Pentagon - Location, Building Timeline, 9/11

Pentagon - Location, Building Timeline, 9/11

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The Pentagon is the Virginia headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense, located in a massive five-sided concrete and steel building that’s a potent symbol of America’s military strength. With more than 6 million square feet of floor space, the Pentagon ranks among the largest office buildings in the world. During the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001—60 years to the day after construction began on the Pentagon—a hijacked plane struck the building, killing 189 people and damaging roughly one-third of the building.

War Department Looks for a Home

On May 27, 1941, three weeks after Germany’s surprise attack on the Soviet Union, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared a state of national emergency. World War II was in full swing, and Adolf Hitler‘s Nazi Germany had already occupied much of continental Europe.

The U.S. War Department was growing rapidly, with 24,000 personnel scattered among 17 buildings in Washington, D.C. By the beginning of the next year, that number was expected to reach 30,000.

Roosevelt himself had personally approved construction of a new War Department facility at 21st Street in the city’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood. Built for $18 million, it was set to open in June 1941. By that time, however, the building was deemed far too small. (In 1947, it would become the headquarters of the U.S. State Department.)

General George C. Marshall, the Army’s chief of staff, turned to Brigadier General Brehon B. Somervell, head of the Army’s Construction Division, for a solution.

Somervell’s proposal was audacious: a headquarters big enough for 40,000 people, with 4 million square feet of office space. A building this large could not fit in Washington, so Somervell chose a site across the Potomac River in Virginia, just east of Arlington National Cemetery.

Known as Arlington Farm, the plot of land was once part of the grand estate of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

The Pentagon Takes Shape

When Somervell’s lead architect, G. Edwin Bergstrom, drew up the design for the building, he was forced by the position of existing roads at the site to use an asymmetrical five-sided shape. Somervell had determined that the building could be no more than four stories high, both to accommodate a wartime scarcity of steel and to prevent blocking the views of Washington, D.C.

The three-story building would be completed, he claimed, within a year, with 500,000 square feet ready for use within six months.

The House of Representatives passed the necessary legislation for the project on July 28, 1941; the Senate on August 14. By that time, however, controversy had arisen over the scale of the building, as well as its location so close to the hallowed ground of Arlington National Cemetery.

Moved by the protests, Roosevelt declared that the project should be moved to a site three-quarters of a mile south of Arlington Farm, adjacent to Washington-Hoover Airport. He also directed Somervell to reduce the size of the building to no more than 2.25 million square feet.

Although the new site, known as Hell’s Bottom, did not require the unique shape of the building’s design, time was tight and things went ahead as planned. Bergstrom’s team made the pentagon symmetrical, with multiple concentric pentagons placed inside one another, interlaced with corridors and surrounding a courtyard.

A pentagonal shape meant shorter interior distances than with a rectangle, while the straight sides were easier to build than a circular building; the shape also recalled traditional fortress constructions, as well as Civil War-era battlements.

Pentagon Construction Begins: September 11, 1941

Construction on the Pentagon began without fanfare on September 11, 1941. By early December 1941, 3,000 workers were on the site during the day, but construction was still behind schedule. Their supervisor was Corps of Engineers Colonel Leslie R. Groves, who would later be chosen to head the Manhattan Project and build the atomic bomb.

On December 7, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and the acceleration of the U.S. move toward war gave Somervell free reign to expand his project. The already-tight construction schedule was moved up, and by March 1942, more than 10,000 people were working on the site. At one particularly intense stage, 15,000 people were working three shifts, 24 hours a day, with floodlights illuminating the site at night.

The Pentagon’s first employees moved in on April 30, 1942; the building officially opened on January 14, 1943. Its massive bulk—6.24 million gross square feet—held 410,000 cubic yards of concrete, made from some 700,000 tons of sand dredged from the Potomac River.

From the $35 million Somervell had originally proposed, costs had ballooned to $75 million, though some claimed it was even higher.

The Pentagon after the War

Many wondered what to do with the Pentagon after the war ended, as the common view was that the War Department would have no need for a building so large in peacetime. Some said it should be converted into a hospital, a university or headquarters for the Veterans Administration, but the Army had no intention of giving it up.

In September 1947, Congress passed the National Security Act, ushering in the single biggest military reorganization in American history. The act created the National Military Establishment, split the Air Force from the Army, formally established the Joint Chiefs of Staff and created the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Council.

In the post-World War II era, the Pentagon’s role was shaped decisively by growing Cold War tensions, as the wartime alliance with the Soviet Union disintegrated into a fierce rivalry, fueled by the nuclear arms race and the growing number of U.S. security commitments around the world.

James Forrestal

To provide a strong center for the military establishment, President Harry Truman wanted the Navy, Army and Air Force all to be headquartered in the Pentagon. James Forrestal, the nation’s first secretary of defense, took on that monumental task.

Though Forrestal would be remembered by many as the “godfather” of the national security state, the great strain of the job exacerbated his existing mental illness, and he soon exhibited unmistakable signs of decline. After Truman replaced him with Louis Johnson in January 1949, Forrestal suffered a nervous breakdown; four months later, he committed suicide.

Despite this inauspicious start, the defense establishment continued to solidify itself, especially after August 1949, when the Soviet Union exploded an atomic bomb in Siberia. On August 10, Truman signed a law giving the secretary of defense total power over the armed forces and renaming the National Military Establishment the Department of Defense.

On the heels of North Korea‘s invasion of South Korea in June 1950, the Pentagon staff returned to wartime highs; it would eventually reach 33,000.

By the time the Korean War ended, the building had become a tourist attraction, with people strolling its grounds and inner courtyard, and gawking at its massive size. It had also become an unmistakable symbol of America’s growing military dominance in the world, a development that was celebrated by many and feared by many more.

Protestors March on the Pentagon

On October 21, 1967, at the height of the United States’ controversial involvement in the Vietnam War, some 35,000 antiwar protesters rallied around the Lincoln Memorial and marched across the Memorial Bridge toward the Pentagon. Meanwhile, more than 2,000 federal troops gathered inside the building, armed with tear gas.

One of the protesters, Norman Mailer, chronicled the march in his classic book The Armies of the Night. In Mailer’s eyes, the Pentagon—more than the White House—embodied the totalitarian nature of the U.S. approach to the Vietnam War: “Every aspect of the building was anonymous, monotonous, massive, interchangeable.”

When the crowd surged toward the building, soldiers met them with bayonets fixed to their rifles. Sporadic violence continued into the night, but by the time the last protesters were arrested, the building’s defense had been a success: no one had been killed and not a shot had been fired.

However, the incident only worsened relations between antiwar protesters and the government. In May 1972, an antiwar group called the Weather Underground placed a bomb in a women’s restroom at the Pentagon. It exploded at 1 a.m., injuring no one but causing some $75,000 in damages.

Renovation of a Landmark

America’s next large-scale military deployment came in 1990 with the launch of Operation Desert Shield in the Persian Gulf War. By that time, it had become increasingly apparent that the aging infrastructure of the Pentagon—proclaimed a National Historic Landmark in 1992—was in need of a sweeping renovation to meet the challenges of a new age.

Work began in October 1994, after Congress approved more than $1 billion for the effort. As before, the renovation went far beyond its original timeline and way over budget, especially after security precautions were stepped up after U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

September 11th and Rebuilding

By September 11, 2001, the renovations were in their final stages. That day—shortly after the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City—American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon’s first floor west wall at 9:37 a.m.

Traveling 529 miles per hour at the time of the impact, the hijacked Boeing 757 made a gash 30 yards wide and 10 yards deep, puncturing the three outer rings of the building. The resulting fire raged for 36 hours, and by the time it was extinguished, 189 people were dead: 135 Pentagon workers and 64 people on the plane (including the five hijackers).

A $501 million repair and renovation initiative, dubbed the Phoenix Project, began in early October 2001. Its leader, Lee Evey, publicly declared on October 5 that the goal was to have repairs completed by September 11, 2002.

His team’s considerable efforts were largely successful. By then, the Pentagon’s focus was already changing from hunting al-Qaeda in Afghanistan to gearing up for the coming war in Iraq.

The Phoenix Project was officially completed in February 2003 at a total cost of some $5 billion. The renovations included sweeping security upgrades, including a move of the Defense Department’s command centers to the basement.

In March 2003, designs were revealed for a September 11 memorial, including 184 illuminated benches, one for each victim, set above a series of illuminated pools. Ground for the memorial project was broken in June 2006, and it was opened to the public on September 11, 2008.

7:59 a.m.: American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767 carrying 81 passengers and 11 crew members, departs 14 minutes late from Logan International Airport in Boston, bound for Los Angeles International Airport. Five hijackers are on board.

8:14: United Airlines Flight 175, a Boeing 767, carrying 56 passengers and 9 crew members, departs 14 minutes late from Logan International Airport in Boston, bound for Los Angeles International Airport. Five hijackers are on board.

8:14: Flight 11 is hijacked over central Massachusetts, turning first northwest, then south.

8:20: American Airlines Flight 77, a Boeing 757 with 58 passengers and 6 crew members, departs 10 minutes late from Washington Dulles International Airport, for Los Angeles International Airport. Five hijackers are aboard.

8:42: United Airlines Flight 93, a Boeing 757 with 37 passengers and 7 crew members, departs 42 minutes late from Newark International Airport (now Newark Liberty International Airport), bound for San Francisco International Airport. Four hijackers are aboard.

8:428:46 (approx.): Flight 175 is hijacked above northwest New Jersey, about 60 miles northwest of New York City, continuing southwest briefly before turning back to the northeast.

8:46:40: Flight 11 crashes into the north face of the North Tower (1 WTC) of the World Trade Center, between floors 93 and 99. The aircraft enters the tower intact.

8:508:54 (approx.): Flight 77 is hijacked above southern Ohio, turning to the southeast.

9:02:57: Flight 175 crashes into the south face of the South Tower (2 WTC) of the World Trade Center, between floors 77 and 85. Parts of the plane, including the starboard engine, leave the building from its east and north sides, falling to the ground six blocks away.

9:28: Flight 93 is hijacked above northern Ohio, turning to the southeast.

9:37:46: Flight 77 crashes into the western side of The Pentagon and starts a violent fire.

9:45: United States airspace is shut down all operating aircraft are ordered to land at the nearest airport.

9:57: The passengers aboard Flight 93 begin a revolt against the hijackers in an attempt to take back the plane.

9:59:00: The South Tower of the World Trade Center collapses, 56 minutes after the impact of Flight 175.

10:03:11: Flight 93 is crashed by its hijackers as a result of fighting in the cockpit 80 miles (129 km) southeast of Pittsburgh in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Later reports indicate that passengers had learned about the World Trade Center and Pentagon crashes and were resisting the hijackers. The 9/11 Commission believed that Flight 93's target was either the United States Capitol building or the White House in Washington, D.C.

10:28:22: The North Tower of the World Trade Center collapses, 1 hour and 42 minutes after the impact of Flight 11. The Marriott Hotel, located at the base of the two towers, is also destroyed.

10:50:19: Five stories of part of the Pentagon collapse due to the fire.

5:20:33 p.m.: 7 World Trade Center, a 47-story building, collapses.

6:00 a.m. Edit

6:00: Polls open for primaries for NYC Mayor, as well as other local offices. [2]

6:31: President Bush goes for an early-morning jog around the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort on Longboat Key, Florida, where he and his staff had spent the night. [3]

6:45: Atta and al-Omari arrive at Logan International Airport. [1]

6:52: Marwan al-Shehhi calls Atta from another terminal at Logan to confirm that the plans for the attack are set. [1]

7:00 a.m. Edit

7:03-7:39: Ziad Jarrah and his hijacking team arrives at Newark International Airport (now Newark Liberty International Airport) and check in for United Airlines Flight 93.

7:15: Khalid al-Mihdhar and Majed Moqed arrive at Washington Dulles International Airport and check in for American Airlines Flight 77.

7:18: al-Mihdhar and Moqed arrive at the security checkpoint at Washington Dulles International Airport. Both set off alarms and are consequently given a more thorough search.

7:23–7:28: Al-Shehhi and his hijacking team boards Flight 175.

7:35-7:40: Atta and his hijacking team boards American Airlines Flight 11. [4]

7:35: Hani Hanjour arrives at the security checkpoint Washington Dulles International Airport. He passes through the checkpoint without suspicion or setting off any alarms.

7:39–7:48: Jarrah and his hijacking team boards Flight 93.

7:40: Flight 11 is pushed back from Gate B32 at Logan International Airport.

7:46: Jarrah calls al-Shehhi from Newark International Airport (now Newark Liberty International Airport) to also confirm the attacks were ready to begin.

7:50: Hanjour and his four fellow hijackers board Flight 77.

7:58: United Airlines Flight 175 is pushed back from Gate C19 at Logan International Airport.

7:59: Flight 11, a Boeing 767 carrying 81 passengers and 11 crew members, departs 14 minutes late from Logan International Airport in Boston, its destination being Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California. [5]

8:00 a.m. Edit

8:00: President Bush has his daily intelligence briefing. The material is routine, mostly concerning the Al-Aqsa Intifada and other Israeli-Palestinian issues. He calls Condoleezza Rice about one item, but there is no mention in the report of Osama bin Laden or al-Qaeda. The briefing lasts about twenty minutes, after which he says goodbye to the resort staff and departs in his motorcade. As the President's scheduled event is considered a garden variety trip to promote his education agenda, Chief of Staff Andrew Card remarks to him "It should be an easy day." [3]

8:01: United Airlines Flight 93 is pushed back from Gate A17 at Newark International Airport.

8:09: Flight 77 is pushed back from Gate D26 at Dulles International Airport.

8:13:35: Flight 11 has its last routine communication with the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA's) Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center [6] (hereinafter "Boston Center").

Boston Center: American 11, turn twenty degrees right.

American Airlines Flight 11: Turning right, American 11. [7]

8:13:52: Boston Center controller Pete Zalewski instructs Flight 11 to climb to 35,000 feet twice, but receives no reply. He informs the Athens Sector controller that the flight is "NORDO" (no radio). Boston Center continues to attempt to re-establish contact with the flight without success. [7]

8:14: Flight 11 is hijacked when hijackers Waleed and Wail al-Shehri rise from seats 2A and 2B and stab flight attendants Karen Martin and Barbara Arestegui. Atta rises from seat 8D and approaches the cockpit. Passenger Daniel Lewin rises from seat 9B and tries to stop Atta but is fatally stabbed by hijacker Satam al-Suqami, who sat in 10B. The hijackers also spray Mace in the first and business class cabins. Flight attendant Amy Sweeney reports being shown a bomb by one of the hijackers.

8:14: Flight 175, another fully fueled Boeing 767, carrying 56 passengers and nine crew members, also departs from Logan International Airport in Boston its destination is also Los Angeles International Airport. Five hijackers are aboard. One of them, most likely al-Shehhi, communicated with Mohammed Atta shortly before American Airlines Flight 11's takeoff. [6]

8:19: Betty Ong, a flight attendant on Flight 11, alerts an American Airlines reservations center in Cary, North Carolina to the hijacking via an airphone: "[I'm] number 3 in the back. The cockpit is not answering, somebody's stabbed in business class—and I think there's Mace—that we can't breathe—I don't know, I think we're getting hijacked." She then tells of the stabbings of two flight attendants. [6]

8:20: Boston Center flight controllers decide that Flight 11 has probably been hijacked.

8:20: Flight 77, a Boeing 757 with 58 passengers and six crew members, departs from Washington Dulles International Airport, for Los Angeles International Airport. Five hijackers are aboard.

8:21: Flight 11's transponder signal is turned off, but the flight can still be tracked via primary radar by Boston Center prior to the 9/11 Commission's report, news organizations reported this time as 8:13 or immediately thereafter.

8:24: A radio transmission comes from Flight 11: "Eh. We have some planes. Just stay quiet, and you'll be okay. We are returning to the airport." It is believed that Atta mistakenly held a button directing his voice to radio rather than to the plane's cabin as he intended. A few seconds later, Atta's voice says, "Nobody move. Everything will be okay. If you try to make any moves, you'll endanger yourself and the airplane. Just stay quiet." Air traffic controllers hear the transmission.

8:25: Boston Center flight controllers alert other flight control centers regarding Flight 11. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is not yet alerted.

8:26:30: Flight 11 makes a 100-degree turn to the south, following the Hudson River toward New York City. [8]

8:29:24: Boston Center alerts the neighboring Cleveland and New York ARTCCs regarding Flight 11. The flight's position is estimated to be fifteen miles (24 km) southwest of Albany. [7]

8:33: Flight 175 reaches its assigned cruising altitude of 31,000 feet.

8:33:59: A third transmission from Atta onboard Flight 11: "Nobody move please. We are going back to the airport. Don't try to make any stupid moves."

8:34: Boston Center traffic manager Dan Bueno notifies the tower controller at Otis Air National Guard Base at Cape Cod of the hijacking of Flight 11. The controller directs Bueno to contact Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS), the northeast sector of NORAD. [9] The controller then notifies Otis Operations Center that a call from NEADS might be coming. [10] Two F-15 pilots begin to suit up. [11]

8:37: Flight 175 confirms sighting of hijacked Flight 11 to flight controllers, 10 miles (16 km) to its south.

8:37:30: Flight 11 begins a rapid descent at 3,200 feet per minute, starting from an altitude of 29,000 feet. This descent continues until the moment of impact with the North Tower. Half a minute later, having descended one thousand feet, the flight makes a slight southward turn. [12]

8:37:52: Boston Center control notifies NEADS of the hijacking of Flight 11, the first notification received by NORAD that Flight 11 had been hijacked. The controller requests military help to intercept the jetliner.

8:41: The FAA's New York Center requests information about Flight 11 over the radio. Flight 175 responds: "Ah, we heard a suspicious transmission on our departure out of Boston ah with someone ah, ah sounded like someone keyed the mike and said ah 'everyone ah stay in your seats'". [13] New York Center acknowledges and says it will pass the information on.

8:41: NEADS drives two fighter pilots at Otis Air National Guard Base to battle stations.

8:42: Flight 93, a Boeing 757, takes off with 37 passengers and seven crew members from Newark International Airport (now Newark Liberty International Airport), bound for San Francisco International Airport, following a 40-minute delay due to congested runways. Four hijackers are aboard. Its flight path initially takes it close to the World Trade Center, which is 4 minutes away from being struck, before moving away westwards.

8:428:46 (approx.): Flight 175 is hijacked.

8:43:30: While descending at 10,000 feet, Flight 11 makes a final turn, turning south-southwestward towards New York City, aiming for the World Trade Center. [14]

8:44: Flight attendant Amy Sweeney, aboard Flight 11, reports by telephone to Michael Woodward at the American Airlines Flight Services Office in Boston, "Something is wrong. We are in a rapid descent. We are all over the place." A minute later, Woodward asks her to "describe what she sees out the window". She responds, "I see the water. I see the buildings. I see buildings." After a short pause, she reports, "We are flying low. We are flying very, very low. We are flying way too low." Seconds later she says, "Oh my God, we are way too low." The call ends with a burst of very loud, sustained static.

8:44:05: Another flight in the area, US Airways Flight 583, reports to New York Center that it received a brief emergency locator transmitter signal on 121.5 MHz. Another flight, Delta Air Lines Flight 2433, confirms a minute later that they also picked up a "very faint" signal. Though the signals usually activate when a plane has crashed, neither Flight 11 nor Flight 175 have crashed yet. [15]

8:46:40: [16] Flight 11 crashes at roughly 466 mph (790 km/h or 219 m/s or 425 knots) into the north face of the North Tower (1 WTC) of the World Trade Center, between floors 93 and 99. The aircraft enters the tower intact. It plows to the building's core, severing all three gypsum-encased stairwells, dragging combustibles with it. A powerful shock wave travels down to the ground and up again. The combustibles and the remnants of the aircraft are ignited by the burning fuel. People below the severed stairwells start to evacuate, but no one above the impact zone is able to do so.

BBC correspondent Stephen Evans was sitting in the foyer of the South Tower and described hearing a "huge bang like somebody dropped a skip full of rubbish" followed by "two or three similar huge explosions", as the South Tower shook. [17] French filmmakers Jules and Gedeon Naudet and Czech immigrant Pavel Hlava videotape the crash of Flight 11 with their video cameras from different locations. A camera belonging to local New York television station WNYW records the sound, but not the image, of the crash.

8:46:43: Chief of the New York City Fire Department's 1st Battalion, Joseph Pfeifer, makes the first fire department radio message advising the FDNY Manhattan Fire Dispatch Office of the crash. Chief Pfeifer and personnel from other fire companies were several blocks north, on the corner of Church Street and Lispenard Street investigating an odor of gas in the street, and witnessed the attack, along with Jules Naudet, who was accompanying the firefighters at the time:

Battalion 1 Chief (Chief Pfeifer): Battalion 1 to Manhattan.

Manhattan Dispatch: Battalion 1, 'kay.

Battalion 1 Chief (Chief Pfeifer): We just had a plane crash into the upper floor of the World Trade Center. Transmit a 2nd Alarm and start re-located companies into the area.

Manhattan Dispatch: 10-4 [message received], Battalion 1.

8:46:48: Two F-15 fighter jets are ordered to scramble from Otis Air National Guard Base, intended to intercept Flight 11.

Mission Commander Fox: This is HUNTRESS with an active air defense scramble for Panta 45, 46, time 12:46, authenticate delta x-ray. Scramble immediately, Panta 45, 46, heading 280, flight level 290, contact HUNTRESS on frequency 228.9, back-up 364.2. All parties acknowledge with initials. [18]

Because Flight 11's transponder is off, the pilots do not know the location of their target. When Flight 11 crashed, its track disappeared from radar. NEADS spends the next several minutes watching their radar screens in anticipation of Flight 11 returning a radar contact. However, unknown to NEADS at the time, Flight 11 has already impacted the North Tower. NEADS will not become aware of the crash at the World Trade Center until 8:50am.

8:47:39: Boston Center and New York Center contact other flight controllers in the area, stating that they have lost Flight 11. Roughly a minute later, New York Center passes on information supplied by Kennedy Tower about a fire at the World Trade Center. [7]

New York Center: Kennedy Tower reports. you serious? Kennedy Tower reports that there was a fire at the World Trade Center. And that's, ah, that's the area where we lost the airplane.

8:4810:28: Some 100-200 people, primarily in the North Tower, trapped by fire and smoke in the upper floors, jump from the towers. [ citation needed ] One person at street level, firefighter Daniel Suhr, is hit by a jumper and dies. [19] No form of airborne evacuation is attempted as smoke is too dense for a successful landing on the roof of either tower.

8:48:08: WNYW breaks into a Paramount Pictures movie trailer for Zoolander to make the first broadcast report of an incident at the World Trade Center, less than two minutes after Flight 11's crash. One of the station's camera crews, already out on location at City Hall Park that morning for New York's mayoral primary election, takes the first live pictures of black smoke coming from the North Tower. [20] As these pictures are broadcast, the voice of reporter Dick Oliver is heard as he reports from the scene to anchor Jim Ryan, who was not in the studio at the time:

Jim, just a few moments ago, something believed to be a plane crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. I just saw flames inside, you can see the smoke coming out of the tower we have no idea what it was. It was a tremendous boom just a few moments ago. You can hear around me emergency vehicles heading towards the scene. Now this could have been an aircraft or it could have been something internal. It appears to be something coming from the outside, due to the nature of the opening on about the 100th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

Three minutes later, Jim Ryan corrected the location of the first plane crash from the South Tower to the North Tower.

8:48:29: The first radio report of the incident is heard on WCBS-AM through traffic reporter Tom Kaminski. WCBS' traffic reports are delivered every ten minutes "on the 8s", meaning that Kaminski's traffic report was to come within two minutes of the initial impact of Flight 11 (although there is no record of how much time actually passed). At the time Kaminski was in "Chopper 880", WCBS' helicopter that he reports from for morning and evening rush hour traffic reports. The following consists of WCBS anchor Pat Carroll crossing to Kaminski in the chopper before he files his report.

Pat Carroll: WCBS news time, 8:48, it's traffic and weather together sponsored by Henry Miller's Theatre. Tom Kaminski, Chopper 880.

Tom Kaminski: Alright uh, Pat, we are just currently getting a look. at the World Trade Center, We have something that has happened here at the World Trade Center. We noticed flame and an awful lot of smoke from one of the towers of the World Trade Center. We are just coming up on this scene, this is easily three-quarters of the way up. we are. this is. whatever has occurred has just occurred, uh, within minutes and, uh, we are trying to determine exactly what that is. But currently we have a lot of smoke at the top of the towers of the World Trade Center, we will keep you posted.

8:49:03: Local New York public radio station WNYC host Mark Hyland broadcasts that station's first report of the incident.

8:49: The first report of an incident at the World Trade Center crosses the Associated Press newswire.

8:49:34: The first network television and radio reports of an explosion or incident at the World Trade Center. CNN breaks into a Ditech commercial at 8:49. The CNN screen subtitle first reads "WORLD TRADE CENTER DISASTER". Carol Lin, the first TV network anchor to break the news of the attacks, says: [21]

This just in. You are looking at obviously a very disturbing live shot there. That is the World Trade Center, and we have unconfirmed reports this morning that a plane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center. CNN Center right now is just beginning to work on this story, obviously calling our sources and trying to figure out exactly what happened, but clearly something relatively devastating happening this morning there on the south end of the island of Manhattan. That is, once again, a picture of one of the towers of the World Trade Center.

Just a minute later, Sean Murtagh, CNN vice president of finance, in an on-air phone call, says from his office in the CNN New York bureau that a large passenger commercial jet was seen to hit the World Trade Center. Murtagh is the first network employee on the air. The first email bulletins of breaking news from CNN and MSNBC report "fire at tower of World Trade Center". Both CNN and MSNBC's websites receive such heavy traffic that many servers collapse. BBC News' website is active and shows a picture of the North Tower on fire. Minutes later, email news bulletins revise the reports of fire to a plane crash.

8:50: NEADS is notified that a plane has struck the World Trade Center as they continue to try to locate Flight 11 on radar.

8:50: Local New York radio station WOR news anchor Ed Walsh makes that station's first on-air report of the incident.

8:50: WCBS-TV in New York breaks away from the CBS network to cover the attack, with anchor Mike Pomeranz providing that station's first report.

8:50: CNBC interrupts an episode of Squawk Box hosted by Mark Haines with a report of the unfolding attack. [22]

8:50: Local New York cable television channel NY1 anchor Pat Kiernan begins that channel's coverage of the incident.

8:50: Local New York radio station WABC news anchor George Weber broadcasts that station's first report of the incident.

8:508:54 (approx.): Flight 77 is hijacked.

8:51: ABC was airing Good Morning America at the time of the attack. After returning from a commercial break, WABC-TV in New York breaks away from the ABC network, with anchor Steve Bartelstein beginning that station's own local coverage of the disaster, while on the network, GMA host Diane Sawyer makes this statement:

We want to tell you what we know, as we know it, but we just got a report in that there's been some sort of explosion at the World Trade Center in New York City. One report said, and we can't confirm any of this, that a plane may have hit one of the two towers of the World Trade Center, but again, you are seeing the live pictures here. We have no further details than that. We don't know anything about what they have concluded happened there this morning. But we're going to find out, and of course, make sure that everybody knows on the air. [23]

8:51: Local New York television station WNBC breaks away from the NBC network to begin its coverage of the attack, with anchor Jane Hanson providing that station's initial report.

8:51: Matt Lauer, co-host of NBC News' Today, interrupts an interview with author Richard Hack and says to the audience, "We wanna go live right now, and show you a picture of the World Trade Center. we have a breaking story right now. " However, NBC did not immediately have the picture ready and went to a regularly scheduled commercial break. They return with a shot of the burning tower. [24]

8:51: A flight controller at the FAA's New York Center notices that Flight 175 had changed its transponder code twice four minutes earlier he tries to contact the flight. Another flight in the area, Delta Airlines flight 1489, reports the sight of smoke coming from lower Manhattan to New York Center. This is the first word any pilots in flight receive of the incident.

8:51: New York City's Amateur Radio Emergency Service net is activated, with ham operators in the area assisting with emergency communications. [25]

8:51:34: WINS-AM interrupts its 8:51 traffic report and anchor James Faherty relays word of the crash of Flight 11 to the listening audience, with the station having been notified by one of its employees who lives near the site.

8:52: Lee Hanson receives a phone call from his son, Peter, a passenger on United 175, who says: "I think they've taken over the cockpit—an attendant has been stabbed—and someone else up front may have been killed. The plane is making strange moves. Call United Airlines—tell them it's Flight 175, Boston to LA." Also on board Flight 175, a flight attendant calls a United Airlines office in Chicago, reporting that the flight had been hijacked, both pilots had been killed, a flight attendant had been stabbed, and the hijackers were probably flying the plane. [26]

8:52: The F-15s at Otis Air National Guard Base are airborne. Still lacking an intercept vector to Flight 11 (and not aware that it has already crashed), they are sent to military controlled airspace off Long Island and ordered to remain in a holding pattern until between 9:09 and 9:13.

8:52: Anchor Chris Jansing makes the first announcement on MSNBC of a plane crash into the World Trade Center.

8:52: CBS interrupts The Early Show to report the news of the attack. Bryant Gumbel makes the announcement that a plane has crashed into the World Trade Center.

8:52: CBC Newsworld anchor Mark Kelley makes the first Canadian television report of the first plane crash. [27]

8:52: Sky News host Kay Burley breaks the news of the first plane crash to the UK.

8:53: Network Ten news anchor Sandra Sully makes the first report of the incident over Australian television.

8:54: Flight 77 deviates from its assigned course, turning south over Ohio.

8:54: BBC World news anchor Nisha Pillai makes that channel's first report of the disaster. The channel does not start continuous coverage until 9:00.

8:55: Fox News comes back from a commercial break to report the attack. E. D. Hill informs viewers that a plane crashed into the North Tower.

8:55 (approx.): An announcement is made over the building-wide PA system by officials in the still-undamaged South Tower of the World Trade Center, "The building is secure, please return to your desks." [28] This announcement is reacted to in numerous ways, ranging from people going back to their offices as suggested, ignoring it and evacuating anyway, or congregating in common areas such as the 78th floor sky lobby.

8:55: President George W. Bush arrives at Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, as part of a scheduled visit to promote education and is reading The Pet Goat when White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, who is with Bush, informs him that a small twin-engine plane has crashed into the World Trade Center. Before entering the classroom, the President speaks to National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, who is at the White House. She first tells him it was a twin-engine aircraft—and then a commercial aircraft—that had struck the World Trade Center, adding "that's all we know right now, Mr. President." [29]

8:56: Ten minutes after the North Tower of the World Trade Center was hit by Flight 11, the transponder on Flight 77 is turned off and even primary radar contact with the aircraft is lost. During radar blackout Flight 77 turns east, unnoticed by flight controllers. When primary radar information is restored at 9:05, controllers searching for Flight 77 to the west of its previous position are unable to find it. [30] Flight 77 travels undetected for 36 minutes on a course heading due east toward Washington, D.C.

8:58: Flight 175 takes a heading toward New York City.

8:59: Flight 175 passenger Brian Sweeney leaves a message via airphone to his wife Julie:

Jules, this is Brian listen, I'm on an airplane that's been hijacked. If things don't go well, and it's not looking good, I just want you to know I absolutely love you, I want you to do good, go have good times, same to my parents and everybody, and I just totally love you, and I'll see you when you get there. Bye, babe. I hope I call you.

9:00 a.m. Edit

9:00: Lee Hanson receives a second call from his son Peter, aboard Flight 175:

"It's getting bad, Dad. A stewardess was stabbed. They seem to have knives and Mace. They said they have a bomb. It's getting very bad on the plane. Passengers are throwing up and getting sick. The plane is making jerky movements. I don't think the pilot is flying the plane. I think we are going down. I think they intend to go to Chicago or someplace and fly into a building. Don't worry, Dad. If it happens, it'll be very fast. My God, my God." [26]

The call ends abruptly, as Lee Hanson hears a woman scream.

9:019:02: A manager from the FAA's New York Center tells the Air Traffic Control System Command Center in Herndon, Virginia:

New York Center: We have several situations going on here. It's escalating big, big time. We need to get the military involved with us.

ATCSCC: We're, we're involved with something else, we have other aircraft that may have a similar situation going on here.

9:01: FAA's New York Center contacts New York terminal approach control and asks for help in locating Flight 175.

9:01: News anchor Lynne White of local New York television station WPIX-TV begins that station's report on the attack. [31]

9:01: The first Japanese television report of the disaster is made over NHK Television by news anchor Masaaki Horio.

9:02: Evacuation of both World Trade Center towers is ordered by FDNY Battalion Chief Joseph Pfeifer, who was stationed in the lobby of the North Tower. Although it is uncertain whether the South Tower's deputy fire safety director receives this order, an announcement is made over the tower's PA system to "begin an orderly evacuation if conditions warranted". [32]

9:02:57: Flight 175 crashes at about 590 mph (950 km/h, 264 m/s or 513 knots) into the south face of the South Tower (2 WTC) of the World Trade Center, between floors 77 and 85. [33] [34] All 65 people on board the aircraft die instantly on impact, and unknown hundreds in the building as well. By this time, several media organizations, including the three major American broadcast television networks (which have interrupted their morning shows), are covering the immediate aftermath of the first plane crash, and so millions of viewers see the impact live. Parts of the plane, including the starboard engine, leave the building from its east and north sides, falling to the ground six blocks away. New York's WNYW is among the first to specifically report that a second plane has crashed into the complex (many other news agencies do not realize that a second plane has crashed until several minutes later): [35] [36] [37]

Jim Ryan: Oh, my goodness. There's another one. Oh, my goodness. There's another one!

Lyn Brown: This seems to be on purpose.

Jim Ryan: Oh, my goodness. Now you.

Kai Simonsen (WNYW helicopter reporter): Was that a plane?

Jim Ryan: Now it's obvious. I think that there's a second plane just crashed into the World Trade Center. I think we have a terrorist act of proportions that we cannot begin to imagine at this juncture.

Kai Simonsen: Oh, my God.

Jim Ryan: My goodness, a second plane now has crashed into the other tower of the World Trade Center. Obviously, suicide terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. What we have, what we have been fearing, what we have been fearing for the longest time here apparently has come to pass. A disastrous terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Both towers, planes smashing into each one.

A massive evacuation begins in the South Tower below its impact zone. One of the stairwells in the South Tower remains unblocked from the top to the bottom of the tower because of the plane hitting at an offset from the vertical center line of the building, but it is filled with smoke. This leads many people to mistakenly go upwards towards the roof for a rooftop rescue that never comes. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey kept the two sets of heavy metal doors leading to the building's only roof exit tightly locked. [38] The impact severs communication with several television and radio broadcast towers at the WTC local station WPIX's satellite feed freezes on an image of the second impact which is all the station broadcasts until alternate transmitters are set up hours later. The affected television stations' terrestrial signals go off the air, however, they continue to broadcast, with their signals still receivable through local cable TV systems in the area, and WCBS-TV having backup transmitter facilities atop the Empire State Building.

Because of the North Tower's obstruction of the South Tower from certain camera angles, some are originally unaware that a second plane has struck the South Tower, and instead mistakenly believe that the second explosion has occurred in the North Tower. As instant replays of the second plane crash are shown, the anchors on the three major broadcast networks speculate on whether they are witnessing a terrorist attack or some sort of very rare accident. CNN changes its headline to read "Second plane crashes into World Trade Center." The crash occurred as CNN was taking a feed from WABC-TV, and anchor Steve Bartelstein first assumed that the explosion seen was caused when the fuselage of the first plane exploded.

9:03: President Bush enters a classroom as part of his school visit.

9:03: FAA's New York Center notifies NORAD (NEADS) of the hijacking of Flight 175, at the same time it crashes.

9:04: Fox News Channel anchor Jon Scott mentions Osama bin Laden as a possible suspect.

9:04 (approximately): The FAA's Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center stops all departures from airports in its jurisdiction (New England and eastern New York State).

9:05: After brief introductions to the Booker elementary students, President Bush is about to begin reading The Pet Goat with the students when Chief of Staff Andrew Card interrupts to whisper to the president, "A second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack." [39] The president stated later that he decided to continue the lesson rather than alarm the students.

9:06: The FAA begins imposing blanket temporary flight restrictions, with the first restriction banning takeoffs of all flights bound to or through the airspace of New York Center from airports in that Center and the three adjacent Centers—Boston, Cleveland, and Washington. This is referred to as a First Tier groundstop and covers the Northeast from North Carolina north and as far west as eastern Michigan.

9:08: The FAA bans all takeoffs nationwide for flights going to or through New York Center airspace. ABC News reports later that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency that runs the New York-area airports, asked the FAA for permission to close down the New York Center airspace.

9:11: The last PATH train leaves the World Trade Center. The station was vacant when the towers collapsed.

9:11: ABC News anchor Peter Jennings begins reporting on the disaster.

9:13: The F-15 fighters from Otis Air National Guard Base leave military airspace near Long Island, bound for Manhattan.

9:14: President Bush returns to an adjacent classroom commandeered by the U.S. Secret Service. The classroom contains a telephone, a television showing the news coverage, and several senior staff members. The president speaks to Vice President Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, New York Governor George Pataki, and FBI Director Robert Mueller, and prepares brief remarks. [40]

9:15: NBC News reports unconfirmed statements from employees at United Airlines that an American Airlines aircraft had been hijacked prior to its destruction.

9:17: The FAA closes down all New York City-area airports. [41] The city had initially asked the FAA to close down the airports.

9:17:02: CBS News correspondent Jim Stewart in Washington mentions that in the intelligence community, Osama bin Laden is a probable suspect.

9:18: CNN makes reference to foul play for the first time, stating the FBI was investigating a report of plane hijacking. CNN changes headline to read "AP: Plane was hijacked before crashes".

9:19: United Airlines flight dispatcher Ed Ballinger begins sending warning text messages to his flights: "Beware any cockpit intrusion—Two a/c [aircraft] hit World Trade Center." Because he was sending this warning to his 16 transcontinental flights, this takes several minutes. [42]

9:21: All bridges and tunnels into Manhattan closed. [41]

9:21: Transport Canada, Canada's transportation agency, activates its Situation Centre (SitCen) in Ottawa. [43]

9:23: Ballinger's warning message is sent to Flight 93, and is received in the cockpit a minute later. [42]

9:24: The FAA notifies NORAD (NEADS) about the suspected hijacking of Flight 77. The FAA and NORAD establish an open line to discuss Flight 77, and shortly thereafter Flight 93.

9:25: The Otis-based F-15s establish an air patrol over Manhattan.

9:25: A video teleconference begins to be set up in the White House Situation Room, led by Richard A. Clarke, a special assistant to the president, that eventually includes the CIA, the FBI, the departments of State, Justice, and Defense, and the FAA.

9:25: The Associated Press informs CNN that the two plane crashes in the World Trade Center appeared to be an "act of terrorism".

9:26: The FAA bans takeoffs of all civilian aircraft regardless of destination—a national groundstop.

9:26: White House counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke indicates he gave the instruction to raise the worldwide force protection condition for U.S military bases at around this time. This is likely the earliest instance this actual order was issued. Other evidence suggests the threat condition increase took place in steps, with the next step occurring sometime over the next hour. See link [2]

9:26: Flight 93's pilot, Jason Dahl, replies to Ballinger's text message, "Ed, confirm latest mesg plz--Jason". [42]

9:26: NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell reports to MSNBC anchor Lester Holt that a top U.S. government official informed her that one of the two planes that hit the Twin Towers was an American Airlines 767 from Boston to Los Angeles that was hijacked. [44]

9:28: Hijackers storm the cockpit on Flight 93 and take over the flight. The entry of the hijackers is overheard by flight controllers at Cleveland.

9:29: President Bush makes his first public statements about the attacks, in front of an audience of about 200 teachers and students at the elementary school. He states that he will be going back to Washington. "Today, we've had a national tragedy," he starts. "Two airplanes… have crashed… into the World Trade Center… in an apparent terrorist attack on our country," and leads a moment of silence. No one in the President's traveling party has any information during this time that other aircraft were hijacked or missing. [45]

9:30: Reuters reports that a plane was hijacked from Boston.

9:30: In the North Tower, six men escape express elevator Car 69-A. The elevator had gotten stuck at the 50th Floor when Flight 11 hit the tower. With no exit at this floor, window cleaner Jan Demczur used his squeegee to cut a hole in the Sheetrock lining the elevator shaft, leading to an adjacent bathroom. They are found by firefighters, who immediately escort them to a stairwell. All six successfully leave the tower five minutes before it collapses. [46]

9:32: A radio transmission from Flight 93 is overheard by flight controllers at Cleveland: "Ladies and gentlemen here. is the captain please sit down. Keep remaining [sic] sitting. We have a bomb on board. So sit."

9:32: Controllers at the Dulles Terminal Radar Approach Control in Virginia observe "a primary radar target tracking eastbound at a high rate of speed", referring to Flight 77.

9:339:34: A tower supervisor at Reagan National Airport tells Secret Service operations center at the White House that "an aircraft is coming at you and not talking with us," referring to Flight 77. The White House is about to be evacuated when the tower reports that Flight 77 has turned and is approaching Reagan National Airport.

9:34: The FAA's Command Center relays information concerning Flight 93 to FAA headquarters.

9:35: The President's motorcade departs from the elementary school, bound for Sarasota–Bradenton International Airport and Air Force One.

9:35: Flight 93 reverses direction over northeast Ohio and starts flying eastwards.

9:35: Based on a report that Flight 77 had turned again and was circling back toward the District of Columbia, the Secret Service orders the immediate evacuation of the Vice President from the White House.

9:36: Cleveland advises the FAA Command Center that it is still tracking Flight 93 and inquires whether someone had requested the military to launch fighter aircraft to intercept the aircraft.

9:37: Vice President Cheney enters a tunnel leading to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, located under the White House East Wing.

9:37:46: Flight 77 crashes into the western side of the Pentagon at 530 mph (853 km/h, 237 m/s, or 460 knots) and starts a violent fire. The section of the Pentagon hit consists mainly of newly renovated, unoccupied offices. All 64 people on board are killed, as are 125 Pentagon personnel.

9:39: Another radio transmission is heard from Ziad Jarrah aboard Flight 93: "Uh, this is the captain. I would like you all to remain seated. We have a bomb on board and are going back to the airport, and to have our demands, so please remain quiet."

9:39: Fox News Channel correspondent David Asman reports, "We -- we are hearing -- right now that another explosion that -- has taken place. At the Pentagon." [48]

9:39: NBC News Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski reports that "it felt, just a few moments ago, like there was an explosion of some kind here at the Pentagon." NBC and MSNBC relay reports of the explosion but do not relay word of the crash of Flight 77 as they do not know the cause.

9:40: Video teleconference in White House Situation Room begins with the physical security of the President, the White House, and federal agencies. They are not yet aware of the Pentagon crash.

9:40:49: CNN's Breaking News bulletin reads "Reports of fire at Pentagon."

9:41: Local Washington, DC television station WUSA breaks away from the CBS network, with anchor Andrea Roane beginning that station's local coverage of the explosion at The Pentagon.

9:41:15: The photo The Falling Man is taken.

9:42: ABC News broadcasts its first pictures from Washington, D.C. of heavy smoke, from a perspective on the other side of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which is situated a block west of the White House. Peter Jennings confirms a fire at The Pentagon two minutes later.

9:42: The main CBS network reports an explosion at the Pentagon.

9:42: Senior FAA traffic manager Ben Sliney issues the execution order for SCATANA grounding all air traffic over the United States and diverting any incoming international traffic to alternate destinations.

9:43: Abu Dhabi TV reports it received a call from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, claiming responsibility for the World Trade Center attack, but this is soon denied by a senior officer of the group. [49]

9:43: The White House and the Capitol are evacuated and closed.

9:45: United States airspace is shut down. No civilian aircraft are allowed to take off, and all aircraft in flight are ordered to land at the nearest airport as soon as possible. Nearly all international flights headed for the U.S. are redirected to Canada, while some flights from South America were diverted to Mexico. Transport Canada orders a complete closedown of Canadian airspace, but the Mexican airspace did not shut down. The FAA announces that civilian flights are suspended until at least noon September 12, while Transport Canada gives similar orders the FAA further ordered that diverted U.S.-bound international flights should be taken in, launching the agency's "Operation Yellow Ribbon". The groundings would eventually last until September 14. Military and medical flights as well as Con Air flights continue. This is the fourth time all commercial flights in the U.S. have been stopped, and the first time a suspension was unplanned. All previous suspensions were military-related (Sky Shield I-III), from 1960 to 1962. Many newspapers (including The New York Times) mistakenly print that this is the first time flights have been suspended. This was also the first time commercial flights in Canada have been stopped.

9:45: CNN receives initial reports that, in addition to a fire at the Pentagon, there is also a fire at the National Mall. These reports on the National Mall, however, are later proven to be false.

9:46:36: The ARD news magazine Tagesthemen, hosted by Ulrich Wickert, broadcasts news of the attacks to Germany.

9:49: The FAA Command Center at Herndon suggests that someone at FAA headquarters should decide whether to request military assistance with Flight 93. Ultimately, the FAA makes no request before it crashes.

9:50 (approximately): The Associated Press reports that Flight 11 was apparently hijacked after departure from Boston's Logan Airport. Within an hour this is confirmed for both Flight 11 and Flight 175.

9:51: Chief Orio Palmer of the FDNY's 7th Battalion reaches the 78th Floor Sky Lobby of the South Tower along with Fire Marshal Ronald Bucca. Palmer reports that there are two pockets of fire and numerous dead bodies. [50]

9:52: The National Security Agency intercepts a phone call between a known associate of Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and someone in the Republic of Georgia, announcing that he had heard "good news", and that another target was still to be hit. [51]

9:53: CNN confirms a plane crash at the Pentagon.

9:55: A CNN correspondent mentions Osama bin Laden as someone determined to strike the US.

9:57: Passenger revolt begins on Flight 93.

9:57: President Bush leaves Sarasota, Florida, on Air Force One. The plane reaches cruising altitude and circles for approximately 40 minutes while the destination of the plane is discussed.

9:59:00: [16] The South Tower of the World Trade Center collapses, 56 minutes after the impact of Flight 175. Its destruction is viewed and heard by a vast television and radio audience. As the roar of the collapse goes silent, tremendous gray-white clouds of pulverized concrete and gypsum rush through the streets. Most observers think a new explosion or impact has produced smoke and debris that now obscures the South Tower, but once the wind clears the smoke, it becomes clear that the building is no longer there. NY1 correspondent Kristen Shaughnessy, on the scene of the disaster, reports on the collapse of the South Tower at the instant it begins, [52] while ABC News correspondent Don Dahler, who was home at the time of the incident and lived near the site, reports to anchor Peter Jennings on air that he has witnessed the tower collapse Dahler's report is perhaps the first broadcast specific confirmation of a collapse as his report is filed seconds after the event.

9:59: As the South Tower collapses, Father Mychal Judge, OFM, chaplain to the FDNY, is struck by falling debris on the lobby level of the North Tower. He dies of blunt force trauma to the head. [53] He is found by Chief Pfeifer, Jules, and others from the North Tower Command Post who fled when they heard the South Tower collapse and took refuge in the nearby escalator as the debris cloud engulfed them. [54] As Judge's body is the first recovered and certified by the medical examiner's office, he will be designated "Victim 0001" of the September 11 attacks.

10:00 a.m. Edit

10:00: FDNY Battalion Chief Joseph Pfeifer (inside of the still standing North Tower) orders all FDNY personnel to evacuate, via radio.

Battalion 1 Chief (Chief Pfeifer): Command post, Tower 1, all units. Evacuate the building. Command post, to all units. [55]

Due to many communication limitations, numerous firefighters within the tower do not receive this transmission. Some personnel who do not hear the order only leave the building after being told by other firefighters that an evacuation order has been given. Others never receive the order at all. [56]

10:01: The FAA Command Center advises FAA headquarters that an aircraft had seen Flight 93 "waving his wings," the hijackers' efforts to defeat the passengers' counterattack.

10:02: Communicators with the Vice President in the Presidential Emergency Operations Center begin receiving reports from the Secret Service of an inbound aircraft—presumably hijacked—heading toward Washington. This is Flight 93.

10:02: CNN announces that the Sears Tower in Chicago has been evacuated.

10:03 (approximately): The National Military Command Center learns from the White House of Flight 93's hijacking.

10:03:11: Flight 93 crashes at 583 mph (926 km/h, 272 m/s, or 509 knots), due to fighting in the cockpit, 80 miles (129 km) southeast of Pittsburgh in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. [57] Later reports indicate that passengers had learned about the World Trade Center and Pentagon crashes on cell phones and at least three were planning on resisting the hijackers the resistance was confirmed by Flight 93's cockpit voice recording, on which the hijackers are heard making their decision to down the plane before the passengers succeed in breaching the cockpit door. The target of flight 93 is thought to be either the US Capitol Building or the White House in Washington D.C.

10:05: Andrea Mitchell, reporting on NBC from outside the Pentagon, reports that Osama bin Laden may have been involved in the attacks.

10:05: CNN's headlines read: "SOUTH TOWER AT WTC COLLAPSES."

10:05: The IDS Center in Minneapolis is evacuated.

10:07: NBC reports for the first time that the South Tower of the World Trade Center has collapsed. Prior to this time they have said only that a section of the building has fallen away.

10:07: NEADS, controlling the only set of fighters over Washington, first learns of the hijacking of Flight 93, 4 minutes after it actually crashed.

10:08: Air Traffic Control System Command Center in Herndon reports to FAA headquarters that Flight 93 may be down near Johnstown, Pennsylvania at 10:17 the Command Center concludes it is so.

10:10: National Military Command Center directs Threat Condition Delta for U.S. military bases worldwide.[3]

10:10: Part of the west side of the Pentagon collapses.

10:10: NEADS emphatically tells fighter pilots over Washington, "Negative clearance to shoot."

10:1010:15 (approximately): Vice President Cheney, unaware that Flight 93 has crashed, authorizes fighter aircraft to engage the inbound plane, reported to be 80 miles (129 km) from Washington, based not on radar (from which it has disappeared) but speed and trajectory projections.

10:13: Thousands are involved in an evacuation of the United Nations complex in New York.

10:1310:22: The 9/11 Commission's estimated arrival of Flight 93 over Washington had it not crashed in Pennsylvania. [58]

10:1410:19: A lieutenant colonel at the White House repeatedly relays to the NMCC that the Vice President has confirmed that fighters are cleared to engage inbound aircraft if they can verify that the aircraft was hijacked.

10:15: CNN's headline reads, "EXPLOSION ON CAPITOL HILL."

10:18: NBC reports that Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), has denied complicity in the attacks and is appalled by them.

10:20: President Bush, aboard Air Force One, tells Vice President Cheney that he has authorized a shootdown of aircraft if necessary. [59]

10:23: The Associated Press reports a car bomb has exploded outside the State Department in Washington, D.C. This and several other reports of terrorist acts in the capital are quickly found to be false. [60]

10:24: Two men who were being evacuated through the underground shopping mall below the South Tower when it collapsed on them are able to climb up through thirty feet of debris to safety. 1010 WINS in New York City reports an explosion at the U.S. Supreme Court building. This is later revealed to be erroneous. [61]

10:28:22: [16] The North Tower of the World Trade Center collapses. Due to the destruction of the gypsum-encased stairwells on the impact floors (most skyscraper stairwells are encased in reinforced concrete), no one who was above the impact zone in the North Tower escapes the collapse. The Marriott Hotel, located at the base of the two towers, is also destroyed. The second collapse is also viewed live on television and heard on radio. The North Tower collapses 1 hour, 42 minutes after the impact of Flight 11—the building had burned during the whole duration of the attacks. 7 World Trade Center burns after the collapse of the North Tower. New York City's 1010 WINS reports the collapse live as it happens, broadcasting a live phone call with WINS news director Ben Mevorach, who witnessed the collapse from the Manhattan Bridge. [61] On NBC News, Katie Couric says: "The other tower of the World Trade Center has just collapsed."

Several long-distance videos of the collapse, such as CNN, were able to notice that, after the cloud of dust had partially cleared away, a portion of the building was still standing. It appeared to be the lower half of the northwest corner column of the North Tower, which, like a spire, grew larger and had more structure still standing near the bottom. The portion rose to a fairly good height considering the collapse around it, as it appeared to rise nearly forty stories off the ground. This piece remained standing for a few seconds after the initial collapse before it also came down.

10:31: NORAD first communicates the Vice President's shootdown authority to NEADS.

10:35: Air Force One, carrying the President, turns for Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City, Louisiana.

10:37: Associated Press reports that officials at the Somerset County Airport confirm that a large plane has crashed in western Pennsylvania. CNN's Aaron Brown passes along reports that a 747 is "down" in Pennsylvania. He stresses these reports are unconfirmed. He also, in the confusion, reports another plane heading for the Pentagon. The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, is evacuated and closed. New York City's 1010 WINS relays a report that the U.S. State Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. has been attacked by a car bomb. This is later reported to be false. [61]

10:39: Another hijacked jumbo jet is claimed to be headed for Washington, D.C. F-15s are scrambled and patrol the airspace above Washington, D.C. while other fighter jets sweep the airspace above New York City. They have orders, first issued by Vice President Cheney and later confirmed by President Bush, to shoot down any potentially dangerous planes that do not comply with orders given to them via radio. Eventually, the aircraft is revealed to be a medevac helicopter on its way to the Pentagon.

10:41: NBC News confirms that a plane has "gone down" in Somerset County. The earlier unconfirmed statements about an incident at the State Department in Washington, D.C. are reported as false.

10:43: CNN reports that a mass evacuation of Washington, D.C., and New York has been started. A few minutes later, New York mayor Rudy Giuliani orders an evacuation of Lower Manhattan.

10:49: Fox News Channel is the first of the United States news networks to implement a news ticker at the bottom of its screen for supplementary information about the attacks. CNN adds one at 11:11, and MSNBC adds one at approximately 2:00 p.m. All three cable networks have used a news ticker continuously in the years since (and many local television stations have followed suit).

10:50:19: Five stories of part of the Pentagon collapse due to the fire.

10:53: New York City's primary elections are canceled.

10:53: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld orders the U.S. military placed at DEFCON 3, for the first time since the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

11:00 a.m. Edit

11:00: Transport Canada halts all aircraft departures until further notice, except for police, military, and humanitarian flights, as part of Operation Yellow Ribbon. The operation was well underway as international flights headed for the U.S. had already started to land at Canadian airports, beginning at CFB Goose Bay. Fourteen other airports follow, including Halifax, Lester B. Pearson in Toronto, Montréal-Dorval, and Vancouver.

11:05: The FAA confirms that several planes have been hijacked in addition to American Airlines Flight 11.

11:08: The pilot of Korean Air Flight 85 includes the letters "HJK" a code for hijacked, in an airline text message. [62]

11:16: American Airlines confirms the loss of its two aircraft.

11:26: United Airlines confirms the loss of Flight 93 and states that it is "deeply concerned" about Flight 175. [63]

11:53: United Airlines confirms the loss of its two aircraft.

11:55: The border between the U.S. and Mexico is on highest alert, but is not closed.

12:00 p.m. Edit

12:00: ARINC officials notify NORAD about the use of the hijack code on Flight 85.

12:01: (approximately): Fourteen people, including twelve firefighters, who were in a section of a stairwell in the North Tower that held together during the collapse, climb the stairs to the top of the Ground Zero rubble field.

12:04: Los Angeles International Airport, the intended destination of Flights 11, 77 and 175, is shut down.

12:15: San Francisco International Airport, the intended destination of Flight 93, is shut down.

12:15 (approximately): The airspace over the 48 contiguous United States is clear of all commercial and private flights.

12:30 (approximately): Secretary of State Colin Powell boards a plane in Lima, Peru, for Washington, D.C.

12:39: On CNN, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) characterizes the attack as an "act of war."

12:41: Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) tells CNN, "Both the FBI and our intelligence community believe that this is Bin Laden's signature."


The hijackers on American Airlines Flight 77 were led by Hani Hanjour, who piloted the aircraft into the Pentagon. [1] Hanjour first came to the United States in 1990. [2]

Hanjour trained at the CRM Airline Training Center in Scottsdale, Arizona, earning his FAA commercial pilot's certificate in April 1999. [3] He had wanted to be a commercial pilot for Saudia but was rejected when he applied to the civil aviation school in Jeddah in 1999. Hanjour's brother later explained that, frustrated at not finding a job, Hanjour "increasingly turned his attention toward religious texts and cassette tapes of militant Islamic preachers." [4] Hanjour returned to Saudi Arabia after being certified as a pilot, but left again in late 1999, telling his family he was going to the United Arab Emirates to work for an airline. [5] Hanjour likely went to Afghanistan, where Al-Qaeda recruits were screened for special skills they might have. Already having selected the Hamburg cell members, Al Qaeda leaders selected Hanjour to lead the fourth team of hijackers. [6]

Alec Station, the CIA's unit dedicated to tracking Osama bin Laden, had discovered that two of the other hijackers, al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar, had multiple-entry visas to the United States well before 9/11. Two FBI agents inside the unit tried to alert FBI headquarters, but CIA officers rebuffed them. [8]

In December 2000, Hanjour arrived in San Diego, joining "muscle" hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, who had been there since January of that year. [5] [9] Soon after arriving, Hanjour and Hazmi left for Mesa, Arizona, where Hanjour began refresher training at Arizona Aviation. [5]

In April 2001, they relocated to Falls Church, Virginia, where they awaited the arrival of the remaining "muscle" hijackers. [5] One of these men, Majed Moqed, arrived on May 2, 2001, with Flight 175 hijacker Ahmed al-Ghamdi from Dubai at Dulles International Airport. They moved into an apartment with Hazmi and Hanjour. [10]

On May 21, 2001, Hanjour rented a room in Paterson, New Jersey, where he stayed with other hijackers through the end of August. [11] The last Flight 77 "muscle" hijacker, Salem al-Hazmi, arrived on June 29, 2001, with Abdulaziz al-Omari (a hijacker of Flight 11) at John F. Kennedy International Airport from the United Arab Emirates. They stayed with Hanjour. [10]

Hanjour received ground instruction and did practice flights at Air Fleet Training Systems in Teterboro, New Jersey, and at Caldwell Flight Academy in Fairfield, New Jersey. [5] Hanjour moved out of the room in Paterson and arrived at the Valencia Motel in Laurel, Maryland, on September 2, 2001. [11] While in Maryland, Hanjour and fellow hijackers trained at Gold's Gym in Greenbelt. [12] On September 10, he completed a certification flight, using a terrain recognition system for navigation, at Congressional Air Charters in Gaithersburg, Maryland. [13] [14]

On September 10 Nawaf al-Hazmi, accompanied by other hijackers, checked into the Marriott in Herndon, Virginia, near Dulles Airport. [15]

Suspected accomplices Edit

According to a U.S. State Department cable leaked in the WikiLeaks dump in February 2010, the FBI has investigated another suspect, Mohammed al-Mansoori. He had associated with three Qatari citizens who flew from Los Angeles to London (via Washington) and Qatar on the eve of the attacks, after allegedly surveying the World Trade Center and the White House. U.S. law enforcement officials said the data about the four men was "just one of many leads that were thoroughly investigated at the time and never led to terrorism charges." [16] An official added that the three Qatari citizens had never been questioned by the FBI. Eleanor Hill, the former staff director for the congressional joint inquiry on the September 11 attacks, said the cable reinforces questions about the thoroughness of the FBI's investigation. She also said that the inquiry concluded the hijackers had a support network that helped them in different ways. [16]

The three Qatari men were booked to fly from Los Angeles to Washington on September 10, 2001, on the same plane that was hijacked and piloted into the Pentagon on the following day. Instead, they flew from Los Angeles to Qatar, via Washington and London. While the cable said Mansoori was currently under investigation, U.S. law enforcement officials said there was no active investigation of him or of the Qatari citizens mentioned in the cable. [16]

The aircraft involved in the hijacking was a Boeing 757-223 (registration N644AA). [17] [18] The aircraft was built and had its first flight in 1991 and delivered to American Airlines in May 1991. [19] [20] The crew included captain Charles Burlingame (51) (a Naval Academy graduate and former fighter pilot), First Officer David Charlebois (39), purser Renee May and flight attendants Michele Heidenberger, Jennifer Lewis and Kenneth Lewis. [21] The capacity of the aircraft was 188 passengers, but with 58 passengers on September 11, the load factor was 33 percent. American Airlines said Tuesdays were the least-traveled day of the week, with the same load factor seen on Tuesdays in the previous three months for Flight 77. [22]

Boarding and departure Edit

On the morning of September 11, 2001, the five hijackers arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport. At 07:15 AM ET, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Majed Moqed checked in at the American Airlines ticket counter for Flight 77, [23] arriving at the passenger security checkpoint a few minutes later at 07:18. [24] Both men set off the metal detector and were put through secondary screening. Moqed continued to set off the alarm, so he was searched with a hand wand. [25] The Hazmi brothers checked in together at the ticket counter at 07:29. Hani Hanjour checked in separately and arrived at the passenger security checkpoint at 07:35. [14] Hanjour was followed minutes later at the checkpoint by Salem and Nawaf al-Hazmi, who also set off the metal detector's alarm. The screener at the checkpoint never resolved what set off the alarm. As seen in security footage later released, Nawaf Hazmi appeared to have an unidentified item in his back pocket. Utility knives up to four inches were permitted at the time by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as carry-on items. [23] [25] The passenger security checkpoint at Dulles International Airport was operated by Argenbright Security, under contract with United Airlines. [26]

The hijackers were all selected for extra screening of their checked bags. Hanjour, al-Mihdhar, and Moqed were chosen by the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS) criteria, while the brothers Nawaf and Salem al-Hazmi were selected because they did not provide adequate identification and were deemed suspicious by the airline check-in agent. Hanjour, Mihdhar, and Nawaf al-Hazmi did not check any bags for the flight. Checked bags belonging to Moqed and Salem al-Hazmi were held until they boarded the aircraft. [22]

Flight 77 was scheduled to depart for Los Angeles at 08:10 58 passengers boarded through Gate D26, including the five hijackers. The 53 other passengers on board excluding the hijackers were 26 men, 22 women, and five children ranging in age from three to eleven. On the flight, Hani Hanjour was seated up front in 1B, while Salem and Nawaf al-Hazmi were likewise seated in first class, in seats 5E and 5F. Majed Moqed and Khalid al-Mihdhar were seated further back in 12A and 12B, in economy class. [27] Flight 77 left the gate on time and took off from Runway 30 at Dulles at 08:20. [22] Shortly after the flight took off, FAA flight controller, Danielle O'Brien, made a routine handoff of Flight 77 to a colleague at the FAA's Indianapolis Center. For reasons she couldn't explain and would never fully understand, O'Brien didn't use one of her normal sendoffs to the pilots: "Good day," or "Have a nice flight." Instead she told them, "Good luck." [28] [29]

Hijacking Edit

The 9/11 Commission estimated that the flight was hijacked between 08:51 and 08:54, shortly after American Airlines Flight 11 struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center and not too long after United Airlines Flight 175 had been hijacked. The last normal radio communications from the aircraft to air traffic control occurred at 08:50:51. [30] Unlike the other three flights, there were no reports of anyone being stabbed or a bomb threat and the pilots were possibly not immediately killed but herded to the back of the plane with the rest of the passengers. At 08:54, as the plane flew in the vicinity over Pike County, Ohio, it began to deviate from its normal assigned flight path and turned south. [31] Two minutes later, at 08:56, the plane's transponder was switched off. [23] The hijackers set the flight's autopilot on a course heading east towards Washington, D.C. [32]

The FAA was aware at this point there was an emergency on board the airplane. By this time, Flight 11 had already crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center and Flight 175 was known to have been hijacked and was within minutes of striking the South Tower. After learning of this second hijacking involving an American Airlines aircraft and the hijacking involving United Airlines, American Airlines' executive vice president Gerard Arpey ordered a nationwide ground stop for the airline. [23] The Indianapolis Air Traffic Control Center, as well as American Airlines dispatchers, made several failed attempts to contact the aircraft. At the time the airplane was hijacked, it was flying over an area of limited radar coverage. [33] With air controllers unable to contact the flight by radio, an Indianapolis official declared that it had possibly crashed at 09:09. [33]

Two people on board the aircraft made phone calls to contacts on the ground. At 09:12, flight attendant Renee May called her mother, Nancy May, in Las Vegas. [27] During the call, which lasted nearly two minutes, May erroneously said her flight "was being hijacked by six persons", who had forced "us" to the rear of the airplane. She didn't explain whether the people crowded together were crew members, passengers, or both. [34] [23] [27] May asked her mother to contact American Airlines, which she and her husband promptly did [23] however, American Airlines was already aware of the hijacking. Between 09:16 and 09:26, passenger Barbara Olson called her husband, United States Solicitor General Theodore Olson, and reported that the airplane had been hijacked and the assailants had box cutters and knives. [23] [35] She reported that everyone, including the pilots, had been moved to the back of the cabin and that the hijackers were unaware of her call. A minute into the conversation, the call was cut off. [36] Theodore Olson contacted the command center at the Department of Justice, and tried unsuccessfully to contact Attorney General John Ashcroft. [23] About five minutes later, Barbara Olson called again, told her husband the "pilot" (possibly Hanjour on the cabin intercom, not making the same mistake as Atta on Flight 11 or Jarrah on Flight 93, when Atta and Jarrah apparently tried to address the passengers and unwittingly reached air traffic control, [37] or Burlingame next to her at the back [38] ) had announced the flight was hijacked, and asked, "What do I tell the pilot to do?" [39] Ted Olson asked her location and she reported the plane was flying low over a residential area. [40] He told her of the attacks on the World Trade Center. Olson absored the news quietly, though Ted wondered if she'd been shocked into silence. After expressing their feelings and reassuring the other, the call cut off again. [41] [23]

—Danielle O'Brien, air traffic controller at Dulles International Airport [42]

The hijackers disengaged the autopilot and took manual control of the plane at 9:29. [43]

An airplane was detected again by Dulles controllers on radar screens as it approached Washington, turning and descending rapidly. Controllers initially thought this was a military fighter, due to its high speed and maneuvering. [44] Reagan Airport controllers asked a passing Air National Guard Lockheed C-130 Hercules to identify and follow the aircraft. The pilot, Lieutenant Colonel Steven O'Brien, told them it was a Boeing 757 or 767, and that its silver fuselage meant it was probably an American Airlines jet. He had difficulty picking out the airplane in the "East Coast haze", but then saw a "huge" fireball and assumed it had hit the ground. Approaching the Pentagon, he saw the impact site on the building's west side and reported to Reagan control, "Looks like that aircraft crashed into the Pentagon, sir." [23] [45]

Crash Edit

According to the 9/11 Commission Report, as Flight 77 was 5 miles (8.0 km) west-southwest of the Pentagon, it made a 330-degree spiral turn clockwise. At the end of the turn, it was descending through 2,200 feet (670 m), pointed toward the Pentagon and downtown Washington. Hani Hanjour advanced the throttles to maximum power and dove toward the Pentagon. While level above the ground and seconds from impact, the wings clipped five street lampposts and the right wing struck a portable generator, creating a smoke trail seconds before smashing into the Pentagon. [47] [48] Flight 77, flying at 530 mph (853 km/h, 237 m/s, or 460 knots) over the Navy Annex Building adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery, [49] impacted the western side of the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, just south of Washington, D.C., at 09:37:46. [50] The plane hit the Pentagon at the first-floor level, [51] and at the moment of impact, the airplane was rolled slightly to the left, with the right wing elevated. [52] The front part of the fuselage disintegrated on impact, while the mid and tail sections moved for another fraction of a second, with tail section debris penetrating furthest into the building. [51] In all, the airplane took eight-tenths of a second to fully penetrate 310 feet (94 m) into the three outermost of the building's five rings [53] and unleashed a fireball that rose 200 feet (61 m) above the building. [51]

At the time of the attacks, approximately eighteen thousand people worked in the Pentagon, four thousand fewer than before renovations began in 1998. [54] The section of the Pentagon that was struck, which had recently been renovated at a cost of $250 million, [55] housed the Naval Command Center. [56]

In all, there were 189 deaths at the Pentagon site, including the 125 in the Pentagon building in addition to the 64 on board the aircraft. Passenger Barbara Olson was en route to a recording of the TV show Politically Incorrect. [57] A group of three 11-year-old children, their chaperones, and two National Geographic Society staff members were also on board, embarking on an educational trip west to the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary near Santa Barbara, California. [58] The fatalities at the Pentagon included 55 military personnel and 70 civilians. [59] Of those 125 killed, 92 were on the first floor, 31 were on the second floor, and two were on the third. [60] Seven Defense Intelligence Agency civilian employees were killed while the Office of the Secretary of Defense lost one contractor. The U.S. Army suffered 75 fatalities – 53 civilians (47 employees and six contractors) and 22 soldiers – while the U.S. Navy suffered 42 fatalities – nine civilians (six employees and three contractors) and 33 sailors. [61] Lieutenant General Timothy Maude, an Army Deputy Chief of Staff, was the highest-ranking military officer killed at the Pentagon also killed was retired Rear Admiral Wilson Flagg, a passenger on the plane. [62] LT Mari-Rae Sopper, JAGC, USNR, was also on board the flight, and was the first Navy Judge Advocate ever to be killed in action. [63] Another 106 were injured on the ground and were treated at area hospitals. [60]

—Jim Miklaszewski, NBC Pentagon correspondent reporting from inside the Pentagon at 09:39 [64]

On the side where the plane hit, the Pentagon is bordered by Interstate 395 and Washington Boulevard. Motorist Mary Lyman, who was on I-395, saw the airplane pass over at a "steep angle toward the ground and going fast" and then saw the cloud of smoke from the Pentagon. [65] Omar Campo, another witness, was on the other side of the road:

I was cutting the grass and it came in screaming over my head. I felt the impact. The whole ground shook and the whole area was full of fire. I could never imagine I would see anything like that here. [66]

Afework Hagos, a computer programmer, was on his way to work and stuck in a traffic jam near the Pentagon when the airplane flew over. "There was a huge screaming noise and I got out of the car as the plane came over. Everybody was running away in different directions. It was tilting its wings up and down like it was trying to balance. It hit some lampposts on the way in." [66] Daryl Donley witnessed the crash and took some of the first photographs of the site. [67]

USA Today reporter Mike Walter was driving on Washington Boulevard when he witnessed the crash:

I looked out my window and I saw this plane, this jet, an American Airlines jet, coming. And I thought, 'This doesn't add up, it's really low.' And I saw it. I mean it was like a cruise missile with wings. It went right there and slammed right into the Pentagon. [68]

Terrance Kean, who lived in a nearby apartment building, heard the noise of loud jet engines, glanced out his window, and saw a "very, very large passenger jet". He watched "it just plow right into the side of the Pentagon. The nose penetrated into the portico. And then it sort of disappeared, and there was fire and smoke everywhere." [69] Tim Timmerman, who is a pilot himself, noticed American Airlines markings on the aircraft as he saw it hit the Pentagon. [70] Other drivers on Washington Boulevard, Interstate 395, and Columbia Pike witnessed the crash, as did people in Pentagon City, Crystal City, and other nearby locations. [65]

Former Georgetown University basketball coach John Thompson had originally booked a ticket on Flight 77. As he would tell the story many times in the following years, including a September 12, 2011 interview on Jim Rome's radio show, he had been scheduled to appear on that show on September 12, 2001. Thompson was planning to be in Las Vegas for a friend's birthday on September 13, and initially insisted on traveling to Rome's Los Angeles studio on the 11th. However, this did not work for the show, which wanted him to travel on the day of the show. After a Rome staffer personally assured Thompson he would be able to travel from Los Angeles to Las Vegas immediately after the show, Thompson changed his travel plans. He felt the impact from the crash at his home near the Pentagon. [71]

—Lieutenant Commander David Tarantino describing the scene near the Navy Command Center on the first floor. [72]

Rescue efforts began immediately after the crash. Almost all the successful rescues of survivors occurred within half an hour of the impact. [73] Initially, rescue efforts were led by the military and civilian employees within the building. Within minutes, the first fire companies arrived and found these volunteers searching near the impact site. The firemen ordered them to leave as they were not properly equipped or trained to deal with the hazards. [73] The Arlington County Fire Department (ACFD) assumed command of the immediate rescue operation within ten minutes of the crash. ACFD Assistant Chief James Schwartz implemented an incident command system (ICS) to coordinate response efforts among multiple agencies. [74] It took about an hour for the ICS structure to become fully operational. [75] Firefighters from Fort Myer and Reagan National Airport arrived within minutes. [76] [77] Rescue and firefighting efforts were impeded by rumors of additional incoming planes. Chief Schwartz ordered two evacuations during the day in response to these rumors. [78]

As firefighters attempted to extinguish the fires, they watched the building in fear of a structural collapse. One firefighter remarked that they "pretty much knew the building was going to collapse because it started making weird sounds and creaking." [78] Officials saw a cornice of the building move and ordered an evacuation. Minutes later, at 10:10, the upper floors of the damaged area of the Pentagon collapsed. [78] The collapsed area was about 95 feet (29 m) at its widest point and 50 feet (15 m) at its deepest. [78] The amount of time between impact and collapse allowed everyone on the fourth and fifth levels to evacuate safely before the structure collapsed. [79] After the collapse, the interior fires intensified, spreading through all five floors. [80] After 11:00, firefighters mounted a two-pronged attack against the fires. Officials estimated temperatures of up to 2,000 °F (1,090 °C). [80] While progress was made against the interior fires by late afternoon, firefighters realized a flammable layer of wood under the Pentagon's slate roof had caught fire and begun to spread. [81] Typical firefighting tactics were rendered useless by the reinforced structure as firefighters were unable to reach the fire to extinguish it. [81] Firefighters instead made firebreaks in the roof on September 12 to prevent further spreading. At 18:00 on the 12th, Arlington County issued a press release stating the fire was "controlled" but not fully "extinguished". Firefighters continued to put out smaller fires that ignited in the succeeding days. [81]

Various pieces of aircraft debris were found within the wreckage at the Pentagon. While on fire and escaping from the Navy Command Center, Lt. Kevin Shaeffer observed a chunk of the aircraft's nose cone and the nose landing gear in the service road between rings B and C. [82] Early in the morning on Friday, September 14, Fairfax County Urban Search and Rescue Team members Carlton Burkhammer and Brian Moravitz came across an "intact seat from the plane's cockpit", [83] while paramedics and firefighters located the two black boxes near the punch out hole in the A–E drive, [84] nearly 300 feet (91 m) into the building. [52] The cockpit voice recorder was too badly damaged and charred to retrieve any information, [85] though the flight data recorder yielded useful information. [50] Investigators also found a part of Nawaf al-Hazmi's driver's license in the North Parking Lot rubble pile. [86] Personal effects belonging to victims were found and taken to Fort Myer. [87]

Remains Edit

Army engineers determined by 17:30 on the first day that no one remained alive in the damaged section of the building. [88] In the days after the crash, news reports emerged that up to 800 people had died. [89] Army soldiers from Fort Belvoir were the first teams to survey the interior of the crash site and noted the presence of human remains. [90] Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Urban Search and Rescue teams, including Fairfax County Urban Search and Rescue assisted the search for remains, working through the National Interagency Incident Management System (NIIMS). [90] [91] Kevin Rimrodt, a Navy photographer surveying the Navy Command Center after the attacks, remarked that "there were so many bodies, I'd almost step on them. So I'd have to really take care to look backwards as I'm backing up in the dark, looking with a flashlight, making sure I'm not stepping on somebody." [92] Debris from the Pentagon was taken to the Pentagon's north parking lot for more detailed search for remains and evidence. [93]

Remains recovered from the Pentagon were photographed, and turned over to the Armed Forces Medical Examiner office, located at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. The medical examiner's office was able to identify remains belonging to 179 of the victims. [94] Investigators eventually identified 184 of the 189 people who died in the attack. [95] The remains of the five hijackers were identified through a process of elimination, and were turned over as evidence to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). [96] On September 21, the ACFD relinquished control of the crime scene to the FBI. The Washington Field Office, National Capital Response Squad (NCRS), and the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) led the crime scene investigation at the Pentagon. [77]

By October 2, 2001, the search for evidence and remains was complete and the site was turned over to Pentagon officials. [93] In 2002, the remains of 25 victims were buried collectively at Arlington National Cemetery, with a five-sided granite marker inscribed with the names of all the victims in the Pentagon. [97] The ceremony also honored the five victims whose remains were never found. [97]

Flight recorders Edit

About 03:40 on September 14, a paramedic and a firefighter who were searching through the debris of the impact site found two dark boxes, about 1.5 feet (46 cm) by 2 feet (61 cm) long. They called for an FBI agent, who in turn called for someone from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The NTSB employee confirmed that these were the flight recorders ("black boxes") from American Airlines Flight 77. [98] Dick Bridges, deputy manager for Arlington County, Virginia, said the cockpit voice recorder was damaged on the outside and the flight data recorder was charred. Bridges said the recorders were found "right where the plane came into the building". [99]

The cockpit voice recorder was transported to the NTSB lab in Washington, D.C., to see what data was salvageable. In its report, the NTSB identified the unit as an L-3 Communications, Fairchild Aviation Recorders model A-100A cockpit voice recorder – a device which records on magnetic tape. No usable segments of tape were found inside the recorder according to the NTSB's report, "[t]he majority of the recording tape was fused into a solid block of charred plastic". [100] On the other hand, all the data from the flight data recorder, which used a solid-state drive, was recovered. [101]

Continuity of operations Edit

At the moment of impact, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was in his office on the other side of the Pentagon, away from the crash site. He ran to the site and assisted the injured. [102] Rumsfeld returned to his office, and went to a conference room in the Executive Support Center where he joined a secure videoteleconference with Vice President Dick Cheney and other officials. [103] On the day of the attacks, DoD officials considered moving their command operations to Site R, a backup facility in Pennsylvania. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld insisted he remain at the Pentagon, and sent Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to Site R. The National Military Command Center (NMCC) continued to operate at the Pentagon, even as smoke entered the facility. [104] Engineers and building managers manipulated the ventilation and other building systems that still functioned to draw smoke out of the NMCC and bring in fresh air. [105]

During a press conference held inside the Pentagon at 18:42, Rumsfeld announced, "The Pentagon's functioning. It will be in business tomorrow." [106] Pentagon employees returned the next day to offices in mostly unaffected areas of the building. By the end of September, more workers returned to the lightly damaged areas of the Pentagon. [93]

Early estimates on rebuilding the damaged section of the Pentagon were that it would take three years to complete. [93] However, the project moved forward at an accelerated pace and was completed by the first anniversary of the attack. [107] The rebuilt section of the Pentagon includes a small indoor memorial and chapel at the point of impact. [108] An outdoor memorial, commissioned by the Pentagon and designed by Julie Beckman and Keith Kaseman, was completed on schedule for its dedication on September 11, 2008. [109] Since September 11, American Airlines continues to fly from Dulles International Airport to Los Angeles International Airport. As of September 2018, flight number 77 has been renumbered to 252, now using a Boeing 737-800, departing at 07:27. [110]

Security camera video Edit

The Department of Defense released filmed footage on May 16, 2006, that was recorded by a security camera of American Airlines Flight 77 crashing into the Pentagon, with a plane visible in one frame, as a "thin white blur" and an explosion following. [111] The images were made public in response to a December 2004 Freedom of Information Act request by Judicial Watch. [112] Some still images from the video had previously been released and publicly circulated, but this was the first official release of the edited video of the crash. [113]

A nearby Citgo service station also had security cameras, but a video released on September 15, 2006, did not show the crash because the camera was pointed away from the crash site. [114] [115]

The Doubletree Hotel, located nearby in Crystal City, Virginia, also had a security camera video. The FBI released the video on December 4, 2006, in response to a FOIA lawsuit filed by Scott Bingham. The footage is "grainy and the focus is soft, but a rapidly growing tower of smoke is visible in the distance on the upper edge of the frame as the plane crashes into the building." [116]

Memorials Edit

On September 12, 2002, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, dedicated the Victims of Terrorist Attack on the Pentagon Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. [118] The memorial specifically honors the five individuals for whom no identifiable remains were found. [119] This included Dana Falkenberg, age three, who was aboard American Airlines Flight 77 with her parents and older sister. [119] A portion of the remains of 25 other victims are also buried at the site. [120] The memorial is a pentagonal [121] granite marker 4.5 feet (1.4 m) high. [119] On five sides of the memorial along the top are inscribed the words "Victims of Terrorist Attack on the Pentagon September 11, 2001". Aluminum plaques, painted black, are inscribed with the names of the 184 victims of the terrorist attack. [119] The site is located in Section 64, [122] on a slight rise, which gives it a view of the Pentagon. [119]

At the National September 11 Memorial, the names of the Pentagon victims are inscribed on six panels at the South Pool. [123]

The Pentagon Memorial, located just southwest of The Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, is a permanent outdoor memorial to the 184 people who died as victims in the building and on American Airlines Flight 77 during the September 11 attacks. [124] Designed by Julie Beckman and Keith Kaseman of the architectural firm of Kaseman Beckman Advanced Strategies [125] with engineers Buro Happold, [126] the memorial opened on September 11, 2008, seven years after the attack.



The origins of al-Qaeda can be traced to 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden travelled to Afghanistan and helped to organize Arab mujahideen to resist the Soviets. [14] Under the guidance of Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden became more radical. [15] In 1996, bin Laden issued his first fatwā, calling for American soldiers to leave Saudi Arabia. [16]

In a second fatwā in 1998, bin Laden outlined his objections to American foreign policy with respect to Israel, as well as the continued presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War. [17] Bin Laden used Islamic texts to exhort Muslims to attack Americans until the stated grievances were reversed. Muslim legal scholars "have throughout Islamic history unanimously agreed that the jihad is an individual duty if the enemy destroys the Muslim countries", according to bin Laden. [17] [18]

Osama bin Laden

Bin Laden orchestrated the attacks and initially denied involvement but later recanted his false statements. [2] [19] [20] Al Jazeera broadcast a statement by bin Laden on September 16, 2001, stating, "I stress that I have not carried out this act, which appears to have been carried out by individuals with their own motivation." [21] In November 2001, U.S. forces recovered a videotape from a destroyed house in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. In the video, bin Laden is seen talking to Khaled al-Harbi and admits foreknowledge of the attacks. [22] On December 27, 2001, a second bin Laden video was released. In the video, he said:

It has become clear that the West in general and America in particular have an unspeakable hatred for Islam. . It is the hatred of crusaders. Terrorism against America deserves to be praised because it was a response to injustice, aimed at forcing America to stop its support for Israel, which kills our people. . We say that the end of the United States is imminent, whether Bin Laden or his followers are alive or dead, for the awakening of the Muslim umma (nation) has occurred

but he stopped short of admitting responsibility for the attacks. [23]

Shortly before the U.S. presidential election in 2004, bin Laden used a taped statement to publicly acknowledge al-Qaeda's involvement in the attacks on the United States. He admitted his direct link to the attacks and said they were carried out because .

we are free . and want to regain freedom for our nation. As you undermine our security, we undermine yours. [24]

Bin Laden said he had personally directed his followers to attack the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. [25] [26] Another video obtained by Al Jazeera in September 2006 shows bin Laden with Ramzi bin al-Shibh, as well as two hijackers, Hamza al-Ghamdi and Wail al-Shehri, as they make preparations for the attacks. [27] The U.S. never formally indicted bin Laden for the 9/11 attacks, but he was on the FBI's Most Wanted List for the bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. [28] [29] After a 10-year manhunt, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that bin Laden was killed by American special forces in his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 1, 2011. [30]

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

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. [31] [32] [33] The 2004 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". [34] 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. [35] [36]

Mohammed was arrested on March 1, 2003, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, by Pakistani security officials working with the CIA. He was then held at multiple CIA secret prisons and Guantanamo Bay where he was interrogated and tortured with methods including waterboarding. [37] [38] During U.S. hearings at Guantanamo Bay in March 2007, Mohammed again confessed his responsibility for the attacks, stating he "was responsible for the 9/11 operation from A to Z" and that his statement was not made under duress. [33] [39]

A letter presented by the lawyers of Khaled Sheikh Mohammed in the U.S. District Court, Manhattan on July 26, 2019 indicated that he was interested in testifying about Saudi Arabia’s role in the 9/11 attacks and helping the victims and families of the victims of 9/11 in exchange for the United States not seeking the death penalty against him. James Kreindler, one of the lawyers for the victims, raised question over the usefulness of Mohammed. [1]

Other al-Qaeda members

In "Substitution for Testimony of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed" from the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, five people are identified as having been completely aware of the operation's details. They are bin Laden, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Abu Turab al-Urduni, and Mohammed Atef. [40] To date, only peripheral figures have been tried or convicted for the attacks.

On September 26, 2005, the Spanish high court sentenced Abu Dahdah to 27 years in prison for conspiracy on the 9/11 attacks and being a member of the terrorist organization al-Qaeda. At the same time, another 17 al-Qaeda members were sentenced to penalties of between six and eleven years. [41] On February 16, 2006, the Spanish Supreme Court reduced the Abu Dahdah penalty to twelve years because it considered that his participation in the conspiracy was not proven. [42]

Also in 2006 Moussaoui, who some originally suspected might have been the assigned twentieth hijacker, was convicted for the lesser role of conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism and air piracy. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole in the United States. [43] [44] Mounir el-Motassadeq, an associate of the Hamburg-based hijackers, served 15 years in Germany for his role in helping the hijackers prepare for the attacks. He was released in October 2018, and deported to Morocco. [45]

The Hamburg cell in Germany included radical Islamists who eventually came to be key operatives in the 9/11 attacks. [46] Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Ziad Jarrah, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, and Said Bahaji were all members of al-Qaeda's Hamburg cell. [47]


Osama bin Laden's declaration of a holy war against the United States, and a 1998 fatwā signed by bin Laden and others, calling for the killing of Americans, [17] are seen by investigators as evidence of his motivation. [48] In bin Laden's November 2002 "Letter to America", he explicitly stated that al-Qaeda's motives for their attacks include:

  • support for the "attacks against Muslims" in Somalia
  • support of Philippines against Muslims in the Moro conflict
  • support for Israeli "aggression" against Muslims in Lebanon
  • support of Russian "atrocities against Muslims" in Chechnya
  • pro-American governments in the Middle East (who "act as your agents") being against Muslim interests
  • support of Indian "oppression against Muslims" in Kashmir
  • the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia[51]
  • the sanctions against Iraq[49]

After the attacks, bin Laden and al-Zawahiri released additional videotapes and audio recordings, some of which repeated those reasons for the attacks. Two particularly important publications were bin Laden's 2002 "Letter to America", [52] and a 2004 videotape by bin Laden. [53]

Bin Laden interpreted Muhammad as having banned the "permanent presence of infidels in Arabia". [54] In 1996, bin Laden issued a fatwā calling for American troops to leave Saudi Arabia. In 1998, al-Qaeda wrote, "for over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples." [55]

In a December 1999 interview, bin Laden said he felt that Americans were "too near to Mecca", and considered this a provocation to the entire Muslim world. [56] One analysis of suicide terrorism suggested that without U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, al-Qaeda likely would not have been able to get people to commit to suicide missions. [57]

In the 1998 fatwā, al-Qaeda identified the Iraq sanctions as a reason to kill Americans, condemning the "protracted blockade" [55] among other actions that constitute a declaration of war against "Allah, his messenger, and Muslims." [55] The fatwā declared that "the ruling to kill the Americans and their allies – civilians and military – is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque of Mecca from their grip, and in order for their [the Americans'] armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim." [17] [58]

In 2004, Bin Laden claimed that the idea of destroying the towers had first occurred to him in 1982, when he witnessed Israel's bombardment of high-rise apartment buildings during the 1982 Lebanon War. [59] [60] Some analysts, including Mearsheimer and Walt, also claimed that U.S. support of Israel was one motive for the attacks. [50] [56] In 2004 and 2010, bin Laden again connected the September 11 attacks with U.S. support of Israel, although most of the letter expressed bin Laden's disdain for President Bush and bin Laden's hope to "destroy and bankrupt" the U.S. [61] [62]

Other motives have been suggested in addition to those stated by bin Laden and al-Qaeda. 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 [63] [64] 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. [65] [66]


The attacks were conceived by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who first presented it to Osama bin Laden in 1996. [67] At that time, bin Laden and al-Qaeda were in a period of transition, having just relocated back to Afghanistan from Sudan. [68] The 1998 African embassy bombings and bin Laden's February 1998 fatwā marked a turning point of al-Qaeda's terrorist operation, [69] as bin Laden became intent on attacking the United States.

In late 1998 or early 1999, bin Laden gave approval for Mohammed to go forward with organizing the plot. [70] Mohammed, bin Laden, and bin Laden's deputy Mohammed Atef held a series of meetings in early 1999. [71] Atef provided operational support, including target selections and helping arrange travel for the hijackers. [68] Bin Laden overruled Mohammed, rejecting potential targets such as the U.S. Bank Tower in Los Angeles for lack of time. [72] [73]

Bin Laden provided leadership and financial support and was involved in selecting participants. [74] He initially selected Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, both experienced jihadists who had fought in Bosnia. Hazmi and Mihdhar arrived in the United States in mid-January 2000. In early 2000, Hazmi and Mihdhar took flying lessons in San Diego, California, but both spoke little English, performed poorly in flying lessons, and eventually served as secondary ("muscle") hijackers. [75] [76]

In late 1999, a group of men from Hamburg, Germany arrived in Afghanistan the group included Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Ziad Jarrah, and Ramzi bin al-Shibh. [77] Bin Laden selected these men because they were educated, could speak English, and had experience living in the West. [78] New recruits were routinely screened for special skills and al-Qaeda leaders consequently discovered that Hani Hanjour already had a commercial pilot's license. [79] Mohammed later said that he helped the hijackers blend in by teaching them how to order food in restaurants and dress in Western clothing. [80]

Hanjour arrived in San Diego on December 8, 2000, joining Hazmi. [81] : 6–7 They soon left for Arizona, where Hanjour took refresher training. [81] : 7 Marwan al-Shehhi arrived at the end of May 2000, while Atta arrived on June 3, 2000, and Jarrah arrived on June 27, 2000. [81] : 6 Bin al-Shibh applied several times for a visa to the United States, but as a Yemeni, he was rejected out of concerns he would overstay his visa. [81] : 4, 14 Bin al-Shibh stayed in Hamburg, providing coordination between Atta and Mohammed. [81] : 16 The three Hamburg cell members all took pilot training in South Florida at Huffman Aviation. [81] : 6

In the spring of 2001, the secondary hijackers began arriving in the United States. [82] In July 2001, Atta met with bin al-Shibh in Spain, where they coordinated details of the plot, including final target selection. Bin al-Shibh also passed along bin Laden's wish for the attacks to be carried out as soon as possible. [83] Some of the hijackers received passports from corrupt Saudi officials who were family members, or used fraudulent passports to gain entry. [84]

There is some idea that 9/11 was selected by the hijackers as the date of the attack because of its resemblance to 9-1-1, the phone number to report emergencies in the U.S. However, Lawrence Wright wrote that the hijackers chose it because September 11, 1683 is when the King of Poland began the battle that turned back the Muslim armies from the Ottoman Empire that were attempting to capture Vienna. For Osama bin Laden, this was a date when the West gained some dominance over Islam, and by attacking on this date, he hoped to make a step in Islam "winning" the war for worldwide power and influence. [85]

Prior intelligence

In late 1999, al-Qaeda associate Walid bin Attash ("Khallad") contacted Mihdhar, telling him to meet him in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Hazmi and Abu Bara al Yemeni would also be in attendance. The NSA intercepted a telephone call mentioning the meeting, Mihdhar, and the name "Nawaf" (Hazmi). While the agency feared "Something nefarious might be afoot", it took no further action. The CIA had already been alerted by Saudi intelligence about the status of Mihdhar and Hazmi as al-Qaeda members, and a CIA team broke into Mihdhar's Dubai hotel room and discovered that Mihdhar had a U.S. visa. While Alec Station alerted intelligence agencies worldwide about this fact, it did not share this information with the FBI. The Malaysian Special Branch observed the January 5, 2000 meeting of the two al-Qaeda members, and informed the CIA that Mihdhar, Hazmi, and Khallad were flying to Bangkok, but the CIA never notified other agencies of this, nor did it ask the State Department to put Mihdhar on its watchlist. An FBI liaison to Alec Station asked permission to inform the FBI of the meeting but was told: "This is not a matter for the FBI." [86]

By late June, senior counter-terrorism official Richard Clarke and CIA director George Tenet were "convinced that a major series of attacks was about to come", although the CIA believed the attacks would likely occur in Saudi Arabia or Israel. [87] In early July, Clarke put domestic agencies on "full alert", telling them, "Something really spectacular is going to happen here. soon." He asked the FBI and the State Department to alert the embassies and police departments, and the Defense Department to go to "Threat Condition Delta". [88] [89] Clarke would later write: "Somewhere in CIA there was information that two known al Qaeda terrorists had come into the United States. Somewhere in FBI, there was information that strange things had been going on at flight schools in the United States . They had specific information about individual terrorists from which one could have deduced what was about to happen. None of that information got to me or the White House." [90]

On July 13, Tom Wilshire, a CIA agent assigned to the FBI's international terrorism division, emailed his superiors at the CIA's Counterterrorism Center (CTC) requesting permission to inform the FBI that Hazmi was in the country and that Mihdhar had a U.S. visa. The CIA never responded. [91]

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 participant's 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 with criminal investigators. When shown the photos, the FBI were refused more details on their significance, and they were not given Mihdhar's date of birth nor passport number. [92] 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. [93]

Also in July, a Phoenix-based FBI agent sent a message to FBI headquarters, Alec Station, and to FBI agents in New York alerting them to "the possibility of a coordinated effort by Osama bin Laden to send students to the United States to attend civil aviation universities and colleges". The agent, Kenneth Williams, suggested the need to interview all flight school managers and identify all Arab students seeking flight training. [94] In July, Jordan alerted the U.S. that al-Qaeda was planning an attack on the U.S. "months later", Jordan notified the U.S. that the attack's codename was "The Big Wedding" and that it involved aeroplanes. [95]

On August 6, 2001, the CIA's Presidential Daily Brief ("PDB"), designated "For the President Only", was entitled "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in U.S." The memo noted that FBI information "indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks". [96]

In mid-August, one Minnesota flight school alerted the FBI about Zacarias Moussaoui, who had asked "suspicious questions". The FBI found that Moussaoui was a radical who had traveled to Pakistan, and the INS arrested him for overstaying his French visa. Their request to search his laptop was denied by FBI headquarters due to the lack of probable cause. [97]

The failures in intelligence-sharing were attributed to 1995 Justice Department policies limiting intelligence sharing, combined with CIA and NSA reluctance to reveal "sensitive sources and methods" such as tapped phones. [98] Testifying before the 9/11 Commission in April 2004, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft recalled that the "single greatest structural cause for the September 11th problem was the wall that segregated or separated criminal investigators and intelligence agents". [99] Clarke also wrote: "There were failures in the organization's failures to get information to the right place at the right time." [100]

Early on the morning of September 11, 2001, 19 hijackers took control of four commercial airliners (two Boeing 757s and two Boeing 767s) en route to California (three of them headed to LAX in Los Angeles and one to SFO in San Francisco) after takeoffs from Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey and Washington Dulles International Airport in Loudoun and Fairfax counties in Virginia. [101] Large planes with long flights were selected for hijacking because they would be full of fuel. [102]

    : a Boeing 767 aircraft, departed Logan Airport at 7:59 a.m. en route to Los Angeles with a crew of 11 and 76 passengers, not including five hijackers. The hijackers flew the plane into the northern facade of the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City at 8:46 a.m. : a Boeing 767 aircraft, departed Logan Airport at 8:14 a.m. en route to Los Angeles with a crew of nine and 51 passengers, not including five hijackers. The hijackers flew the plane into the southern facade of the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City at 9:03 a.m. : a Boeing 757 aircraft, departed Washington Dulles International Airport at 8:20 a.m. en route to Los Angeles with a crew of six and 53 passengers, not including five hijackers. The hijackers flew the plane into the western facade of the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, at 9:37 a.m. : a Boeing 757 aircraft, departed Newark International Airport at 8:42 a.m. en route to San Francisco, with a crew of seven and 33 passengers, not including four hijackers. As passengers attempted to subdue the hijackers, the aircraft crashed into a field in Stonycreek Township near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, at 10:03 a.m.

Media coverage was extensive during the attacks and aftermath, beginning moments after the first crash into the World Trade Center. [103]

There were zero survivors (including the hijackers) from the following four flights:
Operator Flight number Aircraft type Time of departure* Time of crash* Departed from En route to Crash site Fatalities
Crew Passengers † Ground fatalities § Hijackers Total ‡
American Airlines 11 Boeing 767-223ER 7:59 a.m. 8:46 a.m. Logan International Airport Los Angeles International Airport North Tower of the World Trade Center 11 76 2,606 5 2,763
United Airlines 175 Boeing 767-222 8:14 a.m. 9:03 a.m. Logan International Airport Los Angeles International Airport South Tower of the World Trade Center 9 51 5
American Airlines 77 Boeing 757-223 8:20 a.m. 9:37 a.m. Washington Dulles International Airport Los Angeles International Airport West wall of Pentagon 6 53 125 5 189
United Airlines 93 Boeing 757-222 8:42 a.m. 10:03 a.m. Newark Int'l Airport San Francisco International Airport Field in Stonycreek Township near Shanksville 7 33 0 4 44
Totals 33 213 2,731 19 2,996

* Eastern Daylight Time (UTC-04:00)
Excluding hijackers
§ Including emergency workers
Including hijackers

The four crashes

At 8:46 a.m., five hijackers crashed American Airlines Flight 11 into the northern facade of the World Trade Center's North Tower (1 WTC). At 9:03, another five hijackers crashed United Airlines Flight 175 into the southern facade of the South Tower (2 WTC). [104] [105] Five hijackers flew American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon at 9:37. [106] A fourth flight, United Airlines Flight 93, crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, southeast of Pittsburgh, at 10:03 after the passengers fought the four hijackers. Flight 93's target is believed to have been either the Capitol or the White House. [102] Flight 93's cockpit voice recorder revealed crew and passengers tried to seize control of the plane from the hijackers after learning through phone calls that Flights 11, 77, and 175 had been crashed into buildings that morning. [107] Once it became evident that the passengers might gain control, the hijackers rolled the plane and intentionally crashed it. [108] [109]

Some passengers and crew members who called from the aircraft using the cabin air phone service and mobile phones provided details: several hijackers were aboard each plane they used mace, tear gas, or pepper spray to overcome attendants and some people aboard had been stabbed. [110] Reports indicated hijackers stabbed and killed pilots, flight attendants, and one or more passengers. [101] [111] According to the 9/11 Commission's final report, the hijackers had recently purchased multi-function hand tools and assorted Leatherman-type utility knives with locking blades, which were not forbidden to passengers at the time, but were not found among the possessions left behind by the hijackers. [112] [113] A flight attendant on Flight 11, a passenger on Flight 175, and passengers on Flight 93 said the hijackers had bombs, but one of the passengers said he thought the bombs were fake. The FBI found no traces of explosives at the crash sites, and the 9/11 Commission concluded that the bombs were probably fake. [101]

Three buildings in the World Trade Center collapsed due to fire-induced structural failure. [114] The South Tower collapsed at 9:59 a.m. having burned for 56 minutes in a fire caused by the impact of United Airlines Flight 175 and the explosion of its fuel. [114] The North Tower collapsed at 10:28 after burning for 102 minutes. [114] 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 p.m. [115] [116] The west side of the Pentagon sustained significant damage.

At 9:42 a.m., the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded all civilian aircraft within the continental U.S., and civilian aircraft already in flight were told to land immediately. [118] All international civilian aircraft were either turned back or redirected to airports in Canada or Mexico, and were banned from landing on United States territory for three days. [119] The attacks created widespread confusion among news organizations and air traffic controllers. Among the unconfirmed and often contradictory news reports aired throughout the day, one of the most prevalent said a car bomb had been detonated at the U.S. State Department's headquarters in Washington, D.C. [120] Another jet (Delta Air Lines Flight 1989) was suspected of having been hijacked, but the aircraft responded to controllers and landed safely in Cleveland, Ohio. [121]

In an April 2002 interview, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who are believed to have organized the attacks, said Flight 93's intended target was the United States Capitol, not the White House. [122] During the planning stage of the attacks, Mohamed Atta, the hijacker and pilot of Flight 11, thought the White House might be too tough a target and sought an assessment from Hani Hanjour (who hijacked and piloted Flight 77). [123] Mohammed said al-Qaeda initially planned to target nuclear installations rather than the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, but decided against it, fearing things could "get out of control". [124] Final decisions on targets, according to Mohammed, were left in the hands of the pilots. [123] If any pilot could not reach his intended target, he was to crash the plane. [102]


The attacks are the deadliest terrorist attacks in world history, [8] causing the deaths of 2,996 people (including the hijackers) and injuring more than 6,000 others. [125] The death toll included 265 on the four planes (from which there were no survivors), 2,606 in the World Trade Center and in the surrounding area, and 125 at the Pentagon. [126] [127] Most who died were civilian the rest include 340 firefighters, 72 law enforcement officers, 55 military personnel, and the 19 terrorists. [128] [129] After New York, New Jersey lost the most state citizens, with the city of Hoboken having lost the most New Jersey citizens. [130] More than ninety countries lost citizens in the attacks [131] for example, the 67 Britons who died were more than in any other terrorist attack anywhere as of October 2002 [update] . [132]

In Arlington County, Virginia, 125 Pentagon workers died when Flight 77 crashed into the western side of the building. 70 were civilians and 55 were military personnel, many of whom worked for the United States Army or the United States Navy. The Army lost 47 civilian employees, six civilian contractors, and 22 soldiers, while the Navy lost six civilian employees, three civilian contractors, and 33 sailors. Seven Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) civilian employees died, and one Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) contractor. [133] [134] [135] Lieutenant General Timothy Maude, an Army Deputy Chief of Staff, was the highest-ranking military official killed at the Pentagon. [136]

In New York City, more than 90% of the workers and visitors who died in the towers had been at or above the points of impact. [137] In the North Tower, 1,355 people at or above the point of impact were trapped and died of smoke inhalation, fell or jumped from the tower to escape the smoke and flames, or were killed in the building's collapse. The destruction of all three staircases in the tower when Flight 11 hit made it impossible for anyone above the impact zone to escape. 107 people below the point of impact died. [137]

In the South Tower, one stairwell, Stairwell A, was left intact after Flight 175 hit, allowing 14 people located on the floors of impact (including one man who saw the plane coming at him) and four more from the floors above to escape. New York City 9-1-1 operators who received calls from people inside the tower were not well informed of the situation as it rapidly unfolded and as a result, told callers not to descend the tower on their own. [138] In total 630 people died in that tower, fewer than half the number killed in the North Tower. [137] Casualties in the South Tower were significantly reduced because some occupants decided to start evacuating as soon as the North Tower was struck. [139] The failure to evacuate the South Tower fully after the first jet crash into the North Tower was described by USA Today as "one of the day's great tragedies". [140]

At least 200 people fell or jumped to their deaths from the burning towers (as exemplified in the photograph The Falling Man), landing on the streets and rooftops of adjacent buildings hundreds of feet below. [141] Some occupants of each tower above the point of impact made their way toward the roof in the hope of helicopter rescue, but the roof access doors were locked. [142] No plan existed for helicopter rescues, and the combination of roof equipment, thick smoke, and intense heat prevented helicopters from approaching. [143] A total of 411 emergency workers died as they tried to rescue people and fight fires. The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) lost 343 firefighters, including a chaplain and two paramedics. [144] The New York City Police Department (NYPD) lost 23 officers. [145] The Port Authority Police Department (PAPD) lost 37 officers. [146] Eight emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics from private emergency medical services units were killed. [147]

Cantor Fitzgerald L.P., an investment bank on the 101st–105th floors of the North Tower, lost 658 employees, considerably more than any other employer. [148] Marsh Inc., located immediately below Cantor Fitzgerald on floors 93–100, lost 358 employees, [149] [150] and 175 employees of Aon Corporation were also killed. [151] The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) estimated that about 17,400 civilians were in the World Trade Center complex at the time of the attacks. Turnstile counts from the Port Authority suggest 14,154 people were typically in the Twin Towers by 8:45 a.m. [152] [ page needed ] [153] Most people below the impact zone safely evacuated the buildings. [154]

Weeks after the attack, the death toll was estimated to be over 6,000, more than twice the number of deaths eventually confirmed. [155] The city was only able to identify remains for about 1,600 of the World Trade Center victims. The medical examiner's office collected "about 10,000 unidentified bone and tissue fragments that cannot be matched to the list of the dead". [156] Bone fragments were still being found in 2006 by workers who were preparing to demolish the damaged Deutsche Bank Building. In 2010, a team of anthropologists and archaeologists searched for human remains and personal items at the Fresh Kills Landfill, where 72 more human remains were recovered, bringing the total found to 1,845. DNA profiling continues in an attempt to identify additional victims. [157] [158] [159] The remains are being held in storage in Memorial Park, outside the New York City Medical Examiner's facilities. It was expected that the remains would be moved in 2013 to a repository behind a wall at the 9/11 museum. In July 2011, a team of scientists at the Office of Chief Medical Examiner was still trying to identify remains, in the hope that improved technology will allow them to identify other victims. [159] On August 7, 2017, the 1,641st victim was identified as a result of newly available DNA technology, [160] and a 1,642nd on July 26, 2018. [161] Three more victims were identified in 2019. A further 1,108 victims are yet to be identified. [162]


Along with the 110-floor Twin Towers, numerous other buildings at the World Trade Center site were destroyed or badly damaged, including WTC buildings 3 through 7 and St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church. [164] The North Tower, South Tower, the Marriott Hotel (3 WTC), and 7 WTC were destroyed. The U.S. Customs House (6 World Trade Center), 4 World Trade Center, 5 World Trade Center, and both pedestrian bridges connecting buildings were severely damaged. The Deutsche Bank Building (still popularly referred to as the Bankers Trust Building) on 130 Liberty Street was partially damaged and demolished some years later, starting in 2007. [165] [166] The two buildings of the World Financial Center also suffered damage. [165] The last fires at the World Trade Center site were extinguished on December 20, exactly 100 days after the attacks. [167]

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. [168] [169] 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. [170] Other neighboring buildings (including 90 West Street and the Verizon Building) suffered major damage but have been restored. [171] World Financial Center buildings, One Liberty Plaza, the Millenium Hilton, and 90 Church Street had moderate damage and have since been restored. [172] 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. [164] [173]

The PATH train system's World Trade Center station was located under the complex. As a result, the entire station was demolished completely when the towers collapsed, and the tunnels leading to Exchange Place station in Jersey City, New Jersey were flooded with water. [174] The station was rebuilt as the $4 billion World Trade Center Transportation Hub, which reopened in March 2015. [175] [176] The Cortlandt Street station on the New York City Subway's IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line was also in close proximity to the World Trade Center complex, and the entire station, along with the surrounding track, was reduced to rubble. [177] The latter station was rebuilt and reopened to the public on September 8, 2018. [178]

The Pentagon was severely damaged by the impact of American Airlines Flight 77 and ensuing fires, causing one section of the building to collapse. [179] As the airplane approached the Pentagon, its wings knocked down light poles and its right engine hit a power generator before crashing into the western side of the building. [180] [181] The plane hit the Pentagon at the first-floor level. The front part of the fuselage disintegrated on impact, while the mid and tail sections kept moving for another fraction of a second. [182] Debris from the tail section penetrated furthest into the building, breaking through 310 feet (94 m) of the three outermost of the building's five rings. [182] [183]

Rescue efforts

The New York City Fire Department deployed 200 units (half of the department) to the World Trade Center. Their efforts were supplemented by numerous off-duty firefighters and emergency medical technicians. [184] [185] [186] The New York City Police Department sent Emergency Service Units and other police personnel and deployed its aviation unit. Once on the scene, the FDNY, the NYPD, and the PAPD did not coordinate efforts and performed redundant searches for civilians. [184] [187] As conditions deteriorated, the NYPD aviation unit relayed information to police commanders, who issued orders for its personnel to evacuate the towers most NYPD officers were able to safely evacuate before the buildings collapsed. [187] [188] With separate command posts set up and incompatible radio communications between the agencies, warnings were not passed along to FDNY commanders.

After the first tower collapsed, FDNY commanders issued evacuation warnings. Due to technical difficulties with malfunctioning radio repeater systems, many firefighters never heard the evacuation orders. 9-1-1 dispatchers also received information from callers that was not passed along to commanders on the scene. [185] Within hours of the attack, a substantial search and rescue operation was launched. After months of around-the-clock operations, the World Trade Center site was cleared by the end of May 2002. [189]

The aftermath of the 9/11 attack resulted in immediate responses to the event, including domestic reactions, hate crimes, Muslim American responses to the event, international responses to the attack, and military responses to the events. An extensive compensation program was quickly established by Congress in the aftermath to compensate the victims and families of victims of the 9/11 attack as well. [190] [191]

Immediate response

At 8:32 a.m. FAA officials were notified Flight 11 had been hijacked and they, in turn, notified the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). NORAD scrambled two F-15s from Otis Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts and they were airborne by 8:53. [192] Because of slow and confused communication from FAA officials, NORAD had nine minutes' notice, and no notice about any of the other flights before they crashed. [192] After both of the Twin Towers had already been hit, more fighters were scrambled from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia at 9:30. [192] At 10:20, Vice President Dick Cheney issued orders to shoot down any commercial aircraft that could be positively identified as being hijacked. These instructions were not relayed in time for the fighters to take action. [192] [193] [194] [195] Some fighters took to the air without live ammunition, knowing that to prevent the hijackers from striking their intended targets, the pilots might have to intercept and crash their fighters into the hijacked planes, possibly ejecting at the last moment. [196]

For the first time in U.S. history, the emergency preparedness plan called Security Control of Air Traffic and Air Navigation Aids (SCATANA) was invoked, [197] thus stranding tens of thousands of passengers across the world. [198] Ben Sliney, in his first day as the National Operations Manager of the FAA, [199] ordered that American airspace would be closed to all international flights, causing about five hundred flights to be turned back or redirected to other countries. Canada received 226 of the diverted flights and launched Operation Yellow Ribbon to deal with the large numbers of grounded planes and stranded passengers. [200]

The 9/11 attacks had immediate effects on the American people. [201] Police and rescue workers from around the country took a leave of absence from their jobs and traveled to New York City to help recover bodies from the twisted remnants of the Twin Towers. [202] Blood donations across the U.S. surged in the weeks after 9/11. [203] [204]

The deaths of adults in the attacks resulted in over 3,000 children losing a parent. [205] Subsequent studies documented children's reactions to these actual losses and to feared losses of life, the protective environment in the aftermath of the attacks, and effects on surviving caregivers. [206] [207] [208]

Domestic reactions

Following the attacks, President George W. Bush's approval rating soared to 90%. [209] On September 20, 2001, he addressed the nation and a joint session of the United States Congress regarding the events of September 11 and the subsequent nine days of rescue and recovery efforts, and described his intended response to the attacks. New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani's highly visible role won him high praise in New York and nationally. [210]

Many relief funds were immediately set up to assist victims of the attacks, with the task of providing financial assistance to the survivors of the attacks and to the families of victims. By the deadline for victim's compensation on September 11, 2003, 2,833 applications had been received from the families of those who were killed. [211]

Contingency plans for the continuity of government and the evacuation of leaders were implemented soon after the attacks. [198] Congress was not told that the United States had been under a continuity of government status until February 2002. [212]

In the largest restructuring of the U.S. government in contemporary history, the United States enacted the Homeland Security Act of 2002, creating the Department of Homeland Security. Congress also passed the USA PATRIOT Act, saying it would help detect and prosecute terrorism and other crimes. [213] Civil liberties groups have criticized the PATRIOT Act, saying it allows law enforcement to invade the privacy of citizens and that it eliminates judicial oversight of law enforcement and domestic intelligence. [214] [215] [216] In an effort to effectively combat future acts of terrorism, the National Security Agency (NSA) was given broad powers. NSA commenced warrantless surveillance of telecommunications, which was sometimes criticized since it permitted the agency "to eavesdrop on telephone and e-mail communications between the United States and people overseas without a warrant". [217] In response to requests by various intelligence agencies, the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court permitted an expansion of powers by the U.S. government in seeking, obtaining, and sharing information on U.S. citizens as well as non-U.S. people from around the world. [218]

Hate crimes

Shortly after the attacks, President Bush made a public appearance at Washington, D.C.'s largest Islamic Center and acknowledged the "incredibly valuable contribution" that millions of American Muslims made to their country and called for them "to be treated with respect." [219] Numerous incidents of harassment and hate crimes against Muslims and South Asians were reported in the days following the attacks. [220] [221] [222] Sikhs were also targeted because Sikh males usually wear turbans, which are stereotypically associated with Muslims. There were reports of attacks on mosques and other religious buildings (including the firebombing of a Hindu temple), and assaults on people, including one murder: Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh mistaken for a Muslim, was fatally shot on September 15, 2001, in Mesa, Arizona. [222] Two dozen members of Osama bin Laden's family were urgently evacuated out of the country on a private charter plane under FBI supervision three days after the attacks. [223]

According to an academic study, people perceived to be Middle Eastern were as likely to be victims of hate crimes as followers of Islam during this time. The study also found a similar increase in hate crimes against people who may have been perceived as Muslims, Arabs, and others thought to be of Middle Eastern origin. [224] A report by the South Asian American advocacy group known as South Asian Americans Leading Together, documented media coverage of 645 bias incidents against Americans of South Asian or Middle Eastern descent between September 11 and 17. Various crimes such as vandalism, arson, assault, shootings, harassment, and threats in numerous places were documented. [225] [226]

Muslim American response

Muslim organizations in the United States were swift to condemn the attacks and called "upon Muslim Americans to come forward with their skills and resources to help alleviate the sufferings of the affected people and their families". [227] These organizations included the Islamic Society of North America, American Muslim Alliance, American Muslim Council, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Circle of North America, and the Shari'a Scholars Association of North America. Along with monetary donations, many Islamic organizations launched blood drives and provided medical assistance, food, and shelter for victims. [228] [229] [230]

International reactions

The attacks were denounced by mass media and governments worldwide. Across the globe, nations offered pro-American support and solidarity. [231] Leaders in most Middle Eastern countries, and Afghanistan, condemned the attacks. Iraq was a notable exception, with an immediate official statement that, "the American cowboys are reaping the fruit of their crimes against humanity". [232] The government of Saudi Arabia officially condemned the attacks, but privately many Saudis favored bin Laden's cause. [233] [234] Although Palestinian Authority (PA) president Yasser Arafat also condemned the attacks, there were reports of celebrations of disputed size in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. [235] [236] Footage by CNN [ vague ] and other news outlets were suggested to be from 1991, which was later proven to be a false accusation, resulting in a statement being issued by CNN. [237] [238] As in the United States, the aftermath of the attacks saw tensions increase in other countries between Muslims and non-Muslims. [239]

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1368 condemned the attacks, and expressed readiness to take all necessary steps to respond and combat all forms of terrorism in accordance with their Charter. [240] Numerous countries introduced anti-terrorism legislation and froze bank accounts they suspected of al-Qaeda ties. [241] [242] Law enforcement and intelligence agencies in a number of countries arrested alleged terrorists. [243] [244]

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Britain stood "shoulder to shoulder" with the United States. [245] A few days later, Blair flew to Washington, D.C. to affirm British solidarity with the United States. In a speech to Congress, nine days after the attacks, which Blair attended as a guest, President Bush declared "America has no truer friend than Great Britain." [246] Subsequently, Prime Minister Blair embarked on two months of diplomacy to rally international support for military action he held 54 meetings with world leaders and traveled more than 40,000 miles (60,000 km). [247]

In the aftermath of the attacks, tens of thousands of people attempted to flee Afghanistan due to the possibility of a military retaliation by the United States. Pakistan, already home to many Afghan refugees from previous conflicts, closed its border with Afghanistan on September 17, 2001. Approximately one month after the attacks, the United States led a broad coalition of international forces to overthrow the Taliban regime from Afghanistan for their harboring of al-Qaeda. [248] Though Pakistani authorities were initially reluctant to align themselves with the United States against the Taliban, they permitted the coalition access to their military bases, and arrested and handed over to the U.S. over 600 suspected al-Qaeda members. [249] [250]

The U.S. set up the Guantanamo Bay detention camp to hold inmates they defined as "illegal enemy combatants". The legitimacy of these detentions has been questioned by the European Union and human rights organizations. [251] [252] [253]

On September 25, 2001, Iran's fifth president, Mohammad Khatami meeting British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, said: "Iran fully understands the feelings of the Americans about the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington on September 11." He said although the American administrations had been at best indifferent about terrorist operations in Iran (since 1979), the Iranians instead felt differently and had expressed their sympathetic feelings with bereaved Americans in the tragic incidents in the two cities. He also stated that "Nations should not be punished in place of terrorists." [254] According to Radio Farda's website, when the attacks' news was released, some Iranian citizens gathered in front of the Embassy of Switzerland in Tehran, which serves as the protecting power of the United States in Iran (U.S. interests protecting office in Iran), to express their sympathy and some of them lit candles as a symbol of mourning. This piece of news at Radio Farda's website also states that in 2011, on the anniversary of the attacks, United States Department of State, published a post at its blog, in which the Department thanked Iranian people for their sympathy and stated that they would never forget Iranian people's kindness on those harsh days. [255] After the attacks, both the President [256] [257] and the Supreme Leader of Iran, condemned the attacks. The BBC and Time magazine published reports on holding candlelit vigils for the victims by Iranian citizens at their websites. [258] [259] According to Politico Magazine, following the attacks, Sayyed Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, "suspended the usual 'Death to America' chants at Friday prayers" temporarily. [260]

In a speech by the Nizari Ismaili Imam at the Nobel Institute in 2005, Aga Khan IV stated that the "9/11 attack on the United States was a direct consequence of the international community ignoring the human tragedy that was Afghanistan at that time". [261]

In September 2001, shortly after the attacks, Greek soccer fans burned an Israeli flag and unsuccessfully tried to burn an American flag. Though the American flag did not catch fire, the fans booed during a moment of silence for victims of the attacks. [262]

Military operations

At 2:40 p.m. in the afternoon of September 11, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was issuing rapid orders to his aides to look for evidence of Iraqi involvement. According to notes taken by senior policy official Stephen Cambone, Rumsfeld asked for, "Best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time. Not only UBL" [Osama bin Laden]. [263] Cambone's notes quoted Rumsfeld as saying, "Need to move swiftly – Near term target needs – go massive – sweep it all up. Things related and not." [264] [265] In a meeting at Camp David on September 15 the Bush administration rejected the idea of attacking Iraq in response to 9/11. [266] Nonetheless, they later invaded the country with allies, citing "Saddam Hussein's support for terrorism". [267] At the time, as many as seven in ten Americans believed the Iraqi president played a role in the 9/11 attacks. [268] Three years later, Bush conceded that he had not. [269]

The NATO council declared that the terrorist attacks on the United States were an attack on all NATO nations that satisfied Article 5 of the NATO charter. This marked the first invocation of Article 5, which had been written during the Cold War with an attack by the Soviet Union in mind. [270] Australian Prime Minister John Howard who was in Washington, D.C. during the attacks invoked Article IV of the ANZUS treaty. [271] The Bush administration announced a War on Terror, with the stated goals of bringing bin Laden and al-Qaeda to justice and preventing the emergence of other terrorist networks. [272] These goals would be accomplished by imposing economic and military sanctions against states harboring terrorists, and increasing global surveillance and intelligence sharing. [273]

On September 14, 2001, the U.S. Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists. It is still in effect, and it grants the President the authority to use all "necessary and appropriate force" against those whom he determined "planned, authorized, committed or aided" the September 11 attacks, or who harbored said persons or groups. [274]

On October 7, 2001, the War in Afghanistan began when U.S. and British forces initiated aerial bombing campaigns targeting Taliban and al-Qaeda camps, then later invaded Afghanistan with ground troops of the Special Forces. [275] This eventually led to the overthrow of the Taliban rule of Afghanistan with the Fall of Kandahar on December 7, 2001, by U.S.-led coalition forces. [276] Conflict in Afghanistan between the Taliban insurgency and the Afghan forces backed by NATO Resolute Support Mission is ongoing. The Philippines and Indonesia, among other nations with their own internal conflicts with Islamic terrorism, also increased their military readiness. [277] [278]

The military forces of the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Iran cooperated with each other to overthrow the Taliban regime which had had conflicts with the government of Iran. [260] Iran's Quds Force helped U.S. forces and Afghan rebels in the 2001 uprising in Herat. [279] [280] [281]

Health issues

Hundreds of thousands of tons of toxic debris containing more than 2,500 contaminants, including known carcinogens, were spread across Lower Manhattan due to the collapse of the Twin Towers. [282] [283] Exposure to the toxins in the debris is alleged to have contributed to fatal or debilitating illnesses among people who were at Ground Zero. [284] [285] The Bush administration ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue reassuring statements regarding air quality in the aftermath of the attacks, citing national security, but the EPA did not determine that air quality had returned to pre-September 11 levels until June 2002. [286]

Health effects extended to residents, students, and office workers of Lower Manhattan and nearby Chinatown. [287] Several deaths have been linked to the toxic dust, and the victims' names were included in the World Trade Center memorial. [288] Approximately 18,000 people have been estimated to have developed illnesses as a result of the toxic dust. [289] There is also scientific speculation that exposure to various toxic products in the air may have negative effects on fetal development. A notable children's environmental health center is currently [ when? ] analyzing the children whose mothers were pregnant during the WTC collapse, and were living or working nearby. [290] A study of rescue workers released in April 2010 found that all those studied had impaired lung functions, and that 30–40% were reporting little or no improvement in persistent symptoms that started within the first year of the attack. [291]

Years after the attacks, legal disputes over the costs of illnesses related to the attacks were still in the court system. On October 17, 2006, a federal judge rejected New York City's refusal to pay for health costs for rescue workers, allowing for the possibility of numerous suits against the city. [292] Government officials have been faulted for urging the public to return to lower Manhattan in the weeks shortly after the attacks. Christine Todd Whitman, administrator of the EPA in the aftermath of the attacks, was heavily criticized by a U.S. District Judge for incorrectly saying that the area was environmentally safe. [293] Mayor Giuliani was criticized for urging financial industry personnel to return quickly to the greater Wall Street area. [294]

On December 22, 2010, the United States Congress passed the James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law on January 2, 2011. It allocated $4.2 billion to create the World Trade Center Health Program, which provides testing and treatment for people suffering from long-term health problems related to the 9/11 attacks. [295] [296] The WTC Health Program replaced preexisting 9/11-related health programs such as the Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program and the WTC Environmental Health Center program. [296]


The attacks had a significant economic impact on United States and world markets. [297] The stock exchanges did not open on September 11 and remained closed until September 17. Reopening, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) fell 684 points, or 7.1%, to 8921, a record-setting one-day point decline. [298] By the end of the week, the DJIA had fallen 1,369.7 points (14.3%), at the time its largest one-week point drop in history. [299] In 2001 dollars, U.S. stocks lost $1.4 trillion in valuation for the week. [299]

In New York City, about 430,000 job-months and $2.8 billion in wages were lost in the first three months after the attacks. The economic effects were mainly on the economy's export sectors. [300] The city's GDP was estimated to have declined by $27.3 billion for the last three months of 2001 and all of 2002. The U.S. government provided $11.2 billion in immediate assistance to the Government of New York City in September 2001, and $10.5 billion in early 2002 for economic development and infrastructure needs. [301]

Also hurt were small businesses in Lower Manhattan near the World Trade Center, 18,000 of which were destroyed or displaced, resulting in lost jobs and their consequent wages. Assistance was provided by Small Business Administration loans, federal government Community Development Block Grants, and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. [301] Some 31,900,000 square feet (2,960,000 m 2 ) of Lower Manhattan office space was damaged or destroyed. [302] Many wondered whether these jobs would return, and if the damaged tax base would recover. [303] Studies of the economic effects of 9/11 show the Manhattan office real-estate market and office employment were less affected than first feared, because of the financial services industry's need for face-to-face interaction. [304] [305]

North American air space was closed for several days after the attacks and air travel decreased upon its reopening, leading to a nearly 20% cutback in air travel capacity, and exacerbating financial problems in the struggling U.S. airline industry. [306]

The September 11 attacks also led to the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, [307] as well as additional homeland security spending, totaling at least $5 trillion. [308]

Cultural influence

The impact of 9/11 extends beyond geopolitics into society and culture in general. Immediate responses to 9/11 included greater focus on home life and time spent with family, higher church attendance, and increased expressions of patriotism such as the flying of flags. [309] The radio industry responded by removing certain songs from playlists, and the attacks have subsequently been used as background, narrative, or thematic elements in film, television, music, and literature. Already-running television shows as well as programs developed after 9/11 have reflected post-9/11 cultural concerns. [310] 9/11 conspiracy theories have become social phenomena, despite lack of support from expert scientists, engineers, and historians. [311] 9/11 has also had a major impact on the religious faith of many individuals for some it strengthened, to find consolation to cope with the loss of loved ones and overcome their grief others started to question their faith or lost it entirely, because they could not reconcile it with their view of religion. [312] [313]

The culture of America succeeding the attacks is noted for heightened security and an increased demand thereof, as well as paranoia and anxiety regarding future terrorist attacks that includes most of the nation. Psychologists have also confirmed that there has been an increased amount of national anxiety in commercial air travel. [314] Anti-Muslim hate crimes rose nearly ten-fold in 2001, and have subsequently remained "roughly five times higher than the pre-9/11 rate." [315]

Government policies toward terrorism

As a result of the attacks, many governments across the world passed legislation to combat terrorism. [316] In Germany, where several of the 9/11 terrorists had resided and taken advantage of that country's liberal asylum policies, two major anti-terrorism packages were enacted. The first removed legal loopholes that permitted terrorists to live and raise money in Germany. The second addressed the effectiveness and communication of intelligence and law enforcement. [317] Canada passed the Canadian Anti-Terrorism Act, their first anti-terrorism law. [318] The United Kingdom passed the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 and the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005. [319] [320] New Zealand enacted the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002. [321]

In the United States, the Department of Homeland Security was created by the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to coordinate domestic anti-terrorism efforts. The USA Patriot Act gave the federal government greater powers, including the authority to detain foreign terror suspects for a week without charge, to monitor telephone communications, e-mail, and Internet use by terror suspects, and to prosecute suspected terrorists without time restrictions. The FAA ordered that airplane cockpits be reinforced to prevent terrorists gaining control of planes, and assigned sky marshals to flights. Further, the Aviation and Transportation Security Act made the federal government, rather than airports, responsible for airport security. The law created the Transportation Security Administration to inspect passengers and luggage, causing long delays and concern over passenger privacy. [322] After suspected abuses of the USA Patriot Act were brought to light in June 2013 with articles about collection of American call records by the NSA and the PRISM program (see Global surveillance disclosures (2013–present)), Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin, who introduced the Patriot Act in 2001, said that the National Security Agency overstepped its bounds. [323] [324]

Immediately after the attacks, the Federal Bureau of Investigation started PENTTBOM, the largest criminal inquiry in the history of the United States. At its height, more than half of the FBI's agents worked on the investigation and followed a half-million leads. [325] The FBI concluded that there was "clear and irrefutable" evidence linking al-Qaeda and bin Laden to the attacks. [326]

The FBI was quickly able to identify the hijackers, including leader Mohamed Atta, when his luggage was discovered at Boston's Logan Airport. Atta had been forced to check two of his three bags due to space limitations on the 19-seat commuter flight he took to Boston. Due to a new policy instituted to prevent flight delays, the luggage failed to make it aboard American Airlines Flight 11 as planned. The luggage contained the hijackers' names, assignments, and al-Qaeda connections. "It had all these Arab-language [sic] papers that amounted to the Rosetta stone of the investigation", said one FBI agent. [327] Within hours of the attacks, the FBI released the names and in many cases the personal details of the suspected pilots and hijackers. [328] [329] On September 27, 2001, they released photos of all 19 hijackers, along with information about possible nationalities and aliases. [330] Fifteen of the men were from Saudi Arabia, two from the United Arab Emirates, one from Egypt, and one from Lebanon. [331]

By midday, the U.S. National Security Agency and German intelligence agencies had intercepted communications pointing to Osama bin Laden. [332] Two of the hijackers were known to have travelled with a bin Laden associate to Malaysia in 2000 [333] and hijacker Mohammed Atta had previously gone to Afghanistan. [334] He and others were part of a terrorist cell in Hamburg. [335] One of the members of the Hamburg cell was discovered to have been in communication with Khalid Sheik Mohammed who was identified as a member of al-Qaeda. [336]

Authorities in the United States and United Kingdom also obtained electronic intercepts, including telephone conversations and electronic bank transfers, which indicate that Mohammed Atef, a bin Laden deputy, was a key figure in the planning of the 9/11 attacks. Intercepts were also obtained that revealed conversations that took place days before September 11 between bin Laden and an associate in Pakistan. In those conversations, the two referred to "an incident that would take place in America on, or around, September 11" and they discussed potential repercussions. In another conversation with an associate in Afghanistan, bin Laden discussed the "scale and effects of a forthcoming operation." These conversations did not specifically mention the World Trade Center or Pentagon, or other specifics. [337]

The FBI did not record the 2,977 deaths from the attacks in their annual violent crime index for 2001. In a disclaimer, the FBI stated that "the number of deaths is so great that combining it with the traditional crime statistics will have an outlier effect that falsely skews all types of measurements in the program's analyses." [338] New York City also did not include the deaths in their annual crime statistics for 2001. [339]

In 2004, John L. Helgerson, the Inspector General of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), conducted an internal review of the agency's pre-9/11 performance and was harshly critical of senior CIA officials for not doing everything possible to confront terrorism. [340] According to Philip Giraldi in The American Conservative, Helgerson criticized their failure to stop two of the 9/11 hijackers, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, as they entered the United States and their failure to share information on the two men with the FBI. [341] [ better source needed ]

In May 2007, senators from both major U.S. political parties drafted legislation to make the review public. One of the backers, Senator Ron Wyden said, "The American people have a right to know what the Central Intelligence Agency was doing in those critical months before 9/11." [342] The report was released in 2009 by President Barack Obama. [340]

Congressional inquiry

In February 2002, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence formed a joint inquiry into the performance of the U.S. Intelligence Community. [343] Their 832-page report released in December 2002 [344] detailed failings of the FBI and CIA to use available information, including about terrorists the CIA knew were in the United States, in order to disrupt the plots. [345] The joint inquiry developed its information about possible involvement of Saudi Arabian government officials from non-classified sources. [346] Nevertheless, the Bush administration demanded 28 related pages remain classified. [345] In December 2002, the inquiry's chair Bob Graham (D-FL) revealed in an interview that there was "evidence that there were foreign governments involved in facilitating the activities of at least some of the terrorists in the United States." [347] September 11 victim families were frustrated by the unanswered questions and redacted material from the Congressional inquiry and demanded an independent commission. [345] September 11 victim families, [348] members of congress [349] and the Saudi Arabian government are still seeking release of the documents. [350] [351] In June 2016, CIA chief John Brennan said that he believes 28 redacted pages of a congressional inquiry into 9/11 will soon be made public, and that they will prove that the government of Saudi Arabia had no involvement in the September 11 attacks. [352]

In September 2016, the Congress passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act that would allow relatives of victims of the September 11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia for its government's alleged role in the attacks. [353] [354] [355]

9/11 Commission

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission), chaired by Thomas Kean and Lee H. Hamilton, was formed in late 2002 to prepare a thorough account of the circumstances surrounding the attacks, including preparedness for and the immediate response to the attacks. [356] On July 22, 2004, the Commission issued the 9/11 Commission Report. The report detailed the events of 9/11, found the attacks were carried out by members of al-Qaeda, and examined how security and intelligence agencies were inadequately coordinated to prevent the attacks. Formed from an independent bipartisan group of mostly former Senators, Representatives, and Governors, the commissioners explained, "We believe the 9/11 attacks revealed four kinds of failures: in imagination, policy, capabilities, and management". [357] The Commission made numerous recommendations on how to prevent future attacks, and in 2011 was dismayed that several of its recommendations had yet to be implemented. [358]

National Institute of Standards and Technology

The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) investigated the collapses of the Twin Towers and 7 WTC. The investigations examined why the buildings collapsed and what fire protection measures were in place, and evaluated how fire protection systems might be improved in future construction. [359] The investigation into the collapse of 1 WTC and 2 WTC was concluded in October 2005 and that of 7 WTC was completed in August 2008. [360]

NIST found that the fireproofing on the Twin Towers' steel infrastructures was blown off by the initial impact of the planes and that, had this not occurred, the towers likely would have remained standing. [361] A 2007 study of the north tower's collapse published by researchers of Purdue University determined that, since the plane's impact had stripped off much of the structure's thermal insulation, the heat from a typical office fire would have softened and weakened the exposed girders and columns enough to initiate the collapse regardless of the number of columns cut or damaged by the impact. [362] [363]

The director of the original investigation stated that "the towers really did amazingly well. The terrorist aircraft didn't bring the buildings down it was the fire which followed. It was proven that you could take out two-thirds of the columns in a tower and the building would still stand." [364] The fires weakened the trusses supporting the floors, making the floors sag. The sagging floors pulled on the exterior steel columns causing the exterior columns to bow inward. With the damage to the core columns, the buckling exterior columns could no longer support the buildings, causing them to collapse. Additionally, the report found the towers' stairwells were not adequately reinforced to provide adequate emergency escape for people above the impact zones. [365] NIST concluded that uncontrolled fires in 7 WTC caused floor beams and girders to heat and subsequently "caused a critical support column to fail, initiating a fire-induced progressive collapse that brought the building down". [360]

Alleged Saudi role

In July 2016, the Obama administration released a document, compiled by US investigators Dana Lesemann and Michael Jacobson, known as "File 17", [366] which contains a list naming three dozen people, including the suspected Saudi intelligence officers attached to Saudi Arabia's embassy in Washington, D.C., [367] which connects Saudi Arabia to the hijackers. [368] [369]

On the day of the attacks, New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani stated: "We will rebuild. We're going to come out of this stronger than before, politically stronger, economically stronger. The skyline will be made whole again." [370]

The damaged section of the Pentagon was rebuilt and occupied within a year of the attacks. [371] The temporary World Trade Center PATH station opened in late 2003 and construction of the new 7 World Trade Center was completed in 2006. Work on rebuilding the main World Trade Center site was delayed until late 2006 when leaseholder Larry Silverstein and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey agreed on financing. [372] The construction of One World Trade Center began on April 27, 2006, and reached its full height on May 20, 2013. The spire was installed atop the building at that date, putting 1 WTC's height at 1,776 feet (541 m) and thus claiming the title of the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. [373] One WTC finished construction and opened on November 3, 2014. [12] [374]

On the World Trade Center site, three more office towers were to be built one block east of where the original towers stood. [375] 4 WTC, meanwhile, opened in November 2013, making it the second tower on the site to open behind 7 World Trade Center, as well as the first building on the Port Authority property. [376] 3 WTC opened on June 11, 2018, becoming the fourth skyscraper at the site to be completed. [377] On the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, a writer for Curbed New York said that although "there is a World Trade Center again", it was not finished, as 2 and 5 WTC did not have definite completion dates, among other things. [378]

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Executive Director from 2008-2011, Christopher O. Ward, is a survivor of the attacks and is credited with getting the construction of the 9/11 site back on track. [379]

In the days immediately following the attacks, many memorials and vigils were held around the world, and photographs of the dead and missing were posted around Ground Zero. A witness described being unable to "get away from faces of innocent victims who were killed. Their pictures are everywhere, on phone booths, street lights, walls of subway stations. Everything reminded me of a huge funeral, people quiet and sad, but also very nice. Before, New York gave me a cold feeling now people were reaching out to help each other." [380]

One of the first memorials was the Tribute in Light, an installation of 88 searchlights at the footprints of the World Trade Center towers. [381] In New York City, the World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition was held to design an appropriate memorial on the site. [382] The winning design, Reflecting Absence, was selected in August 2006, and consists of a pair of reflecting pools in the footprints of the towers, surrounded by a list of the victims' names in an underground memorial space. [383] The memorial was completed on September 11, 2011 [384] a museum also opened on site on May 21, 2014. [385]

The Sphere by the German sculptor Fritz Koenig is the world's largest bronze sculpture of modern times and stood between the twin towers on the Austin J. Tobin Plaza of the World Trade Center in New York City from 1971 until the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The artefact, weighing more than 20 tons, was the only remaining work of art to be recovered largely intact from the ruins of the collapsed twin towers after the attacks. Since then, the work of art known in the USA as The Sphere has been transformed into an important symbolic monument of 9/11 commemoration. After being dismantled and stored near a hangar at John F. Kennedy International Airport, the sculpture was the subject of the 2001 documentary Koenig's Sphere by filmmaker Percy Adlon. On August 16, 2017, the The Sphere newly inaugurated at the Liberty Park close to the new World Trade Center arial and the 9/11 Memorial. [386]

In Arlington County, the Pentagon Memorial was completed and opened to the public on the seventh anniversary of the attacks in 2008. [387] [388] It consists of a landscaped park with 184 benches facing the Pentagon. [389] When the Pentagon was repaired in 2001–2002, a private chapel and indoor memorial were included, located at the spot where Flight 77 crashed into the building. [390]

In Shanksville, a concrete and glass visitor center was opened on September 10, 2015, [391] situated on a hill overlooking the crash site and the white marble Wall of Names. [392] An observation platform at the visitor center and the white marble wall are both aligned beneath the path of Flight 93. [392] [393] A temporary memorial is located 500 yards (457 m) from the crash site. [394] New York City firefighters donated a cross made of steel from the World Trade Center and mounted on top of a platform shaped like the Pentagon. [395] It was installed outside the firehouse on August 25, 2008. [396] Many other permanent memorials are elsewhere. Scholarships and charities have been established by the victims' families, and by many other organizations and private figures. [397]

On every anniversary, in New York City, the names of the victims who died there are read out against a background of somber music. The President of the United States attends a memorial service at the Pentagon, [398] and asks Americans to observe Patriot Day with a moment of silence. Smaller services are held in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, which are usually attended by the President's spouse.

History of the 9-11 Truth Movement

A movement is similar to a river: dozens of tributaries, hundreds of streams, and thousands of rivulets, all converging together. Tracing a river’s source to a single location is thus impossible. Mapping a movement is more like charting a whole river basin than following a simple stream uphill. As we look at the movement, then, it is not so much a singular thing as a many-pronged flow over complex terrain.

The 9-11 Truth Movement emerged in a time when America’s leadership in the world inspires very mixed feelings. America simultaneously stands for much that is noble and just while also acting as an unaccountable empire. Many patriotic Americans – and the rest of the world as well – are hungry for America to outgrow its Machiavellian power maneuvers and aggressive unilateralism, standing again on the principled freedoms that are built into its foundations.

On this terrain, the storm of the events of 9/11 poured a rain of death, anger, fear, and grief. This stirred compassion, as even the French declared, “We are all Americans.” The vast majority of people felt this to be the tragedy it appeared to be: terrorists versus empire, with many innocent civilians caught in the crossfire. The Bush administration used this attack as an excuse for invading Afghanistan and Iraq while diminishing rights at home and undermining treaty after treaty. In the wake of America’s grief, many tolerated these maneuvers. America was justified, it seemed, in striking out at the terrorists who had struck on its own land.

What if, though, it turns out that the official story of 9/11 is not the true story? What if hundreds of unexplained facts that have slowly accumulated point to something decidedly darker – a deceit on an almost unprecedented scale?

What if forces within America’s own government were complicit, or, even worse, involved in orchestrating the “attacks,” to give carte blanche for a program of military dominance, economic exploitation, and domestic control?

For most, this is, at first, an almost unthinkable thought. It shakes bedrock foundations and beliefs. And yet, the preponderance of unexplained facts points to just that view of the events of 9/11. It is the discovery, accumulation, and analysis of these unexplained facts that have gradually brought together tens of thousands of people into a movement.

The majority of people in the movement did not smell deceit on that fateful day, but some did. Where were the fighter planes, they wondered? Why was Bush behaving in such a bizarre fashion, listening to the story of a pet goat while the towers were in flames? Why did news reports say that Flight 93 was shot down and then change the story later? Why didn’t the Pentagon defend itself?

Most of us, however, suspected nothing. Gradually, though, anomalous evidence began to accumulate and we were exposed to it:

  • Building 7 of the WTC, rubbled without even being hit
  • Structural analyses that said the towers should not have fallen from a fire alone
  • Clear warningsin advance that were ignored
  • A pattern of secrecy, denial, and retribution for those in the FBI, CIA, and administration who warned about the pending attacks
  • Unusual patterns of debris, strewn over miles, making it appear that Flight 93 was shot down, despite official government reports
  • Insider stock trades that made millions off selling American and United short, trade whose origins were not fully investigated
  • Advance warnings to key politicians and business leaders not to fly that day
  • The quick exit of the extended Bin Laden family from the country with full governmental protection.
  • Families of the victims being stonewalled or silenced
  • Evidence that the Pakistan ISI wired $100,000 to Mohammed Atta, one of the orchestrators, right around the time ISI chief Gen. Mahmoud was meeting with American political leaders days before the attack.
  • Anthrax attacks of suspicious origin, putting the US Congress into a state of fear right before passage of the Patriot Act

Intrepid independent journalists, videographers, activists, and researchers began to string these pieces of evidence together, scrutinizing each to see whether they offered clues to the real truth. Families of victims banded together as they began to feel that the government wanted to silence their questions and stifle their inquiries. Websites sprang up, slowly at first, then by the dozens. Researchers began to network together. Groundbreaking videos emerged. Then books. Conferences. Legal actions. Citizen’s inquiries. Alliances.

The mainstream press is now starting to wake up to the possibility that we could have a scandal on our hands that would dwarf any previous scandal of a sitting president. Many are seeing that the prison torture scandal at Abu Ghraib, CIA leaks, and the pattern of administration secrecy and lies all point back to that fateful day of September 11th, which has been used an excuse for many breaches of honorable conduct.

In the months and years ahead, America will be challenged to reclaim the best of its ideals and take the step of looking into the shadows of American power and its relationship to the events of 9/11. Our world cannot be safe and secure until the truth is known. We ask you to study the evidence, draw your own conclusions, and spread the word that gaps, inconsistencies, and outright lies simply must be addressed for America to stand in integrity again.


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Pentagon, large five-sided building in Arlington county, Virginia, near Washington, D.C., that serves as the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense, including all three military services—Army, Navy, and Air Force.

Constructed during 1941–43, the Pentagon was intended to consolidate the offices of the War Department, which had occupied 17 separate facilities throughout Washington. Although President Franklin D. Roosevelt initially favoured a building without windows to protect it from potential air raids, he was later convinced by building engineers that such a facility would be impractical. He eventually supported a five-sided design by George Edwin Bergstrom—though Gilmore Clarke, the chairman of the Commission of Fine Arts, whose office was charged with advising the president and Congress on federally funded artistic and public structures, criticized it as “one of the most serious and worst attacks on the plan of Washington.” The site selected was mostly a swampy wasteland whose only structure was the small, obsolete Washington Airport. In order to stabilize the area, some 5.5 million cubic yards (4.2 million cubic metres) of dirt were trucked in, and 41,492 concrete piles were set to support the building’s foundation. To protect the vista of neighbouring Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon’s height was strictly limited to 77 feet 3.5 inches (24 metres). With the country’s entry into World War II in December 1941, just three months after the start of construction in September, completion of the building became a national priority. More than 13,000 workers laboured day and night, and within just eight months of groundbreaking, Secretary of War Henry Stimson relocated his offices to the new facility.

At its completion at a cost of $83 million in January 1943, the Pentagon was the world’s largest office building, covering 29 acres (12 hectares)—including a 5-acre (2-hectare) central court—and containing roughly 3,700,000 square feet (344,000 square metres) of usable floor space for approximately 25,000 people. Plans to convert the building to a hospital or some other peacetime facility after the war were abandoned with the rapid onset of the Cold War, which required a high degree of military preparedness. The Pentagon remains one of the world’s largest office buildings.

Constructed of steel and reinforced concrete with some limestone facing, the structure has five floors, excluding its mezzanine and basement. It consists of five concentric pentagons, or “rings,” with 10 spokelike corridors connecting the whole. There are 17.5 miles (28 km) of corridors, but, because of its innovative construction, it is possible to walk between any two points within the building in approximately seven minutes. Several libraries serve as research facilities for the military, and these repositories subscribe to more than 1,700 periodicals in a wide variety of languages. Two cafeterias, a dining room, and seven snack bars are also located on the premises. There are 67 acres (27 hectares) of parking lots, which can accommodate about 8,700 automobiles. Bus and taxi terminals are located beneath a huge concourse containing a shopping centre for Pentagon employees. The Washington Metro subway also serves the facility, and a heliport was added in 1956.

In 2001, on the 60th anniversary of the Pentagon’s groundbreaking, five terrorists hijacked a commercial airliner and piloted it into the building during the September 11 attacks. Part of the southwest side of the building was destroyed, and 189 people, including the terrorists, were killed. The damage was largely repaired within a year.

9/11 Timeline: Revisiting the September 11 Attacks at World Trade Center, Pentagon, Flight 93

The attacks on September 11, 2001, were a defining moment in millions of lives. Eighteen years later, people still pause to remember the events of that day and their global impact.

Wednesday marked the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of almost 3,000 people at the World Trade Center, Pentagon and on United Airlines Flight 93. Each year, remembrance services are held in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where Flight 93 crashed.

While an unforgettable moment for millions of people, as the years pass, the population of those too young to remember that fateful Tuesday morning grows. Therefore, similarly to other historic events, it becomes increasingly important to remember the circumstances of that day to preserve the memory of its thousands of victims and heroes.

Timeline of Events

5:45 a.m.: Hijackers Mohamed Atta and Abdul Aziz al-Omari board a flight at Portland International Jetport in Maine, later connecting to American Airlines Flight 11 at Boston Logan International Airport.

7:49 a.m.: Flight 11 takes off.

8:15 a.m.: United Airlines Flight 175 takes off from Boston, bound for Los Angeles.

8:20 a.m.: American Airlines Flight 77 takes off from Washington Dulles International Airport.

8:24 a.m.: Atta broadcasts a message to air traffic control, "We have some planes. Just stay quiet and you will be okay." The captain of Flight 175, United Airlines pilot Victor J. Saracini, picks up Atta's transmission from Flight 11 and informs the Federal Aviation Administration.

8:37 a.m.: Boston's air traffic control center alerts the Air Force's Northeast Air Defense Sector to Atta's message. Air National Guard jets are mobilized to follow Flight 11.

8:42 a.m.: United Airlines Flight 93 takes off from Newark International Airport.

8:46 a.m.: Flight 11 crashes into floors 93 through 99 of the north tower of the World Trade Center. Responders mobilize.

8:50 a.m.: President George W. Bush is notified of the attacks while visiting an elementary school in Florida.

8:52 a.m.: A flight attendant on Flight 175 informs a United Airlines operator that the flight has been hijacked.

8:59 a.m.: Port Authority Police Department Sergeant Al Devona orders the twin towers to be evacuated.

9:03 a.m.: United Airlines Flight 175 crashes into floors 77 through 85 of the south tower of the World Trade Center.

9:05 a.m.: Bush is informed a second plane hit the south tower.

9:12 a.m.: Passengers on Flight 77 call their loved ones to tell them the plane was hijacked.

9:37 a.m.: American Airlines Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon.

9:42 a.m.: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounds all flights.

9:45 a.m.: The White House and Capitol are evacuated.

9:58 a.m.: Flight 93 passenger Edward P. Felt uses his cell phone to dial 9-1-1 and inform emergency operators of the hijacking.

9:59 a.m.: The south tower collapses.

10:03 a.m.: Passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 attack the hijackers aboard their plane in an attempt to seize control. The hijackers crash the plane into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

10:15 a.m.: The Pentagon's E Ring collapses.

10:28 a.m.: The north tower collapses.

11:02 a.m.: New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani orders the evacuation of Lower Manhattan.

12:16 p.m.: United States airspace is closed.

12:30 p.m.: A group of survivors is found in the lower section of the North Tower's stairwell B.

5:20 p.m.: The building at 7 World Trade Center collapses.

8:30 p.m.: Bush addresses the nation from the White House.

At the World Trade Center, 2,753 people were killed. An additional 184 perished at the Pentagon, and 40 were killed when Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania. Eighteen years later, first responders are still dealing with the mental and physical effects of clearing the wreckage at ground zero. According to ABC News, more than 200 people have died from illnesses related to the attacks.

The Pentagon Building’s 9/11 Memorials

(Image: By Mr. Johnson, often nefarious – Flickr: Pentagon Memorial-5097/Public domain)

When visiting the Air Force Memorial on its hill overlooking Arlington Cemetery, take a moment to look out to the east, at the Pentagon, about a quarter-mile away. You may notice a section in the center of the wall where the stone is lighter. This is the spot where American Airlines Flight 77 struck the Pentagon at 9:37 am on September 11, 2001.

The 184 victims of that attack are honored in two locations nearby. One is a group burial site in Arlington Cemetery it contains the remains of 25 identified and 5 unidentified victims. The other is the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial.

This is a transcript from the video series The Great Tours: Washington, DC. Watch it now, Wondrium.

Impromptu memorials to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack sprang up within days, both at the plane crash site at the World Trade Center in New York City and at the field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The impromptu memorial for victims at the Pentagon was at the Navy Annex, a few streets away, and plans for permanent memorials quickly followed.

“Memorial Unit” Benches Symbolize All Lives Lost

The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial is located just outside the Pentagon. In a stark, two-acre field of granite benches—184 in all, one for each of the victims—the “Memorial Unit” is aligned along the flight path of Flight 77, arranged along a timeline according to the victims’ ages and whether they were on board Flight 77 or were in the Pentagon building. The bench nearest the entrance is dedicated to Dana Falkenberg, who was just three years old. The furthest bench from the entrance is dedicated to retired US Navy Captain John D. Yamnicky, Sr., who was 71. Each bench has an illuminated reflecting pool of water underneath it, which lights the overall memorial at night.

In the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, there are 184 granite benches, one for each of the victims. (Image: Bill Perry/Shutterstock)

The “Memorial Unit” of benches is surrounded by a memorial wall, where the victims’ names are engraved. The names here are in alphabetical order, listed beside their birth year. It serves as both a memorial in itself and also as a guide to where each bench is located along the timeline. Needless to say, no concerts or celebrations are held at this site, but a memorial service is held here every year on September 11.

The 9/11 memorial inside of the Pentagon, called the “America’s Heroes Memorial”, is located in the Pentagon’s outermost ring, known as the E Ring, at the location of the plane’s point of impact. The memorial room contains a book of photographs, biographies of the victims, and a small chapel.

The Pentagon memorials and the other 9/11 memorials resonate closely with the heart of our nation, and especially with the families and friends of those who were lost.

Touring the Pentagon

To visit the 9/11 memorial inside the Pentagon’s outermost ring, you’ll need to tour the Pentagon itself. Because it is the headquarters of the US Department of Defense, tours of the Pentagon are highly restricted.

The pentagon is the headquarters of the US Department of Defense. (Image: Ivan Cholakov/Shutterstock)

Reservations must be made between three months and two weeks of your planned tour date. Every entrant must pass a security screening and visitors over the age of 18 must present a current, valid photo ID to enter. Arrive about an hour before your scheduled tour to ensure you have enough time to pass through security. Please note, there is no public parking at the Pentagon the closest parking is indeed several blocks away, therefore, public transportation is much more convenient. You can take Metrorail to the Pentagon or Pentagon City stops on the Blue and Yellow lines and walk from there. Metro buses also have stops that get you to the Pentagon.

The 60-minute Pentagon tour covers about one and a half miles of the Pentagon’s corridors. That’s just a fraction of the 3,705,793 square feet of space contained within the Pentagon’s walls. It houses about 23,000 government employees and civilian contractors and is one of the largest office buildings in the world. Despite its size, due to the way the corridors intersect, it is said that it is possible to walk between any two points in the building in less than seven minutes.

As for what is on the tour, it varies by the tour guide. Security concerns, ongoing construction, or the guide’s experience and areas of interest might all affect your route. Two spots you are likely to visit on any tour, however, include the “America’s Heroes Memorial” and the Hall of Heroes, dedicated to the nearly 3,500 recipients of the US Medal of Honor.

One site you may or may not visit is the Pentagon’s central courtyard. This open green space contains benches where employees often spend their breaks and lunch hours enjoying the sunshine. But the really interesting part of the courtyard is the small building at its very center. Although the building is fairly small, it was large enough to be picked up by the Cold War-era Soviet satellites surveilling the Pentagon. Their intelligence analysts saw groups of military personnel entering and exiting the small building at about the same time each day and they concluded that this was the entrance to an ultra-secure facility, maybe even an underground bunker.

In reality, the building is a hot dog stand. The personnel the Soviets saw were just grabbing a quick bite for lunch.

Levity aside, the Pentagon is the beating heart of America’s military. In times of war and peace, the decisions made and the actions taken inside these very walls can affect every person of this planet. But the Pentagon is also simply another part of everyday life in Washington, DC, somewhere that our friends and neighbors work, somewhere we may drive past every day without thinking about the extraordinary importance of the work that goes on inside.

Common Questions About the Pentagon’s 9/11 Memorial

The Pentagon memorial stays open to the public 24 hours a day, every day of the week.

The Pentagon 9/11 memorial has 125 benches to memorialize the victims who died.

The Pentagon 9/11 memorial cost approximately 22 million dollars.

The Pentagon 9/11 memorial is a series of benches with the person’s name inscribed on the edge such that when reading it, if you can see the Pentagon in the background, they died in that building, and if you’re reading a name looking away from the Pentagon, they died on the plane. Below each bench is also a shallow pool with the names of the families inscribed if they had one.

January-February 2001: Flight School’s Repeated Warnings About Hijacker Hanjour Ignored by FAA

Hani Hanjour, from a 2000 US visa application. [Source: 9/11 Commission] In January 2001, the Arizona flight school JetTech alerts the FAA about hijacker Hani Hanjour. No one at the school suspects Hanjour of terrorist intent, but they tell the FAA he lacks both the English and flying skills necessary for the commercial pilot’s license he has already obtained. For instance, he had taken classes at the University of Arizona but failed his English classes with a 0.26 grade point average. A JetTech flight school manager “couldn’t believe he had a commercial license of any kind with the skills that he had.” A former employee says, “I’m still to this day amazed that he could have flown into the Pentagon. He could not fly at all.” They also note he is an exceptionally poor student who does not seem to care about passing his courses. [New York Times, 5/4/2002 CBS News, 5/10/2002] An FAA official named John Anthony actually sits next to Hanjour in class and observes his skills. He suggests the use of a translator to help Hanjour pass, but the flight school points out that goes “against the rules that require a pilot to be able to write and speak English fluently before they even get their license.” [Associated Press, 5/10/2002] The FAA verifies that Hanjour’s 1999 pilot’s license is legitimate (see April 15, 1999), but takes no other action. However, his license should have been rejected because it had already expired in late 1999 when he failed to take a manadatory medical test. [Associated Press, 9/15/2001 CBS News, 5/10/2002] An Arizona FAA inspector later says, “There should have been a stop right then and there.” He will claim that federal law would have required Hanjour to be re-examined. [Associated Press, 6/13/2002] In February, Hanjour begins advanced simulator training, “a far more complicated task than he had faced in earning a commercial license.” [New York Times, 6/19/2002] The flight school again alerts the FAA about this and gives a total of five alerts about Hanjour, but no further action on him is taken. The FBI is not told about Hanjour. [CBS News, 5/10/2002] Ironically, in July 2001, Arizona FBI agent Ken Williams will recommend in a memo that the FBI liaison with local flight schools and keep track of suspicious activity by Middle Eastern students (see July 10, 2001).

The Pentagon

The Pentagon is the largest office building in the world. It is the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense and houses the offices of the secretary of defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretaries of the military departments.

Too large to be situated in downtown Washington, D.C., the Pentagon lies across the Potomac River, in Arlington County, Va. With more than 6.5 million square feet (604,000 square meters), it boasts three times the floor space of the Empire State Building. More than 3.7 million square feet (344,000 square meters) is used for offices and there are 17.5 miles (28 kilometers) of hallways. About 23,000 civilians and military personnel are employed within the building.

Uniquely conceived

The uniquely shaped structure sprang up quickly and has lasted more than 70 years. In 1941, the United States stood on the brink of war. Adolf Hitler was slowly consuming Europe and had launched an unexpected assault on the Soviet Union. As a result, the U.S. War Department expanded to monitor events. The unwieldy department spanned 17 buildings as the summer drew to a close, making communications a challenge. A new War Department Building had recently been completed, but it was still too small, and it ultimately became home to the Department of State.

In a congressional hearing on July 17, 1941, a Virginia representative indicated the need to solve the growing problem. A decision was made to draw up plans for a new building that night they were completed by the following Monday.

An asymmetrical plot was chosen on the Arlington Farm, and an irregular five-sided building was planned to fit the space. After vehement discussion, the location was moved to no longer block the view from the Arlington National Cemetery of Washington, D.C. A regular (all-sides-equal) pentagonal shape was adopted, giving rise to the building's name.

Shaped like no other

Initially conceived of by necessity, the decision to maintain the five sides was retained despite opposition to the unusual design. The pentagonal shape provides surprisingly smoother foot traffic, easier distribution of utilities in the enormous structure, and better spacing that had previously been anticipated.

The original plan called for three floors, but a fourth was added. While construction was under way, Pearl Harbor was attacked, and a fifth floor was added. The completed structure called for five concentric rings, connected by corridors to simply movement patterns. The rings are separated by interior courts, which increase the number of windows and allow natural light.

Construction began on Sept. 11, 1941, and the first two sections were completed within six months, allowing personnel to begin moving in. The building was finished on Jan. 15, 1943, a year and a half after the idea was put into motion.

A national tragedy

Exactly 60 years after construction began, eyes turned to New York City on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when two airplanes crashed into the north and south towers of the World Trade Center. Forty minutes after the devastating blow to the second tower, and ten minutes before its collapse, American Airlines Flight 77, under control of armed terrorists, smashed into the Pentagon at 530 miles an hour. Scheduled to leave Washington, D.C., and land in Los Angeles, Calif., the plane carried thousands of gallons of jet fuel.

Ripping a 90-foot hole in the building, the plane traveled 310 feet through the three outer rings. Jet fuel spewed everywhere, and gasoline and smoke spread rapidly through the air, with fire close behind. The 58 passengers and six crew members, along with the five hijackers, were killed instantly inside the Pentagon, 125 civilian and military personnel perished.

As tragic as the events were, they could have been worse. After the Oklahoma City bombing in 1994, the Pentagon began safety renovations designed to minimize explosive damage. Only one wing was considered completed &mdash and it was the wing that took most of the impact. Refitted with sprinklers and reconstructed with steel reinforcement, the spider-web support structure meant the impacted section didn't collapse for nearly half an hour, giving time for many people to escape. The blast-resistant windows, newly built exits and automatic fire doors also are credited for saving lives.

It took nearly a year for employees whose offices were directly damaged to be able to move back in, but the Pentagon itself was open the next day.

Pentagon Memorial

A Pentagon Memorial was created to honor the victims of the terrorist attack. The names of the 184 people who died in the Pentagon and aboard American Airlines Flight 77 are inscribed on stainless steel benches. [Remembering the Fallen: Memorials Gallery]

The memorial is situated along the flight path of the jet on the Pentagon's west side. It is open 24 hours a day.

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