Remembering the Day the World Changed

11/09/2012 16:07 BST | Updated 10/11/2012 10:12 GMT

11 years ago the world changed forever. On the 11th of September, 2001, four coordinated suicide attacks took place, carried out on US soil by terror group Al-Qaeda.

No doubt, year by year, we should remember those 3,000 that died, and their families. We should also look to remember the man who masterminded those attacks - the deceased leader of the group responsible for the attacks.

Clearly not for the same reason. Remembering Osama bin Laden allows us to come ever closer to understanding evil (possibly an impossible mission), in the same way that to remember and learn of Hitler keeps us diligent to the depravity of life at its most baneful.

With words we cannot fully express, but try we must.

Bin Laden was laying down his plans for war at a time when many "Arab Jihadists" - such as al-Qaeda, Gamaat al-Jihad, Gamaat Islamiyya, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM) - were restructuring their position in Afghanistan, after the defeats they endured in the nineties throughout the Middle East.

After preparing attacks on America in 2000, al-Qaeda knew America would have capabilities to destroy the Taliban's governmental institutions - which were acting as host to Bin Laden's motley crew. In advance, Mohammed Atef, the third highest ranking member of al-Qaeda, had sought after weapons of mass destruction to protect Afghanistan.

It was bin Laden's pipe dream that acquiring WMDs would have deterred the US from retaliating, securing the start to a victory for the Saudi and his group. However the acquisition didn't go to plan. Accepting defeat at this first hurdle, al-Qaeda tried to send a message, through a reporter in Afghanistan trying to make his "media break", to the US saying they were in possession of WMDs.

This, too, proved unsuccessful, the likelihood being that US intelligence simply didn't believe bin Laden. Instead the American representatives in Afghanistan asked the Taliban to hand over bin Laden for trial, a favour they did not succumb to citing the illegality of handing over a Muslim to non-Muslims under Islamic law.

After experiencing setback after setback - the death of a leader in the Gamaat Islamiyya, Mohammed Khalil al-Hakaima, who fronted the "al-Qaeda in the land of Egypt" project; the collapse of the jihad against the Americans in Iraq - the former leader of the militant Jihadists Libyan Islamic Fighting Group Noman Benotman said that al-Qaeda did not want to establish a caliphate in Afghanistan, and were merely acting as a defense against the occupation - a clear back step on their more global plans.

Though "bin Ladenism" (a term used by the late Christopher Hitchens) was destined to fail, this doesn't mean it is not dangerous, particularly in its teachings of young, mainly uneducated men. Its overall goal is to engage in a global war, which it hopes to do with coordination from a central command, possibly in Warziristan (NW Pakistan), branches at a regional level and with help from sympathisers around the world. It is imperialist in character.

Realistically we know that, with bin Laden's death, his form of political radicalism did not die. Its adherents do live on. This is sad. And, hard as it is, we must be brave and accept this is the case, even on sad days in remembrance. However - and I don't say this as consolation - Osama bin Laden died a failure, reduced to watching re-runs of himself delivering propaganda speeches exploiting young, angry men into thinking that fighting the jihad was the solution to all life's ills. He was wrong. Part of our mourning should be to remember that.