US hasn’t pun­ished all re­spon­si­ble for 9/11

The Morning Call - - TOWN SQUARE - Rachel Mars­den

It was 18 years ago that the mas­sive ter­ror­ist at­tacks of Sept. 11, 2001, took place on Amer­i­can soil, with pas­sen­ger jets strik­ing the World Trade Cen­ter in New York City and the Pen­tagon across from Washington, D.C. That day, then-U.S. Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush de­clared: “The search is un­der­way for those who are be­hind th­ese evil acts. I have di­rected the full re­sources of our in­tel­li­gence and law-en­force­ment com­mu­ni­ties to find those re­spon­si­ble and to bring them to jus­tice.”

Well, the iden­ti­ties of the 19 hi­jack­ers were in­deed dis­cov­ered. It turned out that 15 of them were cit­i­zens of Saudi Ara­bia.

Al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden, iden­ti­fied as the mas­ter­mind of the at­tacks, was also a Saudi cit­i­zen. If that many of the ter­ror­ists were from any other na­tion, wouldn’t the U.S. mil­i­tary have turned that coun­try into a park­ing lot soon af­ter the at­tacks?

In­stead, U.S. lead­er­ship ig­nored Saudi Ara­bia and bombed Afghanista­n — the coun­try where the al-Qaida per­pe­tra­tors had been hang­ing out, chat­ting and plot­ting as if they were in a bar. Per­haps if drones had been more widely used back then, the mil­i­tary could have just sent a few into Afghanista­n and oblit­er­ated al-Qaida hide­outs, rather than treat­ing Afghanista­n like a house that had to be burned to the ground be­cause a wasp nest was found un­der the eaves of the roof.

Oh, well, mis­sion ac­com­plished, right?

Not quite. Al-Qaida is now back in business. This is be­cause the U.S. gov­ern­ment has never prop­erly at­trib­uted re­spon­si­bil­ity for the 9/11 at­tacks.

In re­cent years, al-Qaida ter­ror­ists have re­branded them­selves as free­dom fight­ers op­pos­ing Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad. They gained a foothold when the U.S.-backed putsch against As­sad mor­phed into a civil war.

Who fa­cil­i­tated the resur­gence of al-Qaida in the Mid­dle East?

The U.S. and Saudi Ara­bia did, thanks to a CIA op­er­a­tion called “Tim­ber Sy­camore” that trained, paid and equipped anti-As­sad fight­ers.

So, with the U.S. gov­ern­ment col­lab­o­rat­ing with the coun­try that spawned 15 of the 19 ter­ror­ists re­spon­si­ble for the 9/11 at­tacks, al-Qaida has been able to make a tri­umphant re­turn in re­cent years. U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has praised Saudi Ara­bia as a key ally, has ve­toed con­gres­sional res­o­lu­tions to ban weapons sales to the Saudis, and has de­fended Saudi Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man even af­ter the prince or­dered the mur­der of Washington Post colum­nist Ja­mal Khashoggi in­side the Saudi con­sulate in Is­tan­bul.

What about the “bar own­ers” — the Afghan mem­bers of the Tal­iban who hosted al-Qaida back in the day, al­low­ing Saudi ter­ror­ists to sit around plot­ting strikes against Amer­ica? Well, their bar has been de­stroyed, and they’re brawl­ing with the U.S.-backed Afghan gov­ern­ment.

Some of the Tal­iban mem­bers who had been hauled off to the shores of Guan­tanamo Bay, Cuba, for a sea­side stay in an Amer­i­can prison are back on the scene. Now, they’re ne­go­ti­at­ing with Amer­ica — for a peace deal (pause for laugh­ter).

The Tal­iban is be­ing asked to stop fight­ing a civil war it’s in the process of win­ning against a gov­ern­ment in­stalled and propped up by a U.S.-led coali­tion. The im­plicit threat is that if the Tal­iban doesn’t com­ply, Amer­ica will in­sist on stay­ing, con­tin­u­ing to lose blood and trea­sure in Afghanista­n.

Trump re­cently can­celed planned peace talks with Tal­iban lead­ers at Camp David, and he drew heavy crit­i­cism for sched­ul­ing such talks in the first place. But that crit­i­cism misses the mark.

Bleat­ing on about fight­ing ter­ror­ism is point­less when the U.S. keeps try­ing to over­throw for­eign lead­ers, leav­ing power vac­u­ums for ter­ror groups to ex­ploit.

And it’s a farce for the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to claim that it’s fight­ing rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ism when it has so closely aligned it­self with the one na­tion most re­spon­si­ble for caus­ing the Twin Tow­ers to col­lapse.

Tri­bune Con­tent Agency

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