Crime is a part of society. It is a sad but all-too-true fact of life. Of course, the severity and nature of crime vary greatly. Nonetheless, it exists in every society and culture in one form or another. In fact, in most societies, crime is prevalent in a variety of forms and methodologies. This posting will address a few crimes that had devastating effects and long-lasting ramifications on a global scale. With that in mind, these five crimes shocked and changed the world as well as helped to shape history.
The 9/11 Attacks (September 2001)
On Sept. 11, 2001, one of the largest domestic terrorist attacks on U.S. soil occurred. The 9/11 attacks comprised coordinated and elaborate plots to target significant U.S. landmarks. These acts of terrorism involved 19 extremists linked to the Islamic terrorist network Al-Qaeda, who hijacked four passenger airplanes to carry out their nefarious intentions. The mastermind behind these attacks was the group’s leader, Osama bin Laden, who promptly rose to the top of the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List and was eventually eliminated by Seal Team Six under the direction of President Barack Obama, following an extensive and exhaustive global manhunt by a myriad of law enforcement agencies.
Of the four hijacked flights involved, two planes (United Airlines Flight 175 and American Airlines Flight 11) successfully hit their targets in New York City and crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, an act which demolished both structures. A third aircraft (American Airlines Flight 77) collided with the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., which houses the Headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense. The fourth flight (United Airlines Flight 93), however, was not successful in hitting its intended mark, thanks to a group of brave passengers who overtook the hijackers and forced the aircraft down in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. According to reports, this plane was also headed towards Washington D.C. and aimed at the White House.
The devastation caused by the 9/11 attacks cannot be overstated. This event crippled the nation and stunned the world. It resulted in nearly 4,000 deaths, injured more than 6,000 victims, culminated in the War on Terror, and caused over $10 Billion dollars in damages. However, the true toll of this catastrophe is hard to measure as survivors, first responders, loved ones left behind, and workers who contributed to the efforts at Ground Zero continue to be plagued by medical as well as mental health issues in the aftermath.
The Assassination of JFK (November 1963)
President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was shot and killed on Nov. 22, 1963, while traveling in a caravan through Dealey Plaza in Dallas, TX. His assassin is believed to be Lee Harvey Oswald, who was himself gunned down by Jack Ruby a few days later, while in police custody for another crime. This was not the first assassination of an American president; it was the fourth, in fact. However, the ramifications of this crime continue to haunt the nation and the act itself remains shrouded in multiple conspiracy theories.
To this day, the 35th President of the United States and first Irish Catholic elected to the office remains one of our most revered as well as respected leaders. His presidency symbolized hope, progress, and prosperity for the country. Specifically, it was dubbed “The Camelot Era.” His death plunged the nation and world into a deep period of mourning.
More about JFK’s assassination and the circumstances surrounding this event can be found in the Warren Commission report, which was responsible for investigating the crime, along with numerous other filings in the National Archives. The bulk of these records have been released and open for public viewing since the 1990s. However, it is important to note that a small portion of these documents (about 10 percent) remain classified due to national security concerns.
The Bombing of Pearl Harbor (December 1941)
Just before 8 a.m. local time on Dec. 7, 1941, the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor on Oahu Island, Hawaii, was surprised via a military strike perpetrated by the Imperial Japanese Navy. This event caught the military personnel, our nation, and most of the world completely off-guard. While the audacious move was a stunning display of force, it was not entirely unforeseen as relations between the United States and Japan had been increasingly strained for nearly a decade. This attack not only blindsided the country and global community but it was directly responsible for the U.S. entry into World War II (WWII).
The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand (June 1914)
On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir apparent to the Austrian throne, and his wife, Sophie, were shot to death while on an official visit to Sarajevo, Bosnia. The royal couple’s assailant was a disgruntled 19-year-old Bosnian Serb nationalist named Gavrilo Princip. Ferdinand’s assassination set off a volatile chain of events that culminated in the outbreak of World War I (WWI) approximately a month later. Furthermore, Germany and the Allied Powers signed the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919, which marked the fifth anniversary of the royal couple’s slayings. This historic agreement officially ended WWI.
The Helter Skelter/Manson Family Killings (August 1969)
The Helter Skelter movement was initiated by American cult leader and murderer Charles Manson, who rose to worldwide fame in the wake of his heinous crimes. While it is still not known how many victims Manson personally killed, he and his Manson Family followers have been linked to more than 35 killings. Most notably, the notorious madman is known for orchestrating the Tate/LaBianca murders, which occurred during a two-day killing spree (Aug. 9-10, 1969).
The victims on August 9 included actress Sharon Tate, the wife of famed director Roman Polanski who was eight-months pregnant at the time, along with four guests who were staying with the expectant mother while Polanski was away shooting a film in London, England. On August 10, Manson and his cronies brutally attacked and killed Leno LaBianca, a wealthy supermarket executive, and his wife, Rosemary, in Los Feliz, CA.
The Manson Family stated that their motivation for carrying out the murders was to garner attention and fame via targeting well-known victims. Furthermore, they wanted to fulfill the mission of Helter Skelter by escalating racial tensions and promoting a race war.
There is no denying that crime plays a role in our society. Whether it is serious, petty, or “victimless” in nature, crime can have devastating results and affect people in many different ways. The five crimes addressed in this article are prime examples of how heinous acts can shock and change the world as well as help to shape history.