9/11 retrospective: Why it's called terrorism

Rob Shaul, editor and publisher of the Roundup on Sept. 11, 2001
Posted 9/9/21

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the Roundup has published columns from its Sept. 13, 2001, edition. This is from Rob Shaul, editor and publisher of the Roundup at the time.

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9/11 retrospective: Why it's called terrorism


Like most people, I was shocked and unbelieving at Tuesday’s terrorist attack in New York and Washington, D.C.

I actually spent most of Monday on commercial airliners flying back to Wyoming from Wisconsin. In the various airports, I took note of how unenthusiastic and lackadaisical the security personnel manning the metal detectors were. I actually saw one of them sleeping at his metal detector monitor!

Upon learning that the terrorists hijacked the four airplanes using just knives and box cutters Tuesday, I felt incredibly uneasy at how vulnerable I was just the day before. It easily could have been my plane that had been hijacked and turned into a missile.

Tuesday afternoon, I gathered the staff together to brainstorm how we would cover the attack’s impact here in Sublette County. One of the ladies who works for the paper, Tanya Elliott, listened to the news reports of the attack on her way to work Tuesday morning. She said the news made her hesitant to drop off her 3-year-old son, Tanner, at daycare. She was scared.

Likewise, Joyce Bohm said the news made her want to turn her car around and drive back to Big Piney to get her two sons out of school.

My own sense of vulnerability, and the motherly uneasiness felt by Tanya and Joyce drove home for me how effective Tuesday’s attack was.

I’m confident we’ll make the people who did this pay, probably with their lives. And I know that security at airports will be increased so it will be more difficult to hijack an airplane. And as always, Americans will rally and work together to face this threat.

But there’s one truth that the terrorists know. It is impossible to defend against a terrorist attack in a free society. As long as this is America, we’ll be vulnerable to terrorism.

Tuesday, the terrorists showed us just how vulnerable we are. The goal of their attack was to make Americans feel terror. They achieved their goal.