Today, we remember the 2,996 people killed in the cowardly terrorist attacks on the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and Flight 93, which crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Today, we remember the 1,400+ first responders who have died in the years since the attack from illnesses related to that day. Today, we uplift the families of the victims and the survivors who walked from the rubble. Today, we remember the raw emotion we felt, the shock and anger, the unity and love. Today, we renew our pledges of “never again” and “never forget.”
this day in 1993, a truck bomb was detonated below the North Tower of
the World Trade Center in New York City. The bomb was intended to knock
the North Tower into the South Tower to destroy them both, but this did not occur.
The attack still killed six people, including a pregnant woman, and injured
over one thousand. The terrorist attack was planned by a group of
conspirators and masterminded by Ramzi Yousef. In 1994, four men were
convicted of carrying out the bombing and two more were convicted in 1997. The group
were funded by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who would go on to be the
principal co-ordinator behind the destruction of the Twin Towers on
September 11th 2001. The memorial to the victims of the 1993 attack was
destroyed on 9/11, but they are currently memorialised at the North Pool
of the National 9/11 Memorial, opened in 2011.
“It felt like an airplane hit the building” - eye-witness Bruce Pomper on the 1993 attack
Encompassing 110,000 square feet of space, the 9/11 Memorial Museum was built to honor the victims of the terrorist attacks on both September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993. The memorial cost $USD700 million to build, with funds being collected through both private and public donations. The museum presents 23,000 images, 10,300 artifacts, 500 hours of moving images and 1,970 oral histories.
The Memorial’s twin reflecting pools are each nearly an acre in size and feature the largest manmade waterfalls in North America. The pools sit within the footprints where the Twin Towers once stood.
Why Come From Away Deserves to Win the Tony for Best Musical
Jet fuel can’t melt steel beams. Bush did 9/11.
Right, got that off my chest. Anyway, are you tired of hearing the same accounts of 9/11? We all know the stories of worst terrorist attack in US history that, for the first time, closed the US airspace and forever marked a nation (and especially the city of New York) with the fear of terrorism, muslims, and anyone from the middle east. These stories are all too often one-sided and seldom bring anything new to the discussion, but Come From Away dares to change that. Come From Away tells the story of a small town in Newfoundland, Canada where 38 planes were forced to land after the attack on the Twin Towers. Here’s is why this touching, intimate musical deserves to get that spinny coin.
We’ll begin with the visuals. Ordinarily this is where I might talk about the set, but…well, Come From Away doesn’t have a set. The show relies on creative use of chairs rearranged throughout the show to represent everything from planes to a bar. The results are a sort of trunk show that allows the audience to fill in the spaces with fantastic success. The focus in this show is not about what you see, but about what you discover. This is where the casting is important. The show is full of people of color, including a gay couple, an African family, and a muslim from the middle east (which, as you can imagine leads to conflict in the story). This diversity lends to the most important message of the show, which is to slow down from life and learn how to see the people around you as just that, people. We may have differences, but we are all human, and to quote President Barack Obama, “Despite our differences, we all share the same title: Citizen.” (though, to be fair this story takes place over two nations so…)
The music is less of a series of songs and more of a shifting melody as we pass from chapter to chapter. This medley works splendidly for the show as contrasting sounds blend into one another from one moment into the next, each feeling like its trying to tell its own story just as the characters do. The show features primarily folk styled music but it relies on quite a bit of a capella and harmonization from the ensemble, leading to every number feeling strong and supported by the entire cast, especially Screech In and 28 Hours/Wherever We Are. Even with this though, the orchestrations are clever, novel, and brilliantly written. The stunning vocals of the individual cast, especially Jenn Colella, help drive the messages home to the audiences, so that soon you’re laughing, crying, afraid, and inspired right alongside the characters.
On that note, the writing for the show is very cute but . It’s hard to know whether this show is for adults, like you would expect from a show about 9/11, or more for families. Certainly the story is one with lessons for everyone. I think one character’s really stands out as representing the central messages of the show, a man who was born a Polish Jew during the outbreak of WWII. He talks about how he was raised to be afraid of telling anyone of his ethnicity/religion, but in seeing all of the stories coming out amidst the catastrophe, he had to tell someone about his past and he learns to embrace his differences. In staying in Gander against their wills, the come-from-aways learn more about themselves, and in providing for these strangers the Newfoundlanders in turn discover something in themselves. Most important of all though, the audience discovers something about themselves.
Come From Away is a different sort of 9/11 story, and you often forget it’s even centered around the twin towers at all. Ultimately it is a musical about all of us, trying to go about our lives without taking the time to listen to other people, and what happens when we are forced to do so. It is a touching story, one that made me cry repeatedly the first time I listened to it, and I’m sure it will hold a very special place in my heart, and the hearts of many other people for many years. It’s even more special because the show is base don real events. Overall, Come From Away is a very special, heart-warming show that fully deserves to be recognized as the best musical this year.
Stiles always comes in like clockwork at seven-thirty in the morning, stands in line with his face solely focused on his phone, mindlessly rubs the sleep out of his eyes every few minutes, orders a large black coffee when he gets to the counter, takes a big gulp as Derek processes the transaction, and then beams at Derek with the light of a thousand suns.
In a deeply segregated city of the very rich and the very poor, a traumatized mutant turns up in Stiles’ dark alley, and turns his world upside down. While a terrorist known as the Mutant Maker attacks and turns unsuspecting citizens, Stiles and his strange new friend must help each other stay alive and one step ahead of the Hunters who would take them down.
Stiles has a very unique superpower, in that he doesn’t exist. He’s invisible, untouchable, unhearable-is that a word?-and just not there. He feels like a ghost most of the time, although he can’t walk through walls (he tried, the wall took offense and his nose paid the price) and he can still trip over his own feet. He blends perfectly into the background and no matter how hard he tries, nobody knows he’s there.
Superman has a crush on Stiles. How does Stiles know? Well, there’s the fact that he can’t do his damn job without Superman swooping in and saving the day. And there’s the fact that he sticks around and chats him up afterward too. Stiles is a cop and knows how to read signs, so it’s not just him being full of himself.
It’s flattering, sure, but Superman is boring and Stiles has no interest in him. No, he much prefers the dorky reporter Derek Hale.
In the days after the September 11 terrorist attacks, a number of spontaneous memorials appeared in the city. One, later named Tiles for America, displayed thousands of hand-painted tiles with inspirational messages. The tiles were hung on a chain-link fence at the corner of Seventh and Greenwich Avenues, where they remained as a place of remembrance for years afterward.
Irwin Silver. Tiles on fence, Greenwich House project, 7th Avenue & Greenwich Avenue. May 2002. New-York Historical Society.
“On September 11, 2001, 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda hijacked four airplanes and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. Two of the planes were flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, a third plane hit the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C., and the fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Almost 3,000 people were killed during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which triggered major U.S. initiatives to combat terrorism and defined the presidency of George W. Bush.”
•Steven Vincent Buscemi was born December 13, 1957 in Brooklyn, NY •His surname is pronounced “Buss-ehm-ee”. He is of Sicilian/Italian ancestry on his father’s side, and has Irish, English, and Dutch ancestry on his mother’s side • He pronounces his name as “Bu-semmy”, but the Italian pronunciation is “Bu-shehmy”. He once said about the pronunciation of his name “I had to go to Sicily to find out I pronounce my name wrong.” • He is adamant about not altering his famously misaligned teeth, saying “I’ve had dentists who have wanted to help me out, but I say, You know, I won’t work again if you fix my teeth.” • Was on the varsity wrestling team at Valley Stream Central High School, NY • Went to a Catholic school • Born on a Friday the 13th • Modeled for H&M in 2000 • Auditioned for the part of George Costanza on “Seinfeld” • During the 80’s in New York he performed original theater/comedy pieces with Mark Boone Junior • Bears such a strong resemblance to writer-director John Waters that as a joke, Waters sent out cards with a photo of Buscemi made up to look like Waters • His character in “Reservoir Dogs” refuses to tip waitresses. He later made a cameo as a waiter in “Pulp Fiction” • Was a New York City Firefighter from 1980 to 1984, with Engine Company #55 in the Little Italy section of NY • Showed up at his old firehouse the day after the World Trade Center tragedy in New York to volunteer. Worked twelve hour shifts for a week after the terrorist act, digging through rubble with his old comrades looking for missing firefighters… anonymously. [Sep 2001] • Stabbed in the throat, head and arm during a barroom brawl at the Firebelly Lounge in Wilmington, North Carolina. The brawl also involved Vince Vaughn, who was arrested for brutalizing one of Buscemi’s attackers. He suffered a deep cut to the face and now has a noticeable scar on his cheek. Heavy make-up is used to hide it in movies. [12 Apr 2001] • He went through a variety of interesting jobs before hitting it big as a character actor. He worked as a bartender, drove an ice-cream truck, was a firefighter, and attempted stand-up comedy “I did stand up. I loved George Carlin and Steve Martin” • In addition to his acting work, he has gained praise as a director, “Trees Lounge”, “Animal Factory”, “Lonesome Jim”, “Interview” and several episodes of “The Sopranos”, “OZ”, and “Nurse Jackie” • Quotes • “When I get cast, I always flip to the end of the script to see if my character gets beaten up or killed.” • “There’s a certain type of character that you can’t help but come in contact with growing up and living Brooklyn and Long Island. A certain mixture of moxie, heart and a wise guy sense of humor.” • “I just like playing interesting, complex, complicated characters. I like films that also have an element of humor.”
• “I usually get freaked out if I’m in a situation where a lot of people recognize me at once”
On this day in 2001, thirteen years ago today, two hijacked planes were crashed into the World Trade Center towers in New York City and another into the Pentagon building in Virginia. The Twin Towers collapsed and part of the Pentagon was badly damaged. A fourth plane was intended to strike the US Capitol Building in Washington DC but its passengers seized control from the hijackers and crashed the plane into a field in Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 people died on this terrible day and thousands more injured in the attacks which sent shockwaves around the world. The attacks were planned and carried out by members of the terrorist group al-Qaeda, and masterminded by Osama bin Laden, who was since been found and killed by US forces. The aftermath of the tragedy prompted greater focus on national security both in the US and abroad and contributed to the invasions of, and subsequent wars in, Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, thirteen years on, we remember the thousands of people who lost their lives on 9/11.
“America is under attack” - White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card telling President Bush about the attacks
Can you list the Whites that are going around bombing buildings, bombing trains, bombing marathons, and beheading people? Oh wait, that's diaperheads
List of Non-Muslim terrorist groups:
Army of God
The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord
Earth Liberation Front
Jewish Defense League
Ku Klux Klan
May 19th Communist Organization
Symbionese Liberation Army
United Freedom Front
This is just in America.
Acts of terror by Non-Muslims:
Wall Street bombing in 1920 - 30 dead, 143 seriously injured
Abortion clinic bombings during the 1990’s - In 1993, Michael F. Griffin shot Dr. David Gunn to death during a protest.
In 1994, Paul Jennings Hill shot Dr. John Britton and clinic escort James Barrett to death.
In 1998, James Kopp shot a number of abortion providers, killing one, Dr. Barnett Slepian.
Army of God - Eric Robert Rudolph bombed the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta in protest of abortion, killing one person and wounding 111, and bombed several abortion clinics in 1997 and 1998. He also bombed two abortion clinics and a gay and lesbian night club.
Aryan Nations (AN) - a white nationalist neo-Nazi organization founded in the 1970s by Richard Girnt Butler as an arm of the Christian Identity group known as the Church of Jesus Christ-Christian.
Oklahoma City bombing - killed 168 people on April 19, 1995 the deadliest act of terrorism in US history (before 9/11)
Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting On August 5, 2012, Wade Michael Page fatally shot six people and wounded four others in a mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. Page was an American white supremacist and United States Army veteran. All of the dead were members of the Sikh faith.
Southern California shootings - February 2013, Christopher Dorner killed three police officers and a basketball coach
JDL - On February 25, 1994, Baruch Goldstein, an American-born Israeli member of the JDL, opened fire on Muslims kneeling in prayer at the revered Cave of the Patriarchs mosque in the West Bank city of Hebron, killing 29 worshippers and injuring 125
Approximately 60 out of 2,400 terrorist attacks in the U.S. were carried out by Muslims. That’s c.2.5% of all terrorist attacks on U.S. soil between 1970 and 2012 were carried out by Muslims.
School Shootings in America: 2000’s
February 29, 2000, Flint, Michigan- At Buell Elementary School, 6-year-old Dedrick Owens, the youngest school shooter ever, shot and killed classmate Kayla Rolland
May 26, 2000, Lake Worth, Florida - 1 killed
August 28, 2000, Fayetteville, Arkansas - 2 killed
September 26, 2000, New Orleans, Louisiana
January 15, 2002, New York City - 17-year-old Vincent Rodriguez shot and wounded two students at Martin Luther King, Jr. High School in Manhattan, with a 380-caliber semi-automatic pistol
May 9, 2003, Cleveland, Ohio
September 24, 2003, Cold Spring, Minnesota - 2 killed
February 9, 2004 East Greenbush, New York
October 2004, Memphis, Tennessee aggravated battery with a firearm.
(There’s more btw)
2014 and 2015
November 20, 2014, Tallahassee, Florida, Florida State University shooting
November 20, 2014, Miami, Florida
December 5, 2014 Claremore, Oklahoma
December 12, 2014, Portland, Oregon Rosemary Anderson High School shooting
January 15, 2015, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
January 20, 2015, Columbia, South Carolina
February 4, 2015 Frederick, Maryland
February 5, 2015, Columbia, South Carolina
Majority of these are in America and committed by Non-Muslims. I hope this sorts your ignorant ass out.
Edit: There was also the NAACP bombing in Jan ‘15 in Colorado, The Chapel Hill shootings, the Pensylvanina Mall shooting in Feb '15 and the Oregen school shootings in Dec '14.
“Bretagne” Last known 9/11 Ground Zero search dog still lends a helping paw. #RescueDogs #NeverForget #Honor911
By Laura T. Coffey: TODAY
Some heroes boast muscle and brawn. Others possess steely nerves and impeccable timing. But this hero is a little different.
This one has feathery fur, a sunny smile, a calm nature and — for a dog — an uncanny ability to zero in on the people who need her most. She’s a 15-year-old golden retriever named ‘Bretagne’, and she’s believed to be the last surviving search dog who worked at Ground Zero in New York City after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. (One other surviving search dog from 9/11, a 15-year-old English springer spaniel named Morgan, worked at Staten Island.)
For the first time since the recovery efforts after the attack, Bretagne returned this week to the site of the former World Trade Center complex with her longtime handler and owner, Denise Corliss of Cypress, Texas. They were joined by NBC News’ Tom Brokaw, who will tell their story on TODAY on Thursday morning, Sept. 11.
On this day in 2003, in the early hours of the morning, the
United States, United Kingdom, and their allies began a military
invasion of Iraq. The reasons for the invasion were the alleged
presence of weapons of mass destruction, and Iraq’s supposed ties to terrorist group Al-Qaeda who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks on New York City in 2001.
According to U.S. President George W. Bush and British
Prime Minister Tony Blair the mission was “to disarm Iraq of weapons of
mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism, and to
free the Iraqi people.”
However, in 2005 it was discovered that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. On March 19th, an air strike hit the
Presidential Palace in Baghdad, and the next day coalition forces began
an invasion into Basra province. The forces drove into the country and
occupied areas, eventually driving President Saddam Hussein into
hiding. With Hussein gone and Iraq occupied, the end of combat was
announced on 1st May, marking the transition from invasion to
occupation. Hussein was captured in December 2003 and executed in
December 2006. UK troops remained in Iraq until April 2009, while U.S. troops withdrew slowly. The occupation continued until December
15th 2011, when U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta declared the Iraq War
The September 11 attacks were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda on the United States of the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. The attacks killed 2,996 people, injured over 6,000 others, and caused at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage.
Four passenger airliners operated by two major U.S. passenger air carriers (United Airlines and American Airlines) - all of which departed from airports in the northeastern United States bound for California - were hijacked by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists. Two of the planes, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, were crashed into the North and South towers, respectively, of the World Trade Center complext in New York City. Within an hour and 42 minutes, both 110-story towers collapsed, with debris and the resulting fires causing partial or complete collapse of all other buildings in the World Trade Center complex, including the 47-story 7 World Trade Center tower, as well as significant damage to ten other large surrounding structures. A third plane, American Airlines Flight 77, was crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, leading to a partial collapse of the building’s western side. The fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, initially was steered toward Washington, D.C., but crashed into a field in Stonycreek Township near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after its passengers tried to overcome the hijackers. 9/11 was the single deadliest incident for firefighters and law enforcement officers in the history of the United States, with 343 and 72 respectively.
Suspicion quickly fell on al-Qaeda. The United States responded by launching the War on Terror and invading Afghanistan to depose the Taliban, which had harbored al-Qaeda. Many countries strengthened their anti-terrorism legislation and expanded the powers of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to prevent terrorist attacks. Although al-Qaeda’s leader, Osama bin Laden, initially denied any involvement, in 2004 he claimed responsibility for the attacks. Al-Qaeda and bin Laden cited U.S. support of Israel, the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, and sanctions against Iraq as motives. After evading capture for almost a decade, Osama bin Laden was located and killed by SEAL Team Six of the U.S. Navy in May 2011.
The destruction of the World Trade Center and nearby infrastructure caused serious damage to the economy of Lower Manhattan and had a significant effect on global markets, resulting in the closing of Wall Street until September 17 and the civilian airspace in the U.S. and Canada until September 13. Many closings, evacuations, and cancellations followed, out of respect or fear of further attacks. Cleanup of the World Trade Center site was completed in May 2002, and the Pentagon was repaired within a year. On November 18, 2006, construction of One World Trade Center began at the World Trade Center site. The building was officially opened on November 3, 2014. Numerous memorials have been constructed, including the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City, the Pentagon Memorial in Arlington County, Virginia, and the Flight 93 National Memorial in a field in Stonycreek Township near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Al-Qaeda: The origins of al-Qaeda can be traced to 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden traveled to Afghanistan and helped organize Arab mujahideen to resist the Soviets. Under the guidance of Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden issued his first fatwa, calling for American soldiers to leave Saudi Arabia.
In a second fatwa 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. Bin Laden used Islamic texts to exhort Muslims to attack Americans until the stated grievances are 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.
Osama bin Laden: Bin Laden, who orchestrated the attacks, initially denied but later admitted involvement. 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.” 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. 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. The transcript refers several times to the United States specifically targeting Muslims.
Shortly before the U.S. presidential election in 2004, in a taped statement, bin Laden publicly acknowledged al-Qaeda’s involvement in the attacks on the U.S. and admitted his direct link to the attacks. He said that the attacks were carried out because:
“we are free … and want to regain freedom for our nation. As you undermine our security, we undermine yours."
Bin Laden said he had personally directed his followers to attack the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. 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. 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. After a 10-year manhunt, bin Laden was killed by American special forces in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 2, 2011.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: The journalist Yosri Fouda of the Arabic television channel Al Jazeera reported that, in April 2002, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed admitted his involvement, along with Ramzi bin al-Shibh. The 9/11 Commission Report determined that the animosity towards the United States felt by Mohammed, the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks, stemmed from his "violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel”. Mohammed was also an adviser and financier of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the uncle of Ramzi Yousef, the lead bomber in that attack.
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. 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.
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. 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. On February 16, 2006, the Spanish Supreme Court reduced the Abu Dahdah penalty to 12 years because it considered that his participation in the conspiracy was not proven.
Also, in 2006, Moussaoui, who some originally suspected might have been the assigned 20th hijacker, was convicted for the lesser role of conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism and air piracy. He is serving a life sentence without parole in the United States. Mounir el-Motassadeq, an associate of the Hamburg-based hijackers, is serving 15 years in Germany for his role in helping the hijackers prepare for the attacks.
The Hamburg cell in Germany included radical Islamists who eventually came to be key operatives in the 9/11 attacks. Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Ziad Jarrah, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, and Said Bahaji were all members of al-Qaeda’s Hamburg cell.
Motives: Osama bin Laden’s declaration of a holy war against the United States, and a 1998 fatwa signed by bin Laden and others, calling for the killing of Americans, are seen by investigators as evidence of his motivation. In bin Laden’s November 2002 “Letter to America”, he explicitly stated that al-Qaeda’s motives for their attacks include:
U.S. support of Israel
support for the “attacks against Muslims” in Somalia
support of Philippines against Muslims in the Moro conflict
support of 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
the sanctions against Iraq
After the attacks, bin Laden and al-Zawahiri released additional video tapes and audio tapes, some of which repeated for the attacks. Two particularly important publications were bin Laden’s 2002 “Letter to America”, and a 2004 video tape by bin Laden.
Bin Laden interpreted Muhammad as having banned the “permanent presence of infidels in Arabia”. In 1996, bin Laden issued a fatwa 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."
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. 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.
In the 1998 fatwa, al-Qaeda identified the Iraq sanctions as a reason to kill Americans, condemning the “protracted blockade” among other actions that constitute a declaration of war against “Allah, his messenger, and Muslims.” The fatwa 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 armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim."
Bin Laden claimed, in 2004, 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. Some analysts, including Mearsheimer and Walt, also claim that one motivation for the attacks was U.S. support of Israel. 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.
Other motives have been suggested in addition to those stated by bin Laden and al-Qaeda, including western support of Islamic and non-Islamic authoritarian regimes in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan and northern Africa, and the presence of western troops in some of these countries. Some authors suggest the “humiliation” resulting from the Islamic world falling behind the Western world - this discrepancy rendered especially visible by the globalization trend and a desire to provoke the U.S. into a broader war against the Islamic world in the hope of motivating more allies to support al-Qaeda. Similarly, others have argued that 9/11 was a strategic move with the objective of provoking America into a war that would incite a pan-Islamic revolution.
Planning of the attacks: The idea for the attacks came from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who first presented it to Osama bin Laden in 1996. At that time, bin Laden and al-Qaeda were in a period of transition, having just relocated back to Afghanistan from Sudan. The 1998 African Embassy bombings and bin Laden’s 1998 fatwa marked a turning point, 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. A series of meetings occurred in early 1999, involving Mohammed, bin Laden, and his deputy Mohammed Atef. Atef provided operational support for the plot, including target selections and helping arrange travel for the hijackers. Bin Laden overruled Mohammed, rejecting some potential targets such as the U.S. Bank Tower in Los Angeles because, “there was not enough time to prepare for such an operation”.
Bin Laden provided leadership and financial support for the plot, and was involved in selecting participants. Bin Laden 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 spring 2000, Hazmi and Mihdhar took flying lessons in San Diego, California, but both spoke little English, performed poorly with flying lessons, and eventually served as secondary - or “muscle” - hijackers.
In late 1999, a group of men from Hamburg, Germany arrived in Afghanistan, including Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Ziad Jarrah, and Ramzi bin al-Shibh. Bin Laden selected these men because they were educated, could speak English, and had experience living in the West. New recruits were routinely screened for special skills and al-Qaeda leaders consequently discovered that Hani Hanjour already had a commercial pilot’s license. Mohammed later said that he helped the hijackers blend in by teaching them how to order food in restaurants and dress in Western clothing.
Hanjour arrived in San Diego on December 8, 2000, joining Hazmi. They soon left for Arizona, where Hanjour took refresher training. Marwan al-Shehhi arrived at the end of May 2000, while Atta arrived on June 3, 2000, and Jarrah arrived on June 27, 2000. 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 and remain as an illegal immigrant. Bin al-Shibh stayed in Hamburg, providing coordination between Atta and Mohammed. The three Hamburg cell members all took pilot training in South Florida.
In Spring of 2001, the secondary hijackers began arriving in the United States. In July 2001, Atta met with bin al-Shibh in Spain, where they coordinated details of the plot, including the final target selection. Bin al-Shibh also passed along bin Laden’s wish for the attacks to be carried out as soon as possible. Some of the hijackers received passports from corrupt Saudi officials who were family members, or used fraudulent passports to gain entry.
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 that “Something nefarious might be afoot”, it took no further action. The CIA had already been alerted by Saudi intelligence to 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 that “This is not a matter for the FBI."
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 that the attacks would likely occur in Saudi Arabia or Israel. In early July, Clarke put domestic agencies on “full alert”, telling them that “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.” Clarke would later write that “Somewhere in CIA there was information that two known al Qaeda terrorists had come into the United States… in the 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… None of that information got to me or the White House."
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. However, the CIA never responded.
The same day in July, Margarette Gillespie, an FBI analyst working in the CTC, was told to review material about the Malaysia meeting. She was not told of the participants’ presence in the U.S. However, the CIA did give Gillespie surveillance photos of Mihdhar and Hazmi from the meeting to show to FBI counter-terrorism, but did not tell her their significance. The Intelink database informed her not to share intelligence material on the meeting to criminal investigators. When shown the photos, the FBI were refused more details on their significance, and also did not receive Mihdhar’s date of birth or passport number. In late August 2001, Gillespie told the INS, the State Department, the Customs Service, and the FBI to put Hazmi and Mihdhar on their watchlists, but the FBI was prohibited from using criminal agents in the search for the duo, which hindered their efforts.
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. 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 airplanes.
On August 6, the CIA’s Presidential Daily Brief, designated “For the President Only”, was entitled “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in U.S.” The memo noted that “The FBI information… indicates patterns of suspicious activity into his country consistent with preparations for hijacking or other types of attacks."
In mid-August, one Minnesota flight school alerted the FBI to Zacarias Moussaoui, who had asked "suspicious questions.” The FBI found that he was a radical who had traveled to Pakistan, and the INS arrested him for overstaying his French visa. However, their request to search his laptop was denied by FBI headquarters due to the lack of probable cause.
The failures in intelligence-sharing were attributed to 1995 Justice Department policies limiting intelligence sharing, combined with CIA and NSA reluctance in revealing “sensitive sources and methods” such as tapped phones. 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.” Clarke also wrote that “There were failures in the organizations… failures to get information to the right place at the right time…”
Attacks: Early on the morning of September 11, 2001, 19 hijackers took control of four commercial airliners (two Boeing 757 and two Boeing 767) en route to California (three 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. Large planes with long flights were selected for hijacking because they would be heavily fueled.
The four flights were:
American Airlines Flight 11: a Boeing 767 aircraft, departed Logan Airport at 7:59 am 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 am.
United Airlines Flight 175: a Boeing 767 aircraft, departed Logan Airport at 8:14 am 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 am.
American Airlines Flight 77: a Boeing 757 aircraft, departed Washington Dulles International Airport at 8:20 am 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 am.
United Airlines Flight 93: a Boeing 757 aircraft, departed Newark International Airport at 8:42 am 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 am including four hijackers.
Media coverage was extensive during the attacks and aftermath, beginning moments after the first crash into the World Trade Center.
Events: At 8:46 am, five hijackers crashed American Airlines Flight 11 into the northern facade of the World Trade Center’s North Tower (1 WTC), and at 9:03 am, another five hijackers crashed United Airlines Flight 175 into the southern facade of the South Tower (2 WTC). Five hijackers flew American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon at 9:37 am. A fourth flight, United Airlines Flight 93, under the control of four hijackers, crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, southeast of Pittsburgh, at 10:03 am after the passengers fought the hijackers. Flight 93’s target is believed to have been either the Capitol or the White House. 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. Once it became evident to the hijackers that the passengers might regain control of the plane, the hijackers rolled the plane and intentionally crashed it.
Some passengers and crew members who called from the aircraft using the cabin airphone 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. Reports indicated hijackers stabbed and killed pilots, flight attendants, and one or more passengers. 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. 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.
Three buildings in the World Trade Center collapsed due to fire-induced structural failure. The South Tower collapsed at 9:59 am after burning for 56 minutes in a fire caused by the impact of United Airlines Flight 175 and the explosion of its fuel. The North Tower collapsed at 10:28 am after burning for 102 minutes. When the North Tower collapsed, debris fell on the nearby 7 World Trade Center building (7 WTC), damaging it and starting fires. These fires burned for hours, compromising the building’s structural integrity, and 7 WTC collapsed at 5:21 pm. The west side of the Pentagon sustained significant damage.
At 9:42 am, 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. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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). 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”. Final decisions on targets, according to Mohammed, were left in the hands of the pilots.
Casualties: The attacks caused the deaths of 2,996 people and the injuries of more than 6,000 others. 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. Nearly all of those who perished were civilians with the exceptions of 343 firefighters, 72 law enforcement officers, 55 military personnel, and the 19 terrorists who died in the attacks. After New York, New Jersey lost the most state citizens, with the city of Hoboken having the most citizens that died in the attacks. More than 90 countries lost citizens in the September 11 attacks; for example, the 67 Britons who died were more than in any other terrorist attack anywhere as of June 2017. As of September 2017 the attacks remained the worst terrorist attack in world history, and the deadliest foreign attack on American soil since the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
In Arlington County, Virginia, 124 Pentagon workers lost their lives when Flight 77 crashed into the western side of the building. On these, 70 were civilians and 55 were military personnel, many of them who 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 were also among the dead in the attack, as well as an Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) contractor. Lieutenant General Timothy Maude, an Army Deputy Chief of Staff, was the highest-ranking military official killed at the Pentagon.
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. 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 eventual 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 as well.
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 911 operators who received calls from individuals inside the tower were not well informed of the situation as it rapidly unfolded and as a result, told callers not to descent the tower on their own. In total 630 people died in that tower, fewer than half the number killed in the North Tower. Casualties in the South Tower were significantly reduced by some occupants deciding to start evacuating as soon as the North Tower was struck.
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. Some occupants of each tower above the point of impact made their way toward the roof in hope of helicopter rescue, but the roof access doors were locked. No plan existed for helicopter rescues, and the combination of roof equipment and thick smoke and intense heat prevented helicopters from approaching. 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. The New York City Police Department (NYPD) lost 23 officers. The Port Authority Police Department (PAPD) lost 37 officers. Eight emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics from private emergency medical services units were killed.
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. Marsh Inc., located immediately below Cantor Fitzgerald on floors 93-100, lost 358 employees, and 175 employees of Aon Corporation were also killed. 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 am. Most people below the impact zone safely evacuated the buildings.
Weeks after the attack, the death toll was estimated to be over 6,000, more than twice the number of deaths eventually confirmed. 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”. 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 seventy-two more human remains were recovered, bringing the total found to 1,845. DNA profiling continues in an attempt to identify additional victims. 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. On August 7, 2017, the 1,641st victim was identified as a result of newly available DNA technology. There are still 1,112 victims who have not been identified.
Damage: 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. The North Tower, South Tower, the Marriott Hotel (3 WTC), and 7 WTC were completely 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 on 130 Liberty Street was partially damaged and demolished some years later, starting in 2007. The two buildings of the World Financial Center also suffered damage.
The Deutsche Bank Building across, Liberty Street from the World Trade Center complex was later condemned as uninhabitable because of toxic conditions inside the office tower, and was deconstructed. The Borough of Manhattan Community College’s Fiterman Hall at 30 West Broadway was condemned due to extensive damage in the attacks, and is being rebuilt. Other neighboring buildings (including 90 West Street and the Verizon Building) suffered major damage but have been restored. World Financial Center buildings, One Liberty Plaza, the Millenium Hilton, and 90 Church Street had moderate damage and have since been restored. Communications equipment on top of the North Tower was also destroyed, but media stations were quickly able to reroute the signals and resume their broadcasts.
The Pentagon was severely damaged by the impact of American Airlines Flight 77 and ensuing fires, causing one section of the building to collapse. 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. 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. Debris from the tail section penetrated furthest into the building, breaking through 310 feet of the three outermost of the building’s five rings.
Rescue efforts: The New York City Fire Department deployed 200 units to the World Trade Center. Their efforts were supplemented by numerous off-duty firefighters and emergency medical technicians. 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. 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. With separate command posts set up adn incompatible radio communications between the agencies, warnings were not passed along to FDNY commanders.
After the first tower collapsed, FDNY commanders issued evacuation warnings; however, 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. 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.
Aftermath: 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.
Immediate response: At 8:32 am, 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 am. Because of slow and confused communication from FAA officials, NORAD had 9 minutes’ notice that Flight 11 had been hijacked, and no notice about any of the other flights before they crashed. After both of the Twin Towers had already been hit, more fighters were scrambled from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia at 9:30 am. At 10:20 am Vice President Dick Cheney issued orders to shoot down any commercial aircraft that could positively identified as being hijacked. However, these instructions were not relayed in time for the fighters to take action. 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.
For the first time in U.S. history, SCATANA was invoked, thus stranding tens of thousands of passengers across the world. The FAA closed American airspace 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 number of grounded planes and stranded passengers.
The 9/11 attacks had immediate effects on the American people. Police and rescue workers from around the country took leaves of absence, traveling to New York City to help recover bodies from the twisted remnants of the Twin Towers. Blood donations across the U.S. surged in the weeks after 9/11. The deaths of adults in the attacks resulted in over 3,000 children losing a parent. 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.
Hate crimes: Shortly after the attacks, President Bush made a public appearance at Washington’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.” However, numerous incidents of harassment and hate crimes against Muslims and South Asians were reported in the days following the attacks. 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.
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. 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.
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”. 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.
FBI: 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. The FBI concluded that there was “clear and irrefutable” evidence linking al-Qaeda and bin Laden to the attacks.
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 papers that amounted to the Rosetta stone of the investigation”, said one FBI agent. Within hours of the attacks, the FBI released the names and in many cases the personal details of the suspected pilots and hijackers. On September 27, 2001, they released photos of all 19 hijackers, along with information about possible nationalities and aliases. Fifteen of the men were from Saudi Arabia, two from the United Arab Emirates, one from Egypt, and one from Lebanon.
By midday, the U.S. National Security Agency and German intelligence agencies had intercepted communications pointing to Osama bin Laden. Two of the hijackers were known to have travelled with a bin Laden associate to Malaysia in 2000 and hijacker Mohammed Atta had previously gone to Afghanistan. He and others were part of a terrorist cell in Hamburg. One of the members of Hamburg cell was discovered to have been in communication with Khalid Sheik Mohammed who was identified as a member of al-Qaeda.
Authorities in the United States and Britain 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 on 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.
CIA: 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. He 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. 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.”
Congressional inquiry: In February 2002, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Housed Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence formed a joint inquiry into the performance of the U.S. Intelligence Community. Their 832 page report released in December 2002 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. The joint inquiry developed its information about possible involvement of Saudi Arabian government officials from non-classified sources. Nevertheless, the Bush administration demanded 28 related pages remain classified. 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.” September 11 victim families were frustrated by the unanswered questions and redacted material from the Congressional inquiry and demanded an independent commission. September 11 victim families, members of congress and the Saudi Arabian government are still seeking release of the documents. In June 2016, CIA chief John Brennan says 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.
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.
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. 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”. 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.