Death by numbers
Global terrorism, wars, heightened security and public awareness — the media has been keen to show the various effects of what happened on 11 September 2001. But the real ‘legacy’ of 9/11 can be summed up in the grim mathematics of resultant suffering.
Ten years ago, 19 terrorists hijacked four airplanes, crashed at four sites in the US and killed 2,977 people from 115 nations. The attacks were indiscriminate as to race or religion. Many Christians died, but thousands of Muslim Americans were also left grieving.
The list of the grieving outweighs that of the dead, whose names are carved into the memorial pool at Ground Zero, where a special service of remembrance was held last month.
It took just 12 seconds for the Twin Towers to fall, after they had burned for 56 and 102 minutes respectively. Some 422,000 New Yorkers have undergone post-traumatic stress treatment. Some 1717 families never received any remains to bury. Roughly 3015 children lost a parent and 30 US Muslim children lost both parents.
The Twin Towers Orphan Fund is caring for more than 1200 children in 26 states and territories who lost one or both parents on that day. Thirty-eight of these were as yet unborn when their father died. According to the BBC, 46 twins lost their ‘other half’ on that fateful day.
But this death toll is nothing, considering what happened next. The total number of hate crimes reported to the Council on American-
Islamic Relations nationwide since 9/11 is 1,714.
Twenty-six days after 9/11, Afghanistan — stronghold of the Taliban and of Osama Bin Laden — was invaded as a direct response to the terrorist attack. Since then, 919,967 civilians and soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq since the US and coalition attacks.
This figure is based on lowest credible estimates, according to independent US website UnknownNews.com. It represents 303 times as many people killed as lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks.
More than 1140 US soldiers have died in Afghanistan alone — almost half the number of civilians who perished in the Twin Towers — and the US presence in Afghanistan continues.
Another date to stick in the mix is 1 May 2011, when US forces surrounded a compound in Pakistan and killed the Al Q’aeda figurehead, Osama Bin Laden.
Radicalism has increased on both sides. In July, 91 people died when a right-wing fundamentalist shot young people on Utova Island and bombed a building in Oslo in retaliation against increasing Islamic culture in Norway.
But there are some signs of hope. Writing for the Evangelical Alliance’s magazine, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali argued that while the West has been traumatised by 9/11, there has been a growing radicalisation of Muslim communities worldwide.
He said, ‘The best protection for the West from terrorism is the encouraging and establishing of freedom in Muslim countries, together with democracy and the rule of law’.
While he argued the case for countering Islamist ideology, 50 Muslim groups in the UK have also been holding vigils to remember the 9/11 dead and call for peace.
Dilwar Hussain, President of the Islamic Society of Britain, said, ‘Terrorism is an evil that no Muslim should feel the need to defend or make excuses for. It is our opponent. It is an obstacle to our cause, which is to be a force for good, to spread peace’.
The most important number is actually one. One person — Jesus Christ; one death 2000 years ago; one atoning sacrifice to bring us peace.
The Lord Jesus Christ was the promised one sent by God. He came to bridge the yawning chasm between wicked man and God. He is the one upon whose shoulders stands the government of the world.
The gates of hell cannot prevail against his kingdom. He is the prince of peace, the one to whom we should go for peace with God and to help us find peace with our fellow human beings.