On the morning of 11 September 2001, 19 terrorists from the Islamist extreme group al Qaeda hijacked four commercial aircraft and crashed two of them into the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center complex in New York City. A third plane crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. After learning about the other attacks, passengers on the fourth hijacked plane, Flight 93, fought back, and the plane was crashed into an empty field in western Pennsylvania about 20 minutes by air from Washington, D.C. The Twin Towers ultimately collapsed, due to the damage from the impacts and subsequent fires. Nearly 3,000 people were killed from 93 different countries. Most of the fatalities were from the attacks on the World Trade Center. The Pentagon lost 184 civilians and servicemembers and 40 people were killed on Flight 93. It was the worst attack on American soil since the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941.
After the Taliban refused to turn over the mastermind of the attacks, Osama Bin Laden, Operation Enduring Freedom officially began 7 October 2001 with American and British bombing strikes against al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Afghanistan. Initially, the Taliban was removed from power and al Qaeda was seriously crippled, but allied forces continually dealt with a stubborn Taliban insurgency, infrastructure rebuilding, and corruption among the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, and Afghan Border Police. Bin Laden would go into hiding for nearly 10 years.
On 2 May 2011, U.S. Navy SEALs launched a nighttime raid on Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, killing the al Qaeda leader. Operation Enduring Freedom officially ended 28 December 2014, although coalition forces remained on the ground to assist with training Afghan security forces. American troops are expected to withdrawal from Afghanistan in September 2021.
- Terror Attack, 11 September 2001, artifacts that were at the Pentagon at the time of the attack to include a laptop, window glass, and a door sign from the Pentagon’s E-Ring
- “We Stand By You” banner, displayed by German destroyer FGS Lutjens to USS Winston Churchill (DDG-81) following 9/11 attacks