September 11 attacks (also 9/11 attacks) were suicide bombings attacks by 19 terrorists who hijacked 4 passenger airline planes from the eastern coast of USA and blew them in their respective targets. Two of the planes hit the twin towers of World Trade Center in New York, the third plane destroyed the west wall of Pentagon in Virginia while the fourth plane was crashed in Pennsylvania while its possible target was White House or Capitol. Almost 3,000 people were killed during these attacks including 19 hijackers, 72 security personnel and 343 firefighters.
Events During Attacks
A Boeing 767 aircraft of American Airlines Flight 11 took off from Boston’s Logan Airport at 7:59 am (local time) on 11th September 2001. After around 15 minutes, hijackers took control of the plane after overpowering pilot and the crew members. Muhammad Atta was leading the hijack while there were total five hijackers in the airliner. At 8:46 am, the plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. All the 92 people inside plane and around 1600 people in WTC North Tower died.
Another Boeing 767 aircraft of United Airlines Flight 175 left the Logan Airport in Boston at 8:14 am. There were total 65 people inside the plane including 9 crew members and 5 hijackers. The plane was hijacked after about 30 minutes into the flight. Marwan al-Shehhi was the pilot hijacker who blasted the plane into the South Tower of World Trade Center at 9:03 am killing all the 65 persons on-board and around 900 in the WTC.
|Flight Paths of all the 4 Hijacked Planes|
At 8:20 am, a Boeing 757 aircraft of American Airlines Flight 77 departed from Dulles International Airport in Virginia. There were 6 crew members, 5 hijackers and 53 passengers in the plane. The aircraft was hijacked after just over 30 minutes of the flight and hijacker pilot Hani Hanjour crashed the plane into the west wall of Pentagon, Virginia at 9:37 am. All the 64 people inside plane and 125 others in Pentagon lost their lives in this suicide attack.
Another Boeing 757 aircraft of United Airlines Flight 93 took off from Newark International Airport, New Jersey at 8:42 am. It was the only plane with less number of hijackers (total 4) while it was also the only plane that could not accomplish its task. After approximately 45 minutes of the flight, the hijackers took control of the plane but as the plane was heading towards the possible target of White House or Capitol Building, it crashed in Somerset County Pennsylvania, probably due to resistance by the passengers. All the 44 people including 37 passengers, 7 crew members and 4 hijackers died in the crash.
Role of al-Qaeda
It is widely believed that Muslim militant organization al-Qaeda was behind the 9/11 terror attacks and all the hijackers of the four planes were belonged to the terror group. Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1998 in which he emphasized the need to start a holy war against USA due to its support for Israel, sanctions on the people of Iraq and military presence in Saudi Arabia. The 9/11 Commission also used this fatwa as an evidence of involvement of al-Qaeda in 9/11 attacks.
After this fatwa, al-Qaeda attacked US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya (August 1998) which killed 224 people while an attack on USS Cole (navy destroyer) by al-Qaeda killed 17 US marines. Al-Qaeda also conducted several failed attacks against US targets. Due to these previous attacks, it is believed that is capable of masterminding the 9/11 attacks.
Response After Attacks
Immediately after the attack, the then US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ordered to investigate that whether al-Qaeda or the Iraqi Govt. was behind the attacks. Later on 15th September, the idea of attacking Iraq was rejected on the basis of proofs towards the involvement of al-Qaeda.
Initially, Taliban regime of Afghanistan was offered to hand over al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden so that the attack on Afghanistan could be prevented but Taliban refused to surrender Osama to USA. Instead, they suggested handing over Osama to Qatar where a trial can be held against him. But USA refused this option and announced War on Terror against the suspects of 9/11 attacks.
On 7th October 2001, USA invaded Afghanistan along with its supporters ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) which started the War in Afghanistan. The resistance of Taliban lasted for two months and their government was overthrown by ISAF on 9th December 2001. Taliban are still fighting the guerrilla war against the invading forces and Afghan government.
September 11 attacks are the most important event of the 21st Century as these attacks changed the security and domestic situation in the whole world. USA achieved the sympathies and support from almost the whole world after which a coalition was formed to punish the suspected culprits of these attacks. The invasion of Afghanistan uprooted al-Qaeda and its protectors Taliban regime but it destabilizes the whole area especially Afghanistan and Pakistan where terrorists’ attacks are still common.
After 9/11 attacks, many countries adopted special anti-terrorist laws in order to prevent terrorists to use their countries for terrorist activities. Germany, Canada, UK and New Zealand are few of those countries who adopted these laws.
In 2003, USA and its allies also invaded Iraq over allegations of WMD (weapons of mass destruction) and the 9/11 attacks at least indirectly helped this invasion as USA also used the term of War on Terror for its invasion of Iraq.