US President George W Bush promised to defeat al-Qaeda and other groups after the attacks on New York and the Pentagon.
Ever since the United States declared a so-called global “war on terror” in response to the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, the mission and goals of the effort have gone through many iterations as the level and scope of the threat changed over the decades.
“Our war on terror begins with al-Qaeda, but it does not end there,” former US President George W Bush told Congress days after the attacks, on September 20, 2001. “It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”
Twenty years later, after two US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that killed tens of thousands of civilians, and trillions of dollars spent, the threat of attacks on the US still looms, although it looks different than it did in 2001. The power of groups that utilise mass killings as a tactic around the world has waxed and waned since. The goal of national powers to eradicate them completely remains unfulfilled.
Organisations with the power to launch a successful attack on US soil like that of al-Qaeda on 9/11 may have been reduced, splintered or weakened, but groups with similar ideological sympathies have spread to other parts of the globe, particularly in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.