9/11 responses ‘changed the world’

By Phil Scullion

Government responses to terrorism have had a bigger effect on society than the terrorist acts themselves, according to a leading academic.

The argument will be put forward today by Professor Richard English, an expert in terrorism from the University of St Andrews, at an event in London.

Academics are gathering to examine the effect of 9/11 upon law, culture and attitudes in the UK ten years on.

Prof English will say: "In so far as things have changed, is it probably responses to terrorism, rather than 9/11 itself, which have really made the difference.

"Despite the awfulness of the attacks in 2001, arguably the main change has been that the USA and its allies engaged in policies which did change the world, far more than the terrorism itself would have done."

He will add that 9/11 did not result in an era of "mass casualty terrorism", but instead refocused attention on pre-existing conflicts in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

Leading figures in the field will also consider the feasibility of bringing an end to al-Qaida and international terrorism and the relationship between civil liberties, human rights and counter-terrorism.

Specifically this will hold relevance in terms of detention without trial and the use of torture in combating terrorism.