TODAY is exactly two decades after the terror attacks on the United States on 11 September, 2001. That morning, Al-Qaeda-affiliated hijackers flew two Boeing 767 jets into the Twin Towers within minutes of each other; less than two hours later, both buildings collapsed. The attacks killed 2,606 people in and within the vicinity of the Towers, as well as all 157 on board the two aircraft.
In the aftermath, US President at the time George W Bush, launched a ‘War on Terror’ backed by the then UK Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The US ‘War on Terror’ has taken almost one million lives across the globe and has cost the country $8 trillion over the past two decades.
Following the 2001 September 11 attack, Bush demanded that the Taliban, then ruling Afghanistan, hand over Osama bin Laden. The US used this as a pretext to bomb Afghanistan, invade and occupy.
How the mighty have fallen! Twenty years later UK forces, along with US and German forces, have been humiliated and driven out in a struggle led by the Taliban. The country has finally been liberated from foreign occupiers.
In March 2003, the ‘Shock and Awe’ campaign was begun to destroy Iraq, and seize its oil resources. This was organised by Bush and Blair on the basis that the attack on the Twin Towers, and the ‘War on Terror’ provided a golden opportunity to attack Iraq, and seize its oil wealth – despite the fact that its secular leadership was completely opposed to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
As a consequence, over one million Iraqis have been slaughtered, four million turned into refugees, and the infrastructure of the country destroyed.
In the wake of the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 almost 800 men were captured, many of them with the help of bounty hunters. President Bush decided to create a detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, a strip of US territory on the island of Cuba.
Some were captured in Afghanistan, others were found in northern Pakistan or even further afield and handed over by bounty hunters who were promised $5,000 a head. The White House did not want to bring them back to the US where they would be entitled to lawyers and other basic human rights.
Instead, it used ‘extraordinary rendition’ to fly the detainees to various secret ‘black sites’ in friendly countries like Egypt, Morocco and Poland.
There they were tortured.
A secret Department of Justice memo in 2002 listed several so-called ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ which it approved – sleep deprivation, face slapping, wall standing, insects placed in confinement box, and waterboarding, in which a piece of cloth is held over the face and water poured over it to induce a feeling of drowning.
In 2018 President Trump, who freed just one detainee from Guantanamo in his four years in office, signed an executive order to keep it open and ordered the Pentagon to ‘re-examine’ military detention policy.
But today there are still 39 detainees at Guantanamo.
They include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was captured by Pakistani police in Rawalpindi in 2003.
In 2011, Jason Wright was hired to be Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s military public defender, and he told Netflix’s Turning Point documentary his client had been waterboarded 183 times and subjected to 180 hours of sleep deprivation.
Campaigning charity Reprieve said: ‘Guantanamo Bay is an illegal prison camp that should never have existed. Yet it remains open to this day. 39 men are still held there, 28 without charge or trial.
‘Since it was opened in 2002, nearly 800 men have been held at Guantanamo. All were subject to extraordinary rendition and many were tortured at CIA-run black sites around the world – often with the complicity of US allies, including the UK.
‘Reprieve is keeping up the fight to free the men who remain in Guantanamo, and to close the prison camp for good.’
Workers in the US must rise up in mass strike action to bring down US capitalism and shut down Guantanamo Bay! Workers in the UK must demand that the TUC act by putting an end to this Tory government and bring in a workers’ government and socialism. The only way to put an end to imperialist war is to put an end to capitalism itself.
Now is the time for the working class to organise the socialist revolution to put an end to British capitalism, and to put its criminal ruling class and military behind bars!