My mother was heading to work on a normal 11 September day. As soon as she exited the subway,

The BBC is covering the 20th anniversary of the 11 September 2001 attacks in the US, which led to the 20-year conflict in Afghanistan.

This is the story of Chris Cruz, who explains in an interview to BBC’s OS programme why he decided to join the US army.

“My mother was heading to work on a normal 11 September day. As soon as she exited the subway, she was told to start running as the buildings were coming down. She literally saw them coming down and described people jumping out of the windows,” says Chris.

“When she finally made it home, I – as an 11-year-old boy at the time – had to tell her that she had burn marks and blood spots on the back of her legs. She was in a state of shock.

“As I grew up, I realised… I had the ability to be part of an organisation that could defend and prevent these atrocities for all Americans.

“9/11 played a role, but not in a way of revenge. I didn’t want to join out of bloodlust. I served two tours in Afghanistan. Both of those times I volunteered to go.

“I don’t think our mission would have succeeded without our Afghan partners. I agree we couldn’t be there forever, but we made a promise to keep our partners safe and that we wouldn’t turn our backs on them, and that’s exactly what we’ve done.”

Chris adds: “I do think the way we pulled out, the way we left it, was completely wrong. There needed to be a better exit strategy.”

Taliban control ‘infuriating’ on 9/11 anniversary
New York Republican representative Lee Zeldin says it is “infuriating” that the Taliban are “back in control” of Afghanistan two decades after the September 11 attacks.

In an interview with Fox News, Zeldin, 41 – who joined the US Army in 2003 and later deployed to Iraq – said he “couldn’t get on active duty fast enough” following the attacks.

“I vividly remember the sounds, the visuals, the motions, the yellow ribbons on all the trees on the streets, the flags going up from home to home – a sense of patriotism and unity I had never experienced at any other point in my life,” he said.

Zeldin said he believed the US withdrawal from Afghanistan would create a “path towards leaving our nation more domestically vulnerable to threats”.

“Creating a nation as a safe haven of terrorism, and likely allowing the rise of groups like al-Qaeda and IS, that has ramifications beyond Afghanistan’s borders,” he said.
WFP says 90% of Afghan households have food shortages
Nine out of 10 households in Afghanistan are not getting enough to eat, the World Food Programme has warned.

Regional director Anthea Webb said that after the Taliban took power on 15 August, “the portion of families resorting to extreme coping mechanisms, like skipping meals or preferring to give food to children instead of adults or limiting portion sizes had almost doubled”.

The findings were based on phone calls to 1,600 random households between 17 June and 5 September.

An international conference on aid to Afghanistan is due to take place on Monday and Webb called on donors to respond to an appeal for $200m.

Food prices had risen sharply even before the Taliban takeover due a drought.

Afghanistan is in an acute economic situation after Western powers suspended foreign aid, and the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also halted payments.

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