September 11 attacks

September 11 attacks
Part of terrorism in the United States
Black smoke billowing over Manhattan from the Twin Towers
Rescue workers climb through rubble and smoke at the World Trade Center site, and an American flag flies at left
A portion of the Pentagon charred and collapsed, exposing the building's interior
A fragment of Flight 93's metal fuselage with two windows, sitting in a forest
Illuminated water falls into the square 9/11 Memorial south pool at sunset, and glass-clad One World Trade Center and other skyscrapers rise in the background
Location
DateSeptember 11, 2001 (2001-09-11)
8:14 a.m.[a] – 10:03 a.m.[b] (EDT)
Target
Attack type
Deaths2,996
(2,977 victims + 19 al-Qaeda terrorists)
Injured~25,000[1]
PerpetratorsAl-Qaeda,[2] led by Osama bin Laden (see also: responsibility)
No. of participants
19
MotiveSeveral; see Motives for the September 11 attacks and Fatawā of Osama bin Laden

The September 11 attacks, commonly known as 9/11,[c] were a series of four coordinated suicide terrorist attacks carried out by the militant Islamic extremist network al-Qaeda[3][4][5] against the United States. On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, nineteen terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners mid-flight while traveling from the northeastern U.S. to California. The attackers were organized into three groups of five members and one group of four, with each group including one designated flight-trained hijacker who took control of the aircraft. Their goal was to crash the planes into prominent American buildings, inflicting mass casualties and major structural damage. The hijackers successfully crashed the first two planes into the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, and the third plane into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. The fourth plane was intended to hit a federal government building[d] in Washington, D.C., but instead crashed down in a field outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania following a passenger revolt that foiled the attack.[6]

The first plane to hit its target was American Airlines Flight 11. It was crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan at 8:46 am. Seventeen minutes later, at 9:03 am, the World Trade Center's South Tower was hit by United Airlines Flight 175. Both 110-story towers collapsed within an hour and forty-two minutes, leading to the collapse of the other World Trade Center structures including 7 World Trade Center, and significantly damaging surrounding buildings. A third hijacked flight, American Airlines Flight 77, crashed into the west side of the Pentagon (the headquarters of the American military) in Arlington County, Virginia at 9:37 am, causing a partial collapse of the building's side. The fourth, and final flight, United Airlines Flight 93, was flown in the direction of Washington, D.C. The plane's passengers, alerted about the previous attacks, attempted to regain control of the aircraft and prevent it from crashing into its intended target. A struggle broke out in the aircraft and the hijackers crashed the plane in a field in Stonycreek Township, Pennsylvania near Shanksville, at 10:03 am. Investigators determined that Flight 93's target was either the U.S. Capitol or the White House.

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, suspicion quickly fell onto al-Qaeda. The United States formally responded by launching the War on Terror and invading Afghanistan to depose the Taliban, which had not complied with U.S. demands to expel al-Qaeda from Afghanistan and extradite their leader Osama bin Laden. In the aftermath of the attacks the United States invoked Article 5 of NATO for the first time and called upon its allies to aid its fight against al-Qaeda. As U.S. and NATO ground forces swept through Afghanistan, bin Laden fled to the White Mountains where he was nearly captured by U.S.-led forces, but managed to escape.[7] Although bin Laden initially denied any involvement, in 2004 he formally claimed responsibility for the attacks.[2] Some of the motivations for the attack Al-Qaeda cited were: U.S. support of Israel, the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia and sanctions against Iraq. After evading capture for almost a decade, bin Laden was located in a hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and subsequently killed by the U.S. military on May 2, 2011.

The destruction of the World Trade Center and nearby infrastructure seriously harmed the economy of New York City and created a global economic recession. Many countries strengthened their anti-terrorism legislation and expanded the powers of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to prevent terrorist attacks. The U.S. and Canadian civilian airspaces were closed until September 13, while Wall Street trading was closed until September 17. Many closings, evacuations, and cancellations followed, out of respect or fear of further attacks. Cleanup of the World Trade Center site took eight months and was completed in May 2002, while the Pentagon was repaired within a year. Design of a replacement World Trade Center complex took several years because of the many stakeholders involved. Work on the new iconic building for the site, One World Trade Center, began in November 2006, and opened in November 2014 after several construction delays.[8][9]

The attacks resulted in 2,977 fatalities, over 25,000 injuries, and substantial long-term health consequences, in addition to at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage.[10][11] It remains the deadliest terrorist attack in human history and the single deadliest incident for firefighters and law enforcement officers in the history of the United States, with 340[12] and 72 killed,[13][14] respectively. Numerous memorials have been constructed, including the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City, the Pentagon Memorial in Arlington County, Virginia, and the Flight 93 National Memorial at the Pennsylvania crash site.


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  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference exchange was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ a b "Bin Laden claims responsibility for 9/11". CBC News. October 29, 2004. Retrieved September 1, 2011. Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden appeared in a new message aired on an Arabic TV station Friday night, for the first time claiming direct responsibility for the 2001 attacks against the United States.
  3. ^ Moghadam, Assaf (2008). The Globalization of Martyrdom: Al Qaeda, Salafi Jihad, and the Diffusion of Suicide Attacks. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 48. ISBN 978-0-8018-9055-0.
  4. ^ Livesey, Bruce (January 25, 2005). "Special Reports – The Salafist Movement: Al Qaeda's New Front". PBS Frontline. WGBH educational foundation. Retrieved October 18, 2011.Geltzer, Joshua A. (2011). US Counter-Terrorism Strategy and al-Qaeda: Signalling and the Terrorist World-View (reprint ed.). Routledge. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-415-66452-3.
  5. ^ Wright (2006), p. 79.
  6. ^ Janos, Adam. "How United Flight 93 Passengers Fought Back on 9/11". HISTORY. Retrieved October 14, 2021.
  7. ^ Corera, Gordon (July 21, 2011). "Bin Laden's Tora Bora escape, just months after 9/11". BBC News.
  8. ^ Moore, Jack (November 3, 2014). "World Trade Center Re-opens as Tallest Building in America". onewtc.com. Archived from the original on September 4, 2015. Retrieved September 11, 2015.
  9. ^ Smith, Aaron (November 3, 2014). "One World Trade Center opens today". CNN. Retrieved November 4, 2014.
  10. ^ "How much did the September 11 terrorist attack cost America?". Institute for the Analysis of Global Security. Retrieved April 30, 2014.
  11. ^ Morgan, Matthew J. (August 4, 2009). The Impact of 9/11 on Politics and War: The Day that Changed Everything?. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 222. ISBN 978-0-230-60763-7.
  12. ^ "Deadliest incidents resulting in the deaths of 8 or more firefighters". National Fire Protection Association.
  13. ^ "Deadliest Days in Law Enforcement History". National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Archived from the original on February 13, 2014.
  14. ^ "Congressional Record, Vol. 148, No. 76" (PDF). Government Printing Office. June 11, 2002. p. H3312. Mr. Hefley: That fateful Tuesday we lost 72 police officers, the largest single loss of law enforcement personnel in a single day in the history of our country.

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