I was a newly hired editorial assistant at Security Management when the July 1993 issue landed on my desk. The cover story that month claimed that the United States was in danger from a small but dedicated group of extremists. “The Islamic Connection” by Robert M. Jenkins argued that both legal and illegal aliens from these groups could attack the United States. “Despite the recent predictions of many pundits that the age of terrorism is over, security professionals and their programs will likely continue to be confronted with Islamic terrorism and its repercussions that may become more deadly and sophisticated in the future,” Jenkins concluded. Staff discussions centered on whether the topic was relevant to corporate security.
Eight years later, on September 11, 2001, Islamic terrorists claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 people, making that day one of the most relevant, and painful, entries in our “60 Years, 60 Milestones” countdown.
Few industries can claim a true watershed moment. When terrorists flew passenger airliners into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the world changed for millions around the globe, shattering the sense of safety they had taken for granted. But for security professionals, that feeling was magnified.
The industry suffered its own losses that day. Thirty-three members of the security industry perished when the towers collapsed. They died upholding the highest ideals of their profession. (Visit our website for more information on the ASIS members who died on 9-11.)
The other four milestones this month resulted from 9-11. Eleven days after the September 11 attacks, the new U.S. Office of Homeland Security was tasked with developing a strategy to protect the country from future terrorist attacks. In November 2002, Congress formally established the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a cabinet-level department.
One of the first duties of the new department was to improve security procedures at airports. Those procedures have, at times, been contentious and complicated as they evolved to meet new threats from shoe bombs to liquid explosives.
After the attacks, the global effects of 9-11 emerged, including widespread surveillance and related privacy concerns. Nations from around the world also found themselves embroiled in conflicts with ramifications on international security programs.
The ensuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, led by the United States, drew a new breed of fighter. Not quite a soldier but not quite a contractor either. These private military forces make up 29 percent of the workforce in the U.S. Intelligence Community and cost the equivalent of 49 percent of their personnel budgets, according to a 2008 study by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
For many corporate security managers, terrorism concerns now shape their daily routines. In a matter of hours, the events of 9-11 changed everything.