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September 11 attacks

 

The September 11 attacks (also referred to as 9/11) were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda against the United States on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. The attacks killed 2,996 people, injured over 6,000 others, and caused at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage. Additional people died of 9/11-related cancer and respiratory diseases in the months and years following the attacks.

Suspicion quickly fell on al-Qaeda. The United States responded by launching the War on Terror and invaded Afghanistan to depose the Taliban, which had failed to comply with U.S. demands to extradite Osama bin Laden and expel al-Qaeda from Afghanistan. Many countries strengthened their anti-terrorism legislation and expanded the powers of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to prevent terrorist attacks. Although Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda's leader, initially denied any involvement, in 2004 he claimed responsibility for the attacks. Al-Qaeda and bin Laden cited U.S. support of Israel, the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, and sanctions against Iraq as motives. After evading capture for almost a decade, bin Laden was located in Pakistan and killed by SEAL Team Six of the U.S. Navy in May 2011.

Journalist Yosri Fouda of the Arabic television channel Al Jazeera reported that in April 2002 Khalid Sheikh Mohammed admitted his involvement in the attacks, along with Ramzi bin al-Shibh. The 9/11 Commission Report determined that the animosity towards the United States felt by Mohammed, the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks, stemmed from his "violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel". Mohammed was also an adviser and financier of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the uncle of Ramzi Yousef, the lead bomber in that attack.

Other motives have been suggested in addition to those stated by bin Laden and al-Qaeda, including western support of Islamic and non-Islamic authoritarian regimes in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan and northern Africa, and the presence of western troops in some of these countries. Some authors suggested the "humiliation" that resulted from the Islamic world falling behind the Western world this discrepancy was rendered especially visible by the globalization trend and a desire to provoke the U.S. into a broader war against the Islamic world in the hope of motivating more allies to support al-Qaeda. Similarly, others have argued that 9/11 was a strategic move with the objective of provoking America into a war that would incite a pan-Islamic revolution.

The same day in July, Margarette Gillespie, an FBI analyst working in the CTC, was told to review material about the Malaysia meeting. She was not told of the participants' presence in the U.S. The CIA gave Gillespie surveillance photos of Mihdhar and Hazmi from the meeting to show to FBI counterterrorism, but did not tell her their significance. The Intelink database informed her not to share intelligence material on the meeting to criminal investigators. When shown the photos, the FBI were refused more details on their significance, and also did not receive Mihdhar's date of birth or passport number. In late August 2001, Gillespie told the INS, the State Department, the Customs Service, and the FBI to put Hazmi and Mihdhar on their watchlists, but the FBI was prohibited from using criminal agents in the search for the duo, which hindered their efforts.

Three buildings in the World Trade Center collapsed due to fire-induced structural failure. The South Tower collapsed at 9:59 a.m. after burning for 56 minutes in a fire caused by the impact of United Airlines Flight 175 and the explosion of its fuel. The North Tower collapsed at 10:28 a.m. after burning for 102 minutes. When the North Tower collapsed, debris fell on the nearby 7 World Trade Center building (7 WTC), damaging it and starting fires. These fires burned for hours, compromising the building's structural integrity, and 7 WTC collapsed at 5:21 pm. The west side of the Pentagon sustained significant damage.

The Deutsche Bank Building across Liberty Street from the World Trade Center complex was later condemned as uninhabitable because of toxic conditions inside the office tower, and was deconstructed. The Borough of Manhattan Community College's Fiterman Hall at 30 West Broadway was condemned due to extensive damage in the attacks, and was reopened in 2012. Other neighboring buildings (including 90 West Street and the Verizon Building) suffered major damage but have been restored. World Financial Center buildings, One Liberty Plaza, the Millenium Hilton, and 90 Church Street had moderate damage and have since been restored. Communications equipment on top of the North Tower was also destroyed, with only WCBS-TV maintaining a backup transmitter on the Empire State Building, but media stations were quickly able to reroute the signals and resume their broadcasts.

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