Today marks the 17th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that shook the world. The fight against terrorism entered a new phase after the tragic events of Sept. 11, which dramatically changed the world forever. The threats and challenges of international terrorism have taken on a more sinister shape since and the rapid rate at which they are increasing continues to demand a collective response. Terrorism is a threat to all states and to all peoples and can strike anytime, anywhere. Therefore, many countries have, and continue, to sacrifice a lot in the fight against global terrorism. During the Sept. 11 attacks on New York, at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania nearly 3,000 people died, triggering the U.S.-led global war on terrorism as George W. Bush’s administration vowed to eradicate Al-Qaeda’s infrastructure for turning hijacked planes into weapons against the U.S. homeland. Much of Al-Qaeda’s infrastructure was destroyed by the U.S. and its allies in the years after 9/11, and the organization’s founder, Osama bin Laden, was killed by U.S. special forces in 2011.
Azerbaijan always fully supported international efforts in combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations irrespective of political, economic, religious and other motives. Immediately after the 9/11 tragedy Azerbaijan joined, and fully and unconditionally supported, the international anti-terrorist coalition and continues to play a key role. Swiftly responding to calls of the international community, Azerbaijan opened its airspace and airports to be used by the anti-terrorist coalition in the fight against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. It is no exaggeration to say that Azerbaijan -- together with Georgia -- has been a vital transport route for transporting U.S. and NATO troops as well as supplies to Afghanistan. The country has also played an important role on the ground. It has sent some 94 soldiers to Afghanistan -- many more than some much larger NATO member states -- and has offered humanitarian assistance, including engineers and doctors.
At a number of international meetings Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev reiterated that Azerbaijan supports the consolidation of efforts for combating international terrorism. Azerbaijan has been a victim of terror itself. Just in the years of independence, Armenian terrorist organizations which work under the leadership of state bodies have carried out more than 30 terrorist attacks against Azerbaijan, in which more than 2,000 people were killed. These acts of terror are a part of Armenia's aggressive policy towards Azerbaijan. The Armenian armed forces committed an act of genocide against the civilian population of Khojaly in February 1992. As a result of this genocide, 613 innocent people were killed. Today, over 10 countries have officially recognized the Khojaly massacre as an act of genocide.