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When terror stalked earth

Original Source: SUN: TUESDAY 28 DECEMBER 2009
By MARTIN PHILLIPS Published: 28 Dec 2009

IT was the decade in which terror changed the world, technology transformed our lives and reality TV took over our screens.

In a special series this week, The Sun looks back at the events and people that shaped the Noughties.

Here, we review the major news events of the past ten years.

FROM the devastation of 9/11 to the failed Christmas Day bomb attack on a packed jet over America, the Noughties were a decade haunted by the threat of terrorism.

While Mother Nature brought havoc, religious fanatics found their own cruel ways to massacre innocents.

Terror group al-Qaeda's ruthless campaign, and The West's response - which has seen 383 British troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan - dominated the headlines.

Suicide bombers killed 17 US sailors in a boat attack on the USS Cole in Aden harbour, as early as October 2000.

The destruction of the colossal Bamyan Buddhas in Afghanistan in March 2001 was a warning of the medieval ideology of the Taliban, who were already harbouring Osama bin Laden's terror training camps.

The al-Qaeda fanatics struck with devastating consequences on September 11 that year, when four commercial airliners were hijacked, to be flown into iconic American buildings including the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing nearly 3,000.

A series of anthrax attacks across the United States followed.

The response from US President George W Bush was to launch a "War On Terror," starting with the October 7 invasion of Afghanistan in the same year.

As bin Laden evaded capture, fellow terrorists killed 202 by bombing a Bali nightclub in October 2002.

Against this backdrop of fear and suspicion, the threat of weapons of mass destruction was used to justify the invasion of Saddam Hussein's Iraq in spring 2003.

No WMDs were found. Saddam was though - cowering in a hole, in December. By then, former UN weapons inspector Dr David Kelly had been revealed as a source of criticism of the Government's flimsy WMD dossier.

He was later found dead in a field near his Oxfordshire home, having apparently killed himself.

As Iraq descended into virtual civil war, the Madrid train bombings in March 2004 killed 191 and the Beslan School hostage crisis in Russia, in September that year, ended with the deaths of 344 civilians, ten special forces soldiers, and 31 Ingush and Chechen terrorists.

Then, on July 7, 2005, as London celebrated being awarded the 2012 Olympics, home-grown Islamic terrorists blew up three Tube trains and a London bus, killing 52.

An attempted repeat attack two weeks later failed, but innocent Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead by anti-terror police in the panic.

Two days later, bombs in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh killed 88.

The printing of 12 cartoons of the prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper added fuel to the flames of conflict.

Britain was targeted again in June 2007 when two car bombs failed to explode in central London and terrorists drove a burning vehicle into Glasgow Airport.

Almost overshadowed by the rise of Islamic terrorism was the monumental decision by the IRA to end their armed campaign in July 2005 and the Northern Ireland power-sharing agreement between Dr Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams in March 2007.

Islamic terrorists bombed trains in Mumbai in July 2006, killing 209, and killed a further 173 with coordinated attacks there in November 2008.

In Africa, war in Somalia led to a breakdown in government and the growth of piracy off the Somali coast. And just three days ago, another plot to blow up a jet was foiled when Umar Abdulmutallab was prevented from activating a new type of explosive device by hero passenger Jasper Schuringa.

Meanwhile, global warming and natural disasters took their own toll.

A heatwave in Southern Europe in 2003 killed more than 37,000 people. That tragedy was dwarfed by the Indian Ocean Tsunami on Boxing Day, 2004, which killed around 230,000. Earthquakes killed 26,000 in Bam, Iran, in 2003; 80,000 in Kashmir in 2005; 68,000 in Sichuan, China; and 307 in L'Aquila in Italy in 2009.

Hurricane Katrina almost washed away New Orleans in the US, killing nearly 2,000 in 2005, and Cyclone Nargis smashed through Burma in 2008, killing 146,000.

In Britain, flash flooding devastated the Cornish coastal town of Boscastle in August 2004. It was a prelude to major flooding which swamped large swathes of Britain in the summer of 2007 - as it did in Cumbria this year. Bush fires in drought-struck Australia killed 173 in February this year.

If the Noughties weather was erratic, so was the economy.

The decade started with the bursting of the bubble and ended with the worst worldwide recession since the Great Depression.

The massive growth of China and India had put huge pressure on oil resources. British motorists had already carried out fuel protests in 2000 when oil was less than $25 a barrel and there was more anger in 2005 and 2007 as the price rocketed to nearly $150 a barrel by July 2008.

By then, investments by banks in high-risk mortgages had led to a worldwide collapse in credit, first highlighted in Britain by the run on the Northern Rock bank in 2007 and later necessitating a 500billion Government bail-out of the banks.

In politics, few events could match the election of Barack Obama as America's first black president in 2008.

The creeping expansion of Europe continued apace with the euro replacing 12 of the 15 member countries' currencies in 2002 and former East European states joining the EU in 2004, sparking a wave of immigration. The third election victory of Tony Blair in May 2005, before he made way for Gordon Brown, made sure the decade was dominated by Labour.

In Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe's brutal determination to maintain his corrupt regime almost brought his country to ruin.

In Britain, Parliament's reputation was brought to its knees by the scandal of MPs' expenses. In our courts, the decade began with doctor Harold Shipman being convicted, in January 2000, of killing more than 200 patients.

And in other non-terrorist crime, within months we had the terrible disappearance of eight-year-old Sarah Payne, and the appalling discovery of her murder by paedophile Roy Whiting, sparking a campaign for parents to be told of paedophiles living nearby.

The country was caught up again, in 2002, in the hunt for missing Soham youngsters, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, both ten. Once more, the search ended in tragedy.

Twenty-three illegal Chinese immigrants drowned while collecting cockles in Morecambe Bay in 2004, and the Securitas depot robbers who raided a warehouse in Tonbridge, Kent, in 2006, netted a record 53million criminal haul.

The same year former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned in London in a murder worthy of a Bond film - he was poisoned with radioactive polonium.

The summer of 2007 was dominated by the snatching of Madeleine McCann, three, from her family's holiday apartment in Portugal, and the fruitless worldwide search that followed.


Later that year, canoeist John Darwin turned up alive, five years after faking his death. In 2008 another missing child - Shannon Matthews, nine - turned out to have been the victim of a kidnap plot by her own mother and uncle.

This was also a decade of health scares. We had the foot and mouth epidemic in Britain in 2001; the threat of SARS - Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome - in 2002 and 2003; the bird flu scares of 2006 and 2007, plus swine flu to end the decade.


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