On the morning of Tuesday 11th September, two airplanes crashed into the World Trade Centre towers. Arab terrorists hijacked the planes and flew them into the towers. After the first plane crashed into the tower, it was believed that it may have been due to pilot error. However after the second crashed into the other tower, it became much more likely that it had been a co-ordinated terrorist attack. The towers collapsed less than half an hour after the attack.
President George W. Bush ordered a full investigation. The FBI launched their investigation and others, including the CIA and NSA got involved as well.
Alan Capper, a Brit living in New York was woken by the explosion. He said, "I was in bed and there was a huge explosion. The whole building rattled and shook. I ran to the window and there was smoke billowing from the south side of one of the towers. Everyone in my building was panicking and running around."
The Pentagon was also hit by an aircraft. As it is situated near an airport, there was no anti-aircraft protection like at the White House. The resulting impact caused one part of it to be almost totally demolished. The White House was evacuated. There were other reports of attacks on targets in the US but they proved to be false. Camp David and Capitol Hill were originally belived to have been hit but neither were damaged. A fourth plane, that was apparently heading towards the White House, crashed before it reached its target. Realising what was going to happen, a group of passengers attempted to overpower the hijackers. One passenger telephoned his wife to this effect before they started. Their actions may have stopped a fourth successful attack.
George Bush was escorted to Airforce One, which took off with fighter escort. Domestic and international flights were halted. Other public buildings were evacuated across the continent, though fortunately this was not necessary. Outside of America, other countries closed some airports and stepped up security. However no bombings occured outside of America in the aftermath.
In Britain, both the Queen, Tony Blair and William Hague were quick to condemn the attacks. Military and civil buildings were put on a state of high alert, including Buckingham Palace, as were military installations around the world. Flights were grounded temporarily.
The death toll was around 3,000. People of all nationalities died, including dozens of Britons. The terrorists had no regard for race or religion when they planned the attack. The whole world was affected by this tragedy.
The hijackers died in their attacks, which frustratingly meant that there were few people to prosecute. It was assumed that Osama Bin Laden organised the attacks but whether he thought of the idea or not, senior members of Al-Qaeda were certainly involved. Bin Laden's whereabouts were still unknown a year after the attacks, despite a lengthy search for him in Afghanistan. Some people claim he is alive, though in one interview with suspected terrorist leaders after 2001, an Al-Jezeera journalist heard one slip and refer to him in the past tense. If he truely is dead, then we should be concentrating on who is going to replace him.
Information from BBC, ITV and BBC online.