Today marks the 22nd year since four simultaneous attacks were launched by the al Qaeda against the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.

The September 11 attacks killed nearly 3,000 persons, including 20 Filipino immigrants on their way to work.

The incidents on Sept. 11 reverberate globally, imprinting their legacy on how we live with and view the uneasy balance between security and terror, the negotiations of the infinitesimal shifts in peace and of conflicts.

Emerging from that rupture created under 90 minutes are less worlds than splinters of humanity revealing the fault lines of paranoia and hate that we marshal to weaponize Us versus the Others in our midst.

It still shocks that our nation, loyal brown brother of Americans, harbored terrorism in our bosom. The Philippines figured prominently in the years of planning and even rehearsing that tested the terrorism plot leading up to the September 11 attacks, as Maria Ressa of CNN reported on July 26, 2003.

According to the CNN report, the Philippine police reported in 1995 information gathered from interrogating Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and his nephew, Ramzi Yousef, residents of Manila in 1994 who were a high-ranking leader and operative, respectively, in al Qaeda.

The intelligence report, which included details about the tandem testing airport security and detonating a bomb during a Philippine Airlines flight that killed one passenger and injured 10 others, was shared with US authorities.

In its summary of the Philippine intelligence, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) failed to mention the plot. CNN reported that the FBI omission followed a congressional report that the US intelligence community “missed several clues” adding up to the September 11 attacks.

After 9/11, forgetting is no longer the option.

The War on Terror may impinge only on our consciousness when passengers check themselves from making bomb jokes or speculating about a bomb in transport terminals.

Detention and the imposition of hefty penalties faced a passenger who joked about bombs as he queued for the routine baggage inspection at the Shaw Blvd. station of the Manila Metro Rail Transit System-3 (MRT-3), the “Philippine Daily Inquirer” reported last March 24, 2023.

Bomb jokers violate Presidential Decree (PD) 1727, also known as the “Anti-Bomb Joke Law.”

From a public perspective, worse than suffering the personal consequences from a carelessly made remark about a bomb are the dangers of mass panic and the resulting stampede threatening commuters or passengers who overhear the joke and may fear a terrorist attack.

The dark legacy of the War on Terror lies in the murkier shadows of our consciousness: the disquiet with which we regard persons, cultures, and institutions we perceive as different, alien, and threatening.

September 11 brought close to home the fears of intrusion and violence from the feared Others. The Duterte administration manipulated these public fears when it waged the brutal, bloody War on Drugs.

While PD 1727 punishes citizens who joke about bombs in public places, President Rodrigo Duterte casually joked with impunity about rape, punishment, and public execution, normalizing these acts of violence as “justice” carried out to protect the public from the threats of shadowy Others lurking in the netherworld of the illegal drugs trade.

We lived, fidgeted under but eventually submitted to the harsh terms of confinement and isolation during the pandemic community lockdowns and checkpoints, which was the Duterte administration’s militarized response to a public health crisis.

Human rights, civil liberties, privacy, inclusivity, and co-existence are, on the scale of the dominant narratives of securitization, like chaff blown off by scared, uncritical citizens caught in the grip of populist leaders and social media demagogues.

What terrors haunt us? What do we sacrifice to quiet these terrors? When do we open our eyes long enough to look at our composite terrors/saviors?