Lesson plans created by educators at the newly opened National September 11 Memorial & Museum examine terrorist attacks that took place before and after Sept. 11, 2001: the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, the attack on the USS Cole in 2000, bombings in Madrid in 2004 and London in 2005. “The events of September 11, 2001, are part of an ongoing story that began well before that late summer morning when 19 hijackers seized control of four commercial airplanes and crashed them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania,” according to the museum’s website. “As we work to build a national institution dedicated to memorializing those killed in the attacks of 2001 and 1993, preserving the history, and helping visitors to understand its evolving significance, this series will provide information aimed at demonstrating how 9/11 exists within the context of a continuing global story, of which other related terrorist attacks are also a part.”
That global story not only continues, but lately dominates the news. The brutal terrorist group known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, has seized territory in Iraq and Syria and last week beheaded a second journalist, the Jewish-American Steven Sotloff. In a carefully calculated media campaign, it boasts of killing innocent worshipers in mosques, systematic and intentional attacks on civilians, and the vicious persecution of Iraq’s religious minorities.
The rise of ISIL means that America must once again consider its military options, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks pitched America into a Middle East conflagration it cannot seem to escape. President Obama has sought to avoid further entanglement, but he may have no choice. Critics are demanding that America counter ISIL in Iraq and Syria while enlisting Sunni tribes and Arab states in an effort that, in the words of Dennis Ross, “can only add to the legitimacy of the campaign against ISIL.”
The “continuing global story” of Islamist terror demands an international response, led by a superpower that understands the consequences of complacency.