Historical Security Council: The Aftermath of 9/11 and the War on Terror

On September 11, 2001, 19 Islamic extremist militants hijacked four airplanes and carried out suicide attacks against the United States of America. Beginning at 8:45 a.m., the first airplane hit the north tower of the World Trade Center (History.com, 2021). Following the first attack, which was a suspected accident, another airplane hit the south tower 18 minutes later (History.com, 2021). The third airplane crashed into the west side of the Pentagon, the U.S. headquarters for the Department of Defense. Receiving news of the attacks, passengers on the fourth and final aircraft reclaimed the aircraft long enough to crash into a rural field outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania (History.com, 2021). There are 2,996 dead following the attack including: first responders, passengers, hijackers, and civilians. New York and the Pentagon continue to recover from the initial attacks. The party responsible, along with the goals of these attacks, is unknown.

Large scale acts of terror against Western nations by the terrorist group Al-Qaeda can be seen as early as 1992 with attacks on U.N. forces in Somalia planned by Osama bin Laden, the leader of the group (PBS, 2016). Other acts orchestrated by Al-Qaeda included involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing and training of attackers in the 1993 Black Hawk Helicopter Incident in Mogadishu, Somalia (PBS, 2016). The years following these events saw a rise in the Al-Qaeda terrorist network and activity of other military groups such as the Taliban, which is an Islamic militia group that rose to power in Afghanistan in 1995 (Desk, 2011). The Taliban promised peace and Islamic values to a nation facing attacks from the Soviet Union and Western involvement. These groups continued to operate and expand their influence for the decade leading up to these attacks.

Events In the Middle East Preceding September 11, 2001

Persistent Western intervention in the Middle East can be seen in the Persian Gulf war which involved Iraq’s Leader, Saddam Hussein, invading Kuwait and engaging in conflict with U.N. member states. On August 6, 1990, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 661, which imposed a ban on all trade with Iraq and called for UN member states to protect the assets of the legitimate government of Kuwait (“Persian Gulf War.”, 2022). The US-led response began a day later with troops sent to Saudi Arabia (“Persian Gulf War.”, 2022). This conflict split the Middle East with key players sympathetic to both Kuwait and Iraq. On November 29, 1990, the UN Security Council sanctioned the use of force by passing Resolution 678 if the Iraqi military did not leave Kuwait by January 15, 1991 (“Persian Gulf War.”, 2022). What ensued was a military conflict dubbed Operation Desert Storm which was led by the United States and saw participation from other U.N. member states. The two-pronged offensive beginning on February 24th and 25th lasted about 100 hours and ended with an Iraqi requested cease-fire on February 28th (“Persian Gulf War.”, 2022).

Operation Desert Storm and Western counterinsurgency destabilized relationships between the Iraqi government, the U.N., and oppressed groups of people living in Iraq (“Persian Gulf War.”, 2022). UN inspectors were tasked with ensuring that the Iraqi administration remove all weapons of mass destruction as per the terms of the peace agreement (“Persian Gulf War.”, 2022). Occasional conflict continued between remaining coalition forces and the Iraqi administration due to lack of compliance with peace treaty terms (“Persian Gulf War.”, 2022). Oppressed Islamic and ethnic groups rose in rebellion and were brutally suppressed by the Hussein administration (“Persian Gulf War.”, 2022). Political unrest continues in the region.

Though the motive for 9/11 attacks is not completely known, speculation suggests that Al-Qaeda or the Taliban may have influenced these attacks. Consistent Western presence in the Middle East since 1990 could have possibly led to an extremist fueled revolt against the country who led coalition involvement in Kuwait, the United States. Middle Eastern oil is valued and sought after by most world economies and may be a topic of contention between Middle Eastern parties who have a distaste for Western involvement in Eastern resources. The goal of the UN Security Council is to call forth a plan of action to respond to the 9/11 attacks, be it economic, political, or military.

Questions to Consider:

  1. What motive can there be for a terrorist attack against the United States?
  2. Who is responsible for these attacks?
  3. Should the response made be political, economic, or military backed?
  4. What are the views held by citizens of your country surrounding acts of terror?
  5. What laws are in place in your country surrounding terrorism and what consequences, if any, are warranted following a terrorist attack?
  6. What consequences or reactions are appropriate following acts of terror?
  7. Should the international community participate in a response, or should the United States act independently?
  8. What potential consequences can arise from another military conflict in the Middle East?
    1. Can these consequences last for an extended period of time?
    2. Will relationships be repaired or damaged?
  9. How do Middle Eastern nations feel about the conflict and any potential responses to the attacks?
  10. How have other countries been affected by American involvement and/or military action?

Resources to Consider:

GovInfo , https://www.govinfo.gov/app/details/GPO-911REPORT.

History.com Editors. “September 11 Attacks.” History.com , A&E Television Networks, 17 Feb. 2010, https://www.history.com/topics/21st-century/9-11-attacks.

“Persian Gulf War.” Encyclopædia Britannica , Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., https://www.britannica.com/event/Persian-Gulf-War.

Security Council. 1990. Resolution 661: Security Council resolution 661 (1990) [on sanctions against Iraq](6 August 1990). [Online]. S/RES/661(1990). https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/94221?ln=en#record-files-collapse-header

Security Council. 1990. Resolution 678: Security Council resolution 678 (1990) [authorizing Member States to use all necessary means to implement Security Council resolution 660 (1990) and all relevant resolutions] (29 November 1990). [Online]. S/RES/678(1990). https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/102245?ln=en

“Timeline: How 9/11 Reshaped Foreign Policy.” Council on Foreign Relations , Council on Foreign Relations, https://www.cfr.org/timeline/how-911-reshaped-foreign-policy.


Desk, News. “A Historical Timeline of Afghanistan.” PBS , Public Broadcasting Service, 4 May 2011, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/asia-jan-june11-timeline-afghanistan.

History.com Editors. “September 11 Attacks.” History.com , A&E Television Networks, 17 Feb. 2010, https://www.history.com/topics/21st-century/9-11-attacks.

“Persian Gulf War.” Encyclopædia Britannica , Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., https://www.britannica.com/event/Persian-Gulf-War.

“Timeline: Al Qaeda’s Global Context.” PBS , Public Broadcasting Service, 31 Aug. 2016, https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/timeline-al-qaedas-global-context/.