9/11: Could the U.S have prevented it?

Amari M.

Staff Writer

The September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 were heart-shattering, leaving America in pieces. Roughly 3000 lives were claimed in a barbaric act of terrorism, leaving a hush over the United States. Now, 13 years later, the question still remains: could 9/11 have been prevented?

In May 2001, security at Logan Airport in Boston, Massachusetts, was being discreetly videotaped by two Middle Eastern men, one of whom Mohammed Atta, an al Qaeda ringleader. Yet, even though these men were reported by witnesses due to their suspicious behavior, they were never considered a threat or even checked, because they were in a “public area.” These two men, who would later be responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent people, walked through security without a single problem. If they were stopped in security, maybe the attacks could have been delayed, or even avoided completely.

If these men were to attempt today what they did in May 2001, they would have never gotten past security. Why did the U.S have to wait for the September 11 bombing to tighten security? If there are any flaws in the safety of our country, they should not be shrugged off. There was a possibility of an attack due to conflict in other countries, yet we ignored it because it had never happened. Stephen J. Wallace, a witness to the mens’ suspicious behavior, stated, “One was videotaping and taking still photos of the flight board and the checkpoint from about 25 feet away, while the other was talking loudly in Arabic on a cellphone. The behavior went on for about 45 minutes.” When Wallace went to authorities, they failed to acknowledge his concerns, claiming that because the men were in a public area, nothing could be done about it.

There is another side to this argument. While the men were clearly acting suspicious, they could not with certainty be considered a terroristic threat. It could also be considered profiling because the men were speaking Arabic and appeared to be Middle Eastern. If it had been typical American men partaking in these same activities, would they still be reported as a threat? Although the eventual terrorists were ignored, perhaps due to officials avoiding profiling, it does not change the fact that authorities failed to do their jobs.

911am 2Although the overlooking of this suspicious airport behavior is a significant part of the argument, there are more reasons as to why 9/11 could or could not have been prevented. For starters, the World Trade Center had been a target for terroristic attacks before. In 1998, a truck bomb was detonated in the building, with intentions of serious damage. Not only is the building a center for trade in America, but it was one of the more vulnerable buildings. Additionally, terrorist Osama bin Laden was targeted multiple times before the September 11 attacks, but he was never caught and killed. If he had been eliminated, maybe the attacks could have been entirely avoided or at least delayed.

Another potential factor was the plane hijackings as well. WHS freshman Joy Ewing said, “The hijacking maybe could’ve been prevented, but then again these guys were probably trained, so maybe it couldn’t be stopped.” The hijackings were purely circumstantial, as the hijackers’ only problem with security was that their bags went missing and delayed a flight. This, however, did not change their plans, as the hijackers easily overpowered passengers and pilots aboard the plane. WHS freshman Matthew Hammond said, “Maybe the passenger could’ve like done something more to stop it.” The flights later plunged into the Twin Towers, taking them down.

The only other true factor in the attacks was the U.S’s terrorist protection. There was no terrorist protection at the time, due to lack of necessity. After the attacks, however, a terror prevention program was made, tightening security everywhere. Maybe if the program had been made beforehand, or even thought about, the 9/11 bombings could have been prevented. More specifically, the World Trade Center should have had tighter security at the time. Even though security cannot stop a moving plane, maybe if warning was given about the plane in the area being hijacked, people could have evacuated and some lives could have been saved. At this point, all anyone can do is speculate about how these horrific attacks could have potentially been prevented.


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