Top Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force
Nearly two decades after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, the Taliban regained control last month of most of the country as the U.S. began to withdraw.
After President Joe Biden announced the total withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan earlier this year, the military began departing on May 1. In early July, the U.S. EVACUATED Bagram Airfield, the largest military installation in Afghanistan. Shortly after that, Biden moved up the deadline to have the troops out by Aug. 31. The Afghan military quickly lost ground against the Taliban, and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul was evacuated as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled his own country on Aug. 15.
The images and stories that followed elicited sadness and anger around the world as U.S. citizens and many Afghan citizens who helped the U.S. military over the last two decades struggled to flee the country. Thousands of people were hurriedly evacuated by plane from the Kabul airport. Tragically, 13 U.S. military members and 169 Afghan civilians died in two bombings just outside the airport on Aug. 26.
The U.S. military presence in Afghanistan dates back to 2001. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush sent U.S. troops to Afghanistan to seek out the terrorists who planned the attacks and the Taliban members who aided them. At the peak of the U.S. presence, there were nearly 100,000 troops in Afghanistan. Then President Barack Obama announced plans for a full troop withdrawal by 2016, but that did not happen. When President Donald Trump took office, he negotiated a deal with the Taliban that involved the U.S. withdrawing its troops fully by May 1 of this year. Before Trump left office, U.S. troop levels were reduced to 2,500.
The Taliban first gained control of most of Afghanistan after a civil war in 1996. The Taliban were known for their repressive treatment of the Afghan people, particularly women. While the Taliban leaders have promised peace and order in resuming control of the country, there are many who have voiced concern about the future and safety of Afghan citizens.
Honoring Those Lost On 9/11 20 Years Later
For anyone old enough to remember, most can tell you exactly where they were on 9/11/01 when they heard the news that a terrorist attack was unfolding in New York City.
It was shortly after sunrise in Arizona when people were waking up to the news that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center (WTC). As America and the world stayed glued to their televisions to keep informed of what was happening, more planes were attacking.
Nineteen members of the terrorist group al-Qaeda boarded four commercial airplanes, hijacking them and overtaking the cockpits. American Airlines Flight 11, carrying 76 passengers and 11 crewmembers crashed into the north tower of the WTC at 8:46 a.m., EST. At 9:03 a.m., United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the south tower of the WTC. There was a total of 60 passengers and crew on that flight. At 9:37 a.m., American Airlines Flight 77, carrying 59 passengers and crew crashed into the west wall of the Pentagon. Before the fourth plane crashed, the south tower of the WTC collapsed.
United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field near Shanksville, PA, at 10:03 a.m. The target for this plane is believed to have been either the White House or the Capitol. There was a total of 40 passengers and crew on this flight. Passengers on this flight overtook the terrorists, but the plane crashed killing all on board.
The north tower of the WTC collapsed at 10:28 a.m. Close to 3,000 people perished in the attacks, including NYC firefighters, police officers and Port
Authority officers. A previous terrorist attack at the WTC took place in 1993. A bomb exploded in the parking garage killing six people and injuring over 1,000. The WTC sustained minimal damage.
One World Trade Center was built and opened in 2014 on the site where the WTC stood. There is a 9/11 Memorial & Museum on the site in honor and memory of those who perished on 9/11.