Aftermath of an attack

This Wednesday marks the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001.

Nineteen al-Qaida infiltrators hijacked four commercial airliners, slamming two into the towers of the World Trade Center in New York and another into the Pentagon. The fourth plane crashed in Shanksville, Pa., when passengers overpowered the men who commandeered their flight.

Today and Sunday, we will reflect on the aftermath of the worst attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor. On Tuesday, we will rerun the editorial that appeared in The Maui News on Sept. 12, 2001 — the day after the attack.

While 2,996 people died and over 6,000 were injured on 9/11, thousands more of our fellow citizens have fought (and continue to fight) in a series of wars in the Middle East in the years since.

Those battles have doubtless played a role in the spread of terrorism to Northern Africa as well as regime changes there that have left the area destabilized.

Syria has declared war on its own people, creating a refugee crisis of enormous dimensions. Al-Qaida has seemingly morphed into the Islamic State, and its quest for a permanent and expanding caliphate promises to keep the region in turmoil for decades to come. ISIS uses brutal videos of beheadings and mass executions for recruitment purposes.

Abroad, ISIS backs and stages terrorist attacks and urges “lone wolves” to slaughter the innocent.

Here in the United States, this last bitter decade-and-a-half has paralyzed and polarized our political process. The country needs leaders that will restore the confidence and optimism of its citizenry.

Tomorrow: Anniversary of sadness

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.