Sept. 11, 2001: The Impact on America Two Years Later




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Two years after the worst-ever terrorist attacks against the United States, Professor Robert Gerace of Rochester Institute of Technology, a counter-terrorism expert, looks at the cost of and impact from the attacks on America.

Aside from funding living expenses and flying lessons for 19 airline hijackers, the Sept. 11 attacks were relatively low cost for al Qaeda, the terrorist group suspected of plotting the attacks. In contrast, the cost to and impact on American lives, the U.S. economy and property was massive:

  • The World Trade Center: billions of dollars in lost real estate value
  • The Pentagon: millions of dollars for repairs
  • Airline industry: millions of dollars for more secure cockpit doors and baggage screening, and decreased revenue from some passengers’ fear of flying and choosing alternative means of travel; additional negative impacts on hospitality and tourism
  • Insurance industry: impacts from the loss of the towers, business losses, life insurance claims and workers’ compensation claims for those injured; some insurance companies now charge substantial premiums for coverage for terrorist acts
  • Threat analysis: terrorism isn’t only a big-city concern—vulnerable targets include water-supply systems, petroleum refineries, nuclear power plants, electricity grids and soft targets such as hospitals, schools, shopping malls and office buildings. In addition to chemical, biological and nuclear attacks, threats now also include dirty bombs, conventional explosive devices costing less than $100, cyber-terrorism and food-chain poisoning—the possibilities available to terrorists are almost limitless.

    Robert Gerace is an adjunct professor at of environmental management and safety at Rochester Institute of Technology. He instructs a counter-terrorism course that identifies potential targets within communities, assesses the threat of chemical, nuclear and biological agents, identifies known international and domestic terrorist organizations, and studies the history of terrorism and its political use as a form of asymmetric warfare.

    Gerace is a retired captain in the U.S. Naval Reserve Intelligence Program with over 27 years in the collection, analysis and production of intelligence information. He completed the U.S. Naval War College’s Graduate School program in National Defense and Strategic Decision Making.

    To speak with Professor Gerace, contact Michael Saffran at 585-475-5697 or mjsuns@rit.edu.