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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Voices
Ukip leader Nigel Farage arrives at the Rochester by-election count
voicesIs it any wonder that Thornberry, Miliband, and Cameron have no idea about ordinary everyday life?
Sport
sportComment: Win or lose Hamilton represents the best of Britain
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Arsene Wenger reacts during Arsenal's 2-1 defeat to Swansea
footballMan United and Arsenal meet on Saturday with both clubs this time languishing outside the top four
News
i100BBC political editor Nick Robinson had a lot of explaining to do
Life and Style
Nappies could have advice on them to encourage mothers and fathers to talk to their babies more often
newsTalking to babies can improve their language and vocabulary skills
Sport
Tony Bellew holds two inflatable plastic sheep at the weigh-in for his rematch with Nathan Cleverly
boxingGrudge match takes place on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Ronson at PS1
arts + ents
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

Recruitment Genius: Female Support Workers / Carers - From £8.00 per hour

£8 - £12 per hour: Recruitment Genius: To assist a young family with the care ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Executive is required...

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager

£55000 - £70000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world lead...

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world leading services pr...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines