9/11: how is the world facing terror today?

Politicians, the press and society in the US and across the globe on Wednesday commemorated the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, in which almost 3,000 people were killed using four passenger planes. Commentators examine how the West is dealing with the threat of jihadist terror today.

Open/close all quotes
Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

Threat posed by al Qaeda hasn't been banished

Today al Qaeda is once again more dangerous than the IS militia, warns Tagesspiegel:

“The supporters of Osama bin Laden, who was killed by US elite soldiers in Pakistan in 2011, maintain stable alliances with regional terrorist groups. ... The Taliban never stopped supporting al Qaeda even though bin Laden provoked Americans to invade Afghanistan with 9/11. The IS, however, acts on its own and fights against the other militant Islamists. If the Taliban recapture Afghanistan completely in the next few years, as is to be feared, they will take their revenge on the IS as well as on the Afghan government. And al Qaeda would have a safe haven in a theocracy once more, as it did in 2001. The West must continue its operation in Afghanistan and must not underestimate the global threat al Qaeda poses. '9/11 reloaded' is still looming.”

Izvestia (RU) /

A business that spreads fear

Looking back one sees that September 11 marked the start of a new era of terrorism, Izvestia explains:

“This new terrorism is no longer ideological, although it does its best to imitate a sense of conviction. ... Instead it's become high-tech and focussed on creating media hype. Terrorism has changed and now functions according to the rules of business. ... Nowadays it is nothing other than the dark side of 'soft power' that demands fear from its 'consumers' instead of love and loyalty. ... Modern terrorism produces fake religiousness and imitated fanaticism. Because the extremists need to conceal their main goal: generating profit.”

Causeur (FR) /

Integration: France on the wrong track

France is taking the wrong approach to dealing with its Muslim population and must get back on track, political scientist Driss Ghali writes in Causeur:

“We must pursue two parallel goals: prevent the Islamists from attracting the support of the devout majority [who according to a 2016 study by thinktank Institut Montaigne are neither radical nor completely secularised] and encourage the Muslim avantgarde to fulfil its role. Since 2001 we've been doing the opposite of what common sense dictates. We've abandoned the devout majority to the Islamists and demoralised the Muslim avantgarde by systematically preferring footballers, comedians and rappers. After each attack these public entertainers are notable for their silence - when they don't turn their backs on us altogether, that is.”

Politiken (DK) /

The West can tackle major challenges

Politiken says the West has done a good job of tackling the challenges since the attacks:

“Despite concerns about rampant surveillance the West has succeeded in remaining an open, trusting society. Air travel has become burdensome, but everyday life has not changed much for most. The war on terror is unlikely to ever end, but it has not become the dominating factor people thought it would right after 9/11. Al Qaeda has lost, Osama Bin Laden has been killed. And the successor, Islamic State, is broken. ... It is important to be aware of this when we face other problems: China, the climate and populism. Our society is robust and can handle major challenges.”

La Stampa (IT) /

The real battle hasn't been won yet

Islamist expert Lorenzo Vidino, on the other hand, stresses in La Stampa that the jihadist threat is as strong as ever:

“The problem is that al-Qaeda, IS and the multitude of groups in their orbit are simply transient forms of an ideological phenomenon . ... Tactical victories (military operations against jihadist groups, arrests, foiled attacks) are fundamental. But they will remain Pyrrhic victories as long as the real battle is not won, in other words as long as the ideological appeal of jihadism persists, as well as the the complex political, social, educational, theological, and economic problems that make it so attractive in the eyes of its many followers.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Flawed thinking in the CIA bubble

Gazeta Wyborcza hints at the possibility of structural reasons for the CIA's shortcomings:

“The CIA has a budget of several billion dollars and access to state-of-the-art technology, and it employs thousands of specialists. Why didn't it identify the biggest threat to the country since World War II? ... Could it be that its employment policy is to blame? Interestingly, few women or members of minority groups pass the entrance test. ... Similar people all tend to see a complex problem in the same way, with the result that mistakes in thought processes are overlooked and discovered by someone outside the Agency bubble.”