chapter  6
39 Pages

September 11 attacks

The September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC) and the Pentagon provide a unique opportunity to assess the social-political and psychological consequences of a mass-casualty, conventional terrorist incident on a nation. In all 2,819 lives were lost in the WTC, 125 in the Pentagon and 246 on the four hijacked airliners.1 The attacks of September 11 (9/11) marked a watershed in terrorism. They formed arguably the most dramatic attack ever undertaken. To America, September 11 was comparable to Pearl Harbor in 1941. A significant amount of literature exists on this episode, including on the short-and long-term psychological effects. As most of the studies on 9/11 have focused on the attacks on New York rather than the Pentagon, this chapter will primarily explore the New York component with emphasis on New York City (NYC).2 Risk analysis has covered 9/11 in some detail from the handling of risk communication by the former mayor, Rudy Giuliani, with respect to those in NYC, and more broadly through President George W. Bush’s response. This chapter is divided into the following sections:

• Background • Strategic and political objectives • Overview of the attacks • Political effects • Effects of proximity and time • Changes in behaviour and attitude • Risk communication • Risk perception • Risk amplification.