against American citizens on American soil and arguably the largest single terrorist episode in
modern history.”7 The impact of the attacks was immediate. Americans stood in awe as the
country seemingly came under attack. One reporter remembers: “No one’s talking. They
[onlookers] were just staring at each other with their arms dropped to their sides. A pin could
drop in the United terminal. No one’s saying anything … there’s several hundred people
standing around not knowing what to do and no one’s even speaking.”8
The American government quickly responded to the attack. In the days immediately after
the incidents, Americans reeled trying to understand what had occurred and why anyone could
commit such atrocious acts.9 The footage of the second airliner crashing into the North Tower of
the World Trade Center and the collapse of both structures that followed was replayed on the 24
hour news cycle over and over, and “disbelief turned to anger and the desire for revenge.”10
Within days of the attack the “bin Laden network was identified as the perpetrators, and the
‘war’ on terrorism was born…”11 Subsequently, attacks on both Afghanistan and later, Iraq, were
launched by the United States military. Or so this is how the official story is understood.
However, many Americans, and many more abroad, do not believe the official story that is
reported and argue that the attacks were part of an internal government conspiracy to prime the
American people into urging for war abroad.12
Snow, September 11, 2001: The New Face of War?. 19
Kitty Coburn, “September 11, 2001,” CNN News Live, September 11, 2001.
Snow, September 11, 2001: The New Face of War?, 20.
Kent Roach, The 9/11 Effect: Comparative Counter-Terrorism (Cambridge; New York:
Cambridge University Press, 2011), 46.
Martin Randall, 911 and the Literature of Terror (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press,
James Petras, “9/11: One Year of Empire-Building,” Economic and Political Weekly 37, no.
34 (2002): 3509.