident that the terror attack in the United States was a wakeup call to the government. This research will embark on the evaluation of secondary materials to give an in-depth of the occurrence and also the aftermath of the attacks and mostly that of the 9/11. 

Background Information

The terror menace in the United States can be drawn back to the historical events of 1867 where the dynamites invaded America. Since then, the radical group has been using the awful spectacle of explosive so that they can draw the political attention of the American leaders so that they can give in to their demands. Methods of terror attacks have changed from time to time as the technological world has been evolving. Additionally, the motives have been changing as new events and demands have been emerging. As the word terror means, the attacks are intended to create fear to members of the public thus pushing the government to give in to the extreme demands. Some of these terror group might be opposing a policy which has been put by the government, which might not be acting in their favor. Additionally, some might be resisting a cultural change or an inevitable change of lifestyle.

The United States, have been very fragile when it comes to terror attacks as it accommodates a large variety of communities. The United States is considered as a state of immigrants where many diverse people have come to settle for peace. Having assisted many people from different religions, then religious conflict which is closely associated with terrorism always emerge.  Additionally, the United States has accommodated many refugees from the Islamic states where many of them have run away from terror war. Some of these refugees are in the country illegally hence being untraceable, and their motive cannot be known.

Before the September eleven attack, there were other terror attacks on the American soil which had happened before. Though their impacts and destruction were not as enormous as the September eleven attack, the United States would have learned from them. The more notable events which came before the 9/11 attack were the Unabomber which was between the year 1978-1995. These were connected to technological processes where sixteen bombs were sent via emails over the course of two decades.  Then it was followed by the 1993 attack which was the first world trade center bombing. This was carried out by Ramzi Yousef who was a member of the al Qaeda terror group. He loaded a truck with a bomb and drove it to the garage of the Tower 1 of the World Trade Center. He intended to bring down the building where he failed but killed six people and injured more than a thousand others. This terror attack was as a result of America support towards Israel and other countries that were against terrorism. Another attack was in 1995in the Oklahoma City bombing. This attack was carried by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nicholas where they killed 168people and injured six hundred others. The motive was to revenge over the way the United States government handled the Waco siege in 1993. Later came the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing. The attack was carried out by, Eric Robert by planting a pipe bomb underneath the benches where two people died, and 111 others were injured. Though the motive was not established, it was considered as a terror attack.

After these events, it followed the tragic event of September eleven, 2001.  This attack is associated with the militia group of the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda. The attack was carried out by 19 suicide attackers who hijacked four United States airplane. One of the aircraft a Boeing 767 with passengers crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center n New York. It collapsed on the 80th floor of the 110 story skyscraper. It killed passengers instantly while others were trapped in the higher floors.  As the evacuation of the tower was underway of what was perceived to be an ordinary accident, another plane appeared from the sky 18 minutes’ latter. The plane sliced the south tower near the 60th floor where it caused a massive explosion which threw away burning debris to the members of the public, and this was the moment noticed that America had faced an attack.

Latter as people were still in shock of the terror; another airplane came crashing into the west side of the Pentagon military headquarters. The crash caused a devastating blast that which led to the collapse of a building which was the headquarter of the United States military. In the attack at Washington, 125 people lost their lives. Among those who died were soldiers, police officers and civilians.   

The event was followed by the collapsing of the twin towers.  In about fifteen minutes after the attack on the United States military headquarters, the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed. The skyscraper had robust features which were secure and could withstand natural calamities such as strong wind was brought down by the burning jet fuel. In a small span of time, the other building went down also. Only six people were able to survive; many others sustained injuries as a result of the incident.

The event was followed by the news of the fourth plane being hijacked on its flight to California 40 minutes from Newark Liberty International Airport. As passengers were alert due to the report of the collapsed twin tower and the Washington crash, they became determined to fight for their lives (Pyszczynski, Sheldon, and Greenberg).  Some of them called home to give distress calls about what had happened onboard. They fought their lives out as they faced the four hijackers, but unfortunately, the plane came down crashing. All of the 44 people aboard lost their lives as the plane crashed in western Pennsylvania.

In this historic attack, about 3000 lives were lost including the 19 terrorists who had hijacked the airplanes.  From the twin towers, 2,763 died in the incident, while others died in the military headquarters attack (Cainkar 14). The rest died in the collapse of the fourth airplane which crashed in Pennsylvania. Among those who died were police officers who were trying to evacuate people from who were trapped on the higher floors of the buildings. Also, the American airline crew who were aboard of all the four planes. The Islamic extremist group al Qaeda claimed responsibility. They claimed that it was to push the American government from withdrawing their support to Israel and their military involvement in the Islamic states.

Measures Taken After the Attack  

After the September eleven attack, the United States took some measures to ensure that the citizens felt safe and were indeed safe. After it was discovered that the attack was carried out by the al Qaeda, the United States legislature was given the mandate to ensure that they strengthen the national security.  It is clear that the attack was a wakeup call to the United States as the policies that were put in place after the incident was tight as the security was concerned.  This includes the invasion of Afghanistan as a way to neutralize the terror group.

In response to the attack, the United States National Security Council started a program known as the stellar wind. This was a secret code name of the activities performed by the National security agency as a response to the terror attack. This program involved the collection of various data from the communication database of the all American citizens.  These included all information in the communicated via phone calls, emails, financial transaction and all internet conversation. Though the program has been facing opposition from the United States justice department regarding its legerity. It is reported that the USA National Security Agency has developed a database that contains the information about the communication made by the American people. An estimated 1.9 trillion call details are on record with the security personnel. This has helped the government to trace the communication of suspected terror personnel and also follow on their financiers. It is the world biggest database though it has received critics from many sectors as people feel that it is an infringement of rights to privacy.

Secondly, the United States also adopted some few changes in the university programs. New programs which were aimed at enhancing security have been introduced in American curriculum. Students have been undertaking courses that are more related to domestic security thus making it the fastest growing educational sector (Blake, & Thea 819). These courses that did not exist a few years ago emerged as the need for security expertise were needed after the threat of terror.  Additionally, the homeland security college was established after the 2001 attack to use campus resources to confront national security threats. Many of the microbiology courses were discontinued before the terror attack, but after anthrax on the same year, the study of germs such as Ebola became vital. As the matters of security became a multi-agency concern, also the education sector saw the need to up their game in bringing in these programs that would help to ensure the safety of American citizens.   

Additionally, there was the enactment of the Veterans Educational Assistance Act which took place in the year 2008. The act expanded the education benefits for the military veterans who have been in the service from September 11, 2001. The veterans were to get a 100% funding for any undergraduate education for everyone who had served the army for three consecutive years from the day of the attack.  In addition to this, the veteran could transfer the benefits to a spouse or a child, if he has served for ten years and above. Also, veterans stand other benefits such as house allowances depending on the hosing cost. This financial support has been working as a motivation factor for many countrymen to serve their country diligently in the fight against terrorism. Additionally, having a chance to advance in learning also makes the soldiers efficient on their work.  This is one of the initiatives adopted from the 9/11 attack that has made the American forces stronger.

Another essential move which was taken by the government from the time of the attack was the presidential surveillance program. These are a collection of secret intelligence services which were authorized by President George Bush to counter terrorism activities (Bush). The programs have been kept classified, and none of them have been publicly disclosed. There have been critics on some of the programs where they have been criticized for excessive secrecy and lack of oversight. The institutions are also thought of conducting domestic electronic surveillance on American citizens. These organizations have played productive roles in the collection of intelligence inside the united states and far beyond.  

Also after the attack, there was established the United States Department of Homeland Security. This is a cabinet department of the federal government which was created in response to the attack. It was mandated to protect the United States from terror attacks, natural disasters, and man-made accidents.  It has since then been allocated the massive amount in the state’s budget so that they can carry out their operations efficiently. As the ministry of defense acts internationally to ensure that America is safe, the homeland is mandated to ensure that civilians within the United States are protected. It is the third largest department in the United States cabinet with more than 200,000 employees (Smith). It is mainly coordinated by the statehouse and homeland security council. It has been one of the most effective departments in the areas concerning security.  The agency contains several other governmental agencies in it such as the coast guard, secretive organizations, the customs department and others.  The agency has recorded most significant success due to the cooperation of the units which combined to build it up.

Arising from the attacks in 9/11 was the patriot act, which was passed in to law later that October. In addressing the issues that were arising from that attack event, it allowed the law enforcement agencies to conduct search into emails, medical, financial and other records which would help in the building up of the investigation. The act also expanded terrorism to include domestic terrorism thus expanding the application of power to the issue of terrorism. It also became more effective as it worked for hand in hand with the bank secrecy act which indicates that financial institution should help the government in the fight against money laundering (Rapoport 419). The patriot act allowed the delay of search warrants and also the access of document regarding the investigation. This bill has brought significant progress in the investigation of cases where the law enforcers are not tied by the law on the way to carry out their investigation.


Due to the 9/11 attack the USA in its efforts to weaken terrorist organizations and ensure safety for its citizens, the USA has put in various measures such as law enforcement, enhanced security on the borders and entry points, investing in military tools and waging ideological battles against the thinking behind terrorism. In this efforts, the USA has made positive achievements, but it has also had various challenges. The success includes

The US has managed to destroy a large number of terrorist camps and drive out terrorists from their safe havens. Afghanistan which was a stronghold for terrorists is no longer a haven for these terrorist organizations, it is now a dedicated partner in fighting terrorism, and it has been liberated from terrorists having its president, government, and democracy. These efforts have helped disband terrorist camps in the area and drove out terrorist leaders from the country. Iraq for a long time has also been a sponsor for terrorist groups through their dictator leader. Moreover, it has helped vital terrorist leaders hide weapons of mass destruction and lastly it has been against UNs policies and regulations of fighting terrorism. It is now a liberated country with a stable government and strong leadership which strives to integrate the country with other nations, international unions, and the United Nations. Iraq is now one of the critical implementers of UNs policies of getting rid of terrorists groups and terrorists all together and has joined forces with the international community to ensure these policies are implemented. Iraq and Afghanistan are just a few of the many countries which have been liberated. The presence of governance in these former terrorist ally countries ensures there is not a conducive environment for terrorists conduct or plan their activities.

The USA has been able to a prevent a lot of planned terrorist attacks which has been done through disrupting communication between terrorists, ensuring that terrorist groups do not get sponsors to fund their attacks. Also, destroying their safe havens so that they don’t get places to plan their attacks and lastly capturing leaders of the terrorist groups hence weakening their unity (Paust). The USA has also ensured they put in place efficient border security systems that ensure all people entering the country through the various entry points are thoroughly frisked and their credentials verified. Through its Muslim allies, it has managed to infiltrate informants into the terrorist groups hence they are regularly updated on the plans of these terrorists beforehand.  In June 2006, USA and Iraqi forces killed Al-Qaida’s operational chief in Iraq, Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi and killed and captured several of his top lieutenants including his top bomb-maker, these went a great way to prevent many attacks and disrupted most of Al-Qaida’s activities.

The USA has gone to greater heights to prevent escalation of weapons of mass destruction. USA’s administration has integrated and advanced its efforts to ensure terrorist groups are unable to access high tech weapons of mass destruction, transport systems for these weapons and materials for making these weapons. Various financial and weapons sanctions have been put in place to prevent proliferation, through the United Nations it has managed to influence the international community also to ensure terrorists do not get hold of these weapons of mass destruction (Chanley 472). In 2004, project shield was put in place to work with U.S private sector that manufactures and sell strategic technology and ammunition to prevent terrorists and foreign adversaries from obtaining these items.

The USA strives to ensure that terrorist groups do not get refuge or support from rogue states. USA’ expanding international coalition seeks to ensure that the world environment is not conducive for terrorists; they kill or capture terrorists in countries such as the Middle East and disrupt their networks hence ensuring they are not able to thrive. At the United Nations, the G-8,  the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe(OSCE), the Organization of American States and other international forums they have adopted various policies and methods that help fight or suppress terrorist groups from all corners. This sis done through ensuring they don’t have training camps, organized communication, and access to weapons of mass destructions or leaders. They work hand in hand to ensure a strong joint resistance against terrorism and its ideologies.

To further ensure a peaceful nation the US has made radical changes in its institutions such as the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security in 2003. The government enhances all its security institutions to ensure they are well equipped to fight terrorists and are reliable. Moreover, the government ensures strong security in all its terminuses such as checking systems for airports, train stations, and bus stations. All its borders and border entry points are well guarded and people are coming into the states are well scrutinized (Suskind). This apart from regulating the flow of people into the nation also helps to greatly reduce the entry of terrorists into the country. Lastly, the USA has improved its response to the crisis  through improving the communication systems of the country hence in case of any suspicions of attacks the armed forces can get information fast and react in time.


One of the challenges is to combat the violent thinking and perception of terrorist and terrorism. Terrorists use people’s problems to convince people that their governments are failing them and they need to react against these governments. Moreover, the terrorists who are mostly from the Muslim religion give the Muslims a new school thought where the Muslims are disrespected and undermined hence Muslim join these groups to fight for their rights and their place in the society. Additionally, terrorists attract new members by convincing them that they’ve got rewards waiting for them in heaven once they die for the “religious” course. It is significantly hard to fight or alter the effect of these messages on their recipients.

The USA also experiences the problem of securing weapons of mass destruction and preventing them from getting into the hands of terrorists unknowingly to the US terrorists still get a hold of materials to make weapons of mass destructions such as bombs. Moreover, countries against the USA such as some of the Islamic states in middle east continue to aid terrorists by providing them weapons or helping the terrorist groups transport and hide weapons. This has become a significant hindrance in fighting terrorism.

The internet and the media also pose a significant challenge to the US in the fight against terrorists. Terrorists’ members can communicate through the internet mostly through coded messages and without being recognized hence it is hard to disrupt their communication systems since they are not well defined (Harik). Additionally, terrorists also use the internet to recruit and train new members online, hence easy for terrorists to get new members. Lastly, terrorists use internet platforms to spread their ideologies and change peoples perception of terrorism from negative to positive. This is also amongst the greatest challenges that the USA face in their war against terror since they cannot be able to shut down communication systems used by terrorists which would go a big way in disrupting terrorist activities.

As United States try it best to fight against terrorism, there are other states that have continued to harbor terrorist and also finance terrorist activities outside their countries. Some of these states such as Iran and Syria have always been a hindrance in this fight as many of the terror cells seek refuge in these countries. They also finance some of the terror groups which are in conflict with the United States. It is also notable that many of the terror groups do use weapons which have been supplied by these countries. Having some of their citizens in the American soil also pauses as a significant threat to the national security. Additionally, these rogue nations have been able to twist some countries who have been fighting for their freedoms from the terror groups to see the United States as an enemy who is fighting Muslims. This has made the fight towards terrorism be perceived by some as a fight between Christians and Muslims.

Also, as long as the United States have won the war on terror outside the US borders, they have always been caught unaware by terror attacks in their country. The American soldiers have been able to suppress their enemies outside their country, but they have not dealt with all the threats inside the USA. These problems have been brought about by many immigrants who have run away from the Islamic states to look for peace in the United States. This has made it hard for the homeland security to identify possible terrorist and also separate illegal from legal migrants. As an outcome, the United States has become more fragile from internal attacks where they are unpredictable and unstoppable, unlike any attack which may arise from the outside world. As long as the matter of immigrants will remain unsolved then the American people will in fear of attack.


From the above analysis of terrorism in the United States, it is evident that situations changed after the attack on 9/11. Before the attack, the government had not realized that the terrorism was a reality that other countries were struggling to end. They were caught unaware, and that is where the process of policy simulation to counter terrorism started. The government has been able to change their tactics in their fight on terror. It was a wakeup call to the American government to act and think about the safety of their people.

Work cited

Blake, Adam, and M. Thea Sinclair. "Tourism crisis management: US response to September 11." Annals of Tourism Research 30.4 (2003): 813-832.

Bush, George W. National strategy for combating terrorism. Wordclay, 2009.

Cainkar, Louise. "The impact of the September 11 attacks and their aftermath on Arab and Muslim communities in the United States." GSC Quarterly 13 (2004): 1-23.

Chanley, Virginia A. "Trust in Government in the Aftermath of 9/11: Determinants and Consequences." Political psychology 23.3 (2002): 469-483.

Harik, Judith Palmer. Hezbollah: The changing face of terrorism. IB Tauris, 2005.

Paust, Jordan J. "War and Enemy Status After 9/11: Attacks on the Laws of War." (2003).

Pyszczynski, Tom, Sheldon Solomon, and Jeff Greenberg. In the wake of 9/11: Rising above the terror. American Psychological Association, 2003.

Rapoport, David C. "The fourth wave: September 11 in the history of terrorism." Current History 100.650 (2001): 419-425

Smith, Tom W., Kenneth A. Rasinski, and Marianna Toce. "America rebounds: A national study of public response to the September 11th terrorist attacks." Chicago, IL: National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago (2001).

Suskind, Ron. One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11. Simon and Schuster, 2006.

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