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It was the deadliest act of terrorism in the United States, and one of the deadliest single events of asymmetric warfare in history. On the morning of September 11, 2001, four passenger jets were hijacked almost simultaneously over the United States. Two were crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City, and one was crashed into the Pentagon (U.S. Department of Defense headquarters) near Washington, D.C. in Alexandria, Virginia. Both 110-storey towers of the World Trade Center along with several neighboring buildings subsequently collapsed, and part of the Pentagon was destroyed by fire. The fourth hijacked plane crashed in a Pennsylvania field after passengers and crew tried to retake control of the plane from hijackers. The intended target of that plane is not known for sure but the likely target was either the United States Capitol or the White House.
Casualties were in the thousands: 265 on the planes; 2650 people, including 343 firefighters who had rushed in, at the World Trade Center; and 125 at the Pentagon.
At least about 100 tons of asbestos were used in the construction of the WTC and had not yet been fully removed  (http://asbnyc.cjb.net/). After a drawn out court battle over insurance, in May 2001 the cost for the asbestos removal from the properties of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (including the New York airports and the WTC) was estimated at $600 million. The attacks released dense clouds of dust into the air of Manhattan, and samples of the residue have shown small percentages of asbestos. As the incubation period for asbestos-related diseases is up to 30 years after inhalation, some citizens living in affected areas may suffer long term effects.
Some passengers on the doomed flights were able to make phone calls reporting on events on board. They reported that there was more than one hijacker on each plane (a total of 19 were later identified) and that they took control of the planes using box-cutter knives.
The terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001 had immediate and overwhelming effects upon the United States population and prompted numerous memorials and services all over the world, as well as tolerance of the US retaliation upon those accused of supporting the attacks. Political effects included legislation and budget reforms (including the freezing of bank accounts suspected of use by terrorists) as part of ongoing cooperation with foreign governments to arrest people in other countries, and to examine their possible involvement in terrorist rings.
On the day of the attacks, the US media reported celebration in some communities hostile to US policies, which fueled the already widespread blame of the 9/11 attacks on Muslims. Newsweek told the story of a Muslim who had to leave the US, where she was being educated, due to discrimination by her white peers. She points out that the Qur'an reminds its followers that "God loves not aggressors", and that the 9/11 attacks were not a jihad according to her interpretation.
Though no group has claimed responsibility, the U.S. government immediately launched a full-scale response, stating its intentions to go to war against those responsible. In late September, British Prime Minister Tony Blair released evidence compiled by Western intelligence agencies connecting Osama bin Laden, a wealthy Saudi terrorist formerly sponsored (http://www.msnbc.com/news/190144.asp?cp1=1) by the CIA with close ties to the Afghan Taliban leadership, and bin Laden's Al-Qaida organisation. The Taliban refused to extradite Osama bin Laden and all other al Qaida leaders based in Afghanistan without a proof of guilt. That proof was not given and a coalition led by the United States launched an attack in Afghanistan on October 7. After the U.S. attack removed the Taliban from power, a videotape was discovered abandoned in Kabul, the Afghan capital, which showed bin Laden discussing the attacks in a context which makes clear that he had foreknowledge.
Following the attack, the United States government has been on heightened alert for new terrorist attacks, periodically warning of "imminent attacks". In late September, cases of anthrax started breaking out; no connection to the September 11 attack has been found, though reports emerged in March 2002 that one of the hijackers was infected with cutaneous anthrax.
The fires at the World Trade Center site continued to burn for three months while rescue workers removed and sifted through debris. Much debris was sent to the National Institute of Standards and Technology for analysis, including one steel beam known to have been struck by an airliner.
Five months after the attack, the last survivors were released from the hospital. By six months afterwards, the 1.5 million tons of debris had been removed from the WTC site and work continued below ground level despite concerns that the slurry wall around the site might collapse. Ceremonies marking the end of the debris removal took place at the end of May 2002.
A minute-by-minute breakdown of events, and a history of events leading up to the attack.
Victims and survivors, and their personal stories.
How people across the world have helped, and how they can continue to do so. What is being done to assist victims.
How people have responded.
The long-term history of the attack.
See also: World Trade Center -- The Pentagon -- New York City -- Washington, D.C. -- AA Flight 11 -- UA Flight 175 -- AA Flight 77 -- UA Flight 93 -- U.S. Department of Defense -- FBI -- terrorism -- domestic terrorism -- terrorist incidents -- Osama bin Laden -- Taliban -- Islamism -- Afghanistan -- collective trauma -- September 11 -- September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack/Rescue Workers -- Ground zero -- The Pile -- Bushwhacked MP3 -- 9/11