The day dawned like so many others in New York with busy New Yorkers bustling their way to work alongside tourists eager to see the sights. At airports across America people boarded aeroplanes for rendezvous with loved ones, for business meetings or holidays.
At 8.46:40am New York and the world changed forever. An American Airlines Boeing 767-223ER Flight 11 out of Boston and bound for Los Angeles International Airport, crashed into the northern facade of the North Tower (Tower 1) of the World Trade Center, the twin skyscrapers that had come to symbolize New York and America to the world. All 81 passengers and 11 crew died instantly. At first it was believed that a terrible accident had occurred but that belief was dispelled when a second airliner, United Airlines Flight 175, a Boeing 747-200ER, hove into view and headed for the southern facade of the South Tower (Tower 2) hitting at 9.03:11am. All 56 passengers and nine crew died. The horror was magnified because the incident was seen live on television.
Meanwhile, two more airliners had been hijacked and one was heading for the Pentagon and the other was believed to be making for the White House or the Capitol. President George W. Bush was not at Pennsylvania Avenue at the time. The Boeing 757 thought to be heading for the White House was United Airlines Flight 93 — 42 minutes late — bound for San Francisco out of Newark, New Jersey with 37 people on board. At 9.28am four Muslims took over the plane. At 09.43:48am Todd Beamer, a 32-old-year-old salesman with a computer firm, used an airphone and gave “very calm” details of the terrible events to the airline’s ground-based supervisor, Lisa D. Jefferson. At 9.36am the hijackers had taken the plane off its planned flight path and a minute later, at 9.37:46am, American Airlines Flight 77 ploughed into the Pentagon.
Through Mr Beamer’s conversation with United Airlines base and other mobile calls the passengers aboard Flight 93 were aware that three other aircraft had crashed into iconic symbols on America’s east coast. Mr Beamer and other men on the flight decided that they had to try and retake the plane. Mr Beamer and Miss Jefferson recited the Lord’s Prayer together and then he spoke the 23rd Psalm. She then heard him say to other passengers, “Are you guys ready? Okay, let’s roll.” At 10.03:11am United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field near Shanksville in Stonycreek Township, Somerset County. Pennsylvania, about 240 km (150 mi) northwest of Washington, D.C.
Meanwhile, four minutes earlier, the South Tower had collapsed, followed 24 minutes later by the North Tower. At 5.20pm 7 World Trade Center, also known as the Salomon Brothers Building, also collapsed.
The official death toll that day varies, depending on which source you believe. It is believed to be more than 2,800, including 157 aboard the two aeroplanes that crashed into the World Trade Center; 64 on the plane that hit the Pentagon and that a further 125 died on the ground; 44 died in Pennsylvania on board the fourth plane; the Fire Department of New York recorded the deaths of 343 of its personnel while the New York Police Department lost 23.
World Trade Center, New York; Pentagon, Washington DC; Somerset County, Pennsylvania, USA
Tuesday 11 September 2001
As the events of the terrible day were pieced together it became apparent that 19 Muslim fanatics had been responsible for the carnage. The men were members of al-Qaeda, a loosely linked grouping of terrorist cells and funded by the Saudi Arabian billionaire Osama bin Laden, a former ally of America in the war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.
On 20 September 2001 President George W. Bush declared a war on terror. His staunchest supporters were Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom and Prime Minister Aznar of Spain. It was to cost both men their jobs. Troops invaded Afghanistan on 7 October 2001 to depose the Taliban who it was believed had given succour to al-Qaeda. On 19 March 2003 the second Gulf War began, a conflict that has left Iraq unstable. Its president Saddam Hussein died on the gallows on 30 December 2006.
Bush labelled Iran, North Korea and as the Axis of Evil. In May 2006, an incredible 42 per cent of polled Americans believed that their government and the 9/11 Commission hid crucial evidence or refused to investigate evidence that contradicted the official verdict of the events of 9/11.
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
The hijackers were Mohammed el Amir Atta, Abdulaziz Alomari, Waleed M. al-Shehri, Wail al-Shehri, Satam al Suqami (American Airlines Flight 11); Marwan al-Shehhi, Fayez Ahmed (aka Banihammad Fayez), Ahmed al Ghamdi, Hamza al-Ghamdi, Mohaid al-Shehri (United Airlines Flight 175); Hani Hanjour, Khalid al-Midhar, Nawaf al-Hamzi, Salem al-Hamzi, Majed Moqed (American Airlines Flight 77); Saeed al-Ghamdi, Ziad Jarrah, Ahmed al-Nami and Ahmed al-Haznawi (United Airlines Flight 93).