Dear God, is it really 15 years since Islamic maniacs flew two airliners into the buildings of the World Trade Center killing almost 3000 people?

Is it that long since others nosedived a plane into the Pentagon and the passengers on a fourth hijacked flight fought back and they, together with the terrorists, died in a Pennsylvania field?

September 11, 2001, is a date that will live long in memories around the globe, not only for the horrendous death toll but the astounding images of planes slicing into some of the tallest man-made structures on Earth.

Not once, but twice within an hour.


Around this time every year our screens are opened to some of the most chilling and heart-wrenching sights and sounds from that day as New Yorkers and Americans were left stunned and grieving by the audacity of Osama Bin Laden's plot.

Even now those images have unimaginable power. As a photojournalist I would have loved to have been in New York on that day. Not through any desire to make money from the tragedy, but one of using my skills to document a day like no other.

Never before had such violence been brought to the Land of the Free and, as a nation, most Americans did not know what to do. They were too shocked.

Some did, of course.

The New York Fire Department kicked into well-drilled emergency mode and sent its brave officers off to the World Trade Center to help do what they could.

The documentary 9/11 by French cameramen Jules and Gedeon Naudet followed the firies' professionalism from firehouse door to millions of tonnes of concrete and tower debris falling on to the area in which they were filming, forever showing the terrifying ordeal the officers and other rescuers went through.

More than 340 firemen were killed when the Twin Towers collapsed, along with 71 law enforcement officers.

When my American lady said: "It's been 15 years" I initially didn't quite get what she was saying. Then it clicked. That was the shocking part.

How the world has changed over the past decade-and-a-half.

And, as she added later: "The terrorists won."

I agreed. Bin Laden's mob knew a strike on American soil would send shockwaves through that land, but I'm certain they could never have dreamed of the aftermath of its success.

And let's look at the legacy of 9/11.

Air travel has become a nightmare. Paying passengers have to check in three hours before their flight, have to queue up for security checks, and are treated in a fashion that even prisoners in jail would not have to tolerate.

And around the planet people's rights have been utterly overruled by the feral need of governments to "protect their citizens". I wonder if we need so much protection from terrorists, or if we need to be saved from governments whose Big Brother information collection intrudes into every part of our lives.

My concerns are nothing, however, when compared to those poor people whose lives, homes, families and countries have been destroyed by the idiotic path America went down post 9/11.

Led by George "Dubya" Bush America went all out to defeat terrorism.

In his stupidity, Bush declared war on terror.

Who, in their right mind, would try to use conventional military power against small groups of terrorists when the only way to beat them is to infiltrate them, isolate them from local communities and kill them using special operatives.

Bush should have taken advice from the Israelis.

But he didn't and invaded Afghanistan, then Iraq, then executed Saddam Hussein and opened up the entire Middle East to hardline Muslim states such as Iran to spread their anti-Western ideology.

From the chaos and civil war in Iraq, left by the Hussein vacuum, al-Qaeda grew stronger and we saw the formation of Isis.

Along the way Libya, Iraq and Syria have been ravaged by civil war, while Egypt is now under secular military control. The Kurds, who bravely and successfully fought off Isis when no others could, have been sidelined by America and the Turks are hovering on their territorial borders ready to squash any hopes they have of their own homeland.

Only God knows the true cost - in lives - of Bush's stupidity but it has to be nearing one million people.

The face of the Middle East has been changed, as has Europe where more than one million refugees have fled from the chaos at home.

Looking at 9/11 15 years on, I can say Osama Bin Laden and terrorists everywhere have won and everyday people in almost every country on Earth have lost.

Richard Moore is an award-winning Western Bay journalist and photographer.