Reporters and editors note:  The Virginia Tech media relations office offers a number of expert interviews and story opportunities connected to the upcoming 20th anniversary of the attacks of September 11th. For more information, or to set up an interview, please contact the media relations office at

Conflict and war in the Middle East

“The 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks is a time for sober stock-taking of decisions made over the last two decades. The morning of September 11, 2001, transformed the threat of Islamic extremism into our national obsession. The miasma of ensuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq -- with their enormous cost in life and treasure -- did not grant America the luxury of sober decision-making and thinking through the by-products of fateful human processes.” 

“Today what is left is a decapitated Al-Qaeda, a wounded ISIS, a resurgent Taliban and a less than functioning sovereign Iraq. Alas, wars did not prove to be the elixir many had hoped.”

Mehrzad Boroujerdi, professor and director of the School of Public and International Affairs at Virginia Tech.

The threat of terrorism 

“Currently, homegrown white supremacists are a greater threat to our democracy and our rights than individuals who commit terrorism under the guise of Islam because white supremacists are essentially hidden in plain sight. Many anti-anything movements -- government, Global South immigration, free speech, ‘tough on crime,’ vaccination, science, truth -- are deeply imbued with white supremacist values that are often couched in religious or meritocratic framings.  This pervasiveness is what makes them so dangerous. Their message is disseminated easily through daily interactions and the very institutions that frame American democracy, such as freedom of the press, religion, and speech.  ”

“From a conceptual standpoint, 9/11 caused both the media and the American public to focus their attention on terrorism rooted in religious extremism and from international spaces, even though terrorism has been prominent on U.S. shores for decades.”  

Ashley Reichelmann, Assistant professor of sociology and Associate Director, The Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention at Virginia Tech

Legacy of George W. Bush

“Initially, his reactions raised concerns. The early pictures of President Bush after he first learned the news about the planes hitting in New York -- in the Florida classroom looking unnerved and not fully certain about next steps-- and his being flown around the U.S. until the full scale of the attacks was known.  Those actions were, of course, fully appropriate.” 

“His responses soon generated praise and soaring approval levels. His public responses generally were well-done and on occasion quite powerful – from his initial address to the nation to his unscripted bullhorn message while visiting the destroyed Twin Towers to his impressive address at the memorial service in the National Cathedral to his efforts to counter immediate anti-Muslim rhetoric and actions.”

“The evaluation of the ‘war on terror’ will not be favorable. It was ill-defined at the outset. The Iraq war never had a well-defined mission, and the mission in Afghanistan was never clarified or troops withdrawn after al Qaeda and the Taliban were routed. The overall execution of the ‘war on terror’ has not been impressive.  Blame, of course, is widely shared across multiple presidencies both before and since Bush.”

Karen Hult, professor of political science at Virginia Tech and its Center for Public Administration & Policy   

Travel Industry

“9/11 changed the entire travel industry which indirectly or directly impacted the economy of the world. The changes influenced the lodging, restaurants, conferences, leisure and business travel, etc.”

“Airport security checks added delays and restrictions on items, including toiletries. People traveling alone were subjected to more careful assessment of their clearance both in person and luggage checks.” 

“The emotional damage caused by 9/11 was significant, including fear of travel, avoiding destinations, earlier check-ins, seeing off or receiving loved ones, longer wait times, and physical body checks.”

“The COVID pandemic has added misery to already restricted travel business - a double impact. As we look to the future of travel, things will never be as relaxed as they used to be prior to 9/11.”  

Mahmood Khan, professor and director of the Pamplin College of Business Master of Science in Business Administration/Hospitality and Tourism Management program in the Washington, D.C., metro region.

Building Construction 

"The 9/11 events are a seminal moment in engineering primarily because they showed that extreme, unexpected loads need to be carefully considered in design. The failures led to significant improvements in our modeling and understanding of fire engineering and progressive collapse. The failures resulted in important changes in building codes with respect to the need for redundant means of egress and more robust fire suppression systems."

Roberto Leon, D.H. Burrows Professor of Construction Engineering in The Charles Edward Via, Jr., Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech

Schedule Interview
To schedule an interview with any of our experts, please contact Bill Foy at or 540-998-0288; Shannon Andrea at or 703-399-9494.  You may also email our team at

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Virginia Tech's television and radio studios can broadcast live HD audio and video to networks, news outlets, and affiliates interviewing Virginia Tech faculty and staff. The university does not charge for use of its studios. Video is transmitted by LTN Global Communications, Skype, or file sharing (Dropbox, Google Drive, We-Transfer, etc.). Radio interviews can be transmitted by ISDN, Comrex, or file sharing.   

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