On this day six years ago, Prospect staff members were putting the finishing touches to the October 2001 issue of the magazine, which was going to press that evening. Then—well, I’ll spare you the where-we-were-when-we heard-the-news part—we spent the rest of the day shuttling between our desks and the television set in the reception of our building, wondering what the hell we were going to do.
We were able to postpone our press deadline. At a time when many commentators were only willing to speculate about who the perpetrators were, Anatol Lieven knew, and he wrote us a cover story overnight. Veteran journalist Murray Sayle contributed a piece on the day that made-for-television terrorism was born. Editing these articles and wrapping up the rest of the magazine took us nearly 24 hours of solid work, starting on Wednesday morning and finishing after dawn during the early hours of Thursday. The issue was published the week after, at the usual time.
One year on from 11th September, Lieven feared that excessive US nationalism might lead to the end of the west, and Elena Lappin investigated Mohammed Atta’s time in Hamburg. Two years on, Geoffrey Wheatcroft railed against all the nonsense that had been written about the event, while John R Bradley explained what the implications really were for Saudi Arabia. And five years on (we journalists like our anniversaries), Peter Bergen ran through the more credible explanations for 9/11.