“The World Trade Center is a living symbol of man’s dedication to world peace… a representation of man’s belief in humanity, his need for individual dignity, his beliefs in the cooperation of men, and, through cooperation, his ability to find greatness.” – Minoru Yamasaki (designer of the World Trade Center).
47. September 11th, 2001
On September 11, 2001, nineteen terrorists hijacked 4 airplanes from American airports with the intent of crashing them into the World Trade Center buildings 1 & 2, The Pentagon, and the U.S. Capitol. The terrorists, belonging to the Al Qaeda terrorist network, allegedly wanted to retaliate against the United States’ continued support of Israel, the involvement in the Persian Gulf Wars, and for its continued military presence around the Middle East. Two planes were intentionally crashed directly into the World Trade Center buildings 1 & 2 just 18 minutes apart. Nearly an hour later, the terrorists crashed another plane directly into the Pentagon, instantly killing 184 people. One hour later, the fourth airplane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania after passengers struggled for control of the airplane with the attackers, killing all on board. (21)
46. Years Earlier…
In 1993, an Al Qaeda-linked group detonated a massive truck bomb in the underground parking garage of the North Tower of the World Trade Center, killing 6 and injuring 1,042 people. Their goal was to topple the North Tower into the South, killing all the occupants inside as a revenge for the U.S.’s support of Israel which the group considered a terrorist-state. (29)
45. The two attacks were linked.
The 1993 World Trade Center truck bombing was financed by Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, a wealthy business man. Eight years later, he went on to become the architect for the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon. Both attacks were carried out by the same terror group, Al Qaeda. (28)
44. How did 19 terrorists hijack and fly four airplanes?
In the months leading up to the 9/11 attacks, many of the hijackers obtained commercial pilot licenses from various flight schools, and despite their flight instructor’s concern, were granted their licenses. In preparation for the attack, many of the terrorists joined gyms to build up their strength to enable them to overpower the flight attendants and pilots. Many also purchased 4-inch blades, box cutters and pepper spray, which were permitted on board at the time. No one is certain as to how the attackers successfully broke into the cockpits of the 4 planes. However, one flight attendant on Flight 11 notified ground control that five men had stabbed a flight attendant, the pilot and another passenger before gaining access to the cockpit and taking control of the flight. (27)
43. Security alert
Prior to boarding the flight, the name of the 9/11 ringleader, Mohamed Atta, triggered a security alert. His checked bags were not placed into the plane’s hold, but he was still allowed to board the flight. (5)
Wanting to create the largest impact and the most damage possible, the terrorists hijacked airplanes destined across the country as those flights were filled with the most fuel, over 20,000 gallons.
- American Airlines Flight 11: departed from Boston destined to Los Angeles; it was crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
- American Airlines Flight 77: departed Washington D.C. destined to Los Angeles; it was crashed into the Pentagon.
- United Airlines Flight 175: departed from Boston destined to Los Angeles; it was crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
- United Airlines Flight 93: departed from New Jersey destined to San Francisco; it crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. (21)
41. An accident or intentional?
The first news reports of the 9/11 attacks were aired by CNN just 3 minutes after American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. As no verifiable information was coming in, the news anchors, reporters and eyewitnesses could only speculate as to what had just occurred. Most assumed it was a horrific aviation accident. However, after United Flight 175 struck the South Tower, it was evident that the devastation was intentional. (26)
40. Slip of the tongue.
Shortly after hijacking Flight 11, one of the hijackers accidentally contacted ground control twice while trying to speak to passengers aboard. He stated, “We have some planes. Just stay quiet and you’ll be O.K. We are returning to the airport.” and then, “Nobody move. Everything will be okay. If you try to make any moves, you’ll endanger yourself and the airplane. Just stay quiet.” Initially confused, ground control contacted the FAA Headquarters who then notified NORAD of possible hijacking. NORAD tried to scramble jets to intercept the aircraft, but were unable to reach the plane in time. (25)
39. This is not a drill!
The week leading up to the 9/11 attacks, NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command) simulated at least 4 hijacking exercises of civil airplanes in an operation labeled “Vigilant Guardian”. The next one was scheduled for the morning of September 11th but was canceled as actual hijackings had taken place. (5)
Immediately after terrorists crashed Flight 77 into the Pentagon, for the first time in American history, the FAA grounded all non-emergency civilian aircraft for 3 days over the United States. The Chief of Air Traffic Control, Ben Sliney, made the call on his first day on the job. (16)
37. Atmospheric science
Following the 3-day flight ban over the U.S., scientist conducted experiments to observe the effect of jet planes on the atmosphere. The scientist observed statistically significant changes in temperatures; warmer days and cooler nights. Scientist hypothesized that the jet plane contrails shaded the earth during the day, and retained heat at night. (5)
36. 9/11 Boatlift
Immediately following the 9/11 attacks, all transportation was shut down in and out of Manhattan. In an amazing show of compassion and selflessness, civilian boat owners volunteered their boats to transport over 500,000 people that were stuck on the island. (24)
35. Timely renovation
Prior to the 9/11 attack, the section of the Pentagon that was struck by Flight 77 had recently undergone a $258 million renovation that provided strengthened walls and reinforced windows. Many windows near the point of impact remained intact after the plane struck the building. (5)
34. Hard impact
The black box flight voice recorder of Flight 77 (the plane that crashed into the Pentagon) had been damaged so badly during impact that it was the first black box recovered in over 40 years of aviation history that yielded no viable data. (5)
33. Impossible decision
After the planes were crashed into the Twin Towers, people on floors above the wreckage were immediately trapped by the burning jet fuel and severe structural damage to the stairs and elevators. Fire soon engulfed the surrounding floors, filling them with thick toxic smoke. The fires and smoke rapidly became so intense that people were forced to hang out of broken windows over 1,300 feet above the ground as a desperate attempt to escape the intense heat and smoke to breath fresh air. It soon became apparent that they would not be able to escape. Faced with an impossible decision of choosing between suffocating or burning to death, some even decided to jump. Some jumped alone, while others held hands, and some even made parachutes out of their clothing. None survived. It is estimated that around 200 people jumped from the buildings. (23)
32. Buildings collapse
Both World Trade Center 1 and 2 collapsed within 2 hours of being struck by the air planes. Nearly 7 hours later, the Seven World Trade Center building collapsed after burning for several hours. Although building 7 was not struck by a plane, it had suffered catastrophic damage and was subsequently ignited by falling debris. There were no casualties as the building had already been evacuated. (23)
31. The victims
The victims of the September 11th attacks ranged from ages 2 through 85. Victims came from all backgrounds, nationalities, professions, and religious beliefs. Between 75-80% of victims were men. (22)
30. Deadly for firefighters.
The New York City Fire Department lost 343 firefighters during the World Trade Center terrorist attacks. Firefighters were in the process of evacuating trapped civilians from the engulfed towers when the buildings collapsed. (21)
29. Police officers
The New York City Police Department lost 37 police officers and the Port Authority lost 23 Police officers during the World Trade Center terrorist attacks. (21)
The 9/11 attacks resulted in 3,051 children that lost one or both parents, seventeen of which were born after their fathers were killed during the attack. (5)
27. The heartbreaking search for victims
Due to the sheer size and impact of the attacks and subsequent building collapses, only 291 bodies were recovered fully intact from the debris of the World Trade Centers. The rest were body parts and personal possessions. (5)
26. Miraculous rescues
In the two days after the initial attack, 20 people were miraculously rescued alive from the rubble. Two Port Authority police officers were rescued after being buried under nearly 30 feet of rubble for over 24 hours. Their story would go onto to become the basis for the movie starring Nicolas Cage and Michael Peña titled, The World Trade Center. (16)
25. Osama Bin Laden
Soon after the attacks, suspicion fell on the Al Qaeda terrorist group lead by the wealthy businessman Osama Bin Laden, whom initially denied involvement. In November 2001, the U.S military obtained tapes with Bin Laden admitting that he knew of the attacks before they happened. A month later, another tape revealed that he supported the 9/11 terror attacks. Bin Laden had been located in Afghanistan at the time of the attacks and was supported by the Taliban terror network. On October 7th, 2001 the U.S. officially began the war in Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban. Osama Bin Laden was killed in May 2011 by American Special forces in Pakistan. (20)
Contrary to popular beliefm the 16th Century French astronomer, Nostradamus, did not predict 9/11. This myth was popularized after a Canadian college student in 1999 tried to prove how easily someone could fabricate a generalized prophecy, attribute it to Nostradamus and let it be interpreted to represent any cataclysmic event. Immediately after the attacks, someone mistook the student’s made-up prophecy as fact and soon it circulated the internet as a prophecy-come-true. (19)
23. Google searches
In the week following the September 11th attacks, the top 4 Google searches in order were Nostradamus, CNN, The World Trade Center, and Osama Bin Laden. (5)
22. Air Force 1
During the chaos and confusion that ensued following the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, U.S. President George W. Bush was rushed aboard Air Force 1 (the massive 3-story presidential airplane that acts as a mobile White House and a flying fortress). While aboard, the President was unable to secure contact with any intelligence on the ground or any member of his cabinet and relied on news media reports for information. The airplane circled the United States for hours on end, unable to safely land. During this time, the national DEFCON level was raised to nearly that of nuclear war status, alarming nations such as Russia whom nearly took action in preparation for war. It wasn’t until late that evening when the President was able to return to the White House and deliver his first statement to the U.S., addressing the terrorist attacks. (18)
21. So close, yet so far
In the week leading up to September 11th, five of the nineteen 9/11 attackers stayed in a hotel located right next to the building of National Security Administration, the government organization charged with identifying terrorist and terror plots. (5)
20. Worldwide denouncement
The 9/11 terror attacks were denounced by nearly every nation in the world, including prominent leaders of Middle Eastern and Muslim-majority countries. The one exception was the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein. (17)
In the months following the attacks, many New Yorkers found various methods to cope. Alcohol consumptions increased by 25%, tobacco use increased by 10%, Church and Synagogue attendance increased by 20%. (5)
18. Another way to cope
Nine months after the September 11th attacks, child births in New York City rose by 20% in comparison to the same time a year prior. (5)
It took firefighters 99 days to finally extinguish the fires at Ground Zero, the area in which both the World Trade Center’s 1 & 2 once stood. (16)
16. Clean up
It took over a year and a half to clean up the 1.8 million tons of debris located at Ground Zero, costing over $750 million. (16)
There are two major Hollywood films depicting the events of the terror attacks on September 11, 2001. They are United 93, which is about the hijacked United 93 flight that crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, and The World Trade Center which is about the Port Authority police officers that were rescued from the rubble of World Trade Center. (15)
14. Flight United 93 was almost shot down by the military
Flight United 93 was the last of the 4 hijacked planes to take off and was not yet in the air when the three other planes had been crashed into their intended targets. Immediately after realizing that the plane had been hijacked, then Vice President Dick Cheney authorized for the plane to be shot down by the U.S. military. However, the passengers aboard United Flight 93 overpowered the hijackers causing the plane to crash before the military jets were able to reach the hijacked aircraft. (14)
13. Long term health effects
Studies have shown that the survivors of the 9/11 attacks have significantly increased risk of cancers, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and a myriad of respiratory issues. This is especially true among the 9/11 rescue workers who were shown to have an 11% increase in cancer over the general New York City population. (13)
The original teaser trailer for the 2002 Spider Man movie, released in July 2001, included a scene where bank robbers making their escape in a helicopter, became entangled in a large web between the two World Trade Center Towers. Four months later, Sony Pictures removed the trailer from theaters as they felt it was insensitive to include images of the Twin Towers in the trailer. (12)
11. Increased airport security
Anyone who has flown since 9/11 is well aware of the high levels of security at airports. Prior to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, people were allowed to bring small knives, box cutters, pepper spray and other various personal items that could potentially be used as a weapon. Since 9/11, increased security measures have greatly reduced the types and quantities of items allowed on board. Additional security measures have resulted in increased scrutiny for many travelers and even blacklisted some in what has become known as the “No-Fly List.” The massive costs for the additional airport security have been added to airline tickets as a fee called the “9/11 Fee.” (11)
Soon after the terrorist attacks, conspiracies about the events became commonplace. Conspiracies ranged from whom carried out the attacks, to how the attacks occurred and even the accusal of various government entities’ involvement in the attacks. Several documentaries, including Loose Change, Zeitgeist, and Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 911, claimed the U.S. Government was involved in the attacks or had knowledge of them before they occurred. Despite all of the conspiracies, the official 9-11 Commission Report classifies the events of September 11th as terrorist acts carried out by members of the Al Qaeda terrorist organization. (10)
9. The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund was established by an Act of Congress as a means to compensate the family members of people that were killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Around 1,600 claims were made, with compensation given to over 97% of the claims. The average payout was $1.8 million and the total paid to date is around $7 billion. (9)
8. The Patriot Act
The Patriot Act was a law passed 45 days after 9/11 that dramatically changed US surveillance laws. The Patriot Act expanded the authority of government agencies to monitor the phone calls, emails, bank/credit transactions, and the internet activity of anyone they felt were suspicious. Although the bill was widely supported at the time of passing, it has since come under scrutiny by many civil liberty groups as being too invasive of ordinary citizens. The Patriot Act has resulted in zero arrests for the threat of terrorism. (8)
7. Hate crimes
In the years following the September 11th, 2001 attacks, hate crimes increased dramatically. Most were focused on anti-Islamic sentiment. Many of the hate crimes were directed toward turban-wearing Sikh men, who were erroneously mistaken for being Muslim. Many of the perpetrators stated that they wanted retaliation for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. (7)
6. Over 40% of victim remains were never identified.
As of 2017, the remains of the 1,113 victims of the 9/11 attacks are still unidentified. In 2014, the unidentified remains of the victims were controversially moved from the New York City’s Medical Examiner’s Office, to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum located in the new World Trade Center 1 Building. (6)
5. Lost art
Several highly valuable paintings and sculptures were destroyed and lost in the collapsing of the World Trade Centers. These included paintings from Pablo Picasso, and Roy Lichtenstein, a sculpture from Alexander Calder, a tapestry from Joan Miró and many other works totaling to an estimated value of over $100 million. (5)
4. Several celebrities narrowly survived 9/11
Many thousands of people’s lives were saved by random last-minute decisions, including taking smoke breaks, doctor’s appointments, and missing their flights. Celebrities are no exception. The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson (who held an office on the 101’st floor of the North World Trade Center) was out of her office filming an interview for Good Morning America and on her way back to the office when the airplane struck the building. Both Mark Wahlberg (Boogie Nights, Transformers) and Seth MacFarlane (creator of Family Guy) were scheduled to board one of the airplanes that crashed into the World Trade Center. Mark Wahlberg rescheduled his plans last minute, and Seth MacFarlane missed his flight. (4)
3. Not all heroes wear capes, some wear leashes.
A guide dog named Roselle led her blind owner, Michael Hingson (and over 30 others trapped inside the North Tower of the World Trade Center), down 78 stories to safety. The trip took nearly an hour, and moments after their escape, the tower collapsed instantly killing all remaining occupants. (3)
One of the hijackers, Mohamed Atta, was almost expelled from the flight school he studied at in Florida after he was repeatedly rude to flight school staff members, particularly the female staff. Rudi Dekkers, the owner of the flight school, sat him down and warned him about the expulsion, after which point Mohamed’s behavior changed, and he was allowed to continue.
Another hijacker, Marwan al-Shehhi, also attended Dekkers’ flight school, and Dekkers described him as, “a nice young fellow, he was 23 years old when he came to my school. He was normal. Well, he was not normal, obviously, but the moment that I knew him he was funny, he had jokes…sometimes dirty jokes, but he was normal.”
The morning after the September 11th attacks, Dekker received a phone call from his office manager stating that two FBI agents had requested his files on Atta and Marwan, and he immediately knew they must have been involved in the attacks. Dekkers business collapsed due to its connection with the terror attacks, and he even received death threats.
1. 9/11 is the deadliest terror attack ever in the world
Over 3,000 people were killed in the September 11th terrorist attacks, over 90% of which were civilians. The 9/11 attacks directly resulted in 2,996 deaths with three subsequent deaths being attributed to 9/11 caused by smoke inhalation. Eleven unborn babies were killed along with their pregnant mothers. 9/11 was the largest loss of life on American soil by any foreign attacker. Nearly 10,000 people were directly injured by the attacks. (1) (2)