Edited by Andrew T.H. Tan
Chapter 2: Setting the Post 9/11 Context: The Emergence of Postmodern Terrorism
Andrew T.H. Tan The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, and the Pentagon in Washington, on 11 September 2001 are clearly a watershed, marking the emergence of the new postmodern terrorism. The attacks shocked not just the United States but the entire world; 9/11 had far-reaching implications for future security. The targets, the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, guaranteed the widest possible publicity for the perpetuators, as both represented American prestige as well as economic and military power. The attacks also sent shock waves through the US and world economies, as New York is the ﬁnancial capital of the world’s largest economy. The World Trade Center was also the headquarters of many major American ﬁnancial powerhouses. More signiﬁcantly, with casualties running into many thousands, it is the ﬁrst true mass casualty terrorist act in modern times.1 Prior to this attack, the worst terrorist attack was the one on an Abadan cinema in 1979 that killed more than 400 people. The Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 killed 168 people, the sixth most lethal terrorist attack.2 What security analysts had been predicting for years, that is, the perpetration of a terrorist act causing massive casualties running into thousands or tens of thousands, has ﬁnally come true.3 A brave new world of postmodern (or ‘new’) terrorism has dawned. 9/11 also breached an unseen threshold. It has demonstrated that such massive acts of terror can be successfully carried out even in the most powerful state in the world....
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