Temporary exhibitions


Exhibition event at the Caen Memorial museum

Till March 31, 2022

/!\ The exhibition is not translated in english.



In 2008, the Caen Memorial Museum, in partnership with the New York State Museum, presented the first exhibition in Europe dedicated to 9/11. This exhibition drew more than 100,000 visitors.

For the 20th anniversary of this attack on the U.S soil, we wanted to tell our visitors that our contemporary world sadly remains that of 9/11. Hence the title “The World of 9/11”.

The reaction to this unprecedented attack by Al-Qaeda and the American response that followed triggered new wars in Afghanistan and the spread of the jihad. 

The curators of this exhibition are Stéphane Grimadi, CEO of the Caen Memorial Museum and Rémy Ourdan, War correspondent for the French daily newspaper Le Monde.



The exhibition is divided into 7 major chapters that recount the consequences of the 9/11 attacks over the last two decades. 

The work of journalists, photographers, reporters and historians has helped create this exhibition and explain how the world suddenly changed.



On the morning of September 11, nineteen jihadist fighters, infiltrated in the United States, hijacked four commercial airplanes, and targeted highly symbolic sites of the mighty America.

Three planes hit their targets, two hit the twin towers of the WTC in NYC, and one hit the Pentagon, headquarters of the U.S. Army Department of Defense in DC.

The fourth plane, which aimed at the White House (presidency) or the Capitol (Congress) in Washington, crashed in Pennsylvania after the passengers tried to regain control of it. 

The attack, ordered by Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, was organized by the head of the organization’s “external operations department”, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

These attacks were the deadliest in history with 2977 dead and 6291 injured. 

After September 11, the US decided to bring a military response to the attacks. The president George W. Bush declares war on terrorism. The beginning of what some strategists call a long war or an endless war.



On February 23, 1998, Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden published a “Declaration of the World Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and Crusaders” in which he declared holy war (jihad) throughout the world.

The attacks on the United States on September 11, carried out by Bin Laden and Al Qaeda are the deadliest in the history of the jihad. 

After the war in Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda spread over several territories (Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Maghreb, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh...)

The wars in Iraq, starting in 2003, and then in Syria starting in 2011 lead to a new rise in international jihad. Al-Qaeda in Iraq became independent and, under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, became the “Islamic State” (IS).

The global jihad is nowadays still dominated by al-Qaeda and Daech, two rivals to which almost all armed Islamist groups in the world have pledged allegiance.



The war in Afghanistan is the longest armed conflict in US history.

For the Afghans, the 2001 war began two days before the attacks in the United States, on September 9, with the assassination of Ahmed Shah Massoud by two Al-Qaeda agents. Nicknamed “the lion of Punjchir”, he was on all guerrillas and a guerilla fighter against the Taliban, who had been in power in Kabul since 1996 and who was the host of Al-Qaeda. 

From October to December 2001, Washington decided to supply the anti-Taliban Afghan Mujahideen, supported by the air force and American special forces units. This “first Afghan war” ends up with the defeat of the Taliban, led by Mullah Mohamad Omar, who lost power and fled to Pakistan. 

The United States and its allies deployed a NATO military force in Afghanistan from 2002 to 2014. The Afghan Taliban, supported by the Pakistani Taliban, al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups, have been waging a guerrilla war against the Kabul government and foreign troops since 2005. After NATO withdrew in 2014, Washington transferred the anti-guerrilla war to the Afghan army, while retaining a contingent to support it. 

Since 2018, Washington has been negotiating a way out of the conflict with the Taliban. US President Joe bien has promised an end to U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan by 2021, two decades after 9/11.




The war in Iraq began on March 20, 2003 with the invasion of the country by the United States and its allies under two false pretexts: the first was the existence of a link between the power of Saddam Hussein and the attacks of September 11, while the power of  Baghdad and Al-Qaeda consider themselves enemies; the second was the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (biological, chemical and nuclear), while UNO inspections found no trace of them. This was the beginning of a conflict that would set Iraq ablaze, destabilize the Middle East, and which still lasts to this day.

The Iraqi Sunni guerrilla war began on April 30, 2003, three weeks after the fall of Baghdad, when a few masked men threw grenades into a U.S. base in Fallujah in response to the fact that soldiers from the 82nd Airborne had killed some protesters two days earlier demanding the reopening of a school. Fallujah became the “Mecca of the Iraqi Mujahideen”. The Jordanian jihadist Abdou Moussab al-Zarqaoui set up his “Unity and Jihad” group there, which would become Al-Qaeda in Iraq and then the “Islamic State” (IS). Two battles opposed the American army and the guerrillas in April and November 2004, heralding the fighting that would continue for years.



Among all Western countries, France is one of the most severely hit by jihadists.

Among the most notable or deadly terrorist attacks: the murders of soldiers and children at a Jewish school in 2012 in Toulouse and Montauban; the attacks on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo on January 7, 2015 and on the Jewish supermarket Hyper Kosher on January 9, 2015 in Paris; the attack on a Thalys train on August 21, 2015; the attacks ordered by “IS” on November 13, 2015 in Paris, targeting the Bataclan concert hall and cafés; the assassination of two police officers on June 13, 2016 in Magnanville; the attack on the Promenade des Anglais on July 14 in Nice; the murder of a priest during a mass on July 26, 2016 in Saint-Etienne du Rouvray; the attack on a Christmas market on December 11, 2018 in Strasbourg; the murder of four police officers on October 3, 2019 at the police headquarters in Paris; the murder of Professor Samuel Paty on October 16, 2020 in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine.

As part of the fight against jihad, France has been waging three wars for two decades: the first war in Afghanistan from 2002 to 2012; the second war in Mali in 2013, which extended into the Sahel and now covers Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad; the third war is the one being waged within an international coalition against the “Islamic State” in Iraq and Syria since 2014.




The post-9/11 wars have deeply changed America. 

After the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush declared the “war on terror” and chose to militarize the response to Al-Qaeda, occupy Afghanistan after the victorious Afghan war of 2001, and then invade and occupy Iraq in 2003.

Over the next 20 years, more than two million U.S. troops would be deployed outside the United States around the world.

After George W Bush’s lost wars, the next three US presidents - Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden - were elected with promises of military withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Presidents Obama and Trump keep their promises without achieving a general withdrawal. Joe Biden pledges a final general withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, the longest war in American history by 2021.



20 years after 9/11, no one ventures to predict how long the war against jihadism will last.

While the 2001 attacks marked the peak of Al Qaeda, the international jihadist movement has grown dramatically over the past two decades. Hundreds of thousands of fighters around the world have joined the jihadist ideology. 

The militarization of the Bush administration’s response to 9/11, including the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, has contributed to the rise of jihadism. 

But the United States are not the only enemies of armed Islamists. They strike at all states, all political systems and all religions that are not their own. 

An “endless war”? All wars come to an end one day. For the moment, it is a war whose end no one can foresee. It is a “long war”, a very long one


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