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Top 5 Deadliest Terror Attacks on the United States

Lawrence is a reporter for The Havre Daily Times covering local politics, courts and crime and other subjects that come across his desk.


Terrorist attacks can no longer be considered a phenomenon that can just be ignored by the public. With terrorists seeking new ways of inflicting mass destruction on their target, the threat of terrorism continues to loom everywhere. These are five of the deadliest attacks in the United States.

5. USS Cole Attack

One of the earliest attacks I can remember growing up is the bombing of the USS Cole. At the time, the USS Cole was considered a "soft target" by terrorists. A soft target is one that offers little security or threat to the terrorists. Hence, this is why many terrorists don't target military bases.

On October 12, 2000, suicide bombers attacked the warship, USS Cole. The ship was refueling at the port in Aden, Yemen. A small motorboat, covered in explosives, sped right up to the ship and exploded on the port side. The bomb created a 40x40 rupture in the hull of the USS Cole.

The explosion ended up killing 17 and injuring 39. Al Qaeda ended up taking responsibility. US military forces increased security at the ports. U.S. intelligence reports claimed that Al Qaeda saw an increase in financing and recruitment.

4. Anthrax Attack

As the nation was on edge after the 9/11 attacks, the nation was attacked just three weeks later. This time, several letters were mailed to multiple media outlets and two U.S. senators that contained the deadly chemical anthrax. Several people were exposed and killed.

Federal investigators began to believe that the attack was a domestic attack and not one carried out by a foreign terror group such as Al Qaeda. The FBI turned their attention to Dr. Bruce E. Ivins. Ivins was employed by a federal bio-defense lab. The FBI was close to filing charges when Dr. Ivins committed suicide. Weeks later, investigators announced that Ivins was the perpetrator behind the attacks.

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3. Pan Am Flight 103 Bombing

Planes have been an easy target for terrorists. The first massive terror attack on a plane was on December 21, 1988, when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded in mid-air over Lockerbie, Scotland. All passengers and crew were killed. Debris ended up causing injuries to multiple residents in the area.

A number of groups claimed responsibility, but investigators began to believe the attack was sanctioned by the Libyan government. American investigators ended up arresting Libyan national Abdul-Basit al Megrahi and eventually found him guilty of the attack. Libya eventually admitted responsibility for the bombing.

2. OKC Bombing

While most terrorist attacks are carried out by extremist groups, they can also be carried out with people who have a personal hate for their own government. As is the case of the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building. On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh exploded a truck bomb outside of the federal building in OKC. McVeigh created the bomb himself. The explosion caused massive damage to the surrounding area and nearly demolished the entire building.

1. 9/11 Attacks

No discussion of terrorism is complete without mentioning the attacks of September 11, 2001. It has become the deadliest attack in American history. It was conceived and launched by Al Qaeda and its leader, Osama Bin Laden. The attack led to the lengthy "War on Terror."

The attack was a well-coordinated, planned out affair; 19 terrorists hijacked four airliners. Two planes crashed into the World Trade Center. A third plane crashed into the Pentagon. The fourth plane was speculated to have been heading for targets in Washington DC, but it crashed into a Pennsylvania field after passengers attempted to thwart the hijacking.

The damage was devastating as both towers were destroyed. The Pentagon was severely damaged. 9/11 has become the most lethal attack carried out against the U.S. and continues to shape the country's foreign and domestic policies.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

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