The Naval Postgraduate School & The U.S. Department of Homeland Security

In Remembrance: September 11, 2001 and September 11, 2012

Despite the self-proclaimed "victories" of terrorists on September 11, 2001 and September 11, 2012, the actions of citizens and military personnel on both 9/11/2001 and 9/11/2012 are emblematic of American resilience and heroism. The Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL) joins the nation in mourning the loss of innocents from over 120 nations in addition to honoring the sacrifice made by American law enforcement officers, first responders, members of the military, and citizens during the course of the 2001 attacks. Additionally, the HSDL remembers the loss of our Ambassador to Libya and the ultimate sacrifice paid by men in defense of the American mission in Benghazi in 2012. It is the purpose of this blog to first examine the significance of September 11 as it pertains to radical Islam and to then recognize the events of 2001 and 2012. Highlighted text links directly to websites and/or document repositories. Furthermore, recommended documents are listed at the end of each section. Note: some of these documents may require an account which can be requested via the HSDL homepage.

On September 11-12 1683 an allied force under the Polish King Jan Sobieski III defeated Mustafa Pasha';;s Ottoman forces at the Battle of Vienna. This proved to be a mortal blow to the aspirations of the Ottoman Emperor, Sultan Mehmed IV, to seize the strategic city and to further spread Islam by sword. Although the Empire had been in decline for a number of years prior to Vienna, the battle at the "Gates of Vienna" symbolized the high tide of Ottoman political and religious expansion in Europe. For the West, it was seen as a victory for the forces of Christendom, and it led to successive victories in Hungary and the Balkans.

Prior to 2001, most Westerners outside of Central Europe viewed the Battle of Vienna as being in the distant past; however, the significance of this date was never lost upon radical Islamists who vowed to avenge this loss of empire. To men such as Osama bin Laden who viewed the height of Islamic expansion as a "golden age" and who wished to restore the Caliphate, September 11th was symbolic. For this reason he selected it as the date on which to launch the largest terrorist attack on the West.  In 1999, Osama bin Laden met with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Mohammed Atef to formulate plans for what would become known as "The Planes Operation." See also: "Central Intelligence Agency';;s 9/11 File: Top Secret CIA Documents on Osama bin Laden Declassified."

Twelve years ago to this day, 19 hijackers took control of four airliners over the continental United States. Two hijacked planes targeted New York City, one was diverted to Washington, D.C., and the fourth was brought down before it could hit its intended target in D.C. On the morning of September 11, 2001, American Flight 11 struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center killing all 87 innocent passengers and crew on board; United Flight 175 hit the South Tower killing 60; American Flight 77 was flown into the Pentagon, resulting in the death of 59 on board; and on United Flight 93, 40 passengers and crew gave their lives to avert further disaster in Shanksville, PA.

In all, 2,977 people were lost on that day. In addition to the airline passengers and crews, over 2,700 were killed on the ground. This included 343 New York City firefighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics; 23 New York Police officers; 37 New York Port Authority officers; and 55 military personnel.

The Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL) recommends the following webpages/websites:

On September 11, 2012 extremists linked to al-Qaeda attacked the American diplomatic mission and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens was killed; and Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone S. Woods died in defense of the mission and the annex. Whereas 9/11/2012 occurred on the anniversary of the greatest terrorist attack on American soil, it must be remembered that this date has been drilled into the Islamist psyche for over three centuries.

The HSDL recommends the following documents: