Today, Saturday September 11, 2021, marks exactly 20 years since the United States of America, global super power, both militarily and economically, was struck in a plane hijack by the most infamous terror organization, Al Qaeda.
The hijacked passenger planes were flown into the Twin Towers (North and South Tower) of World Trade Centre in New York, and US army headquarters, the Pentagon, just outside US capital, Washington DC.
Nearly 3,000 people were killed.
The United States presumed the first attack on North Tower at 8:46 am, an accident.
However, after the second plane hit the South Tower at 9:03 am, the then White House Chief of Staff, Andrew Card whispered to President George Bush who was conducting a reading seminar at the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, “America is under attack.”
The following day, President Bush announced “Global war on terror,” describing it as “a war against all those who seek to export terror, and a war against those governments that support or shelter them.”
Three days after the attack, President Bush stood on top of the rubble at lower Manhattan and promised retribution.
Blame immediately fell on Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda terror organization based in Afghanistan which was under the control of the Taliban.
Al Qaeda had already carried out several deadly attacks on US targets abroad.
Less than a month after the attack, the United States began military strikes in Afghanistan.
Bin Laden escaped, but was hunted, tracked down and killed in Pakistan a decade later under US President Barack Obama.
“The United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama Bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda,” President Obama said in 2011 after the killing of Bin Laden.
But after the death of Bin Laden, the war in Afghanistan dragged on for another 10 years, ending with Taliban regaining control of the Middle Eastern Country after US President Joe Biden ended America’s longest 20 year war which he termed as “forever war.”
The 9/11 attacks were a profound shock to America. In the aftermath, lawmakers rushed to overhaul national security laws with little or no debate.
The Naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba became a prison where the captured Al Qaeda foot soldiers, associates and planners, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11 attacks were detained undergoing immense torture.
Some remain there to this day. Others, 39 are termed as “forever prisoners.”
In a pre-recorded video on Saturday, the US President, Joe Biden has urged the country to show unity while honoring victims of the 9/11 attacks.
How the fateful day unfolded
It began as a normal Tuesday morning along the America’s East Coast on September 11, 2001.
Just before 8 o’clock, an American Airlines flight 11 takes off from Boston, followed by a United Airline flight 175.
A short while later, an American Airlines flight 77 departed from Washington Dulles Airport, and a United Airlines flight 93 from Newark International Airport in New Jersey.
At 8:46am, Airline flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Centre in New York. People assume, it’s a terrible accident.
17 minutes later, at 9:03am, Airline flight 175 crashed into the South Tower. President Bush is informed by White House Chief of Staff, Andrew Card that “America is under attack.”
American Airlines flight 77 then crashed into the Pentagon. Authorities ground all flights across US, but one more plane was still in the air.
That was United Airlines flight 93. It was headed for Washington DC; possibly for the White House, Capitol building or other targets.
The passengers and crew on the flight overpowered the hijackers and the plane crashed into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.
After burning for 56 minutes, at 9:59, the South Tower of World Trade Centre collapsed.
At 10:28am, the North Tower of the World Trade Centre also collapsed.
Nearly 3,000 people were killed, including citizens from more than 90 countries.