“A second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack.”
Andrew Card, WH Chief of Staff – 2001
At 5:33 am, on the morning of September 11 2001, pilot Mohammad Atta and Abdul Aziz al-Omari checked out of their Comfort Inn room in south Portland, Maine. Their destination was an early morning flight from the airport at Maine to Boston’s Logan Airport.
Two hours and twelve minutes later, Mohammad Atta and Aziz al-Omari boarded American Airways (AA) flight 11 destined to Los Angeles.
In Kampala, at 2:45pm, I skimmed through television stations in my father’s house at Makerere University. The biggest news that day was that Michael Jordan was rejoining the NBA.
An hour later, at 3:46 pm Kampala time (8:46 am New York time) Mohammad Atta and Abdul Aziz al- Omari, crashed the now hijacked AA Flight 11 into the North Tower of World Trade Center. 3 other hijacked planes would also be crashed that day.
This act, orchestrated by Al Qaeda’s leader Osama Bin Laden 6,751 miles away in Afghanistan was the spark that started America’s “War on Terror” against the “Axis of evil”.
The Taliban would be driven out of Kabul within 12 months. Nearly 10 years later, in April 2011, Osama bin Laden was tracked down to a remote province in Pakistan and assassinated by a Special Unit of the US army – SEAL Team 6. That same year, Arabia was shaken by the so-called “Arab Spring”. The Arab Spring was promoted in gusto by Secretary Clinton, President Sarkozy and Prime Minister Cameron. It would, most notably, lead to the overthrow and execution of Libyan strongman Mu’ammar Al-Qadhdhafi.
A little over two weeks ago, America and her NATO allies began a hasty pullout from Afghanistan. This pullout reminded many in London and indeed across the Atlantic of a similar fiasco 179 years earlier when the British lost a war – famously called the Disaster in Afghanistan – “carried on with a strange mixture of rashness and timidity” as described by Rev. G.R. Geig.
Today, Afghanistan lies in ruins and its body of people scattered around the world with no hope.
The situation in Libya is much worse. The collapse of Qadhdhafi’s regime opened up the Sahel to the Islamic State (ISIS) terror outfit who first emerged from the chaos weaved in Syria by the Arab Spring offensive against Bashar Al Assad on the one hand and Saudi Arabia’s disastrous military campaign in Yemen on the other. Libya is now a failed state, with her streets in ruin and her people largely destitute and at the mercy of warlords.
Uganda today finds herself in a renewed fight against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) terror group. This group, though much depleted, has ties to IS and seeks to impose their backward interpretation of Sharia on Uganda, as indeed on Africa and the world.
East Africa’s intelligence services continue to cooperate. This cooperation has caused the frustration of Somali terror outfit Al Shabaab, responsible for the July 2010 Kampala bombings – retaliation for the major role UPDF continues to play in pacifying the nation state of Somalia.
Today, some of our political actors continue to make contours to Western governments with the intent of usurping the will of the people of Uganda demonstrated, most recently, in our January national elections. These actors seek to reinstate what president Museveni has termed “the strangulation of foreign interests” in Uganda and our region.
The disasters in Afghanistan and Libya are a lesson to our political class and elite not to disregard our existence as an enclave economy on the periphery of global capitalism. Conversations on “governance” and “democracy” should not be curtailed by unmitigated ideological bankruptcy.
The risk in a failure to consolidate our statehood, through careless talk, careless collaboration with these elements of foreign interests – ideological bankruptcy can cause the fracture of our country and region.
It is now 20 years since Mohammad Atta and his colleagues killed nearly 3000 people in the USA. Many continue to pass on as a result of injuries and disease attributed to this act.
Terrorism continues to evolve and threaten our cherished freedoms. Arrogance as was the case in NATOs intervention in Libya remains.
This is why we the citizens must continue to work with government AND join international efforts to aggressively fight Terrorism in all its guises.
The writer works with the Ministry of ICT&NG.