That was 20 years ago. On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, the United States was the target of a coordinated and carefully prepared attack by the jihadist organization al-Qaeda led by Osama bin Laden. It struck New York. and the Pentagon near Washington, symbols of America’s economic and military power.
These attacks are the deadliest in history, with nearly 3,000 dead. More than 6,000 people were also injured.
But, this record could have been much worse. Because due to the early hour, less than 18,000 people were in the towers of the World Trade Center that morning. In the middle of the day, almost 50,000 people could indeed be in this nerve center of Manhattan.
Finally, these are the missing persons counted a few days after the attacks. Thousands of people have also died, in particular members of the emergency services, as a result of the attacks of September 11, 2001 (cancer, etc.).
Timeline of America’s Doomiest Day
The suicide attacks were carried out by 19 hijackers who hijacked four airliners from airports on the East Coast, Boston, Washington and Newark. All of these aircraft were destined for California.
Two aircraft successively struck the twin towers of the World Trade Center in southern Manhattan, which collapsed in less than two hours, a third ripped open the Pentagon. A fourth aircraft – which may have been aimed at the Capitol, the seat of Congress, or the White House – crashed in a wooded area of Shanksville, Pa., After passengers tried to resist. No one aboard the four planes survived – 245 crew members and passengers.
Thanks to the congressional commission of inquiry on 9/11 and at the New York Memorial Museum dedicated to the victims, this day which wavered the first world power and changed the course of history is very widely documented.
Here are the key moments:
– 8h46 : American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767 flying from Boston to Los Angeles with 92 people on board – including five hijackers – hits the north tower of the World Trade Center. It opens a gigantic breach in the upper floors which ignite.
– 9h03 : United Airlines flight 175, also a Boeing 767 connecting Boston to Los Angeles, with 65 people on board and therefore five pirates, in turn crashed against the upper floors of the south tower.
– 9h05, Sarasota, Florida: President George W. Bush begins reading a story to elementary school children. “A second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack“, whispered his chief of staff in his ear.
– 9h25 : the civil aviation authorities, the FAA, announce the closure of American airspace and prohibit any take-off.
– 9h30 : George W. Bush announces to schoolchildren that he is returning to Washington because of “apparent terrorist attack“.
– 9h37 : American Airlines Flight 77, a Boeing 757 that left Dulles Airport near Washington for San Francisco with 64 people on board including five pirates, crashes on the west facade of the Pentagon.
– 9h42 : FAA orders all airplanes in flight to land as soon as possible.
– 9h59 : the south tower collapses in a deluge of fire, steel and dust. The violence is such that no trace of DNA has ever been found for hundreds of victims.
– 10h03, Shanksville, Pennsylvania: United Airlines Flight 93, from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco with 44 people on board including four pirates, crashes in Shanksville, a wooded area in western Pennsylvania. Some passengers, informed by cell phone of what was happening in New York, resisted the terrorists.
– 10h28 : the north tower collapses, 102 minutes after being hit. The southern tip of Manhattan is covered in a cloud of ash and debris.
– 13h04, State of Louisiana: George W. Bush, who was evacuated from Barksdale Air Force Base, places the armed forces in “maximum alert state“and promises to”track down and punish the responsible cowards“attacks. The president will then be transferred to Offutt air base in Nebraska before returning to the White House in the evening.
– 13h27, Washington: Mayor Anthony Williams declares a state of emergency in the federal capital.
– 20h30 : George W. Bush addresses the Americans, denounces “deliberate terrorist acts”. He promises to track down those responsible and warns that Washington will make “no distinction” between terrorists and those who harbor them.
President at the scene of the attacks to commemorate the 20th anniversary of September 11
Joe Biden and his wife Jill are expected Saturday morning in New York, at the very impressive memorial built where the twin towers of the World Trade Center stood. As every year, for three hours, the some 3,000 names of people killed will be read there. Huge vertical beams of light are already rising this week from the two huge black pools that have replaced the base of the towers.
The presidential couple must also travel to Pennsylvania where a plane hijacked by four of the 19 jihadists crashed and on the edge of Washington, where the Pentagon was attacked.
Joe Biden won’t be speaking all day. Only a video message is expected to be broadcast, the White House said.