Persistent Ideology, Persistent Threat
Bin Laden’s beliefs persist, and al-Qaeda and its network of affiliates remain a threat.
Al-Qaeda sought to promote Osama bin Laden’s legacy after his death, maintaining his belief in violence against the United States.
Al-Qaeda and its network of affiliates remain a threat. The Islamic State, a terrorist group that split from al-Qaeda in 2014, actively promotes terror attacks globally. Meanwhile, some lone actors, inspired by bin Laden and online propaganda aligned with his views, carry out their own terrorist plots.
What we are facing is a much more difficult, in some ways, terrorism challenge, in that that lone actor, those individuals, don’t necessarily have those direct connections to a terrorist group. And so it’s a lot harder in many ways for law enforcement to identify who those guys are and what they might do. —Nicholas Rasmussen, Senior Director for Counterterrorism, National Security Council (2007–2014)
On September 17, 2016, lone actor Ahmad Khan Rahimi planted homemade explosives in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood and multiple sites in nearby New Jersey. The bombs that detonated injured more than 30 people. When Linden (New Jersey) Police Department officers captured Rahimi days later, he was carrying a journal with entries citing Osama bin Laden as an inspiration. The journal was bloodied in the firefight that preceded Rahimi’s arrest.
In 2018, a federal court sentenced Rahimi to life imprisonment. The state of New Jersey, which is holding Rahimi’s journal as trial evidence, charged him separately.
Worldwide, people are living with the daily threat of terrorism. Terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State continue to launch attacks globally in locations ranging from New York City and Paris, France, to Mogadishu, Somalia, and Surabaya, Indonesia. Additionally, lone actors, often motivated by online propaganda, enact their own plots.
Reflecting on 9/11: An Ongoing Threat
Visitors to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum are invited to record their reflections on 9/11 and other terror attacks at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. A selection of these recordings are included below. In these videos, visitors discuss their concern about the threat of terrorist attacks, the unity and compassion witnessed after these attacks, and military enlistment or public service as a response to terrorism.