Earlier this month we paid tribute to the 10th anniversary of the Bali Bombings, claimed as the deadliest act of terrorism in the history of Indonesia, killing 202 people. Even though I was not living in Australia at the time, I remember the news reports back in the UK and how it was a direct retaliation for support of the United States’ war on terror and Australia’s role in the liberation of East Timor.

Upon moving to Brisbane a year later, the effects of the bombings were still fresh and raw to see and hear.

Whilst there have been numerous debates about how political leaders have made mileage from this tragedy as over 20 nations were directly affected, a significant outcome of the Bali bombings has been a strengthening in Australian-Indonesian relations. Ten years ago the political links between Australia and Indonesia were relatively poor, yet today ties are far more robust and even the tourism figures of holiday makers returning to Bali are higher than those prior to 2002.

9/11 was plotted and planned out 5 years prior to the 2001 attacks upon the United States; I think we all remember the destruction of the twin towers and the subsequent events that unfolded and the death of almost 3,000 people and twice that number injured.

Had it stopped there, could we have begun to move on and have rejected claims that 9/11 changed everything? Sadly the lives lost that day were just the beginning.

The consequences of the 9/11 attacks, and our reactions to them, continue to ripple through communities around the world. Diligent intelligence work has helped prevent further attacks in the US and has thwarted numerous attempted attacks across the UK, Europe and even Australia. But Al Qaeda and the ideas associated with Al Qaeda have not gone away and lives continue to be lost at an alarming rate.

Terrorism works through asymmetrical force. It is less concerned with violence and terror for its own sake than it is in provoking an angry response. It is clear that Al Qaeda intended to provoke America and its allies into going into Afghanistan. It drained the military, financial, moral and political resources of the Western powers caught up in the joint military operation.

So are we safer 11 years on from 9/11? We do have much to be grateful for, there is much that has been achieved, most of it not by military means but by intelligence and cooperation with vulnerable communities. Nevertheless, it is very hard to say with any certainty that we are safer.

Personally to me, which was pretty insignificant considering, was postponing a shopping trip to New York which was booked for a week after 9/11 happened. Business wise though, the publishing company I worked for at the time lost valued employees working in the Trade Centre and immediate ramifications were felt within our London office.

It leaves the question……what ramifications have these two major events had on Australia and in your own work and personal lives?

Claire Frith – Consultant

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