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In 2001, the terrorist organization al-Qaeda attacked a series of targets inside the United States. The Pentagon was the symbol of America's military strength, and the second planned DC target (presumed to be either the White House or Congress) represented the seat of the U.S. government. But what I've never understood was, what was Al Qaeda's motivation for selecting the Twin Towers as a target, not once but twice?
It seems like there is no shortage of prominent and impressive skyscrapers in the United States, or even just New York. If their motivation was to terrorize, destroy an iconic landmark, or just kill thousands, it could have been accomplished just as easily with the Empire State Building, the Chyrsler Building, Sears Tower, George Washington Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, etc. In fact, al-Qaeda could have hit two two targets with the planes they used to destroy the Twin Towers.
Has anyone ever shed any light on the decision-making at the highest levels of al-Qaeda when selecting the World Trade Center as a target on either occassion?
The answer you are looking for is in the name of the building.
World Trade Center.
The Pentagon is the seat of military power for the United States, and the White House is the seat of Political power for the United States, but the World Trade Center, when it stood, was a bustling and busy tower that stood as a testament and as a focal point for the Economic Power of the United States.
It certainly had an effect in that regard. (Pardon the Wikipedia reference, but it is quite complete on the economic impact of the attack).
September 11, 2001
On September 11, 2001 , terrorists hijacked 4 airplanes and crashed them into the two towers of the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington. The fourth jet crashed in Pennsylvania. About 3,000 people were killed and part of the Pentagon was destroyed. It was soon found out that Osama Bin Laden and his terrorist organization Al Qaeda had been behind the attacks.
The planes left the airports on the morning of September 11. Their original destination was California , so they had tons of fuel on board. Sometime after take-off , the terrorists took over the planes. Some of them had pilot training.
At 8:45 a.m. the first plane crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Centre. 20 minutes later, the second plane hit the south tower. Flames and smoke came out of the towers and the people who were working there tried to escape. About an hour after the attack both towers collapsed.
At about 9:40 a.m. a plane with 58 people on board crashed into the west side of the Pentagon, the country&rsquos military headquarters in Washington. A part of the building collapsed and about 200 people were killed.
A fourth plane probably intended to crash into the White House or the Capitol, but a few passengers wanted to try to overcome the terrorists. The pilots lost control of the plane and it crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.
After the attack
After the attack on the USA, there was panic all over the country. The White House was evacuated and all air traffic over the continent was stopped. The stock exchange in New York stopped business and many tourist sights were closed down.
A month after the attack, the government gave the police and the FBI more power to hunt terrorists. New safety checks at airports were introduced and airlines started checking the baggage of their passengers more carefully.
The United States were convinced that Osama Bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda terrorist group were behind the attacks. In October, the U.S. attacked terrorist training camps in Afghanistan .
Why the Towers Collapsed
The two Boeing 767s that took off from Boston hat a lot of fuel with them because they were travelling to Los Angeles. Each jet had about 90,000 litres of fuel&mdashabout 2 tanker trucks full.
When the planes hit the towers they caused a massive fire that spread across many floors at the top of the buildings. Most likely, furniture, wood and paper in the offices began burning quickly , so that the fire could spread in a few seconds. The buildings did have an automatic sprinkler system, but this system was made to put out small fires.
The fire caused temperatures of over 1,000 °C , so that even the steel constructions in the buildings became weaker and weaker.
In the end, the top floors that remained undamaged were so heavy that the whole building collapsed. The World Trade Centre, however, withstood collapse long enough to save thousands of lives. About 99 % of the people in the lower floors could get out of the buildings before they fell.
Rebuilding Ground Zero
In the months after September 11, 2001 thousands of workers helped to clean up the place where the World Trade Centre once stood - known as Ground Zero. Many architects all over the world were called to present designs for rebuilding the site. In the future, glass towers will surround a memorialof September 11.
The World Trade Centre
The World Trade Centre was built by the American architect Minoru Yamasaki in the late 1960s and early 1970s. At their opening in 1972 they were the world's tallest buildings. They were over 400 metres tall and were made of 200,000 tons of steel. Each tower had 110 floors and 97 elevators.
Skyscrapers of this size have to be built in solid bedrock . In New York the solid rock starts at about 15 to 20 metres below the surface. When the builders of the WTC started digging they found out that after a few metres, water from the nearby Hudson River started pouring in. So they dug out small boxes and put steel and concrete into them to give the building a firm stand.
When the World Trade Centre opened in 1973 the project was not very popular among New Yorkers. But as time went on and more and more companies started moving their offices to the twin towers they became more and more popular. The two towers also became famous through movies like &ldquoKing Kong&rdquo and &ldquoSuperman&rdquo.
The World Trade Centre before 9/11- Jeffmock
Extreme sportsmen chose the WTC as the place to try out many stunts. Skydivers parachuted from the top of the towers, climbers went up to the top on the outside walls and a French acrobat walked from one tower to the other on a tightrope. Within a few years the towers were on postcards, T-shirts and ads.
The World Trade Centre also gave the New Yorkers another tourist attraction. On a clear day it was possible to see over 60 km in all directions. Visitors could travel up to the top of the North tower and eat in a luxurious restaurant called &ldquoWindows of the World&rdquo.
The Twin Towers were like a small city. Over 500 companies , including banks, law firms, television stations and airlines had their offices here and 50,000 people worked in the two buildings every day. On a typical day as many as 200,000 visitors from all over the world passed through the buildings.
In 1993 the World Trade Centre was the target of an earlier terrorist attack. A truck with 600 kg of explosives drove into the basement garage of the building . When it exploded, a few stories were completely destroyed , but only 6 people were killed.
Osama Bin Laden
Osama Bin Laden is thought to be the world&lsquos leading terrorist and the person in charge of the September 11 attacks on America.
Bin Laden was born in Saudi Arabia in 1957. His father, Mohammed, founded a construction company and became a billionaire. The company grew very famous and rebuilt mosques all over the world , including Mecca and Medina.
Osama was the 17th son, and within his family he ranked low. He studied engineering in Jeddah.
In the middle of the 1980s bin Laden went to Afghanistan to help the mujahideen, who were Muslims that fought against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. He collected a lot of money for this group. At the end of the 1980s , Bin Laden founded Al-Qaeda.
When the United States sent soldiers to Saudi Arabia in 1991 to throw Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, Osama Bin Laden became an opponent of the Saudi government. He thought it was unwise to let Americans expand their influence in Muslim countries.
Bin Laden was thrown out of Saudi Arabia because of his terrorist activities. He went to Sudan for a few years and then to Afghanistan , where he was protected by the Taliban government.
He has been charged with many terrorist attacks in the past 15 years. In the worst attack, the United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed in 1998 &mdash 200 people were killed.
Since the September 11 attacks on America the United States and other countries have been searching for him. Many of his helpers have been killed or caught but Osama Bin Laden is still believed to be alive.
Al-Qaeda is a network of extremists organized by Osama Bin Laden. It was founded in the 1980s and Bin Laden has become the main financial supporter.
Al-Qaeda thinks that all Westerners should be thrown out of Islamic states and that countries that do not follow Islamic law are bad. According to its founder, all Muslims around the world should fight a holy war against the United States and Israel. Al-Qaeda probably has contact with terrorist groups all over the world.
Although Osama Bin Laden is the leader and founder of the group , it is not run by him alone. Al-Qaeda does not have a central structure . It is a network of local groups in different countries who don&rsquot know each other. Each group operates on its own and if one group is arrested it does not know anything about the others.
Landmarks and daredevils
The south tower boasted an observation deck on the top floor. The north tower hosted Windows on the World, the world's highest restaurant, on its 106th and 107th floors. Both attracted tourists who wanted to view the city from above.
Like Niagara Falls, their landmark status made them a target for daredevils. On Aug. 7, 1974, Philippe Petit crossed back and forth on a high wire stretching between the two towers eight times in half an hour. Three years later, George Willig, dubbed "The Human Fly" by the press, scaled the side of the north tower.
World Trade Center Bombing 1993
On February 26, 1993, at about 17 minutes past noon, a thunderous explosion rocked lower Manhattan.
The epicenter was the parking garage beneath the World Trade Center, where a massive eruption carved out a nearly 100-foot crater several stories deep and several more high. Six people were killed almost instantly. Smoke and flames began filling the wound and streaming upward into the building. Those who weren’t trapped were soon pouring out of the building—many panic-stricken and covered in soot. More than a thousand people were hurt in some way, some badly, with crushed limbs.
Middle Eastern terrorism had arrived on American soil—with a bang.
As a small band of terrorists scurried away from the scene unnoticed, the FBI and its partners on the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force began staffing up a command center and preparing to send in a team to investigate. Their instincts told them that this was terrorism—they’d been tracking Islamic fundamentalists in the city for months and, they’d later learn, were tantalizingly close to encountering the planners of this attack. But hunches weren’t enough what was needed was definitive proof.
They’d have it soon enough. The massive investigation that followed—led by the task force, with some 700 FBI agents worldwide ultimately joining in—quickly uncovered a key bit of evidence. In the rubble investigators uncovered a vehicle identification number on a piece of wreckage that seemed suspiciously obliterated. A search of our crime records returned a match: the number belonged to a rented van reported stolen the day before the attack. An Islamic fundamentalist named Mohammad Salameh had rented the vehicle, we learned, and on March 4, an FBI SWAT team arrested him as he tried in vain to get his $400 deposit back.
One clue led to another and we soon had in custody three more suspects—Nidal Ayyad, Mahmoud Abouhalima, and Ahmed Ajaj. We’d also found the apartment where the bomb was built and a storage locker containing dangerous chemicals, including enough cyanide gas to wipe out a town. All four men were tried, convicted, and sentenced to life.
The shockwave from the attack continued to reverberate. Following the unfolding connections, the task force soon uncovered a second terrorist plot to bomb a series of New York landmarks simultaneously, including the U.N. building, the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, and the federal plaza where our office in New York is housed. On June 24, 1994, FBI agents stormed a warehouse in Queens and caught several members of a terrorist cell in the act of assembling bombs.
Meanwhile, the mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing was still on the run—and up to no good. We’d learned his name—Ramzi Yousef—within weeks after the attack and discovered he was planning more attacks, including the simultaneous bombing of a dozen U.S. international flights. Yousef was captured in Pakistan in February 1995, returned to America, and convicted along with the van driver, Eyad Ismoil. A seventh plotter, Abdul Yasin, remains at large.
We later learned from Yousef that his Trade Center plot was far more sinister. He wanted the bomb to topple one tower, with the collapsing debris knocking down the second. The attack turned out to be something of a deadly dress rehearsal for 9/11 with the help of Yousef’s uncle Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, al Qaeda would later return to realize Yousef’s nightmarish vision.
Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi were both experienced and respected jihadists in the eyes of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
As for the pilots who would go on to participate in the attacks, three of them were original members of the Hamburg cell (Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah). Following their training at al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, they were chosen by Bin Laden and al-Qaeda's military wing due to their extensive knowledge of western culture and language skills, increasing the mission's operational security and its chances for success. The fourth intended pilot, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a member of the Hamburg cell, was also chosen to participate in the attacks yet was unable to obtain a visa for entry into the United States. He was later replaced by Hani Hanjour, a Saudi national.  
Mihdhar and Hazmi were also potential pilot hijackers, but did not do well in their initial pilot lessons in San Diego. Both were kept on as "muscle" hijackers, who would help overpower the passengers and crew and allow the pilot hijackers to take control of the flights. In addition to Mihdhar and Hazmi, thirteen other muscle hijackers were selected in late 2000 or early 2001. All were from Saudi Arabia, with the exception of Fayez Banihammad, who was from the United Arab Emirates.
|American Airlines Flight 11||Mohamed Atta||33||Egypt|
|Abdulaziz al-Omari||22||Saudi Arabia|
|United Airlines Flight 175||Marwan al-Shehhi||23||UAE|
|Mohand al-Shehri||22||Saudi Arabia|
|American Airlines Flight 77||Hani Hanjour||29|
|United Airlines Flight 93||Ziad Jarrah||26||Lebanon|
|Ahmed al-Haznawi||20||Saudi Arabia|
|Saudi Arabia|| |
American Airlines Flight 11: One World Trade Center, North Tower Edit
Hijackers: Mohamed Atta (Egyptian), Abdulaziz al-Omari (Saudi Arabian), Wail al-Shehri (Saudi Arabian), Waleed al-Shehri (Saudi Arabian), Satam al-Suqami (Saudi Arabian). 
Two flight attendants called the American Airlines reservation desk during the hijacking. Betty Ong reported that "the five hijackers had come from first-class seats: 2A, 2B, 9A, 9C and 9B."  Flight attendant Amy Sweeney called a flight services manager at Logan Airport in Boston and described them as Middle Eastern.  She gave the staff the seat numbers and they pulled up the ticket and credit card information of the hijackers, identifying Mohamed Atta. 
Mohamed Atta's voice was heard over the air traffic control system, broadcasting messages thought to be intended for the passengers. 
United Airlines Flight 175: Two World Trade Center, South Tower Edit
Hijackers: Marwan al-Shehhi (United Arab Emirates), Fayez Banihammad (United Arab Emirates), Mohand al-Shehri (Saudi Arabian), Hamza al-Ghamdi (Saudi Arabian), Ahmed al-Ghamdi (Saudi Arabian). 
A United Airlines mechanic was called by a flight attendant who stated the crew had been murdered and the plane hijacked. 
American Airlines Flight 77: Pentagon Edit
Hijackers: Hani Hanjour (Saudi Arabian), Khalid al-Mihdhar (Saudi Arabian), Majed Moqed (Saudi Arabian), Nawaf al-Hazmi (Saudi Arabian), Salem al-Hazmi (Saudi Arabian). 
Two hijackers, Hani Hanjour and Majed Moqed were identified by clerks as having bought single, first-class tickets for Flight 77 from Advance Travel Service in Totowa, New Jersey with $1,842.25 in cash.  Renee May, a flight attendant on Flight 77, used a cell phone to call her mother in Las Vegas. She said her flight was being hijacked by six individuals who had moved them to the rear of the plane. Unlike the other flights, there was no report of stabbings or bomb threats. According to the 9/11 Commission Report, it is possible that pilots were not stabbed to death and were sent to the rear of the plane. One of the hijackers, most likely Hanjour, announced on the intercom that the flight had been hijacked.  Passenger Barbara Olson called her husband, Theodore Olson, the Solicitor General of the United States, stating the flight had been hijacked and the hijackers had knives and box cutters.  Two of the passengers had been on the FBI's terrorist-alert list: Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi.  Al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi flew to Los Angeles in January 2000 and later took flying lessons in San Diego, during which time they were allegedly assisted by Omar al-Bayoumi and Saudi diplomats Fahad al-Thumairy and Mussaed Ahmed al-Jarrah.  
United Airlines Flight 93 Edit
Hijackers: Ziad Jarrah (Lebanese), Ahmed al-Haznawi (Saudi Arabian), Ahmed al-Nami (Saudi Arabian), Saeed al-Ghamdi (Saudi Arabian). 
Passenger Jeremy Glick stated that the hijackers were Arabic-looking, wearing red headbands, and carrying knives.  
Spoken messages (from Ziad Jarrah) intended for passengers were broadcast over the air traffic control system, presumably by mistake:
Jarrah is also heard on the cockpit voice recorder.  In addition, DNA samples submitted by his girlfriend were matched to remains recovered in Shanksville. 
Before the attacks Edit
Before the attacks, FBI agent Robert Wright, Jr. had written vigorous criticisms of FBI's alleged incompetence in investigating terrorists residing within the United States. Wright was part of the Bureau's Chicago counter-terrorism task force and involved in project Vulgar Betrayal, which was linked to Yasin al-Qadi. 
According to James Bamford, the NSA had picked up communications of al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi back in 1999, but had been hampered by internal bureaucratic conflicts between itself and the CIA, and did not do a full analysis of the information it passed on to the agency. For example, it only passed on the first names, Nawaf and Khalid. 
Bamford also claims that the CIA's Alec Station (a unit assigned to bin Laden) knew that al-Mihdhar was planning to come to New York as far back as January 2000. Doug Miller, one of three FBI agents working inside the CIA station, tried to send a message (a CIR) to the FBI to alert them about this, so they could put al-Mihdhar on a watch list. His CIA boss, Tom Wilshire, deputy station chief, allegedly denied permission to Miller. Miller asked his associate Mark Rossini for advice Rossini pressed Wilshire's deputy but was rebuffed also.  
Bamford also claims that al-Mihdhar and Hazmi wound up living with Abdussattar Shaikh for a time to save money. Shaikh was, coincidentally, an FBI informant, but since they never acted suspiciously around him, he never reported them. The CIA Bangkok station told Alec Station that Hazmi had gone to Los Angeles. None of this information made it back to the FBI headquarters. 
Within minutes of the attacks, the Federal Bureau of Investigation opened the largest FBI investigation in United States history, operation PENTTBOM. The suspects were identified within 72 hours because few made any attempt to disguise their names on flight and credit card records. [ citation needed ] They were also among the few non-U.S. citizens and nearly the only passengers with Arabic names on their flights, enabling the FBI to identify them using such details as dates of birth, known or possible residences, visa status, and specific identification of the suspected pilots.  On September 27, 2001, the FBI released photos of the 19 hijackers, along with information about many of their possible nationalities and aliases.  The suspected hijackers were from Saudi Arabia (fifteen hijackers), United Arab Emirates (two hijackers), Lebanon (one hijacker) and Egypt (one hijacker).
The passport of Satam al-Suqami was reportedly recovered "a few blocks from where the World Trade Center's twin towers once stood"   a passerby picked it up and gave it to a NYPD detective shortly before the towers collapsed. The passports of two other hijackers, Ziad Jarrah and Saeed al-Ghamdi, were recovered from the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93 in Pennsylvania, and a fourth passport, that of Abdulaziz al-Omari was recovered from luggage that did not make it onto American Airlines Flight 11. 
According to the 9/11 Commission Report, 26 al-Qaeda terrorist conspirators sought to enter the United States to carry out a suicide mission. In the end, the FBI reported that there were 19 hijackers in all: five on three of the flights, and four on the fourth. On September 14, three days after the attacks, the FBI announced the names of 19 persons.  After a controversy about an earlier remark, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano stated in May 2009 that the 9/11 Commission found that none of the hijackers entered the United States through Canada.
Nawaf al-Hazmi and Hani Hanjour, attended the Dar al-Hijrah Falls Church, Virginia, Islamic Center where the Imam Anwar al-Awlaki preached, in early April 2001. Through interviews with the FBI, it was discovered that Awlaki had previously met Nawaf al-Hazmi several times while the two lived in San Diego. At the time, Hazmi was living with Khalid al-Mihdhar, another 9/11 hijacker.  The hijackers of the same plane often had very strong ties as many of them attended school together or lived together prior to the attacks. 
Soon after the attacks and before the FBI had released the pictures of all the hijackers, several reports claimed some of the men named as hijackers on 9/11 were alive   and had their identities stolen.   
What caused the World Trade Center towers to collapse on 9/11?
Ask any American and they'll tell you where they were when al-Qaeda terrorists attacked New York City's World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001. Millions of people across the nation stood slack-jawed in front of televisions as they watched airplanes slam into lower Manhattan's two tallest skyscrapers with fiery force. When it seemed that the country's worst fears had already been realized, the 110-story buildings collapsed, engulfing those fleeing the scene in a dusty cloud of debris. As people struggled to come to terms with the horrific events of that day, they wondered, how could such massive structures be reduced to a pile of rubble?
This wasn't the first time the World Trade Center had been targeted by Islamic extremists. On Feb. 26, 1993, seven men collaborated to detonate a truck bomb in the underground parking garage, killing six people. While this earlier attack blew a crater 100 feet (30.5 meters) wide and several stories high into the base of the north tower, it failed to bring the building down [source: FBI]. To many Americans, the towering skyscrapers seemed indestructible. Less than a decade later, this perception would be contradicted in dramatic fashion.
Sept. 11, 2001, began as a typical Tuesday in New York City. Skies were clear as residents flooded the city's streets and subways to make their morning commute. Then, at 8:46 a.m., a Boeing 767-200ER aircraft crashed into the north face of the north tower between floors 94 and 98. Startled New Yorkers turned their eyes to the top of the city's skyline and wondered whether this was an accident, or perhaps something more sinister. Such questions were laid to rest at 9:03 a.m., when a second Boeing 767-200ER struck the south face of the south tower between the 78th and 84thfloors. The airplanes, loaded with jet fuel, sparked fires in both buildings that burned intensely on several floors. At 9:59 a.m., just 56 minutes after the south tower was hit, it collapsed, sending up a choking cloud of dust that spread across the New York skyline. The north tower soon followed suit, crumpling to the ground at 10:29 a.m., 1 hour and 43 minutes after it was struck. The attacks killed 2,830 people, including 2,270 building occupants, 157 airline crew and passengers, and 403 emergency responders [source: FEMA].
The collapse of the World Trade Center towers shocked the world and changed the United States in significant ways. Why did they fall? Or perhaps the first question should be, how were they built?
World Trade Center Construction
To understand why the World Trade Center towers collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001, you need to first understand how they were constructed. The design was conceived in the early 1960s by architects from Minoru, Yamasaki & Associates and Emery Roth & Sons, along with structural engineers from Worthington, Skilling, Helle & Jackson. At that time most skyscrapers (like the Empire State Building) were supported by a dense grid of steel beams that was sturdy, but limited the open floor space on each level. The World Trade Center's architects and engineers employed revolutionary construction methods to maximize their buildings' floor space and build higher than anyone had before.
The most significant advancement in the World Trade Center's design had to do with the towers' steel framework. Instead of spacing the vertical support beams evenly across the floors, the designers moved all of them to the exterior walls and the central core of the structure. These columns supported all of the buildings' weight, but without lateral, or side-to-side, support from the floors, these columns would have buckled. The floors were built upon trusses, which bridged the distance between the exterior and core columns. Connected with two bolts on each end, these spans of rigid steel framework prevented the columns from bowing inward or outward. They also supported a 4-inch-thick (10 centimeters) floor made of reinforced concrete (reinforced concrete is embedded with steel for increased strength). Spray-on fireproofing, made from material similar to the rolled insulation in your home, further protected the integrity of the steel floor trusses, while the central columns were shielded by fire-resistant drywall. This economical design required less concrete and created nearly an acre of rentable office space on each of the buildings' 110 floors.
On Aug. 5, 1966, crews broke ground for the construction of the new World Trade Center towers. The north tower welcomed its first tenant in December 1970, while the south tower was first occupied in January 1972. The ribbon cutting for the entire complex occurred on April 4, 1973. Despite their innovative design, the buildings would be reduced to rubble just 28 years later. Read on to discover how the impact of the airplanes and the resulting fires ultimately brought down these massive skyscrapers.
The World Trade Center towers were actually built to withstand the initial impact from a common jetliner at the time of their construction -- the Boeing 707. However, this aircraft was smaller than the Boeing 767s that struck the buildings in 2001, and the precautionary design didn't take into account any weakening of the steel superstructure caused by fire [source: NOVA].
World Trade Center Collapse
We will never know for sure exactly what structural stresses and failures caused the World Trade Center towers to collapse. However, two government reports provide slightly different explanations of the possible processes that ultimately brought the buildings to the ground. The first of these reports was authored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and completed in September 2002, while the second was done by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and finished in September 2005.
Both studies blame two general events for the collapse of the World Trade Center towers. The first was the initial impact of the airplanes. This occurrence caused significant damage to the buildings' external and core columns and increased the strain on those that remained intact. The impact also dislodged the spray-on fireproofing that protected the floor trusses and the fire-resistant drywall that encased the core columns. This left the buildings' steel components vulnerable to the second critical event: the fires sparked by the airplane collisions. Each of the aircraft carried about 10,000 gallons of fuel, which probably burned off quickly, but not before igniting the contents of several floors in both buildings. These fires burned at temperatures between 400 and 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit (800 and 2,000 degrees Celsius), hot enough to weaken -- but not melt -- the towers' steel superstructure [source: FEMA]. It was a combination of the initial damage and these fires that ultimately led to the buildings' demise.
While the two government reports came to the same general conclusions, they disagreed on some of the specifics. The FEMA report blamed the failure of the bolts connecting the floor trusses to the external columns for the collapse of the buildings. According to this theory, the floor trusses began to sag when weakened by the fire, pulling at these bolts and causing them to sheer off. The force of the collapsed floor then caused the next floor to fail, and the next, and so on in a phenomenon known as pancaking. With no lateral support, the vertical columns soon buckled, and the buildings collapsed. The NIST report also blames sagging floor trusses for the collapse, but suggests that the floors actually pulled the exterior columns inward, causing them to buckle. This brought the top section of the buildings down through the impact zone with a force too great to be stopped.
While no one will ever know exactly how the World Trade Center towers collapsed, we do know that the event changed the world forever. Explore the next page for more information on the tragedies of Sept. 11, 2001.
On a foggy July day in 1945, a B-25 bomber flown by Capt. William F. Smith accidentally crashed into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building, killing Smith and two others onboard, as well as 11 office workers. Despite fires sparked by the collision, the famous landmark survived. This event isn't directly comparable to the September 11 attacks, however, because the Boeing 767-200ER aircraft that hit the World Trade Center towers were significantly larger and heavier than the B-25, and were traveling much faster upon impact [source: NPR].
Today, the threat landscape has changed. Though our military efforts have scattered and decimated the core of Al Qaeda's operations and leadership, franchises such as those that attacked the BP gas facility in Algeria share its mission and have reach inside the United States.
Al Qaeda's North African affiliates have become emboldened by our timid response to Benghazi, Libya, have gained significant wealth by ratcheting up multi-million dollar kidnappings for ransom and they use this wealth to fund operations against the West. Today, North Africa is the next theater of operations in the war on terror.
As the administration draws down troops abroad, it must maintain a comprehensive strategy for combating the increasingly decentralized nature of the Al Qaeda movement. Just as we have expanded our counterterrorism efforts into Pakistan, whether through the use of drones, special forces or additional intelligence gathering, our efforts in North Africa must address the reality that Al Qaeda in the region is spreading and building as a threat to our homeland. These sons of Al Qaeda are committed to finishing the task they started on U.S. soil 20 years ago.
Today, as we mourn those who have been lost, we also must recognize that security now requires more than speeches and sanctions. With each new day should come a resilient ambition to find and root out those who will use any means necessary to destroy our freedom and way of life.
McCaul, a congressman, is the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security
Rich McSheehy's Weblog
I would guess that most of us can recall exactly where we were and what we were doing when we first heard about the horrific attacks on the Twin Towers and the subsequent attack on the Pentagon. There aren’t many moments in your life, no matter how long you live, that you will recall as vividly as the moment you learned about it. The assassination of John F. Kennedy was also like that for me. I don’t think anyone really feels that they have heard a satisfactory explanation of why Lee Harvey Oswald killed him. That was over forty years ago, and there are still many people who don’t believe the results of the official U.S. government investigation.
The U.S. government’s 9/11 Commission Report has also failed to gain unanimous support. The report is primarily an analysis of how we failed to prevent the attacks and how we failed to be aware that they might even occur. However, the greatest failure of the report is that no attempt is made to understand what motivated the attacks. We are left to believe that the motive of Al Qaeda is some sort of radical Islamic hatred of the Christian and Jewish west. However, just a simple observation of the attacks themselves show quite clearly that the attacks were not at all an attempt to begin a religious war or even to wage a terrorist campaign against people who were not of the Islamic faith. Look at their targets:
The World Trade Center could be described as the financial capital of the multinational businesses of the United States. The twin towers were not only functional centers of finance, they were iconic symbols of America’s mighty economic impact throughout the world. The second target, the Pentagon, is another icon as well as the functional center of the vast military might of the United States. Long after the attacks occured, and after much investigation, it has been learned that the U.S. Capitol building was the intended target of United flight 93. The aircraft that crashed in Shanksville, PA after heroic intervention by its passengers. The U.S. Capitol building is also an icon and the functional center of our government. The 9/11 attacks were an attack on a U.S. financial – military – government triad. While it would have been easy, there were no attacks on any Christian churchs, Jewish synagogues, Mormon, Buddhist, or Hindu temples or any other religious organizations or icons. The attackers may well have all been Islamic, but the attacks were not about Islam.
If we are to understand what 9/11 was all about we need to consider one very important point: every single attacker was on a suicide mission. Why is that important? Consider Japan at the close of World War II. Defeat was seen to be inevitable. Many Japanese feared severe retribution from American forces. Their backs were against the wall and they expected no mercy. Thus was born the Kamikaze pilots, the “Divine Wind”. The Kamikaze pilots flew their bomb-laden aircraft directly into American warships in a last ditch attempt to stop the advance of the U.S. Navy and a subsequent invasion. There is little doubt that the courage of these Japanese pilots was sustained, in part, by their trust in God. However, no one has ever suggested that the Kamikaze attacks were some sort of group of religious fanatics.
Toward the end of World War II the Nazis in Germany also planned to develop a suicide bomber squadron called the Leonidas Squadron. The pilots would fly Messerschmitt Me328 aircraft, equipped with a single 2,000 bomb, into selected Allied targets. There were problems with development of the aircraft, however, and the squadron never saw action.
The common thread among the Nazis, the Japanese Kamikaze, and the Al Qaeda attackers is that they were all desperate attacks. Suicide attacks are always an indicator that the attacker feels severely oppressed and near defeat, but out of a sense of patriotism, rage, and injustice decides to make one final attempt to destroy a hated enemy even if it means his own death. It’s not about converting someone to his religion, nor is it because he is unhappy that people on the other side of the world don’t worship the same God he does. The 9/11 attacks were desperate moves by men who felt their backs were to the wall. But why did they feel that way? And why us? What did we do?
We didn’t do anything. Neither you nor I, nor any of the people who died in the attacks were a threat to Al Qaeda. The people who were killed are what our military would call “collateral damage”. Sort of like the innocent civilians who were killed in the “Shock and Awe” campaign in Iraq. The real targets were the iconic, and also functional, buildings of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the Capitol. But why? Why strike at the heart of our multinational business system, our military, and our government? It’s because these Al Qaeda terrorists, and their leaders, view these three icons as one sort of an unholy Trinity, and it was this Trinity that was threatening their very existence. Al Qaeda was, and is, made up of desperate men, but they are not crazed religious fanatics.
OK, so how can these people feel so threatened? What could we be doing to them that would make them feel that they are on the brink of destruction? The answer is the same answer that can be given as the cause of all wars: they perceive us as stealing their wealth. It is our wealth that allows us to live. Our homes, our jobs, our land, our money, our industries – all these things, and more, could be considered our collective wealth. For the people of this part of the world, their principle source of all their wealth lies in a single word: “oil”.
The U.S. has a long and checkered history of being in the oil business in the Middle East. When Iran nationalized their oil operations in 1951, the U.S. began efforts, led by the CIA, to depose their leader. This succeeded in 1953 when the Shah of Iran was reinstated and Iran began to sell cheap oil to American oil companies again. The Shah was deposed in the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and they haven’t been very friendly to us ever since. Similarly, Saddam Hussein nationalized the Iraqi oil industry in 1972 and tossed the American oil companies out of Iraq. The U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 and captured Saddam. He was executed on Dec 30, 2006. The Iraqi Oil Ministry is now negotiating oil deals with Exxon Mobil, BP, Shell, Total, and Chevron so that U.S. companies can pump oil from Iraq again.
It is interesting to note that almost all of the 9/11 Al Qaeda terrorists were from Saudi Arabia. So is Osama bin Laden. None of the terrorists were from Iraq. Yet, when the U.S. invaded Iraq, Al Qaeda was quick to enter Iraq and join the fight against the U.S. In the past Osama bin Ladin has stated that some Al Qaeda attacks were due to the U.S. support of Israel and its perceived unfair treatment of Palestinians. It is pretty clear that Al Qaeda sees itself as a sort of defender of last resort of the entire Middle East, defending it from domination, and the subsequent loss of its wealth, by the U.S. Unholy Trinity of our multinational businesses, military, and government. The thing is, this is not exactly an irrational fear.
In 1997 the Project for the New American Century was founded. It’s stated proposition was that, “American leadership is good for both America and for the world.” It has been a strong advocate for American leadership, or domination, of the world. It has been very influential in the Bush administration. In 1998, members of the organization, including Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz warned President Clinton that Saddam was a threat and should be removed because of his weapons of mass destruction. In a report written in 2000 the group warned that “Over the long term, Iran may well prove as large a threat to U.S. interests in the Gulf as Iraq has.” Paul Wolfowitz became President Bush’s Deputy Secretary of Defense in 2001 and, immediately after the 9/11 attacks, pressed for the invasion of Iraq, an idea also strongly pushed by John McCain at the same time. Donald Rumsfeld was President Bush’s Secretary of Defense at the time.
The fact that these three people immediately advocated an attack on Iraq as a response to 9/11 indicates that their view of the conflict is not too different from that of Osama bin Laden. This is a conflict between America and its policy of financial, military and political dominance throughout the Middle East and a small group of guerrilla fighters who view this as nothing less than the theft of the entire region’s wealth.Basically they feel they are getting a really, really bad deal.
There is no doubt that these guerrillas are fanatical fighters. There is no doubt they feel their backs are to the wall. There is no doubt they will employ suicide tactics again if they feel it will help achieve their objective. And there is also no doubt that this war is not about religion. It is not about Islam or Christianity. Nor is it about American freedom. It’s not about any of the great emotional issues that the leaders of all countries always try to stoke in order to get their young men to go out and die for their country.
The cause of the 9/11 attack is not radical Islam it is the same as the cause for every war that has ever taken place. It’s about wealth. It’s about money. It’s about some people believing they are being exploited so badly that they and their way of life can’t survive, and the people on the other side not even aware of this and, come to think of it, not even caring whether they survive or not anyway.
4 Western Criticisms Of Islam
&ldquoHarming Allah and his messenger is a reason to encourage Muslims to kill,&rdquo an Al-Qaeda recruiter once said. It seems like an abhorrent idea to us, but for the people surrounded by Islamic extremism, the idea that blasphemers should suffer is instilled at a very young age. After the film The Innocence of Muslims mocked Mohammed, small children protesting it in Pakistan were spotted screaming, &ldquoPunish the blasphemer! Shut down the website of the blasphemous film!&rdquo
As we&rsquove seen many times, these aren&rsquot empty threats&mdashthey get carried out. It&rsquos something we&rsquove seen firsthand more than once. Incidents like the Charlie Hebdo attack are common enough that many in the West are afraid to risk lampooning Mohammed&mdashwhich is exactly why they do the attacks.
When he called for the death of Salman Rushdie, Ruhollah Musavi al-Khomeini made his motives extremely clear: He wanted us to be afraid. &ldquoI call on all zealous Muslims to execute them quickly,&rdquo he said, &ldquoso that no one will dare to insult the Islamic sanctities.&rdquo
Al-Qaida timeline: Plots and attacks
Below is an integrated chronology of the public face of al-Qaida, including terror plots and attacks blamed on the loose network and its alleged associate groups, leaders’ public statements, and the U.S. response, including the hunt for, capture or killing of top leaders, beginning in 1992.
PLOTS AND ATTACKS
(Attacks in Iraq blamed on Ansar al Islam and its leader, Abu Musawi al-Zarqawi, can be found in this
-- Dec. 29, 1992
In the first al-Qaida attack against U.S. forces, operatives bomb a hotel where U.S. troops -- on their way to a humanitarian mission in Somalia -- had been staying. Two Austrian tourists are killed. Almost simultaneously, another group of al-Qaida operatives are caught at Aden airport, Yemen, as they prepare to launch rockets at U.S. military planes. U.S. troops quickly leave Aden.
--Feb. 26, 1993
The first World Trade Center attack and the first terrorist attack on America. A bomb built in nearby Jersey City is driven into an underground garage at the trade center and detonated, killing six and wounding 1,500. Yousef, nephew of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, masterminds the attack, working with nearly a dozen local Muslims. While U.S. officials disagree on whether Osama bin Laden instituted the attack and Yousef denies he has met bin Laden, the CIA later learns that Yousef stayed in a bin Laden-owned guest house in Pakistan both before and after the attacks.
--April – June 23, 1993
Militants plan a series of near simultaneous bombings in New York. Among the targets were prominent New York monuments: The Lincoln and Holland tunnels linking New York to New Jersey, the George Washington Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, the United Nations, the last to be planted with the help of diplomats from the Sudanese mission, the Federal Building at 26 Federal Plaza, and finally, one in the Diamond District along 47th Street, populated by mostly Jewish diamond dealers. On June 23, as terrorists mix chemicals for the bombs, FBI agents raid their warehouse and arrest twelve.
-- May - July 28, 1993
After two months of planning, Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing, travels to Karachi, the hometown of Benazir Bhutto, then former prime minister of Pakistan, who is seeking to regain her old job. He and two others are in the process of planting a remote control bomb on the road when the ageing Soviet detonator he obtained in Afghanistan explodes in his face, ending the plot. Financing for the bombing comes from radical Islamic groups in Pakistan, according to Bhutto.
Al-Qaida reportedly attempts to assassinate then Jordanian Crown Prince Abdullah. He succeeded his father as king of Jordan in February, 1999.
--Oct. 3-4, 1993
In a battle for the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia, a unit of U.S. special operations forces gets pinned down after two U.S. helicopters are shot out of the sky. Eighteen Americans die, killed by Somalis reportedly trained by al-Qaida. “It is true that my colleagues fought with [Somali warlord] Farah Adid’s forces in Somalia,” bin Laden subsequently claims. The al-Qaida leader also insists, with a characteristic exaggeration, that 100 Americans died in the attack, not 18. The attack leads to the U.S. withdrawal from Somalia, a move hailed by bin Laden as a great victory for the Islamic world.
--March 11, 1994
Led by Ramzi Yousef, a group of Islamic militants hijack a delivery truck in downtown Bangkok, strangle the driver and load a one-ton bomb on board. Their target: the Israeli embassy. But the truck has an accident and the hijacker abandons it, leading to the discovery of the bomb and driver’s body. Several of the plotters are arrested, but Yousef escapes again.
Imad Mugniyeh, the military chief of Hezbollah during its 1980’s attacks on U.S. personnel, meets secretly with Bin Laden in Khartoum. Mughniyeh, at that point the most wanted terrorist in the world for his role in the Beirut embassy and Marine Barracks bombing, advises Bin Laden on planning.
Ali Mohamed, the al-Qaida security director at the time, later tells U.S. officials that Mughniyeh told bin Laden how the Marine bombing in Beirut led to the U.S. withdrawal from Lebanon and how such a campaign could eventually lead to a similar route of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia and the whole Islamic world.
-- June 20, 1994
Ramzi Yousef, working with the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, blows up the Shrine of Reza, the great grandson of Mohammed and a Shiite saint, in Mashad, Iran. The explosion took out the entire wall of the mausoleum, killing 26 pilgrims, mostly women. At the time, Yousef was motivated as much by hatred of Shiite Muslims as by hatred of America. Also involved in the plot were his father and brother.
-- Nov. 12-14, 1994
Extremists working for bin Laden conduct extensive surveillance of President Bill Clinton and his party during a state visit to Manila in anticipation of mounting an assassination attempt when Clinton returns to the Philippine capital in November 1996 for an already scheduled APEC summit. Bin Laden orders al-Qaida to use still and video cameras to follow Clinton and Secret Service personnel. The Secret Service later learns from an al-Qaida defector that the surveillance was extensive, and the tapes along with maps and notes were sent to bin Laden, who was then living in Sudan. The Secret Service was unaware of the surveillance although there was some concern at the time that the president was exposed during the trip. “We did not know there was a plot to assassinate the president,” said a high-ranking Secret Service official. “We only found out later.”
--Dec. 8, 1994 - Jan. 5, 1995
Ramzi Yousef rents an apartment in the Dona Josefa apartment complex on Quirino Boulevard, in Manila, Philippines, believing that Pope John Paul II will take that route on his way to a huge outdoor mass planned for Jan. 15. The apartment is only 500 feet from the Manila home of the Vatican ambassador to the Philippines where the Pope will stay during his 5-day visit to the country. In addition, he rents a beach house to train his compatriots for the attack and purchases two Bibles, a crucifix, a large poster of the Pope, several priests’ garments — accurate down to the tunic buttons and confessional manuals. The plan, investigators said, was to place a bomb under a manhole cover along Quirino Boulevard. The attack is thwarted when bomb-making materials catch fire in the sink of the apartment kitchen. As it turns out, the pope travels to the Mass by helicopter.
-- Dec. 10, 1994
As part of the planning for the Day of Hate [see below] Yousef plants a crude bomb on board a Philippines Airlines plane from Cebu City, the Philippines, to Tokyo. When the bomb detonates, it kills one passenger, a Japanese businessman, and forces the plane, a 747, to land in Okinawa. Yousef calibrates the damage and increases the size of the bomb so it can take down an entire jumbo jet.
-- Jan. 21-22, 1995
In what would have been an attack with a higher death toll than the Sept. 11 attacks, bombs placed on board 11 jumbo jets are to be detonated by timing devices as the planes fly over the Pacific, killing an estimated 4,000 people. Most of the jets are to be American carriers and most of the dead would have been Americans. The bombs would have been timed to go off over a number of hours to heighten the terror. The plan, called the Day of Hate, was conceived by Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the first World Trade Center bombing and his uncle, Khalid Sheik Mohammed. Only a fire in Yousef’s Manila apartment on Jan. 6 thwarts it. Mohammed later modifies the plan and takes it to Osama bin Laden. That modified plan becomes the blueprint for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
--June 26, 1995
Less than an hour after Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak arrives in Addis Ababa to attend the Organization of African Unity summit, several members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, a group working with al-Qaida, attack his motorcade. Ethiopian forces kill five of the attackers and capture three others. Ethiopia and Egypt charge the government of Sudan, where bin Laden is living, with complicity in the attack and harboring suspects. Privately, Egyptian officials tell U.S. intelligence they believe Bin Laden is behind the attack. Later, Egyptian officials learn that the terrorists had conducted surveillance of the last trip Mubarak had made to Ethiopia, just as they had with President Clinton.
-- Nov. 13, 1995
A truck bomb explodes outside the Saudi National Guard Communications Center in central Riyadh, killing five American servicemen and two Indian police. Four Saudi men, all self-described disciples of bin Laden, are quickly executed before the FBI can determine their ties to al-Qaida.
-- June 25, 1996
In an attack whose authorship is still debated by intelligence and law enforcement officials, a truck bomb is detonated at the Khobar Towers complex in Saudi Arabia, killing 19 American servicemen and wounding 400. Although an indictment in early 2001 pins blame on Shiite Muslims backed by Iran, many U.S. officials still believe bin Laden is responsible. Bin Laden himself states in a 1997 interview, “Only Americans were killed in the explosions. No Saudi suffered any injury. When I got the news about these blasts, I was very happy.”
Al-Qaida sends suicide bombers into the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Truck bombs kill more than 240 people, including 12 Americans at the Nairobi embassy. The attack results in the quick arrest of several of the bombers, but not the mastermind, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed. Also known as “Harun,” Mohammed is involved in later al-Qaida attacks.
--Jan. 1-3, 2000
U.S. and Jordanian authorities thwart attacks planned to coincide with the Millennium celebrations. In mid-December, Jordanian authorities arrest more than 20 al-Qaida operatives who are planning to bomb three locations where American tourists gather: Mt. Nebo, where Moses first saw the Promised Land the Ramada Hotel in Amman, a stopover for tour groups and the spot on the Jordan River where tradition holds John the Baptist baptized Christ. Later in the month, U.S. authorities seize Ahmed Ressam at a border crossing in Port Angeles, WA. He is carrying bomb-making equipment and later discusses his plan to blow up Los Angeles International Airport on New Year's Eve.
-- Jan. 13, 2000
The cross Africa Dakar-to-Cairo auto race is diverted after the U.S. intelligence community receives word of a planned ambush in the African nation of Niger. Word of the planned ambush was passed to race organizers over the weekend shortly after it was received, leading to a suspension of the race and a massive airlift on Thursday. Cargo planes were flying some 1,365 crew members and 336 vehicles as well as tons of equipment from Niamey, capital of Niger, to Sabha in southern Libya.
-- Oct. 12, 2000
A bomb on board a small Zodiac-like boat detonates near the USS Cole in the port of Aden in Yemen, killing 17 U.S. sailors and wounding scores more. The bombing also kills two al-Qaida operatives in the boat. The United States later learns the Cole was the second destroyer targeted by al-Qaida. The attack was originally planned for Jan. 3, 2000, when the USS The Sullivans was in the same port.
-- Sept. 9, 2001
Two Moroccan men, posing as television journalists, kill themselves and Ahmad Shah Massoud, leader of the Northern Alliance, at the alliance headquarters in the Panjshir Valley of Afghanistan. The killing of Massoud may have been the first part of the Sept. 11 attacks.
--Sept. 11, 2001
Three hijacked planes are flown into major U.S. landmarks, destroying New York's World Trade Center towers and plowing into the Pentagon. A fourth hijacked plane crashes in rural Pennsylvania, its target believed to have been the U.S. Capitol. At least 3,044 people are killed. The death toll is nearly 10 times greater than any other terrorist attack in history and makes bin Laden, for the first time, a household name in the United States and the west.
--Dec. 22, 2001
Passengers and crew of an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami subdue Richard Reid after he attempts to light a bomb hidden inside his shoe. Some in U.S. intelligence community believe the bombing was last vestige of a larger plan that included the attacks on New York and Washington as well as bombings of other airliners over the oceans.
--Jan. 31, 2002
Pakistani militants behead Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Karachi after holding him for several days. U.S. officials report there is evidence Khalid Sheik Mohammed. Al-Qaida’s operations chief, may have played a role in his kidnapping and murder. Pearl is shown on a tape being beheaded.
-- March 17, 2002
Islamic militants attack the Protestant International Church in Islamabad, killing five. Among those killed were Americans Barbara Green and her daughter Kristen Wormsley. Pakistani officials blame al-Qaida.
--March 20, 2002
Nine people are killed and 30 wounded in a car bomb explosion near the U.S. Embassy in Lima. Peru.
--April 11, 2002
A suicide bomber explodes a truck near the El Ghriba synagogue on the southern Tunisian island of Djerba, killing 14 Germans, five Tunisians and a Frenchman. Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Saad bin Laden, Osama bin Laden's third youngest son, are believed behind the attack.
A suspected suicide bomber in a car kills himself near a bus carrying 11 French navy experts and three Pakistanis outside the Sheraton Hotel in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi.
Moroccan police arrest three Saudi nationals who were allegedly planning attacks against U.S. and British warships in the Strait of Gibraltar. The men are arrested in May and claim to belong to the al-Qaida network. Moroccan officials say the suspects planned to sail a dinghy loaded with explosives from Morocco into the strait to attack the vessels.
--June 14, 2002
Another suicide car bomber detonates a bomb outside the U.S. consulate in Karachi, killing at least 11 people and wounding 45. No Americans is killed. The bomb is in the trunk of a moving car. The car's passengers, Pakistani nursing students, are unaware of the bomb.
--Sept. 5, 2002
Afghan President Hamid Karzai survives an assassination attempt when shots are fired into the presidential limousine. Karzai was on his way to a wedding celebration in Kandahar. He is not hurt but one of this U.S. bodyguards and the governor of Kandahar are wounded. The attack comes just after a car bomb exploded near two government offices in Kabul, killing 22 people.
A small boat sidles up to the SS Limburg, a French tanker off al-Mukalla, Yemen, and detonates a bomb. One crew member drowns and 24 are rescued.
Two U.S. Marines are killed in Kuwait in the early stages of the U.S. military buildup in preparation for the invasion of Iraq. The Marines were attacked on Faylaka Island, about 12 miles north of Kuwait City.
--Oct. 12, 2002
Bombs explode in Kuta Beach nightclub district of Bali in Indonesia, killing 202 people and wounding hundreds. Five Americans are among the dead. A third bomb explodes near the U.S. Consulate in Sanur near Kuta, without causing casualties. Bombers later admit they expected many more American casualties. The bombing highlights the reach of al-Qaida.
--Oct. 28, 2002
A group of al-Qaida operatives kills U.S. AID worker Laurence Foley, 62, outside his home as he prepared to leave for work. Foley’s attackers are arrested by Jordanian officials in December.
--Nov. 28, 2002
At least 15 people are killed in car bomb attack on hotel frequented by Israeli tourists in Kenyan port of Mombasa. On the same day, two missiles are fired at but miss an Israeli airliner taking off from the city. Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, mastermind of the 1998 embassy bombings, is sought by Kenyan officials in the attacks.
--May 12, 2003
Suicide bombers in vehicles shoot their way into housing compounds for expatriates in Saudi capital of Riyadh so they can set off bombs. Some 35 people, including nine Americans, are killed. The attacks are a watershed for the Saudi government, which for years had thought al-Qaida would not attack the kingdom. As a result of the attacks, cooperation between the U.S. and Saudi governments grows rapidly.
--May 16, 2003
Suicide bombers using cars or explosive belts set off at least five blasts in Casablanca, Morocco, killing 44 people, including 12 bombers, and wounding about 60. The deaths of 17 bombers in Saudi and 12 in Morocco suggest that al-Qaida is having no trouble recruiting suicide bombers.
--June 7, 2003
A suicide car bomber blows up a bus full of German peacekeepers, killing four and wounding 31 east of Kabul. An Afghan civilian and the bomber are also killed.
A huge truck bomb kills 16 people and wounds 150 as it rips through Marriott Hotel in the Indonesian capital Jakarta. One foreigner, a Dutch businessman, is among the dead.
In an attack reminiscent of al-Qaida's May attack, suicide bombers backed by gunmen enter a residential compound in Riyadh detonate two car bombs, killing 17, among them 5 children, and wounding 122. The attack uses vehicles disguised to look like police cars. U.S. and Saudi intelligence services had warned of a possible attack in the days before, even thwarting an attack in Mecca.
--Nov. 15, 2003
At least 29 people are killed and scores were injured in near simultaneous explosions at two Istanbul synagogues, the first al-Qaida attack against Muslim Turkey, a NATO member and military ally of Israel. One blast occurs outside the Neve Shalom synagogue in the historic Beyoglu district in the heart of Istanbul. Another goes off close to another synagogue in the nearby neighborhood of Sisli. An small Turkish militant group aligned with Al-Qaida takes responsibility for the attack.
--Nov. 20, 2003
The Istanbul headquarters of London-based bank HSBC and the British consulate in the Turkish city are targeted in similar attacks, with a total of 32 people killed in the twin blasts. The blasts replicate the twin attacks five days earlier against Istanbul synagogues in that both used “drive by bombings,” in which bomb-laden trucks are detonated by suicide bombers as the vehicle moves past the target.
Maj. Gen. Abdelaziz al-Huweirini, the No. 3 official in Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry and the kingdom's top counterterrorism official, is moderately wounded in an attack. Huweirini has worked closely with American officials. It is one of at least three such attacks or assassination attempts on Saudi intelligence service officials in December. No one has been killed in the attacks, which are in retaliation for the stepup in Saudi operations against al-Qaida.
--Dec. 14, 2003
Pakistani President Pervez Musharaff barely escapes death as his presidential motorcade travels over a bridge in Rawalpindi. The president is saved because of a jamming device on his car which scrambles signals on frequencies used to detonate remotely controlled bombs. The bomb detonates 30 seconds after the motorcade passes by. It is estimated to have weighed 1,000 pounds. The sophistication of the attack seems to indicate an “inside job.” Pakistani officials publicly blame al-Qaida for the attack, noting that 10 weeks earlier, Ayman Zawahiri called for Muslims to “topple” Musharraf’s regime.
--Dec. 25, 2003
Two pick-up trucks packed with explosives ram into Pakistani President Musharraf's cavalcade from opposite sides of the road while he returns from Islamabad to his official residence at Army House in Rawalpindi. Musharraf was not hurt, but three vehicles at the tail end of the convoy are destroyed. Several policemen on security duty are killed and more than fifty others wounded.
A suicide bomber detonates a bulk explosive at the deepest point in the Moscow Metro, killing 40 people. The attack is believed to be the work of a Saudi militant Abu Walid, whose financing of Chechen rebels has given him great power within the movement to free the breakaway Russian republic. The attack occurs near the Avtozavodskaya metro station and is supposedly a revenge attack for Russian troops atrocities against Chechen civilians in the town on Alda four years to the day earlier.
--Feb. 27, 2004
A bomb onboard a Philippines ferry detonates, starting a fire that kills at least 100 people on their way from Manila to Bacolod in the central Philippines. The ferry was carrying around 860 people when two hours into the trip an explosion ripped the ferry, leading to a fire that quickly engulfed it. Abu Sayef, the al-Qaida affiliate, initially claims responsibility although the Philippines government denies the explosion was the result of a bombing. Later U.S. officials say the bombing was deliberate, not accidental.
--March 11, 2004
A co-ordinated bombing of trains in Madrid leaves more than 190 people dead and hundreds wounded. The attack, which leads to the unexpected fall of the pro-U.S. government of Anzar, is blamed on Morrocan terrorists with close links to al-Qaida. According to investigators, the attack was carried out not by al-Qaida or even an affiliate, but instead by radical Muslims who identified with al-Qaida and were led by a charismatic figure.
--April 5, 2004
The mastermind of the March 11 attacks and five others blow themselves up in a Madrid apartment building, killing a special policeman as well. Explosives discovered in the building where the five killed themselves to avoid capture indicate they were plotting more violence and were linked to the failed bombing of a high-speed rail line Friday. Two or three suspects may have escaped before blast.
--April 21, 2004
A suicide bomber kills five people, including two senior Saudi police officers and an 11-year-old girl, in an attack on a government building in Riyadh. An Islamic militant group, the al-Haramin Brigades, claims responsibility.
Attack on oil refinery in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, in which gunmen target senior executive at the facility, partly owned by ExxonMobil. Five foreigners are killed, including two Americans.
--May 20, 2004
Saudi security forces clash with five suspected Islamic militants near Buraida, killing four and wounding the fifth.
--May 30, 2004
--Dec. 6, 2004
--Dec. 12, 2004
A bomb exploded in a Philippine market packed with Christmas shoppers Sunday, killing at least 15 people and shattering a months long lull in terror attacks in the volatile southern Philippines, where Muslim rebels are active.
The homemade bomb, concealed in a box, went off in the meat section of the market in General Santos, about 620 miles south of Manila. Officials immediately bolstered security in the predominantly Christian port city of 500,000 people, fearing more attacks.
--Dec. 29, 2004
Al-Qaida operatives launch an attack on Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Interior in Riyadh, hoping to topple the ministry's inverted pyramid structure.The attack fails with seven terrorists killed and one ministry officer seriously wounded.
--June 20, 2004
U.S. and Afghan authorities disclose the arrest of four Pakistani men on charges they were plotting the assassination of Zalmay Khalilizad, the US ambassador to Kabul.
—June 15, 2005
Chechen rebels try to derail a train on its way from Grozny to Moscow. The train derails, but only 15 people are injured.
—July 7, 2005
Four suicide bombers detonate bombs on London Underground trains and a double-decker bus, killing 56 people in the worst terrorist attack ever in the UK and the greatest civilian loss of life since the blitz more than 60 years ago. The bombers are all British nationals and three are British born. Three are of Pakistani descent, the fourth a Jamaican who converted to Islam.
July 21, 2005
Two weeks after the first Underground bombing, four other would-be suicide bombers attempt an identical attack on three trains and a bus. The bombs fail to go off and wound only one passenger. Within days, all four men are identified and arrested. Again, all are British nationals, this time of East African descent.
—July 23, 2005
Three bombs detonate in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, killing 63, the worst terrorist attack in that country’s history. Two of the bombs detonated at resort hotels favored by Western tourists while the third went off in the city’s marketplace. Egyptian authorities rounded up a number of suspects and later killed one of the country’s leading Islamists in a shootout.