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Image BrokersVisualizing World News in the Age of Digital Circulation$

Zeynep Devrim Gürsel

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520286368

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520286368.001.0001

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(p.321) Appendix B Timeline of the “War on Terror”

(p.321) Appendix B Timeline of the “War on Terror”

Image Brokers

Zeynep Devrim Gürsel

University of California Press

Throughout Image Brokers I have discussed the War on Terror not as a single military campaign but rather as a news story, a discursive construct that, as an umbrella term, provided semantic coherence for a whole range of activities both within the United States and internationally. There are many possible timelines that could be provided for the War on Terror, ranging from its historical precedents to the September 11 attacks to the surveillance laws enacted afterward. One could include violent acts in many geographies—from terrorist bombings in Bali, Madrid, London, or Paris to US drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Below is a timeline that highlights the intertwining of the War on Terror and the digital circulation of news images.



September 11, 2001

Al Qaeda attacks the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

October 7, 2001

US and British forces begin air and ground attacks, “Operation Enduring Freedom,” against Al Qaeda and Taliban targets in Afghanistan. Coalition forces take Kabul on November 13, 2001.

January 11, 2002

Detainees begin to arrive in Camp X-Ray, located in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

February 21, 2002

Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, kidnapped in Pakistan, is confirmed dead based on a video showing his beheading. The video is soon posted on several websites.

(p.322) Feburary 5, 2003

US Secretary of State Colin Powell addresses the UN Security Council and gives a detailed description of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and a deadly terrorist network headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is claimed to be a collaborator of Osama bin Laden. The weapons of mass destruction turned out not to exist.

March 19, 2003

US and coalition forces launch an attack on command and control structures in Iraq. “Operation Iraqi Freedom” begins.

March 20, 2003

US and British ground troops enter Iraq from the south.

March 21, 2003

The United States launches its “Shock and Awe” campaign.

April 9, 2003

A statue of Saddam Hussein is pulled down by a US tank in Al Firdos Square, Baghdad.

May 1, 2003

Forty-three days after announcing the start of the war in Iraq, President George W. Bush lands on the deck of USS Abraham Lincoln and tells the nation that “major combat operations in Iraq have ended.” Behind him, a banner declares “Mission Accomplished.”

In Kabul, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declares an end to “major combat” and the beginning of “a period of stability and stabilization and reconstruction and activities.”

Jul 22, 2003

Saddam’s sons Uday and Qusay are killed in gun battle in Mosul, Iraq. Photographs of their corpses are released to the press.

December 14, 2003

Saddam Hussein is captured in Tikrit, Iraq.

March 31, 2004

Four US contractors are killed, burned, and hung from a bridge in Fallujah, Iraq. Images circulate worldwide.

April 28, 2004

60 Minutes II broadcasts a story that reveals photographic evidence of abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US troops at Abu Ghraib.

May 11, 2004

A video of the beheading of contractor Nicholas Berg becomes public. More beheadings—including that of American engineer Paul Marshall Johnson (June 18) in Saudi Arabia and Korean missionary Kim Sun-il (June 22) in Iraq—follow.

June 28, 2004

Sovereignty of Iraq is transferred to an Iraqi interim government headed by Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. Saddam Hussein is transferred to Iraqi legal custody.

July 1, 2004

Saddam Hussein goes on trial on charges of crimes against humanity.

June 7, 2006

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, said to be responsible for many beheadings of foreigners, including Nicholas Berg, is killed in an air strike. Large, framed, close–up photographs of his corpse are presented to the press.

December 30, 2006

Saddam Hussein is executed by hanging.

Early 2009

The official use of the term “War on Terror” is phased out, with Pentagon officials receiving an email suggesting the use of “overseas contingency operations” instead.1

(p.323) May 1, 2011

Osama bin Laden, founder and head of Al Qaeda, is killed in a raid in Pakistan. Photographs of his corpse and burial at sea are not released for fear of violent backlash. The White House hands out a photograph, titled The Situation Room, showing top government staff watching the raid.

December 18, 2011

The last US troops pull out of Iraq. Approximate cost: 165,00 Iraqi civilians, 4,500 American soldiers (32,000 wounded), and 300 coalition casualties.

May 27, 2014

President Barack Obama announces a timetable for withdrawing most US forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2016.

August 7, 2014

President Obama authorizes targeted airstrikes against Islamist militants in Iraq.

August 19, 2014

A video released by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria shows the beheading of American photojournalist James Foley and threatens to kill other journalists if President Obama does not end military operations in Iraq. Similar beheading videos of American journalist Steven Sotloff (September 2) and British aid worker David Haines (September 13) follow in quick succession.

December 28, 2014

NATO formally ends its war in Afghanistan.

October 15, 2015

President Obama halts the withdrawal of US military forces from Afghanistan.

Total economic cost of War on Terror through fiscal year 2014: $1.6 trillion.

SOURCES: Watson Institute, Brown University, “Costs of War,” http://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/costs; Amy Belasco, “The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11” (Congressional Research Service, 2014), http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL33110.pdf.