The September 11 attacks
(often referred to as
a series of coordinated suicide
upon the United
States on September 11, 2001. On that morning, 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked
four commercial passenger
. The hijackers
intentionally crashed two of the airliners into the Twin Towers of
the World Trade
Center in New York City, killing everyone on board and
many others working in the buildings.
collapsed within two hours, destroying nearby buildings and
damaging others. The hijackers crashed a third airliner into
the Pentagon in
Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C.
plane crashed into a field near Shanksville in rural Pennsylvania, after some of its passengers
and flight crew attempted to retake control of the plane, which the
hijackers had redirected toward Washington, D.C.
no survivors from any of the flights.
2,976 victims and the 19 hijackers died in the attacks. The
overwhelming majority of casualties were civilians
, including nationals of over 90
countries. In addition, the death of at least one person from
was ruled by a
medical examiner to be a result of exposure to dust from the World
Trade Center's collapse.
States responded to the attacks by launching a War on Terrorism, invading Afghanistan to depose the Taliban, who
had harbored al-Qaeda terrorists, and enacting the USA PATRIOT Act.
Many other countries
also strengthened their anti-terrorism legislation and expanded
American stock exchanges
closed for the rest of the week following the attack, and posted
enormous losses upon reopening, especially in the airline and
insurance industries. The destruction of billions of dollars worth
of office space caused serious damage to the economy of Lower Manhattan
to the Pentagon was cleared and repaired within a year, and the
Memorial was built on
the site. The rebuilding process has started on the
Center site. In 2006 a new office tower was completed on
the site of 7 World Trade
Center. 1 World Trade Center is currently under construction at the site and, at
1,776 ft (541 m) upon completion in 2013, it will become
one of the tallest buildings in North America.
towers were originally expected to be built between 2007 and 2012
on the site. Ground was broken for the Flight 93
National Memorial on November 8, 2009, and the first phase of
construction is expected to be ready for the 10th anniversary of
the attacks on September 11, 2011.
Map showing the attacks on the World
the morning on September 11, 2001, nineteen hijackers
took control of four commercial airliners en route to San Francisco and Los Angeles from Boston, Newark, and Washington, D.C. (Washington Dulles International
View of the World Trade Center after
both towers fell
At 8:46 a.m., American Airlines Flight 11
crashed into the World Trade Center's North Tower, followed by
United Airlines Flight
which hit the South Tower at 9:03 a.m. Another group of
hijackers flew American
Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m. A fourth flight, United
Airlines Flight 93 crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania at 10:03
a.m, after the passengers on board engaged in a fight with the
hijackers. Its ultimate target was thought to be either
States Capitol or White
During the hijacking of the airplanes, the hijackers used weapons
to stab and/or kill aircraft pilots
Reports from phone callers from the planes indicated that knives
were used by the hijackers to stab attendants and in at least one
case, a passenger, during two of the hijackings.
Some passengers were able to make phone calls using the cabin
and mobile phones, and provide details, including that several
were aboard each plane, that mace
other form of noxious chemical spray, such as tear gas
or pepper spray
was used, and that some
people aboard had been stabbed.
The 9/11 Commission
two of the hijackers had recently purchased Leatherman
multi-function hand tools. A flight
attendant on Flight 11, a passenger on Flight 175, and passengers
on Flight 93 mentioned that the hijackers had bombs, but one of the
passengers also mentioned he thought the bombs were fake. No traces
of explosives were found at the crash sites, and the 9/11
Commission believed the bombs were probably fake.
On United Airlines Flight 93, black
recordings revealed that crew and passengers attempted to
seize control of the plane from the hijackers after learning
through phone calls that similarly hijacked planes had been crashed
into buildings that morning. According to the transcript of Flight
93's recorder, one of the hijackers gave the order to roll
the plane once it became evident
that they would lose control of the plane to the passengers.
afterward, the aircraft crashed into a field near Shanksville in
Stonycreek Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania, at
10:03:11 a.m. local time
(14:03:11 UTC). Khalid
Sheikh Mohammed, organiser of the attacks, mentioned in a 2002
interview with Yosri Fouda, an al Jazeera journalist, that Flight 93's target
was the United
States Capitol, which was given the code name "the Faculty of
Three buildings in the World Trade Center Complex collapsed due to
on the day of
the attack. The south tower (2 WTC) fell at approximately
9:59 a.m., after burning for 56 minutes in a fire caused by
the impact of United Airlines Flight 175. The north tower
(1 WTC) collapsed at 10:28 a.m., after burning for
approximately 102 minutes. When the north tower collapsed, debris
heavily damaged the nearby 7 World Trade Center (7 WTC) building.
integrity was further compromised by fires, and the building
collapsed later in the day at 5:21 p.m.
The attacks created widespread confusion among news organizations
and air traffic controllers
across the United States. All international civilian air traffic
was banned from landing on US soil for three days. Aircraft already
in flight were either turned back or redirected to airports in
Canada or Mexico. News sources aired unconfirmed and often
contradictory reports throughout the day. One of the most
prevalent of these reported that a car bomb
had been detonated at the U.S. State Department's headquarters in Washington, D.C.
after reporting for the first time on the Pentagon crash, CNN and other media also briefly reported that a fire
had broken out on the Washington Mall.
Another report went out on the AP
wire, claiming that a Delta Air Lines
—had been hijacked.
report, too, turned out to be in error; the plane was briefly
thought to represent a hijack risk, but it responded to controllers
and landed safely in Cleveland, Ohio.
There were a total of 2,995 deaths, including the 19 hijackers and
2,976 victims. The victims were distributed as follows: 246
on the four planes (from which there were no survivors), 2,605 in
New York City in the towers and on the ground, and 125 at the Pentagon.
All the deaths in the attacks were
civilians except for 55 military personnel killed at the
More than 90 countries lost citizens in the attacks on the World
Trade Center. In 2007, the New York City medical examiner's office
added Felicia Dunn-Jones to the official death toll from the
September 11 attacks. Dunn-Jones died five months after 9/11 from a
lung condition which was linked to exposure to dust during the
collapse of the World Trade Center. Leon Heyward, who died of
lymphoma in 2008, was added to the official death toll in
estimated that about 17,400 civilians were in the World Trade
Center complex at the time of the attacks, while turnstile counts
from the Port
suggest that 14,154 people were typically in the Twin
Towers by 8:45 a.m. The vast majority of people below the
impact zone safely evacuated the buildings, along with 18 people
who were in the impact zone in the south tower and a number above
the impact zone who evidently used the one intact stairwell in the
south tower. At least 1,366 people died who were at or above the
floors of impact in the North Tower and at least 618 in the South
Tower, where evacuation had begun before the second impact. Thus
over 90% of the workers and visitors who died in the Towers had
been at or above impact.
According to the Commission Report, hundreds were killed instantly
by the impact, while the rest were trapped and died after tower
collapse. At least 200 people jumped to their deaths from the
burning towers (as depicted in the photograph "The Falling Man
"), landing on the streets
and rooftops of adjacent buildings hundreds of feet below. Some of
the occupants of each tower above its point of impact made their
way upward toward the roof in hope of helicopter rescue, but the
roof access doors were locked. No plan existed for helicopter
rescues, and on September 11, the thick smoke and intense heat
would have prevented helicopters from conducting rescues.
A total of 411 emergency workers who responded to the scene died as
they attempted to rescue people and fight fires. The New York City Fire Department
(FDNY) lost 341 firefighters
and 2 FDNY
. The New York City Police
lost 23 officers. The Port
Authority Police Department
lost 37 officers, and 8 additional
from private EMS
Cantor Fitzgerald L.P.
investment bank on the 101st–105th floors of One World Trade
Center, lost 658 employees, considerably more than any other
employer. Marsh Inc.
located immediately below Cantor Fitzgerald on floors 93–101 (the
location of Flight 11's
impact), lost 355 employees, and 175 employees of Aon Corporation
were killed. After New York,
Jersey was the hardest hit state, with the city of
Hoboken sustaining the most deaths.
Weeks after the attack, the estimated death toll was over 6,000.
The city was only able to identify remains for about 1,600 of the
victims at the World Trade Center. The medical examiner's office
also collected "about 10,000 unidentified bone and tissue fragments
that cannot be matched to the list of the dead". Bone fragments were
still being found in 2006 as workers were preparing to demolish the
with the 110-floor Twin Towers of the World Trade Center itself,
numerous other buildings at the World Trade Center site were
destroyed or badly damaged, including 7 World Trade
Center, 6 World Trade Center, 5 World Trade Center, 4 World Trade Center, the Marriott World Trade Center ,
and the World
Financial Center complex and St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox
Bank Building across Liberty Street from the World
Trade Center complex was later condemned due to the uninhabitable,
toxic conditions inside the office tower, and is undergoing
deconstruction. The Borough
of Manhattan Community College's Fiterman Hall at 30 West Broadway was also condemned
due to extensive damage in the attacks, and is slated for deconstruction.
neighboring buildings including 90 West
Street and the Verizon Building suffered major damage, but have since been
restored. World Financial Center buildings, One Liberty Plaza, the Millenium Hilton, and 90 Church Street had moderate damage.
They have since been
restored. Communications equipment on top of the North Tower,
including broadcast radio, television and two-way radio
antenna towers, was also
destroyed, but media stations were quickly able to reroute signals
and resume broadcasts. In Arlington County, a portion of the Pentagon was severely damaged by
fire and one section of the building collapsed.
Rescue and recovery
An injured victim of the Pentagon attack is evacuated
The Fire Department of New
(FDNY) quickly deployed 200 units (half of the
department) to the site, whose efforts were supplemented by
numerous off-duty firefighters and EMTs
. The New York Police Department
(NYPD) sent Emergency Service
(ESU) and other police personnel, along with deploying
its aviation unit. Once on the scene, the FDNY, NYPD, and Port
Authority police did not coordinate efforts, and ended up
performing redundant searches for civilians.
As conditions deteriorated, the NYPD aviation unit relayed
information to police commanders, who issued orders for its
personnel to evacuate the towers; most NYPD officers were able to
safely evacuate before the buildings collapsed. With separate
command posts set up and incompatible radio communications between
the agencies, warnings were not passed along to FDNY
After the first tower collapsed, FDNY commanders did issue
evacuation warnings, however, due to technical
with malfunctioning radio repeater
systems, many firefighters
never heard the evacuation orders. 9-1-1
dispatchers also received information from callers that was not
passed along to commanders on the scene. Within hours of the
attack, a substantial search and
operation was launched. After months of around-the-clock
operations, the World Trade Center site was cleared by the end of May 2002.
Attackers and their motivation
hours of the attacks, the FBI was able to determine the names and in many cases
the personal details of the suspected pilots and hijackers.
's luggage, which did not
make the connection from his Portland flight onto Flight 11,
contained papers that revealed the identity of all 19 hijackers
(all men), and other important clues about their plans, motives,
and backgrounds. On the day of the attacks, the National
Security Agency intercepted communications that pointed to Osama bin Laden, as did German intelligence
On September 27, 2001, the FBI released photos of the 19 hijackers,
along with information about the possible nationalities and aliases
of many. Fifteen of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, two from the United Arab Emirates, one from Egypt, and one
Mohamed Atta was the ringleader of the 19
hijackers. According to Jerrold
Post, a professor of psychology at George
Washington University and former CIA officer, the
hijackers were well-educated, mature adults, whose belief systems
were fully formed.
The FBI investigation into the attacks, code named operation
, was the largest and most complex
investigation in the history of the FBI, involving over 7,000
. The United States
determined that al-Qaeda, headed by Osama bin Laden,
bore responsibility for the attacks, with the FBI stating "evidence
linking al-Qaeda and bin Laden to the attacks of September 11 is
clear and irrefutable". The Government of the United Kingdom
reached the same conclusion regarding al-Qaeda and Osama bin
Laden's culpability for the 11 September attacks.
Author Laurie Mylroie
writing in the
conservative political magazine The American Spectator
in 2006 argues
that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
and his family are the primary architects of 9/11 and similar
attacks, and that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's association with
Osama bin Laden
is secondary and
's claim of responsibility for
the attack is after the fact and opportunistic. In an opposing
point of view, former CIA
officer Robert Baer
, writing in Time
magazine in 2007, asserts that George W. Bush Administration
publicizing of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's claims of responsibility
for 9/11 and numerous other acts was a mendacious attempt to claim
that all of the significant actors in 9/11 had been caught.
origins of al-Qaeda can be traced back to 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded
Soon after the invasion, Osama bin Laden
traveled to Afghanistan where he helped organize Arab mujahideen
and established the Maktab al-Khidamat
(MAK) organization to
resist the Soviets. In 1989, as the Soviets withdrew, MAK was
transformed into a "rapid reaction force" in jihad
against governments across the Muslim world.
Under the guidance of Ayman
, Osama bin Laden became more radical. In 1996, bin
Laden issued his first fatwā
called for American soldiers to leave Saudi Arabia.
second fatwā issued in 1998, bin Laden outlined his objections to
policy towards Israel, as well as
the continued presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War.
Bin Laden used Islamic texts to exhort violent action against
American military and citizenry until the stated grievances are
reversed, noting "ulema
Islamic history unanimously agreed that the jihad is an individual
duty if the enemy destroys the Muslim countries."
Planning of the attacks
The idea for the September 11 plot came from Khalid Sheikh
Mohammed, who first presented the idea to Osama bin Laden in 1996.
point, Bin Laden and al-Qaeda were in a period of transition,
having just relocated back to Afghanistan from Sudan.
1998 African Embassy
and Bin Laden's 1998 fatwā marked a turning point,
with bin Laden intent on attacking the United States.
In late 1998 or early 1999, bin Laden gave approval for Mohammed to
go forward with organizing the plot. A series of meetings occurred
in spring of 1999, involving Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Osama bin
Laden, and his deputy Mohammed Atef
Mohammed provided operational support for the plot, including
target selections and helping arrange travel for the hijackers. Bin
Laden overruled Mohammed, rejecting some potential targets such as
the U.S. Bank Tower
in Los Angeles because "there was
not enough time to prepare for such an operation".
Bin Laden provided leadership for the plot, along with financial
support, and was involved in selecting participants for the plot.
initially selected Nawaf al-Hazmi and
Khalid al-Mihdhar, both
experienced jihadists who fought in Bosnia. Hazmi and Mihdhar arrived in the United
States in mid-January 2000, after traveling to Malaysia to attend the Kuala Lumpur al-Qaeda
Summit. In spring 2000, Hazmi and Mihdhar took
flying lessons in San
Diego, California, but both spoke little English, did not do well
with flying lessons, and eventually served as "muscle"
1999, a group of men from Hamburg, Germany arrived in Afghanistan, including Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Ziad Jarrah, and Ramzi Binalshibh.
Bin Laden selected
these men for the plot, as they were educated, could speak English,
and had experience living in the west. New recruits were routinely
screened for special skills, which allowed Al Qaeda leaders to also
identify Hani Hanjour
, who already had
a commercial pilot's license, for the plot.
Hanjour arrived in San Diego on December 8, 2000, joining Hazmi.
left for Arizona, where Hanjour took refresher training.
Marwan al-Shehhi arrived at the end of May 2000, while Atta arrived
on June 3, 2000, and Jarrah arrived on June 27, 2000. Binalshibh applied
several times for a visa to the United States, but as a Yemeni, he was
rejected out of concerns he would overstay his visa and remain as
an illegal immigrant.
Binalshibh remained in Hamburg, providing coordination between Atta
and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The three Hamburg
cell members all took pilot training in south Florida.
In spring 2001, the muscle hijackers began arriving in the United
States. In July 2001, Atta met with Binalshibh in Spain, where they
coordinated details of the plot, including final target selection.
Binalshibh also passed along Bin Laden's wish for the attacks to be
carried out as soon as possible.
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden's declaration of a holy
against the United States, and a fatwā signed by bin
and others calling for the killing of American civilians
in 1998, are seen by investigators as evidence of his motivation to
commit such acts.
Bin Laden initially denied, but later admitted, involvement in the
incidents. On September 16, 2001, bin Laden denied any
involvement with the attacks by reading a statement which was
broadcast by Qatar's Al Jazeera satellite channel: "I stress that I
have not carried out this act, which appears to have been carried
out by individuals with their own motivation."
was broadcast on U.S. news networks and worldwide.
November 2001, U.S. forces recovered a videotape from a destroyed
house in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in which Osama bin Laden is talking to Khaled
In the tape, bin Laden admits foreknowledge of
the attacks. The tape was broadcast on various news networks from
December 13, 2001. His distorted appearance on the tape has been
attributed to tape transfer artifact.
On December 27, 2001, a second bin Laden video was released.
video, he states, "Terrorism against America deserves to be praised
because it was a response to injustice, aimed at forcing America to
stop its support for Israel, which
kills our people", but he stopped short of admitting responsibility
for the attacks.
Shortly before the U.S. presidential
election in 2004
, in a taped statement
, bin Laden
publicly acknowledged al-Qaeda's involvement in the attacks on the
U.S. and admitted his direct link to the attacks. He said that the
attacks were carried out because "we are free...and want to regain
freedom for our nation. As you undermine our security we undermine
yours." Osama bin Laden says he had personally directed the 19
hijackers. In the video, he says, "We had agreed with the
Commander-General Muhammad Atta, Allah have mercy on him, that all
the operations should be carried out within 20 minutes, before Bush
and his administration notice." Another video obtained by Al
Jazeera in September 2006 shows Osama bin Laden with Ramzi Binalshibh
, as well as two hijackers,
and Wail al-Shehri
, as they make preparations for
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
The journalist Yosri Fouda
of the Arabic
television channel Al Jazeera
that in April 2002, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed admitted his
involvement, along with Ramzi
, in the "Holy Tuesday operation". The 9/11 Commission Report
that the animosity towards the United States felt by Khalid Sheikh
Mohammed, the "principal architect" of the 9/11 attacks, stemmed
"not from his experiences there as a student, but rather from his
violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring
Mohamed Atta shared this motivation. Ralph Bodenstein, a former
classmate of Atta described him as "most imbued actually about...
U.S. protection of these Israeli
in the region". Abdulaziz al-Omari
, a hijacker aboard
Flight 11 with Mohamed Atta, said in his video will, "My work is a
message those who heard me and to all those who saw me at the same
time it is a message to the infidels that you should leave the
Arabian peninsula defeated and stop giving a hand of help to the
coward Jews in Palestine
Sheikh Mohammed was also an adviser and financier of a 1993
bombing, also on the World Trade Center.
He is also
the uncle of Ramzi Yousef
, the lead
bomber in that attack.
Sheikh Mohammed was arrested on March 1, 2003 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan by Pakistani security officials working with the
CIA, and is currently being held at Guantanamo
During US hearings in March 2007, which
have been "widely criticized by lawyers and human rights groups as
sham tribunals", Sheikh Mohammed again confessed his responsibility
for the attacks, saying "I was responsible for the 9/11 operation,
from A to Z." Mohammed made the confession after being subject to
. In November 2009, US
Attorney General Eric Holder
that Mohammed and four accused co-conspirators will be transferred
from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to stand trial in civilian court near
Ground Zero in New York. No trial date was given. Mr Holder
expressed confidence that the defendants would get a fair trial
that was "open to the public and open to the world".
Other al-Qaeda members
In "Substitution for Testimony of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed" from the
trial of Zacarias Moussaoui
people are identified as having been completely aware of the
operation's details. They are Osama bin Laden, Khalid Sheikh
Mohammed, Ramzi Binalshibh
Abu Turab al-Urduni
and Mohammed Atef
. To date, only peripheral
figures have been tried or convicted for the attacks. Bin Laden has
not yet been formally indicted for the attacks.
On September 26, 2005, the Spanish high court
directed by judge
to 27 years of imprisonment
on the 9/11
attacks and being a member of the terrorist organization al-Qaeda.
At the same time, another 17 al-Qaeda members were sentenced to
penalties of between six and eleven years. On February 16, 2006,
the Spanish Supreme Court
Abu Dahdah penalty to 12 years because it considered that his
participation in the conspiracy was not proven.
The fatwas written or
signed by Osama Bin Laden
in 1996 and 1998 both demand the end
of the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia. In the fatwa issued
in 1998, bin Laden and others wrote: "For more than seven years the
United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest
of places, the Arabian peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating
to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors,
and turning its bases in the peninsula into a spearhead through
which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples" (see February 22,
1998). [Nation, 2/15/1999]The attacks were consistent with the
overall mission statement of al-Qaeda
set out in the 1998 fatwā issued by Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri
, Ahmed Refai Taha
, and Fazlur Rahman.
This statement begins by quoting the Koran
saying, "slay the pagans wherever ye find them" and extrapolates
this to conclude that it is the "duty of every Muslim" to "kill
Americans anywhere". Bin Laden elaborated on this theme in his
"Letter to America" of October 2002: "You are the worst
civilization witnessed by the history of mankind: You are the
nation who, rather than ruling by the Shariah of Allah in its
Constitution and Laws, choose to invent your own laws as you will
and desire. You separate religion from your policies, contradicting
the pure nature which affirms Absolute Authority to the Lord and
Many of the eventual findings of the 9/11 Commission regarding
motives have been supported by other experts. Counter-terrorism
expert Richard A. Clarke
explains in his 2004 book,
Against All Enemies
that U.S. foreign policy decisions including "confronting Moscow in
Afghanistan, inserting the U.S. military in the Persian Gulf", and
"strengthening Israel as a base for a southern flank against the
Soviets" contributed to al-Qaeda's motives. Others, such as
, foreign correspondent for
, focus on a more
political aspect to the motive, stating that "bin Laden is an
activist with a very clear sense of what he wants and how he hopes
to achieve it. Those means may be far outside the norms of
political activity [...] but his agenda is a basically political
A variety of scholarship has also focused on bin Laden's overall
strategy as a motive for the attacks. For instance, correspondent
argues that the attacks
were part of a plan to cause the United States to increase its
military and cultural presence in the Middle East, thereby forcing
Muslims to confront the "evils" of a non-Muslim government and
establish conservative Islamic governments in the region. Michael
Scott Doran, correspondent for Foreign Affairs
, further emphasizes the
"mythic" use of the term "spectacular" in bin Laden's response to
the attacks, explaining that he was attempting to provoke a
visceral reaction in the Middle East and ensure that Muslim
citizens would react as violently as possible to an increase in
U.S. involvement in their region.
The 9/11 attacks had immediate and overwhelming effects upon the
American people. Many police officers
and rescue workers elsewhere in the country took leaves of absence
to travel to New York City to assist in the process of recovering
bodies from the twisted remnants of the Twin Towers. Blood donations
across the U.S. also saw a
surge in the weeks after 9/11.
For the first time in history, SCATANA
was invoked forcing all non-emergency civilian aircraft in the
United States and several other countries including Canada to be
immediately grounded, stranding tens of thousands of passengers
across the world. Any international flights were closed to American
airspace by the Federal
, causing about five hundred flights to
be turned back or redirected to other countries. Canada received
226 of the diverted flights and launched Operation Yellow Ribbon
to deal with
the large numbers of grounded planes and stranded passengers.
Military operations following the attacks
At 2:40 p.m. in the afternoon of September 11, Secretary of Defense
was issuing rapid
orders to his aides to look for evidence of Iraqi involvement,
according to notes taken by senior policy official Stephen Cambone
. "Best info fast. Judge
whether good enough hit S.H." — meaning Saddam Hussein —
"at same time. Not only UBL" (Osama bin Laden), Cambone's notes
quoted Rumsfeld as saying. "Need to move swiftly — Near term target
needs — go massive — sweep it all up. Things related and
NATO council declared that the attacks on the United
States were considered an attack on all NATO nations and, as such,
satisfied Article 5 of the NATO charter.
Upon returning to
Australia having been on an official visit to the US at the time of
the attacks, Australian Prime Minister John
invoked Article IV of the ANZUS
treaty. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, the Bush
administration announced a war on
, with the stated goals of bringing Osama bin Laden
and al-Qaeda to justice and preventing the emergence of other
terrorist networks. These goals would be accomplished by means
including economic and military sanctions against states perceived
as harboring terrorists and increasing global surveillance and
The second-biggest operation of the U.S. Global War on
Terrorism outside of the United States, and the largest directly
connected to terrorism, was the overthrow of the Taliban rule of Afghanistan by a U.S.-led coalition. The United States was
not the only nation to increase its military readiness, with other
notable examples being the Philippines and Indonesia, countries that have their own internal conflicts
Following the attacks, President Bush's job approval rating
soared to 90%. On September 20, 2001, the U.S. president spoke
before the nation and a joint session of the
United States Congress
, regarding the events of that day, the
intervening nine days of rescue and recovery efforts, and his
intent in response to those events. In addition, the highly visible
role played by New York
City mayor Rudy Giuliani
high praise nationally and in New York.
Many relief funds were immediately set up to assist victims of the
attacks, with the task of providing financial
to the survivors of the
and to the families of victims, such as the Coalition
of 9/11 Families. By the deadline for victim's compensation,
September 11, 2003, 2,833 applications had been received from the
families of those who were killed.
Contingency plans for the continuity of government
evacuation of leaders were also implemented almost immediately
after the attacks. Congress, however, was not told that the United
States was under a continuity of government status until February
the United States, Congress passed and President Bush signed the
Homeland Security Act of 2002,
creating the Department of Homeland
Security, representing the largest restructuring of the U.S.
government in contemporary history.
Congress also passed the
USA PATRIOT Act
, stating that it
would help detect and prosecute terrorism and other crimes.
Civil liberties groups have criticized the PATRIOT Act, saying that
it allows law enforcement to invade the privacy of citizens and
eliminates judicial oversight
and domestic intelligence
. The Bush Administration also invoked 9/11 as
the reason to initiate a secret National Security Agency operation, "to
eavesdrop on telephone and e-mail
communications between the United States and people overseas
without a warrant".
Numerous incidents of harassment and hate
were reported against Middle Easterners and other
"Middle Eastern-looking" people in the days following the 9/11
were also targeted because Sikh
males usually wear turbans
, which are
stereotypically associated with Muslims
There were reports of verbal abuse
, attacks on
mosques and other religious buildings (including the firebombing of
a Hindu temple
) and assaults on people,
including one murder: Balbir Singh
was fatally shot on September 15, 2001. He, like others,
was a Sikh who was mistaken for a Muslim.
to a study by Ball State University, people perceived to be Middle Eastern were as
likely to be victims of hate crimes as followers of Islam during
The study also found a similar increase in hate
crimes against people who may have been perceived as members of
Islam, Arabs and others thought to be of Middle Eastern
Muslim American reaction
Top Muslim organizations in the United States were swift to condemn
the attacks on 9/11 and called "upon Muslim Americans
to come forward
with their skills and resources to help alleviate the sufferings of
the affected people and their families". Top organizations include:
Islamic Society of
, American Muslim Alliance, American Muslim
on American-Islamic Relations
, Islamic Circle of North
, and the Shari'a Scholars Association of North America.
Along with massive monetary donations, many Islamic organizations
launched blood drives and provided medical assistance, food, and
shelter for victims.
The attacks were denounced
by mass media
and governments worldwide. Across the
globe, nations offered pro-American support and solidarity. Leaders
in most Middle Eastern countries, and Afghanistan, condemned the
attacks. Iraq was a notable exception, with an immediate official
statement that "the American cowboys are reaping the fruit of their
crimes against humanity
Another publicized exception was the celebration of some Palestinians
thousands of people attempted to flee Afghanistan following the attacks, fearing a response by
the United States.
Pakistan, already home to many Afghan
refugees from previous Afghan conflict, closed its border with
Afghanistan on September 17. Approximately one month after the
attacks, the United States led a broad
of international forces in the removal of the
regime for harboring the al-Qaeda
organization. The Pakistani authorities moved decisively to align themselves
with the United States in a war against the Taliban and
Pakistan provided the United States a number of
military airports and bases for its attack on the Taliban regime
and arrested over 600 supposed al-Qaeda members, whom it handed
over to the United States.
countries, including Canada, China, the United Kingdom, France,
Russia, Germany, India and Pakistan introduced anti-terrorism legislation and froze the
bank accounts of businesses and
individuals they suspected of having al-Qaeda ties.
enforcement and intelligence
agencies in a number of countries, including Italy, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines arrested people they labeled terrorist suspects for
the stated purpose of breaking up militant cells around the
In the U.S., this aroused some controversy, as critics such as the
Bill of Rights Defense
argued that traditional restrictions on federal
surveillance (e.g. COINTELPRO
monitoring of public meetings) were "dismantled" by the USA PATRIOT
Act. Organizations such as the American Civil Liberties
argued that certain civil
protections were also being circumvented.
United States set up a detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba to hold
whom they defined as "illegal enemy
combatants". The legitimacy of these detentions has been
questioned by, among others, the European Parliament, the Organization of American
States, and Amnesty
The international events and reactions immediately after the
attacks affected the impact of the World Conference against
, which had ended in discord and international
recriminations just three days before.
As in the United States, the aftermath of the attacks saw racial
tensions increase in other countries between Muslims and non
Muslims. The most notable example occurred in the United Kingdom,
where on September 21, teenager Ross Parker
was murdered by a gang of
Muslims in a racist attack.
Proponents of 9/11 conspiracy
have suggested that individuals inside the United
States possessed detailed information about the attacks and
deliberately chose not to prevent them, or that individuals outside
of al-Qaeda planned, carried out, or assisted in the attacks. Some
conspiracy theorists claim the World Trade Center did not collapse
because of the crashing planes but was demolished with
is rejected by the National
Institute of Standards and Technology
and by the American Society of Civil
, who, after their research, both concluded that the
impacts of jets at high speeds in combination with subsequent fires
caused the collapse of both Towers.
US foreign policy and relations shifts
As a result of the 9/11 attack, US foreign policy shifted abruptly
and dramatically. As noted above, the attacks resulted directly in
the declaration of the US War in
beginning in 2001, even though the Taliban offered
to put bin Laden on trial in a third country.
During the first few years after the 9/11 attacks, international
support for an aggressive response by the US ran high, however, as
the years of the Bush administration seemed to run on without
producing any of the promised results, i.e. the capture of Bin
Laden, or the reduction of terrorism by Islamic extremists,
international support for Bush administration policies seemed to
wither and to even turn antagonistic.
Ultimately, Bush left office with an international approval rating
of his foreign policies of less than 20%. After the American 2008
election results indicated that Americans had grown weary of
pursuing aggressive militaristic policies as a response to the 9/11
attacks, and after a government had been elected that had pledged
to reverse such policies, popular international support for America
began to rebound.
A satellite view of Manhattan shows a
large smoke plume a day after the attacks.
A New York City fireman calls for 10
more rescue workers to make their way into the rubble of the World
The attacks had a significant economic impact on the United States
and world markets. The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the American Stock Exchange (AMEX), and NASDAQ did
not open on September 11 and remained closed until September
When the stock markets
reopened, the Dow Jones
(DJIA) stock market index fell 684 points,
or 7.1%, to 8921, a record-setting one-day point decline.
By the end of the week, the DJIA had fallen 1,369.7 points (14.3%),
its then-largest one-week point drop in history, though later
surpassed in 2008 during the global financial
. U.S. stocks lost $1.4 trillion in value for the week.
This is equivalent to $ in present day terms.
Economist and Crisis Consultant Randall
was retained by the city and state of New York to compute
the economic damages to The World Trade Center site. He writes in
his book, Strategy 360
, "The World Trade Center damages,
estimated by the New York City Mayor's Office, were
staggering:Clean up and stabilization of the WTC site - $9.0
billion;Repairing and replacing damaged infrastructure - $9.0
billion;Rebuilding the World Trade Center as smaller buildings -
$6.7 billion;Repairing and restoring other damaged buildings - $5.3
billion;Lost rent of the destroyed buildings - $1.75
In New York City, about 430,000 job-months and $2.8 billion in
wages were lost in the three months following the 9/11 attacks. The
economic effects were mainly focused on the city's export
economy sectors. The city's GDP
was estimated to have declined by
$27.3 billion for the last three months of 2001 and all of 2002.
The Federal government provided $11.2 billion in immediate
assistance to the Government
of New York City
in September 2001, and $10.5 billion in early
2002 for economic development and infrastructure needs.
attacks also hurt small businesses in
Lower Manhattan near the World Trade
Center, destroying or displacing about 18,000 of
Assistance was provided by Small Business Administration
loans and federal government Community Development Block Grants and
Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Some 31.9 million square feet of
office space was
damaged or destroyed.
Many wondered whether these jobs would return, and the damaged
recover. Studies of the economic
effects of 9/11 show that the Manhattan office real-estate market
and office employment were less affected than initially expected
because of the financial services industry's need for face-to-face
North American air space
was closed for
several days after the attacks and air
decreased upon its reopening, leading to nearly a 20%
cutback in air travel capacity, and exacerbating financial problems
in the struggling U.S. airline
The thousands of tons of toxic debris resulting from the collapse
of the Twin Towers consisted of more than 2,500 contaminants,
including known carcinogens. This has led to debilitating
among rescue and recovery workers, which many claim
to be directly linked to debris exposure. For example, NYPD Officer
Frank Macri died of lung cancer that spread throughout his body on
September 3, 2007; his family contends the cancer is the result of
long hours on the site and they have filed for line-of-duty death
benefits, which the city has yet to rule on.
effects have also extended to some residents, students, and office
workers of Lower Manhattan and nearby Chinatown.
Several deaths have been linked to the
toxic dust caused by the World Trade Center's collapse and the
victims' names will be included in the World Trade Center memorial.
There is also scientific speculation that exposure to various toxic
products in the air may have negative effects on fetal development
. Due to this
potential hazard, a notable children's environmental health center
is currently analyzing the children whose mothers were pregnant
during the WTC collapse, and were living or working near the World
Trade Center towers.
Legal disputes over the attendant costs of illnesses related to the
attacks are still in the court system. On October 17, 2006,
federal judge Alvin Hellerstein
rejected New York City's
refusal to pay for health costs for rescue workers, allowing for
the possibility of numerous suits against the city. Government
officials have been faulted for urging the public to return to
lower Manhattan in the weeks shortly following the attacks.
Christine Todd Whitman
administrator of the EPA
aftermath of the attacks, was heavily criticized for incorrectly
saying that the area was environmentally safe. President Bush was
criticized for interfering with EPA interpretations and
pronouncements regarding air quality in the aftermath of the
attacks. In addition, Mayor Giuliani was criticized
for urging financial industry personnel to return quickly to the
Immediately after the attacks, the Federal
Bureau of Investigation started PENTTBOM, the
largest criminal inquiry in the history of the United
The FBI told the U.S. Senate that there is "clear
and irrefutable" evidence linking Al Qaida and Bin Laden to the
The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United
(9/11 Commission), chaired by former New Jersey
Governor Thomas Kean
, was formed in late
2002 to prepare a thorough account of the circumstances surrounding
the attacks, including preparedness for, and the immediate response
to, the attacks. On July 22, 2004, the 9/11 Commission issued the
9/11 Commission Report
commission and its report have been subject to criticism
Collapse of the World Trade Center
technical building and fire safety
investigation of the collapses of the Twin Towers and 7 WTC
has been conducted by the United
States Department of Commerce's National
Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
of this investigation were to determine why the buildings
collapsed, the extent of injuries and fatalities, and the
procedures involved in designing and managing the World Trade
Center. The investigation into the collapse of 1 WTC and
2 WTC was concluded in October 2005, and the investigation
into the collapse of 7 WTC concluded in August 2008.
The report concluded that the fireproofing
on the Twin Towers' steel
infrastructures was blown off by the initial
impact of the planes and that, if this had not occurred, the towers
would likely have remained standing. A study published by
researchers of Purdue
University confirmed that, if the thermal insulation on the
core columns would have been scoured off and column temperatures
were elevated to approximately 700 °C, the fire would be sufficient
to initiate collapse.
, the director of the original investigation, commented
that "the towers really did amazingly well. The terrorist aircraft
didn’t bring the buildings down; it was the fire which followed. It
was proven that you could take out two thirds of the columns in a
tower and the building would still stand." The fires weakened the
trusses supporting the floors, making the floors sag. The sagging
floors pulled on the exterior steel columns to the point where
exterior columns bowed inward. With the damage to the core columns,
the buckling exterior columns could no longer support the
buildings, causing them to collapse. In addition, the report
asserts that the towers' stairwells were not adequately reinforced
to provide emergency escape
above the impact zones. NIST concluded that uncontrolled fires in
7 WTC caused floor beams and girders to heat and subsequently
"caused a critical support column to fail, initiating a
fire-induced progressive collapse that brought the building
Internal review of the CIA
The Inspector General of the CIA
conducted an internal review
of the CIA's pre-9/11 performance, and was harshly critical of
senior CIA officials for not doing everything possible to confront
terrorism, including failing to stop two of the 9/11 hijackers,
Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, as they entered the United
States, and failing to share information on the two men with the
In May 2007, senators from both the Democratic Party
drafted legislation that would openly present an internal CIA
investigative report. One of the backers, Senator Ron Wyden
stated "The American people have a right
to know what the Central Intelligence Agency was doing in those
critical months before 9/11.... I am going to bulldog this until
the public gets it." The report investigates the responsibilities
of individual CIA personnel before and after the 9/11 attacks. The
report was completed in 2005, but its details have never been
released to the public.
On the day of the attacks, New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani
proclaimed, "We will rebuild. We're going to come out of this
stronger than before, politically stronger, economically stronger.
The skyline will be made whole again." The Lower Manhattan
Development Corporation, tasked with coordinating rebuilding
efforts at the World Trade Center site, was criticized for doing little with the enormous
funding directed to the rebuilding efforts.
sites of the destroyed buildings, one, 7 World Trade
Center, has a new office tower
which was completed in 2006. The 1 World Trade Center is currently under construction at the site and at
1,776 ft (541 m) upon completion in 2011, will become
one of the
tallest buildings in North America, behind only the CN Tower in Toronto.
Three more towers were expected to be built between 2007 and 2012
on the site, and will be located one block east of where the
original towers stood. After the late-2000s recession
, the site's owners
said that construction of new towers could be delayed until 2036.
The damaged section of the Pentagon was rebuilt and occupied within
a year of the attacks.
In the days immediately following the attacks, many
memorials and vigils were held
around the world. In addition, pictures
were placed all over Ground Zero.
A witness described being unable to "get
away from faces of innocent victims who were killed. Their pictures
are everywhere, on phone booths, street lights, walls of subway
stations. Everything reminded me of a huge funeral, people quiet
and sad, but also very nice. Before, New York gave me a cold
feeling; now people were reaching out to help each other.”
One of the first memorials was the Tribute in Light
, an installation of 88
searchlights at the footprints of the World Trade Center towers
which projected two vertical columns of light into the sky. In New
York, the World Trade Center
Site Memorial Competition
was held to design an appropriate
memorial on the site. The winning design, Reflecting
, was selected in August 2006, and consists of a
pair of reflecting pools in the footprints of the towers,
surrounded by a list of the victims' names in an underground
memorial space. Plans for a museum on the site have been put on
hold, following the abandonment of the International Freedom Center
reaction to complaints from the families of many victims.
Memorial was completed and opened to the public on the
seventh anniversary of the attacks, September 11, 2008.
consists of a landscaped park with 184 benches facing the Pentagon.
When the Pentagon was repaired in 2001–2002, a private chapel and
indoor memorial were included, located at the spot where Flight 77
crashed into the building.
Shanksville, a permanent Flight 93 National Memorial is planned to include a sculpted grove of trees
forming a circle around the crash site, bisected by the plane's
path, while wind chimes will bear the names of the victims.
A temporary memorial is located from the crash site.New York City
firefighters donated a memorial to the Shanksville Volunteer Fire
. It is a cross made of steel from the World Trade
Center and mounted on top of a platform shaped like the Pentagon.
It was installed outside the firehouse on August 25, 2008.
Many other permanent memorials are being constructed elsewhere, and
scholarships and charities have been established by the victims'
families, along with many other organizations and private
- Ground broken for Flight 93 memorial in
- "Al Qaeda's Hidden Roots", by [[Laurie Mylroie,
September 20, 2006]
- "Why KSM's Confession Rings False" by
March 15, 2007, Time magazine
- Bush foreign policy approved by only 17% of
Europeans Boston Globe, July 23, 2009, Retrieved: August 23,
- Freedom Tower name changed to One World Trade
Center Newsday March
- National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United
States official commission website
- September 11, 2001, Documentary Project from
the U.S. Library of Congress, Memory.loc.gov
- September 11, 2001, Web Archive from the U.S.
- September 11 Digital Archive: Saving the Histories of
September 11, 2001 from the Center for History and New
Media and the American Social History Project/Center for
Media and Learning
- New York Fire Department audio tapes from September
11, 2001 from TheMemoryHole.org
DoD: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Verbatim Transcript of Combatant Status
Review Tribunal Hearing for ISN 10024, From WikiSource
- Sept. 11 Co-Conspirators from the U.S. Defense Department on Military Commissions including case
documents on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed et al.
- Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community
Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11,
2001 from TheMemoryHole.org
- Statistics from September 11 Numbers of victims,
deaths, other information