Terrorism events in US since 9/11
It is agreeable that terrorism has become a global menace in recent years with numerous innocent lives being lost throughout the world to acts of terrorism. Various bodies and individuals have different definitions of terrorism, with the UN General Assembly defining it as criminal behaviors or actions that are carried out with the intention or calculation of provoking a state of terror to a country or a group of individuals for various reasons ranging from political to ideological, racial, ethnic, and religious issues. Terrorism can be attributed to different terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS, which have since had smaller groups arise in various regions of the world such as Africa and Asia. One of the greatest events of terrorism was the 9/11 attack on the US, which saw the World Trade Center hit by planes that were later linked to the then Osama-led Al Qaeda group. There is no doubt that the US has been at the center of global wars, and this is because of its inception of the idea of “war on terror.” The latter was triggered by the tragic events of 9/11 although several terrorism events have since been witnessed in the US. This is notwithstanding the fact that after 9/11, the entire US population became a surveillance force that played an integral role in police terrorism investigations (Zinn 15). Besides, terrorism events and activities have been witnessed in the US in recent years despite the inception and extensive use of the internet whose motive was to enhance communication among the citizens of the US to prevent possible terrorist attacks. As such, this research examines terrorism events witnessed in the US since the 9/11 attack.
Beltway Sniper attacks
The Beltway Sniper attacks were the immediate terrorism events that followed the 9/11 attack in the US. The attacks took place in October 2002, and unlike the 9/11 attack that took a single day, they happened over a period of three weeks. The masterminds of these attacks were John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, with the latter being a teenage accomplice of the former. The attacks focused on three key areas, which were Baltimore, Virginia, and Washington DC. During the attacks, ten people were killed, and three others were critically injured, and among those who died was an FBI analyst. Before the attacks, the two masterminds, Muhammad, and Malvo, had also been suspected of engaging in shootings in other areas such as Alabama, Maryland, Georgia, Arizona, Washington State, and Louisiana (Zinn 27). The motive of these attacks has since remained a mystery although the trials of the two perpetrators linked the attacks to the jihadists as they were found to be in possession of jihad-related images. Malvo’s trial saw him present a judge with anti-American sketches that depicted Saddam Hussein, the White House, and Osama bin Laden in crosshairs, as per the reports of one of America’s newspapers, The Baltimore Sun.
UNC vehicle attack
Without a doubt, most of the terrorist events in the US including the 9/11 attack were perpetrated by individuals from the Islamic religion. The UNC vehicle attack was one of the terrorist events in the US that followed the 9/11 attacks. The vehicle attack took place on March 3, 2006, and its perpetrator was Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, who was a native of Iran. Taheri-azar drove an SUV into a crowd of pedestrians who were students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Reports from various sources such as CNN indicate that the motive of the perpetrator was to avenge the deaths of Muslims that were at the time being witnessed throughout the world. In fact, Taheri-azar had a strong belief that through his actions, he was following the footsteps of Mohammad Atta, who was one of his role models. Surprisingly, Mohammad Atta was one of the masterminds of the 9/11 attacks on the US, and thus, the fact that most of the US attacks were carried out by jihadists cannot be overlooked. After the completion of his mission, Taheri-azar submitted himself to the police and was later charged with first-degree murder that saw him sentenced to 33 years in jail. The act triggered conflict between Muslim Americans and other races, which has been the primary antecedent of most of the attacks on the US (Ewing 13).
Seattle Jewish Center shooting
The Seattle Jewish Center shooting or attack came immediately after the UNC vehicle attack on July 28, 2006, and the mastermind was a Pakistani-American Naveed Afzal Haq (Kurzman 3). The latter recklessly shot six women at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, resulting in the death of one person. It was later learned that one of the reasons for the shooting was the fact that Haq had anti-Western and anti-Semitic views, which he expressed during the 911 call. Haq was later captured and convicted of first-degree murder, with the jury ruling that US citizens were working towards living in a diverse community where crimes and related acts had no place. It was reiterated that people had no right to get involved in extremist activities as that would only jeopardize Americans’ peaceful coexistence. The attack on Seattle Jewish Center resulted in hatred and violence not only between Americans and the Muslim community but also between the Jews and Muslim community. After the attack, the city of Seattle, through its mayor, assured its provision of outreach assistance to the Jewish community in the US as well as the deployment of security patrols who would provide protection to synagogues as well as other Jewish buildings (Kurzman 3).
Little Rock Military Recruiting Center attack
This attack took place on June 1, 2009, and it saw Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, who was a Muslim convert from Memphis kill one soldier in a drive-by shooting that focused on a military recruiting station in Little Rock, Arkansas. Muhammad was a perceived violent jihadist who had undergone self-radicalization in Yemen according to reports in the New York Times. Upon his arrest, Muhammad was found guilty of shooting at American soldiers, and he confirmed that his motive behind the shooting was to have as many army personnel as possible killed. Like the perpetrators of previous attacks, Muhammad was charged with first-degree murder, unlawful discharge of a weapon, and attempted capital murder. He was also charged with engaging in terrorist attacks after links between him and the Al Qaeda terrorist group emerged. Reports also indicate that Muhammad was against the war against Islam and Muslims and that through his shooting; his main aim was to see the US pay for the murder, rape, blasphemy, and bloodshed that was targeted at the Islam religion in entirety and the Muslim population throughout the world (Ewing 17). Muhammad reiterated that the attack would not be the last, an insinuation that several attacks were to follow the Little Rock Military recruiting center shooting.
Fort Hood Shooting
This is also considered as one of the post 9/11 attacks, which were carried out by individuals linked to terrorist groups. Fort Hood shooting took place on November 5, 2009, and the perpetrator was Major Nidal Malik Hassan, a member of the US Army. Hassan opened fire at Fort Hood in Texas, and this saw him cause the death of 13 while wounding 30 people. According to reports, after the incident, Hassan referred to himself as a “Soldier of Allah” and opted to renounce his American citizenship. In an attempt to justify his actions and defend himself, Hassan stated that his motive was jihad, which was to fight the illegal and immoral aggression that the world especially Americans had against Muslims worldwide (Jackson 358). Despite the US government’s reluctance to consider the shooting a terrorist attack and opting to consider it a workplace violence, there is no doubt that it was a terrorist attack given Hassan’s confessions about the same. The aftermath of the attack saw Hassan arrested and sentenced to death as a way of preventing the occurrence of the same in future, and there were multiple reactions from all corners to the same. One of the persons who reacted to the shooting, Senator Joe Lieberman referred to the shooting as one of the most destructive attacks by jihadists on America since 9/11 attacks. Other individuals such as Michael Scheuer, a retired former head of Bin Laden Issue Station and Michael Mukasey, a former US Attorney General, linked the shooting to terrorist attacks that were seen as retaliation to the presence of US troops in Muslim countries, especially in the Middle East.
2010 Times Square bombing attempt
It is considered one of the terrorist scares that occurred on May 1, 2010, and according to reports, it was foiled by two street vendors who upon discovering the car bomb gave reports to security personnel in New York City. Although the bomb did not explode, its motive was to cause deaths of several persons as retaliation to America’s aggression against Muslim communities worldwide. The perpetrator was Faisal Shahzad, who was from Pakistan and had registered as an American citizen in April 2009 (Jackson 276). His arrest came after the foiled explosion when he boarded an Emirates Flight to Dubai. Shahzad admitted that he had attempted the car bombing going ahead to confess that he had previously received training at a Pakistani terrorist training camp. It was later realized that the attempted car bombing was retaliation for the repeated drone attacks executed the CIA in Pakistan, Shahzad’s native country. Had it been successful, the bombing would have caused deaths of several Americans in America’s busiest place, the Times Square. Shahzad later confessed that the attempted bombing was a terrorist plot like several others that came after the 9/11 attacks. On May 4, 2010, Shahzad was arrested and charged with five counts, which included an attempt to use a weapon of mass destruction and trying to maim people within US territories. His conviction came on October 5, 2010, when he was sentenced to life imprisonment, a sentence to which he responded by saying that the defeat of the US would come to pass.
Portland car bomb plot
This was similar to the attempted Times Square bombing because no casualties were witnessed. The Portland car bomb plot took place on November 26, 2010, when a Somali-American student known as Mohammed Osman Mohamud attempted to set off what he perceived as a car bomb on one of the Christmas tree lightings in Portland, Oregon. Several analysts believed that FBI operatives were involved in the attempted car bomb, a perspective that was ruled put by a US court (Houen 103). Regarding the opinion that Mohamud’s planned car bomb represented Somalis, Mohamed Abdullahi Omar, and Somali’s Foreign Minister undermined this argument and stated that Mohamud’s attempt was his creation, and it was not a representative or example of Somalis as the latter are peace-loving people. In fact, statements were made regarding the Somali government’s commitment, willingness, and readiness to help in the prevention of future terrorist attempts in the US. Upon arrest, Mohamud was charged with one count of trying to use a weapon of mass destruction, which would have resulted in the deaths of several individuals at the place of the bombing. In October 2014, Mohamud was found guilty and was sentenced to 30 years in prison, as well as lifetime supervision once he is released from custody in 2037.
Boston Marathon Bombing
Without a doubt, the Boston Marathon bombing was a terrorist attack, which resulted in the death of three people and injuring over 260 others. The attack occurred at the finish line of the Boston Marathon when two pressure cook bombs exploded on April 15, 2013. Investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) showed that two suspects had been involved in the bombing, and they were later identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, commonly referred to as Chechen brothers. Immediately after the public release of their images, the two suspects shot and killed an MIT police officer, carjacked a civilian SUV, which they used to escape to Watertown, where they were involved in a fierce exchange of fire with police officers. There was a huge police chase that prompted the two suspects to throw several IEDs at the police. One of the suspects, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was shot multiple times during the pursuit and his condition was worsened when his brother ran him over with the stolen SUV. He died shortly after his arrival at Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital. On April 19, there was a manhunt for one of the suspects, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who had managed to escape from the police during the pursuits. Orders were given that the residents of Watertown and the surrounding areas were to stay indoors to prevent the occurrence of further casualties. To help in the manhunt for the suspect, most businesses, as well as the public transportation system, were shut down, and this saw the creation of a deserted urban environment. Later Dzhokhar was found in a boat where he was shot and later taken to a hospital. From Dzhokhar’s perspective, his brother Tamerlan was the mastermind of the Boston Marathon attack, and reports indicate that their motive in the attack was to show their disgust and disagreement with the extremist Islamist beliefs in America and the involvement of the US in wars in Muslim states such as Afghanistan and Iraq (Houen 96). It is also argued that the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon attacks were not linked to any terrorist groups and that they were self-radicalized. In fact, the two brothers had learned how to build explosives from online magazines affiliated with the Al Qaeda terrorist group.
Oklahoma Vaughn Foods beheading
After being masterminded by a man believed to have converted to Islam while in prison, the Oklahoma Vaughn Foods beheading, which occurred on September 24, 2014, is largely considered one of the post-9/11 terrorist attacks in the US. During the incident, a man identified as Alton Nolen, working at Vaughan Foods, attacked two female employees with a knife. One of the victims, Colleen Hufford, had her head cut off while the other victim, Traci Johnson was stabbed and sustained critical injuries. Reports indicate that before the attack, Nolen had been fired from the food processing plant by the Chief Operating Officer, who shot and wounded him after his involvement in the attack. The Oklahoma Vaughn Foods attack caught the attention of Americans due to its gruesome and fatal nature, and the fact that it was followed by a series of beheadings that were linked to ISIS, which is currently one of the largest and fastest growing terrorist groups worldwide (Houen 103). Although the motive for the attack remains unclear, FBI’s investigation linked the attack to Islamic radicalization as the perpetrator of the attack had initially attempted to convert some of the employees of the food processing plant to Islam. The close association of the attack to Islamist groups can also be attributed to the fact that Nolen had a tattoo that read “Assalamu Alaikum,” which translates to “Peace be with you.” Moreover, the attack was considered a terrorist attack because of Nolen’s online posts that were mainly related to Islamist interests, where he condemned the US and Israel for their aggression and attacks on Islamic states. Nolen’s social network platforms also had pictures of Osama bin Laden, a former leader of Al Qaeda, those of Taliban fighters, as well as pictures of the 9/11 attacks. With all these, the close association of the attack to terrorism cannot be doubted. Nolen was later charged with first-degree murder as well as battery and assault with a deadly weapon on September 30, 2014. Nolen admitted his involvement in the attacks although the ruling on his case has been rocked by complications on whether he is competent enough or not to stand trial.
Hatchet Attack in New York
This attack took place on October 23, 2014, and the perpetrator was a man identified as Zale H. Thompson, who attacked four police officers of the New York Police Department one of the crowded sidewalks in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens that is found in New York City. It is argued that during the attack, Thompson attacked one of the police officers at the back of the head with an 18-in metal hatchet. An altercation ensued after that resulting in the wounding of one of another police officer. The two uninjured officers shot Thompson causing his death although a female civilian was also wounded by a stray bullet. Like masterminds of several other terrorist incidents in the US, Thompson had converted to Islam before the attack and frequented websites of terrorist organizations such as al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda, and ISIS. Besides, reports indicate that several months prior to the attack, Thompson frequented websites with information on “acts of violence.” The fact that he had made several online posts, clearly stating his position against whites, the US government, oppression, and aggression against Muslim communities, the Western world, and myriads of injustices in American society, highlights the close association between the attack and terrorist incidents targeting the US.
2014 killings of New York Police Department (NYPD) officers
The killings took place on December 20, 2014, when the mastermind, Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley, a young man aged 28, attacked two police officers on duty in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood with a 9-millimeter pistol causing their deaths (Houen 147). Reports indicate that the attack was aimed at revenging the death of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, in which the two police officers were involved but no action had been taken against them. The attack took place amidst protests against police brutality on civilians, yet no accountability was held for the same. However, the killings to some extent can be considered as an act of terrorism as Brinsley’s YouTube channel showed a video of him praying in Masjid At-Taqwa, which was one of the mosques in Brooklyn that was frequently linked to anti-police and terrorist activities. There is no doubt that he was radical, and this was evident in his posts on social network platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. He had also killed his girlfriend before the attack, and the fact that he killed himself immediately after the incident jeopardized efforts of police officers to counter terrorist-related incidents in the US.
Curtis Culwell Center attack
This is undoubtedly one of the post 9/11 terror attacks in the US, which was masterminded by two men who opened fire on police officers at the entrance to an art show at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas. The two attackers were shot and killed immediately after they pulled up and opened fire. It is argued that before the attack, the two perpetrators had pledged allegiance to ISIS, a global terrorist group, and this was evident in their posts on online platforms such as Twitter where they used the hash tag #texasattack. It was also through online platforms that they request Allah to accept them as mujahideen. The close association of the attack to terrorism was cemented when Junaid Hussain, an ISIS propagandist posted that two of their brothers had opened fire. Afterward, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, and this was probably the first time that it had taken credit for an attack in the US, a perspective that was neither confirmed nor denied by American authorities (Houen 159). The perpetrators of the attack were later identified as Elton Simpson and Nadir Hamid Soofi, with the former being convicted of making false statements in 2011 about the terrorism in America while the latter was the owner of a carpet cleaning business. Another individual, Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem was linked to the two suspects as was responsible for housing both of them at his house as well as providing them with ammunition and firearms that were used in the May 2015 attacks. There were various reactions to the attacks, with the Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott stating that the attacks were senseless and baseless. Abbott also urged citizens of America to embrace Muslims as brothers and sisters and do away with their misdirection of anger at Muslims.
Chattanooga Recruiting Center shootings
This was a mass shooting that occurred on July 16, 2015, and was perpetrated by Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez when he opened fire on two different military stations in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Abdulazeez began the shooting at a recruiting center and later traveled to a US Navy Reserve center where he was killed although the attack resulted in the death of four Marines and a sailor on the spot with several police officers sustaining injuries. According to investigations, there is no doubt that the shootings were linked to terrorism, and this is because of the arguments that Abdulazeez had been motivated and inspired by propaganda from foreign terrorist organizations. There were several reactions to the shootings with one professor Charles Kurzman arguing that the shootings masterminded by Abdulazeez were part of terrorist plots by groups such as al-Qaeda and its associate groups. The US president, Barack Obama also gave his sentiments on the same arguing that terrorism was gradually evolving into a new phase, and that terrorist had turned to less-complicated violence acts such as the mass shooting perpetrated by Abdulazeez (Houen 207). The argument that the attacks represented the beliefs of the Muslim community in America was opposed by a representative of the American Muslim Advisory Council, Paul Galloway, who argued that the Muslim community was against attempts of terrorist groups to divide American society on the basis of religion. The aftermath of this attack saw the strengthening of existing security measures and facilities; for instance, orders were given to ensure that National Guardsmen at military offices and other facilities were armed. Besides, there was the installation of more efficient video surveillance equipment and bulletproof glass in several offices and facilities within the US.
Ewing, Katherine P. Being and Belonging: Muslims in the United States Since 9/11. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2008. Internet resource.
Houen, Alex. States of War Since 9/11: Terrorism, Sovereignty and the War on Terror. Routledge, 2014.
Jackson, Robert J. Global Politics in the 21st Century. , 2013. Print.
Kurzman, Charles. Muslim-American terrorism in the decade since 9/11. Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, 2012.
Zinn, Howard. A people’s history of the United States. Pan Macmillan, 2014.