New Delhi: On September 11, 2001, a series of coordinated suicide attacks were carried out by Al Qaeda upon the United States. On that morning, 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial passenger jet airliners.
The hijackers intentionally crashed two of the airliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York, killing everyone on board and many others working in the buildings. Both towers 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 DC.
The fourth 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. to target either the Capitol Building or the White House There were no survivors from any of the flights.
Nearly 3,000 victims and the 19 hijackers died in the attacks.
According to the New York State Health Department, 836 responders, including firefighters and police personnel, have died as of June 2009. Among the 2,752 victims who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center were 343 firefighters and 60 police officers from New York City and the Port Authority.
Another 184 people were killed in the attack on the Pentagon. The overwhelming majority of casualties were civilians, including nationals of over 70 countries.
The United States President George W. Bush responded to the attacks by launching the War on Terror, 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 law enforcement powers. Some American stock exchanges stayed 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.
The damage to the Pentagon was cleared and repaired within a year, and the Pentagon Memorial was built adjacent to the building.
The rebuilding process has started on the Worlkd Trade Center site. In 2006, a new office tower was completed on the site of 7 World Trade Center.. The new One World Trade Center is currently under construction at the site and is expected to be completed in 2013.
Three more 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
Early on the morning of September 11, 2001, nineteen hijackers took control of four commercial airliners en route to San Francisco and Los Angeles from Boston, Newark and Washington DC.
At 8:46 a.m., American Airlines Flight 11 was crashed into the World Trade Center's North Tower, followed by United Airlines Flight 175, which hit the South Tower at 9:03 a.m.
Another group of hijackers flew American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon 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 the Capitol or the White House.
Some passengers were able to make phone calls using the cabin airphone service and mobile phones, and provide details, including that several hijackers were aboard each plane, that mace or other form of noxious chemical spray, such as tear gas or pepper spray was used, and that some people aboard had been stabbed Reports indicated that during two of the flights, the hijackers stabbed and killed aircraft pilots, flight attendants and in at least one case, a passenger.
The 9/11 Commission established that 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, a transcript of audio recorded by the cockpit voice recorder 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.
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. Soon afterward, the aircraft crashed into a field near Shanksville.
In a September 2002 interview conducted by documentary-maker Yosri Fouda, an al Jazeera journalist, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who are believed to have organised the attacks, stated that the fourth hijacked plane was heading for the United States Capitol, which they gave the codename "the Faculty of Law" not for the White House.
They further stated that al-Qaeda initially planned to fly hijacked jets into nuclear installations rather than the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, but it was decided not to attack nuclear power plants "for the moment" because of fears it could "get out of control".
Three buildings in the World Trade Center Complex collapsed due to structural failure 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 that fell on the nearby 7 World Trade Center (7 WTC) building damaged it and initiated fires. These fires burned for hours and compromised the building's structural integrity, which led to the crumbling of the east penthouse at 5:20 p.m. and to the complete collapse of the building at 5:21 p.m.
There were a total of 2,996 deaths, including the 19 hijackers and 2,977 victims.
The victims were distributed as follows: 246 on the four planes (from which there were no survivors), 2,606 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 in the attack on the Pentagon.
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 2009.
Along 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 (3 WTC) and the World Financial Center complex and St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church.
Of the buildings and structures belonging to the World Trade Center complex, North Tower (1 World Trade Center), South Tower (2 World Trade Center), the Marriott Hotel (3 World Trade Center) and 7 World Trade Center were completely destroyed, 4 World Trade Center, 5 World Trade Center, One Liberty Plaza, the U.S. Customs House (6 World Trade Center), and both pedestrian bridges were severely damaged. The Deutsche Bank building on 130 Liberty Street was partially damaged and demolished later.