& Terms in
Fasttrack to America's Past
Section 9: A New Millennium
attacks - a widely used term for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the
World Trade Center towers in New York City and the Pentagon building
outside Washington, D.C. Hijackers from the Middle East crashed
loaded with fuel into the buildings, destroying the majestic towers and
badly damaging the Pentagon. A jetliner crash in Pennsylvania
occurred as passengers attempted to stop hijackers on that plane was
part of the day's tragic events. The hijackers were all followers
of a fanatical version of Islam led by Osama bin Laden, who preached a
jihad, or holy war, against the U.S.
The attacks killed more than 3,000 people, and prompted the U.S. to declare a war on terrorism. The days after 9/11 also saw a remarkable burst of pride nationwide for the heroic actions of rescue workers in the burning buildings.
bin Laden, Osama - a radical Islamic leader in the
terrorists responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World
Center in New York City and on the Pentagon building just outside
George W. - elected president in 2000, he is the son of President
H.W. Bush and is a former governor of Texas.
Iraq War - the invasion of Iraq by the U.S. and allied countries that started in 2003 with the goal of ending the rule of its brutal dictator Saddam Hussein. Based on intelligence reports, many American leaders believed Hussein was providing help to terrorists, and that his military was developing weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). Hussein's government was quickly overthrown, he was captured, and was executed several years later by the new Iraq government.
No clear evidence of a large scale WMD program was discovered in Iraq, however, leading some critics of the war to argue that the invasion was based on false information.
American troops helped run the first elections held in Iraq in many decades, and there were high hopes that the war would end with the establishment of a new, peaceful democracy. That hope was dashed as various Islamic groups within Iraq, harboring long-held hatreds, began terrorizing each other in a struggle for power and revenge.
A "surge" of American troops in 2007 helped bring the situation under better control. President Obama, following his campaign pledge, ordered U.S. troops to begin withdrawing. By the end of 2011, all U.S. troops were out. Some American military experts, however, criticized the withdrawal as unwise. As they correctly predicted, the weakness of Iraq's own army made it possible for a new terrorist organization called ISIS or ISL to begin taking over parts of the country in 2014. By the middle of the next year, President Obama agreed to allow the U.S. military to make limited air strikes against the organization's fighters.
Islam - a religion that emerged in the Middle East in the 7th century, and which today includes over 1.5 billion followers worldwide. Its followers are called Muslims. Islam's sacred book is called the Koran (also Qur'an). According to believers, the Koran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in the early 600s by God acting through an angel named Gabriel. Muslims consider that it is the final and complete revelation of God, who is called Allah in the Arabic language.
jihad - in the religion of Islam, this term that can have several meanings. It is often used to mean the duty of believers to struggle within themselves to live a good and proper religious life. It can also be used to refer to a struggle to spread the religion, or a struggle against enemies of the religion. As a result of the rise of terrorism rooted in radical Islamic beliefs, however, the term is often translated or understood in that context as meaning "holy war" against non-believers.
Obama, Barack - a former community organizer, law professor, and U.S. Senator who was elected in 2008 as the country's first African American president. With a campaign slogan of "Hope and Change," the Democratic Party candidate inspired many voters who were angry about an economic downturn and rising unemployment. He also pledged to work to reduce tensions with groups in the Middle East, and said he would move quickly to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As president, Obama pushed for a much greater role for the federal government in providing health insurance. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is generally known as "Obamacare," and was passed by Congress in 2010 after intense political pressure from the president and his supporters. The program is intended to make it easier for low-income families to obtain health insurance, but his critics argued that the plan would make medical care more expensive in the long run.
In the Middle East, President Obama withdrew U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011. Peace was not long-lasting in that country, however. With American troops gone, a radical Islamic organization called ISIS or ISL began taking over and terrorizing parts of Iraq and parts of nearby countries in 2014. As the situation grew worse, the president agreed to a limited role for American air strikes against the organization's fighters.
Pentagon - the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense, just outside Washington, D.C., in the Northern Virginia suburb of Arlington. The Pentagon was hit by one of the jetliners hijacked by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001, killing more than a hundred people inside. Many thousands more would have died, but because of renovation work, most employees who normally worked in the area of the building that was hit were working in other areas.
World Trade Center
- a group of office buildings in New York City, including the two
towers that were hit by terrorists who crashed jetliners into them on
Sept. 11, 2001. The two buildings
collapsed shortly after the hijacked planes hit them. Over 2,600
in or near the buildings were killed. Thousands of others managed
to get out before the buildings fell. City officials quickly
declared that they would
build a new, even more spectacular building on the site. The new
building, called One World Trade Center, opened for business in 2014.
Copyright 2015 by David Burns. All rights reserved.