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VARIOUS FILE: Review of the decade Part 1- The decade's defining moments
There is one image of the first decade of the new millennium that will last forever - the sight of passenger jets being flown into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.
On September 11, 2001, the world changed.
Nearly 3,000 people died when al Qaeda, under the leadership of Saudi-born Osama bin Laden, launched its triple-pronged attack on the American mainland.
Conventional wars almost seemed a thing of the past now. The United States, with President George W. Bush at the helm, proclaimed a war on terror.
The year 2000, the start of the new millennium, had begun in a blaze of fireworks and celebrations across the globe. The world had been building up to the big night for months, if not years, with a sense of optimism that things could be better.
But in reality, the world hadn't really changed.
The same problems that had been around for the decade before, are still here ten years on. Only now, we blame much of it on global warming, or climate change.
Floods - one woman gave birth in a tree in Mozambique and waited nearly an hour to be rescued; drought and famine - Ethiopia again one of the worst affected; and fires, from America to Australia and plenty in between.
The force of nature stronger than any army.
There were hopes of an end to some long-standing disputes - U.S. President Bill Clinton mediated in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but without any tangible success.
And front pages were never short of natural disasters or accidents.
All 109 passengers and crew on an Air France Concorde were killed in a crash outside Paris. It's thought the tragedy was caused by a tyre bursting on take-off and being sucked into the engine where it caught fire. Concorde fleets were grounded and have since disappeared completely from service.
In Russia, 118 sailors died when they became trapped on board the nuclear submarine the Kursk.
In 2001, the United States had a new president - George W. Bush, son of former president George Bush, who'd gone to war with Iraq ten years previously over Saddam Hussein's incursion into Kuwait.
Like father, like son, as history will now report..
But not until Bush junior had attempted to deal with another enemy - the man he identified as being behind the Twin Towers attack, Osama bin Laden.
The assault from bin Laden's al Qaeda group was unprecedented. Hijacked planes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.
The world watched in disbelief.
The new president promised retaliation - the people responsible, he said, would hear from the United States soon.
Less than a month later, the "war on terror" began in earnest.
The United States launched attacks in Afghanistan, where it was thought bin Laden and his supporters were hiding.
Eight years on, American troops are still in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians was, as ever, on a knife-edge.
In March 2002, Israeli tanks surrounded Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's compound in Ramallah on the West Bank.
The siege led to an astonishing appeal from Arafat to Reuters Television, by candlelight, urging the international community to act to "stop this aggression."
Attention was switched away from the Israel-Palestine issue when the holiday island of Bali in Indonesia was bombed. The attack was blamed on Jemaah Islamiah, a Muslim militant group linked to al Qaeda. Nearly 200 people - many of them Australians - were killed. Bali had long been considered a safe haven for tourists. They quickly headed home.
In Moscow, Chechen guerrillas held 750 people hostage after taking over a theatre during a show.
They demanded Russia end its military campaign in the breakaway republic. Russian special forces ended the stand-off by gassing and storming the theatre after three days. Their tactics were criticised with the rescue costing the lives of 119 hostages and nearly all of the 50 Chechen guerrillas.
2003 began badly for the Americans. The Space Shuttle Colombia broke up on re-entering the atmosphere after a mission. All seven astronauts on board were killed. The accident grounded NASA's shuttle programme.
The United States - already fighting a war in Afghanistan - was preparing for another conflict... Iraq, and it was looking to its close ally Britain for support.
Hundreds of thousands of anti-war protesters took to the streets of London in a bid to stop an attack.
But it seemed minds had already been made up.
U.S. President Bush gave Iraq's leader Saddam Hussein and his sons 48 hours to leave the country, otherwise there would be "military conflict at a time of our choosing," he said.
Four days later, the night skies above Baghdad were lit up with explosions, as America went to war.
There were civilian casualties. Markets, crowded with ordinary shoppers, were hit.
But there was no sign of Saddam. British forces broke into some of his many opulent palaces, full of marble and gold.
An unlikely character emerged, known as "Comical Ali" - Iraq's Information Minister, Mohammed al-Sahaf. He was loved by the western media, and never short of a good quote, always managing to portray a belief that Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, would triumph.
That was unlikely, given America and its allies' military might. The battle, if it can be called that, was soon over.
Saddam's statue in the centre of Baghdad was pulled down, and the head stamped on by Iraqis.
Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay were killed, their bodies laid out on a mortuary slab as proof for the world's media to film.
There were attacks, including one on the United Nations' headquarters. And for months, Saddam Hussein remained out of reach.
But then in December 2003, Paul Bremer, head of the coalition provisional authority in Iraq, had an announcement to make.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he said, "We got him."
Saddam had been discovered hiding in a hole in the ground near his home town of Tikrit.
While the war in Iraq was going on, the world was facing up to potentially an even bigger threat - the virus SARS, said to have originated from cats in China.
Panic set in and protection masks appeared, especially in Asia.
Before year end, former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin - subject of the hit film "Last King of Scotland" - died.
March 11, 2004 is a date forever etched in Spain's memory.
Simultaneous bomb blasts ripped through four packed commuter trains in Madrid, killing 192 people and injuring 1400 others.
Blame was quickly put on the Basque separatist group ETA but a purported al Qaeda letter claimed responsibility.
National elections were taking place in Spain three days later, and resulted in Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar being replaced by Jose Rodriguez Zapatero who immediately said he would remove Spanish troops from what he said was an unjust war in Iraq.
But in Britain, Prime Minister Tony Blair was defending his position to go to war with Iraq.
Much had been said about Saddam Hussein having access to "weapons of mass destruction," but Blair had to admit they hadn't found any, and "may not find them."
In Iraq, militants were taking hostages, including Briton Kenneth Bigley.
He appealed directly to Blair for help in saving his life. His captors beheaded him.
Pictures had emerged earlier in the year of Iraqi prisoners being humiliated and abused by U.S. soldiers. They were handcuffed and hooded.
At a war crimes court in the Netherlands, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was on trial accused of genocide and crimes against humanity in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.
At the same time, Russian troops were fighting Chechen separatists holed up in a school. More than 1000 hostages were held for 53 hours before Russian President Vladimir Putin asked his security forces to act "more effectively against terror." Three hundred and thirty-five people - half of them children - died in the operation to end the siege.
Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, was cleared of child abuse charges. His fans celebrated outside a courtroom in California. He would die in extraordinary circumstances five years later.
Yasser Arafat was allowed out of his compound in the West Bank to seek medical treatment in France, but died in November 2004.
And the year also saw the death of former U.S. president Ronald Reagan.
--------------------------- END OF PART ONE OF DECADE IN REVIEW ---------------------------- (Caption:VARIOUS FILE: Review of the decade Part 1- The decade's defining moments)
PARIS, FRANCE (JAN 01, 2000) (REUTERS)
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