9/11 Briefing

[Peter Paul Media] — A lot has happened and changed in the eighteen years since 9/11. Below is a brief history of our post-9/11 world:

September 11, 2001

Four fully fueled jetliners crash into the World Trade Center [WTC] in New York, the Pentagon in Virginia and a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Over 3,000 people were confirmed dead at four different crime scenes–the largest in history. The death toll from the attacks has risen in the years afterward as New York’s first responders [and many others] die from respiratory illnesses they received while responding to the attacks.

The Flights

Four flights, all destined for San Francisco and Los Angeles, were hijacked by 19, mostly-Saudi men who would later fly three of those planes into their targets. Passengers from the fourth flight, who were made aware of the earlier attacks in New York, stormed the cockpit and brought the plane down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

  • American Airlines Flight 11 [Boeing 767] crashes into the North Tower at 8:46 A.M., killing all 92 people on board including five hijackers.
  • United Airlines Flight 175 [Boeing 767] crashes into the South Tower at 9:03 A.M., killing 65 people including five hijackers.
  • American Airlines Flight 77 [Boeing 757] crashes into the Pentagon at 9:37 A.M., killing 64 people including five hijackers.
  • United Airlines Flight 93 [Boeing 757] crashes into a field in Shanksville, PA, at 10:03 A.M., killing 44 people including four hijackers.

The Twin Towers

The Twin Towers, 110-floors each, were completely destroyed on 9/11, killing over 2,600 people in and around the towers and surrounding areas during the attacks. The South Tower, which was hit second, was the first to fall, collapsing at 9:59 A.M. just 56 minutes after being hit. The North Tower burned for 102 minutes before collapsing at 10:28 A.M. Several other buildings around the WTC complex were also destroyed, including 7 WTC and the Marriott World Trade Centre hotel.

The Investigation

The investigation, the largest in American history, found an Islamic terror group and its leader responsible for 9/11. Coalitions forces launched a covert war against terror suspects, their finances and operating bases all over the world. All of the architects, plotters, operators and financiers of 9/11 were either killed or captured, except one. Ayman al-Zawahiri, the current leader of al Qaeda, has a $25 million bounty on his head and remains at large. The FBI also created a Most Wanted Terrorists list which is still active to this day.

The Response & Casualties

On October 7, 2001, U.S. and British forces launched airstrikes in Afghanistan in response to 9/11. In the years that followed, several countries would suffer casualties. Since the war began, coalition forces have lost over 3,400 soldiers with the U.S., U.K. and Canada suffering the most casualties.

The President

President George W. Bush is quoted as saying he didn’t want to be a war president but it came to him. His unflinching, direct style earned him lots of support as he led America through its darkest period. The presidency also changed drastically with more powers and responsibilities added.

Canada’s Loss & Sacrifice

Canada lost 26 people on 9/11, including famed hockey player Garnet “Ace” Bailey who was on flight 175. More than 40,000 Canadian Forces took part in a 12-year battle to eliminate terrorism in Afghanistan. Canada lost 158 soldiers and seven civilians in that time. Military operations ended with the withdrawal of Canadian Forces in December 2011.

Terrorism

Britain has foiled at least 22 attacks since 2017 according to Reuters but was the victim of three high-profile attacks following 9/11. The first attack on July 7, 2005, killed 52 people during coordinated bomb attacks on Britain’s transport network. The second attack occurred a few weeks later on July 21 when four more bombs failed to go off. The final incident occurred on June 29, 2007, when two bombs failed to detonate.

Several other high-profile bombings post-9/11, including two incidents in Paris, have shown us that terrorism can strike anywhere, from beach resorts to airports to transit systems. Despite this, there were no more attacks on the U.S. homeland since 9/11 and most incidents since tend to be much smaller in scale due to increased security vigilance.

Safety & Security

Personal safety was a key lesson from 9/11, given the fact that many died that day because they simply were not prepared for an emergency. Some individuals “did not take preparedness seriously” the official report on 9/11 said, hindering their escape or survival.

Afghanistan

There is no end in sight to a war that continues to drag on. After months of heightening attacks in and around Kabul and recent U.S. peace talks cancelled, there is no end in sight to the war that started after 9/11. The Afghani’s are the biggest losers in the war, suffering ten of thousands of causualties since 2001. Yet, in some places, life goes on with people out and about within the small, safer pockets of Kabul.

The Future

Especially in geopolitics, nobody knows what the future holds. Sustained attacks by the Taliban in Afghanistan have put a damper on the latest peace talks and it is unclear whether that side can stop attacks so talks can move forward. Elsewhere, terror attacks have gone down for the most part but increased vigilance is still present in high-risk areas, especially when crowds are gathered. After 9/11, people said nothing will be the same and it definitely hasn’t been.

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