Terrorists have political agendas

Background current

Few events have shaken the world like the attack on the United States on September 11, 2001. The attacks marked the beginning of a fundamental change in international relations. For the first time, the federal government has taken stock of anti-terror legislation in Germany over the past few years.

After one of the twin towers was already damaged, a second plane crashed into the World Trade Center in New York on the morning of September 11, 2001. Islamist terrorists hijacked two planes and steered them into the World Trade Center, causing the two 110-story towers to collapse. (& copy AP)

For the first time, NATO declares an alliance case

In the wake of the attacks, September 11, 2001 was seen as a historic turning point and a paradigm shift in foreign policy. At the same time, the threat scenario posed by Islamist terror moved to the top of the international security agenda. The UN Security Council condemned the attacks as a "threat to world peace". On October 4th, NATO decided the alliance case for the first time in its history.


The attacks

On September 11, 2001, al-Qida terrorists hijacked four passenger planes and steered them towards targets in the United States. The first two planes brought down the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, the third plane steered the terrorists into the Pentagon near Washington D.C. The fourth plane crashed a little later in Pennsylvania. Their destination was the White House. In total, more than 3,000 people died in the attacks, and twice as many were injured.

The USA and the "war on terror"

The then US administration under President George W. Bush reacted immediately to the attacks: The "fight against terror" was declared to be the central task of US foreign policy. The first military measure was Operation "Enduring Freedom". US-led NATO troops marched into Afghanistan in October 2001. The Taliban-ruled country sheltered Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the attacks and head of the al-Qaeda terrorist network responsible for the attacks Almost ten years later, on May 2, 2011, Osama bin Laden was shot dead by a US special force in his hiding place in Abbottabat, Pakistan.

Almost two years after the start of the Afghanistan mission, US forces and their allies invaded Iraq in March 2003 without a UN mandate. The invasion sparked a worldwide discussion about the legality and necessity of the preventive "war on terror" after allegations that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction were proven to be false. Today there is a bloody civil war in Iraq.

Under the administration of US President Barack Obama there was a move away from the "war on terror" - officially the government no longer uses the term. However, many of the Bush administration's laws and resolutions persist. The controversial prison camp on the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba continues to operate.

The boundaries between internal and external security are becoming blurred

As in the USA, the fight against terrorism has also influenced national domestic and security policy in other countries - shaped by the tension between individual freedom on the one hand and collective security on the other. Markus Kaim, head of the security policy research group at the Science and Politics Foundation, identifies three determining elements of this development: On the one hand, national laws have been tightened and national law enforcement authorities have been given more powers. In addition, measures have been taken to cut funding for terrorist groups and activities. Finally, cooperation between secret services and law enforcement agencies at national and international level has been strengthened.

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Anti-terror policy in Germany

In Germany, too, the attacks of September 11, 2001 led to a series of domestic and security policy reforms. Between 2001 and 2008, 26 laws and international treaties to combat terrorism were passed. Among other things, the penalties for the formation of terrorist organizations have been tightened so that members and supporters of a foreign terrorist organization can also be punished in Germany - regardless of whether the crime was committed in Germany. Secret services and security agencies were also given new powers.

However, some of these legislative changes were declared unlawful by the Federal Constitutional Court, including data retention, with which communication data should be stored without cause, the online search of private computers, or the Aviation Security Act, with which the Bundeswehr should be authorized to shoot down aircraft if they were used as a weapon against the lives of people should be used.

Twelve years after the attacks, the German government took stock of the anti-terror policy of the past few years for the first time. At the end of August 2013, a government commission published a 300-page report on this. In particular, the Commission analyzed the interaction between the various authorities with regard to overlapping competencies and multiple responsibilities in the fight against terrorism.

National September 11th Memorial and Museum

Today a memorial with an attached museum, The National September 11 Memorial and Museum, commemorates the terrorist attacks. The memorial pavilion was opened on the 10th anniversary of the attacks in 2011, and the museum will open next spring.

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