Intents of the Perpetrators
Analysis of the September 11th Attack
An analysis of the characteristics of the September 11th attack supports certain inferences about the intents of the perpetrators. Most striking is the seeming calculation to maximize the psychological impact while minimizing the (still horrific) fatalities.
The maximizing of psychological impact seems at least consistent with, if not characteristic of, terrorist incidents of the kind attributed to Muslim extremists before September 11th. However, no such previous incident even came close to inflicting the level of psychological damage wrought by the September 11th attack. Previous attacks attributed to the Al Qaeda network targeted only military equipment and personnel deployed in Middle Eastern countries with large Muslim populations. The attack on New York City and the Pentagon using hijacked jetliners flown long distances in open defiance of the United States' air defense network would represent a quantum leap in the capabilities of the organization.
The minimizing of fatalities is even more difficult to reconcile with the understood goals of an organization such as Al Qaeda. Why would zealots calling the United States the "Great Satan" make such painstaking efforts to lower the death toll?