On September 11, 2001, a terrorist attack at the direction of the Islamic terrorist group Al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people across the United States in a series of coordinated suicide attacks utilizing four hijacked commercial airliners against various targets.
The attacks resulted in the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City and also damaged the Pentagon, the headquarters of the United States military, in Arlington, Virginia. A fourth hijacked plane, believed to be bound for either the U.S. Capitol or the White House in Washington, D.C., crashed in southwestern Pennsylvania after the passengers fought back against the hijackers.
On the morning of the day of the attacks, 19 Al Qaeda operatives hijacked four planes originating from international airports in the New York, Washington and Boston metropolitan areas. Two of the planes, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, causing both skyscrapers to collapse and the remainder of the World Trade Center complex buildings to be completely or partially destroyed.
American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, resulting in the partial collapse of a part of the building’s exterior. A fourth hijacked plane, United Airlines Flight 93, believed to be headed towards the U.S. Capitol or the White House in Washington, D.C., crashed in a field in Stonycreek Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania after an inflight rebellion by the passengers against the plane’s hijackers.
The attacks claimed the lives of almost 3,000 people and caused more than $10 billion (£7.6b) in property damage, leading to a long and arduous rebuilding effort at ‘Ground Zero’ in New York City, which is still ongoing 17 years after the attacks.
The repercussions of the attacks are still felt to this day, leading to greatly enhanced security screenings at airports and other transit hubs, the creation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the launch of the War on Terror by the United States and its allied nations, which eventually led to the death of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in May 2011.