War on Terror

The War on Terror (WOT), also known as the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), refers to the international military campaign that started after the September 11th attacks on the United States.

A coordinated attack, orchestrated by Osama Bin Laden, took place the morning of September 11th, 2001.  Nineteen men affiliated with Al-Qaeda hijacked four airliners all bound for California. Once the hijackers assumed control of the airliners, they told the passengers that they had a bomb on board and would spare the lives of passengers and crew once their demands were met.  No passenger and crew actually suspected that they would use the airliners as suicide weapons since it had never happened before in history, and many previous hijacking attempts had been resolved with the passengers and crew escaping unharmed after obeying the hijackers.  The hijackers, who were members of Al-Qaeda’s Hamburg cell, intentionally crashed two airliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Both buildings collapsed within two hours from fire damage related to the crashes, destroying nearby buildings and damaging others. The hijackers crashed a third airliner into the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, just outside Washington D.C. The fourth plane crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after some of its passengers, one of who was overheard on a phone saying “Let’s Roll”, and the flight crew attempted to retake control of the plane, which the hijackers had redirected toward Washington D.C., to target the White House or the U.S. Capitol. None of the flights had any survivors. A total of 2,977 victims and the 19 hijackers perished in the attacks.

The concept of America at war with terrorism may have begun on September 11th, 2001 when a newscaster, having just witnessed the collapse of one of the towers of the World Trade Center, declared “Terrorists have declared war on America.”

On September 16th, 2001, at Camp David, President George W. Bush used the phrase war on terrorism in an unscripted comment when he said, “This crusade – this war on terrorism – is going to take a while.”

U.S. President George W. Bush first used the termWar on Terror” on September 20th,  2001 during a televised address to a joint session of Congress.  This term included both terrorist organizations and the regimes accused of supporting them.  A particular focus was put on countries associated with Islamic terrorist organizations including Al-Qaeda and like-minded organizations.  Bush also stated that ‘our ’war on terror’ begins with Al-Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated.”

Operation Enduring Freedom is the official name used by the Bush administration for the War in Afghanistan, together with three smaller military actions, under the umbrella of the Global War on Terror. These global operations are intended to seek out and destroy any Al-Qaeda fighters or affiliates.

The Iraq War began in March 2003 with an air campaign, which was immediately followed by a U.S.-led ground invasion. In January 2007, President Bush presented a new strategy for Operation Iraqi Freedom based upon counter-insurgency theories and tactics.

Osama bin Laden, the founder and head of the Islamist group Al-Qaeda, was killed in Pakistan on May 2nd, 2011, shortly after 1:00 am by United States SEAL Team Six.  The operation, code-named Operation Neptune Spear, was authorized by President Obama.  The raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan was launched from Afghanistan. U.S. military officials said after the raid, U.S. forces took his body to Afghanistan for identification, then buried him at sea within 24 hours of his death in accordance with Islamic tradition.