Where next? Jittery US prepares for fresh attacks

As the first anniversary of 11 September approaches, Americans are wrestling with different emotions. No one argues that the day should go unmarked. But many wish it were already past. They feel overloaded by media images of that awful day. And now, some will feel nervous too.

So shattered were the nerves of this country after the Pentagon was torn open and New York'stwin towers turned to dust, anxiety that some fresh attack could occur is never far away – and many, including the federal government, believe that 11 September is the day that terrorists may want to strike again.

The news from Sweden, where a man of Tunisian origin was arrested on Thursday with a pistol in his luggage, is helping to stoke the unease.

While the investigation into the Ryanair passenger continues, one fact is certain to unsettle ordinary citizens in this country. Officials have discovered that he took pilot training at a flying school in the United States of the type that gave the September 11 terrorists the skills to take control of four passenger jets and turn them into deadly missiles with human passengers as their warheads.

No wonder officials expect many ordinary Americans to stay at home on Wednesday week. Some schools in Manhattan will be closed. Commuters will be loath to board crowded trains and buses. Travellers will surely stay away from aeroplanes.

One US carrier, Spirit Airlines, has already declared that all tickets on its routes that day will be free. It is partly a gesture to the heroes of last September, partly recognition that without the give-away, the seats on their planes would remain largely empty. Other airlines are slashing their schedules.

In a surprising blunder, the Pentagon fuelled the public disquiet last week by announcing plans to ban international airlines from flying in and out of the New York City and Washington DC areas on the anniversary, as well as in airspace above Pennsylvania, where a fourth airliner crashed en route to an as yet unknown target.

The White House scotched the idea when foreign airlines arose as one in a chorus of irritation: the government feared such a ban would shake America's confidence all over again. But the damage was done.

The memories of 9/11 prompt a feeling that that day, followed as it was by recession, financial scandals and stock market collapse, ushered in a dark period in modern US history. Not even the unexpected resolution on Friday of the baseball dispute has done much to raise national spirits.

The initial tide of patriotism unleashed by the attacks, culminating in the glorious 2001 World Series, has ebbed. The forest of US flags that sprouted from homes, gardens, cars and office buildings has largely withered.

Many people secretly plead for restraint in marking the anniversary, arguing that the scenes are etched on everyone's minds, and that endless repeats of them will amount to a pornography of horror. But covert or overt, American commercialism will out.

Alarmism, meanwhile, has been fuelled by the scaremongering of an administration terrified that it might ever be accused of not being alert to the perils facing the country. Hence the stream of warnings of attacks against nuclear power stations banks, hospital buildings – all of which have proved groundless.

Last week, Newark's airport was renamed Liberty International – Flight UA93 took off from Newark on 11 September before being hijacked over Ohio and aimed at Washington. The heroism of its passengers caused it to crash in rural Pennsylvania, preventing a direct hit on the White House or the Capitol.

Meanwhile the arrests of six people in Detroit and rural Oregon for suspected links with al-Qa'ida has only confirmed the belief that terrorist cells still exist within the US, and a leaked United Nations report asserts that al-Qa'ida still has more than enough financial resources to carry out its deadly work.

Given the precautions being taken here, attacks against US targets, staged to coincide with the anniversary, are more likely abroad.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
news
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Sport
sport
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all