Terrorism and America
From the Anarchists to 9/11 and Beyond
- Dr Bryn Willcock
15th September 2019
Few Americans are aware of the reasons why visitors are prevented from having access to the torch of the Statue of Liberty. Access to the torch ended in 1916 as a result of a massive terrorist bomb in New York. The attack was traced to Germany, anxious to keep the USA out of the First World War - and West Germany paid reparations for this attack until 1979.
In reality, terrorism has been part of American life since its founding, but early terrorist activity increased dramatically from 1865, especially during the anarchist era from the 1880s, an era that culminated in the deadly Wall Street attack of 1920. Terrorist threats rose again from the 1950s, reaching a peak in the 1970s, when Americans experienced almost daily terrorist attacks. During the 1960s, the US faced increasing external threats to security as hijackings, kidnappings and bomb attacks became almost commonplace. Hijackings from America to Cuba became so frequent that some pilots took to carrying a map of Havana’s José Martí Airport.
From the 1970s, America linked terrorism to ‘rogue states’ such as North Korea, Iran, Libya and later Iraq, with Ronald Reagan both connecting terrorism to the Soviet Union and moving it to the top of his political agenda in 1985. By the 1990s, terrorist attacks against America had dramatically reduced. However, those that did take place were increasingly deadly, as seen with the World Trade Center bombing (1993), the Oklahoma bombing (1995) and the attack on the USS Cole(2000). With the historical linkages to terrorism addressed, the author places the tragic events of 9/11 into context and looks at the events of that day and their impact on America, both at home and overseas.