WASHINGTON DC, – What was the September 11, 2001 attack may be one of the questions that arises in the minds of the public after finding the news that Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri was shot dead by a United States (US) missile.
Ayman Al Zawahiri is said to be the mastermind behind the September 11 or 9/11 attacks with Osama bin Laden.
He was killed in a US-sent drone strike in Afghanistan on Saturday (30/7/2022).
What were the September 11, 2001 attacks?
The September 11 attacks were a series of suicide attacks that had been orchestrated against multiple targets in New York and Washington DC, USA on September 11, 2001.
Because it took place on a Tuesday, this attack is also known as the Gray Tuesday Incident.
In that event, the thing that is perhaps best known to the world community is when a group of suicide attackers hijacked a US commercial plane and crashed it into two skyscrapers in New York City.
The attack, which killed thousands of people, is one of the most traumatic events of the century. Not just for Americans, but maybe for the world.
Target of September 11, 2001 attacks
Four planes flying over the eastern US were hijacked simultaneously by a small team of attackers.
These planes were then used as giant guided missiles to hit important buildings in New York and Washington DC.
Two planes crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York.
Reported by the BBC, Sunday (11/8/2021), the first aircraft first hit the North Tower at 08.46 Eastern Time (13:46 GMT).
The second plane hit the South Tower at 09.03 Eastern Time.
Buildings caught fire, trapping people upstairs, and blanketing the city in smoke.
In less than two hours, the two 110-story towers collapsed in a huge cloud of dust.
At 9:37 a.m., it was the third plane’s turn to destroy the western part of the Pentagon, the U.S. military headquarters outside the nation’s capital, Washington DC.
Meanwhile, the fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania at 10:03 a.m. after passengers fought back.
The hijackers on the fourth plane are thought to have intended to attack the Capitol Building in Washington DC.
Number of people who died in the September 11 attacks
Overall, the number of people who died in the September 11, 2001 attacks was 2,977. This number does not include the 19 hijackers.
Most of those killed in the September 11 attacks were in New York.
Here are the details:
The youngest victim was two-year-old Christine Lee Hanson. He died on one of the planes with his parents Peter and Sue.
The oldest victim of the September 11, 2001 attacks was Robert Norton (82), who was on another plane with his wife Jacqueline, on their way to a wedding.
When the first plane hit, an estimated 17,400 people were in the building.
There were no survivors above the collision zone in the North Tower, but 18 people managed to escape from the floor above the collision zone in the South Tower.
Citizens of 77 different countries fell victim to the 9/11 attacks.
New York City lost 441 first responders or personnel trained to provide first-time assistance at emergency sites.
Thousands of people were injured or later suffered from illness associated with the attack, including firefighters working in the toxic rubble.
Who was behind the September 11 attacks?
An Islamic extremist network called al-Qaeda is planning attacks from Afghanistan.
Quoted from AFP, led by Osama Bin Laden, al-Qaeda blames the US and its allies for conflicts in the Muslim world.
A total of 19 people committed piracy, working in three teams of five people.
One group consisted of four people (on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania).
Each group has someone who has undertaken pilot training. This is done at flying schools in the US itself.
The 15 hijackers were Saudi Arabian Bin Laden, two from the United Arab Emirates, one from Egypt and one from Lebanon.
US response to the September 11, 2001 attacks
Less than a month after the attacks, President George W Bush led the invasion of Afghanistan – backed by an international coalition – to root out al-Qaeda and hunt down Bin Laden.
However, it was only 10 years later or in 2011 that US troops finally found and killed Bin Laden in neighboring Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the alleged plotter of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, was arrested in Pakistan in 2003.
Al Qaeda still exists. The group is the strongest in Sub-Saharan Africa but even now has members inside Afghanistan.
US troops left Afghanistan in 2021, after nearly 20 years there. This sparked fears from many that the Islamist network could return.
The legacy of the September 11, 2001 attacks
In the years following 9/11, aviation security was tightened around the world.
In the US, the Transportation Security Administration was created to increase security at airports and aircraft.
It took more than eight months to clear “Ground Zero” -the location of the collapsed Twin Towers.
A memorial and museum now stands on the site and the buildings have rebuilt, with different designs.
The finished centerpiece -One World Trade Center or “Tower of Freedom”- stands 541 m taller than the original North Tower, which was 417m high.
Meanwhile, reconstruction at the Pentagon took less than a year and staff returned to their offices in August 2002.