On 9/11 in 2001, at 8:45 am on a clear Tuesday morning, an American Airlines Boeing 767 loaded with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City, United States Of America.
The impact left a burning hole near the 80th floor of the 110 storey skyscraper, instantly killing hundreds of people and trapping hundreds more. As the evacuation of the tower and its twin got underway, television cameras broadcasted live images of what initially appeared to be an acciden.
Then, 18 minutes later, a second Boeing 767 appeared out of the sky and sliced into the South Tower near the 60th floor. The collision caused a massive explosion that showered burning debris over surrounding buildings and streets.
America was under attack!
The attackers were reported to be Islamic terrorists from Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations. Allegedly, financed by Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terrorist group, acting in retaliation for America’s support of Israel, its involvement in the Persian Gulf War and its continued military presence in the Middle East.
Some of the terrorists had lived in America for more than a year and had taken flying lessons at American commercial flight schools. Others had slipped into the country in the months before September 11 and acted as the “muscle” in the operation.
The 19 terrorists easily smuggled box-cutters and knives through security at three East Coast airports and boarded four flights bound for California (chosen because the planes were loaded with fuel for long trans-continental journey.).
Soon after takeoff, the terrorists commandeered the four planes, transforming ordinary commuter jets into guided missiles.
As millions watched the events unfolding in New York, another American Airlines Flight 77 circled over downtown Washington DC and slammed into the west side of the Pentagon Military Headquarters at 9:45 am.
Jet fuel from the Boeing 757 caused a devastating inferno that led to the structural collapse of a portion of the giant concrete building. Reportedly, 125 military personnel and civilians were killed in the Pentagon along with all 64 people aboard the plane.
Less than 15 minutes after the terrorists struck the nerve center of the US military, the horror in New York took a catastrophic turn for the worse when the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed in a massive cloud of dust and smoke.
The structural steel of the skyscraper built to withstand winds in excess of 200 miles per hour and a large conventional fire, could not withstand the tremendous heat generated by the burning jet fuel!
At 10:30 am, the other Trade Center tower collapsed. Close to 3,000 people died in World Trade Center and its vicinity, including a staggering 343 firefighters and paramedics, 23 New York City police officers and 37 Port Authority police officers who were struggling to complete an evacuation of the buildings.
Only six people in the World Trade Center towers at the time of their collapse survived. Almost 10,000 others were treated for injuries, many severe.
Meanwhile, a fourth California bound plane was hijacked about 40 minutes after leaving Newark International Airport in New Jersey. Passengers on board learned of events in New York and Washington via cell phones due to delay in takeoff of the plane. Knowing that the aircraft was not returning to an airport as the hijackers had claimed, a group of passengers and flight attendants planned an insurrection.
The passengers fought the four hijackers but sadly, the plane flipped over and sped towards the ground, crashing in a rural field in Pennsylvania at 10:10 a.m. All 45 people aboard were killed.
The intended target of the fourth plane is not known, but theories include the White House, the US Capitol, the Camp David Presidential Retreat in Maryland or one of several nuclear power plants along the eastern seaboard.
At 7 pm, President George W. Bush returned to the White House after spending the entire day shuttling around because of security concerns.
At 9 pm, he delivered a televised address from the Oval Office, declaring terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of the biggest buildings but they cannot touch the foundation of America or dent the steel of American resolve! In reference to the eventual US military response, he mentioned, “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.”
As distraught America weeped to sleep on the night of 9/11 , Bush promised not to until the people behind the massacre are served.
Following the attack, the American-led international effort to oust the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and destroy Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network under the name “Operation Enduring Freedom” began on October 7. Within two months, US forces effectively removed the Taliban from operational power, but the war continued as US and coalition forces attempted to defeat a Taliban insurgency campaign based in neighbouring Pakistan.
But it is on May 2, 2011 that people of Unites Sates Of America rejoiced. Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the September 11th attacks, was finally tracked down and killed by US forces at a hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
You’d also like to read : Demystifying Why Neighbouring Countries Fight So Often
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.