Ten Distressing Facts About the 9/11 Terror Attacks

Updated on November 27, 2017

The 9/11 terror attacks, which occurred on September 11, 2001, were a series of aircraft hijackings and suicide onslaughts coordinated by the Islamic terror organization, Al Qaeda. The Encyclopedia Britannica claims that the attacks were the deadliest in the United States' history. The event caused many deaths and extensive destruction. These are the top ten distressing facts about 9/11.

1. 9/11 is not the first terror attack that targeted the World Trade Center.

One of the most notable distressing facts about the 9/11 terror attacks is that September 11th, 2001 was not the first time terrorists targeted the World Trade Center. According to this article, on February 26, 1993, terrorists parked a rental van in a garage underneath the World Trade Center’s twin towers and lit the fuses on a huge homemade bomb that had been stuffed inside. Six people died and more than one thousand people were injured in the subsequent explosion. The explosion carved out a crater several stories deep and propelled smoke into the upper reaches of the quarter-mile-high skyscrapers. Following the attack, six people were convicted of directly participating in the bombing. The incident led to a temporary closure of the World Trade Center from February 26 till March 29,1993.

2. The event caused the death of 2,977 people.

The 9/11 attacks caused the deaths of 2,977 people and enveloped the country in fear. The Atlantic reported that the death toll was the largest loss of life caused by a foreign assault in the United States. It was a massacre of huge proportions. This article reports that after the incident, the number of body parts collected were 19,500, the number of bodies discovered intact totaled 291, and the number of victims identified by the New York Medical Examiner were 1,102. The number of death certificates issued without a body at the request of victims’ families were 1,616.

3. The original plan for the attacks also included assaults on nuclear power plants.

Al Qaeda’s original plan included crashing jets into nuclear power plants. What actually happened on September 11, 2001 was only a tiny fraction of Al Qaeda’s original plan. The original plan also included crashing jets into the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency. The worst part of the plan was that hijacked planes would have been crashed into various nuclear power plants. This is a very distressing fact. According to this NBC article, nuclear power plants provide one-fifth of the electricity in the United States. Although it is claimed that nuclear reactors are constructed to withstand attacks, the effect of terrorists slamming planes into nuclear plants would have been devastating. Since nuclear power plants are popularly regarded as ticking time bombs, there is no doubt that an assault of the scale of 9/11 on nuclear power plants would have triggered a massive disaster in the United States. To start with, there would have been a colossal loss of life. Millions of people would have had to be evacuated from the places they call home, industries and businesses would have closed up, and buildings and assets in the affected areas would also have to be abandoned. The American economy would have gone into a record-breaking recession and a lot of people would basically be reduced to living in the Stone Age due to a reduction in the supply of electricity. The Guardian reported that Al Qaeda terrorists originally planned to target nuclear power plants and that information is deeply distressing.

4. It took fire fighters one hundred days to extinguish the fire that started after 9/11.

It took fire fighters one hundred days to extinguish the fire that started after 9/11. For months, acrid clouds of smoke from the site could be smelled several miles away in Brooklyn. The fire was fuelled by burning office documents and office furniture which was so strong that they needed a near-constant jet of water sprayed on them. On several occasions, the flame slowed the progress of those clearing debris from the attack site. Flare-ups also occurred from time to time as demolition and rescue crews exposed the debris to the air. Moreover, in places where there was molten steel, a small amount of radioactive isotopes continued to incinerate the materials in the rubble, making the fire especially hard to extinguish. Despite the quantity of water that was poured into the area, the fire lasted for one hundred days. At no time in the history of the United States has the fire department ever been called upon to respond to a single incident of such magnitude. In their efforts to save at-risk civilian lives, 343 firefighters and many other emergency personnel died. The magnitude of the incident, the size and construction of the buildings, and the numbers and locations of civilians needing immediate assistance overtaxed and overwhelmed the most response-ready fire department in the world.

5. Authorities refused to heed the warning of James Woods.

One of the notable distressing facts about 9/11 is that United States Law Enforcement Authorities were tipped off and nothing was done about it. On a flight from Boston to Los Angeles, Hollywood actor James Woods observed four men acting very oddly on the plane. He was so concerned that he reported them to flight attendants and authorities on the ground when the plane landed. During the flight Woods was alone in first class with four men. He noticed that throughout the flight, none of them had anything to eat or drink and none of them had gone to sleep. The four men did not attempt to make themselves comfortable at all. Eventually, the four men turned out to be part of the hijacking crew that hijacked planes on September 11, 2001. James Woods played his part as a good citizen by reporting his observation to authorities. If only the warning had been heeded and the four men had been placed under observation, there is a chance that they would have led the FBI right to the plot.

6. Hijackers were assisted by Saudi Arabian officials.

Declassified information revealed that the perpetrators of 9/11 had ties to Saudi Arabian officials. There are several occurrences that suggest that Saudi Arabian officials secretly aided the operation. Fifteen of the nineteen hijackers held Saudi passports and some had connections with those in the Saudi Arabian government at home and abroad. Moreover, officials from Saudi Arabian embassies allegedly helped two hijackers namely, Salem Al-Hazmi and Khalid Al-Mihdhar, for a period of 18 months before 9/11 by providing them with money, advice, contacts, transportation, assistance with English, and obtaining identification cards. They also helped them get access to pilot training and other material support and resources that were ultimately used during the attack. The Saudi Royal family was also trying to appease Al Qaeda by allowing funds from several charities to be funneled to the terror organization. Why is this fact distressing? Because if Saudi Arabian officials are secretly aiding, sponsoring, and condoning terrorists, then that is a huge problem. If this continues unchecked, it may be difficult to prevent future terror attacks in the United States.

7. The attacks resulted in a chain reaction of tragedies.

Sometimes one tragedy leads to another. 9/11 caused a chain of tragedies. After 9/11/2001, several people were scared to fly, therefore an unusually high number of people resorted to road travel. Professor Gerd Gigerenzer, a German academic specializing in risk, estimated that an extra 1,595 Americans died in car accidents in the year after the 9/11 as a result of the fear caused by the incident. This is just the tip of the iceberg of tragedies that occurred as a result of the September 11th. Nearly seventy percent of recovery workers who responded to the attacks on the World Trade Center have suffered lung problems. Moreover, the events of 9/11 prompted the United States to invade Afghanistan whose Taliban government was sheltering Al Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden. The United States has continued to suffer losses in the form of deaths of soldiers deployed in Afghanistan. These losses further increase the number of Americans who have lost their lives as a result of 9/11. The world would have been a lot better off if those hijackers had changed their minds at the last minute.

8. The tragedy sparked unhelpful conspiracy theories.

It is easy for us to conclude that the conspiracy theories that followed the 9/11 tragedy are some of the biggest demerits of the whole catastrophe. There were a lot of conspiracy theories positing that 9/11 was an inside job to provide the grounds for a military invasion of the Middle East. Although the world witnessed the twin towers being hit by planes, some conspiracy theorists claim that previously planted bombs brought down the towers. Some even claim that the way the towers fell could only have been caused by a controlled detonation. The collapse of a third but smaller tower named Building 7 at the World Trade Center complex several hours after the Twin Towers fell also fueled the conspiracy theories. Moreover, there were claims that inside traders made shady transactions in the stock market involving the stocks of United Airlines and American Airlines, the same airlines that had aircrafts hijacked during the attacks. Conspiracy theorists are also of the position that the pentagon attack was a hoax.Theorists maintain that impact holes in the Pentagon were much smaller than what would have been caused by the impact of a commercial plane. The harm these conspiracy theories have caused is that they cause ordinary Americans to feel uncertain of the truth and divided about the attack. In order to fight terrorism, a nation has to be united. It is deeply distressing that Americans are not united regarding whom to blame for the 9/11 attacks.

9. Tania Head, former president of the World Trade Center Survivor Network is a fraud.

It is deeply distressing that a person can make a joke out of a tragedy of the magnitude of 9/11. It did happen and went on for many years unnoticed. Tania Head had one of the most harrowing accounts of September 11th and eventually became the president of the World Trade Center Survivor Network. Her lies went unnoticed for a long time. Her personal stories of surviving on the 78th floor of the south tower and encountering a dying man who gave her an inscribed wedding ring were all falsehoods. Her fraud was eventually discovered in 2007 when the New York Times reached out to her as part of an anniversary piece they were making. It was eventually discovered that Tania Head, whose real name is Alicia Esteve Head, was actually in Spain on September 11, 2001. This discovery led to the making of a popular documentary titled “The Woman Who Wasn’t There.” It is terrible that such a fraudster was at one time the leader of those who survived the attacks.

10. The attack has cost America trillions of dollars.

On September 20, 2001, President Bush called for a war on terror. President Bush launched the war in Afghanistan to find and bring Osama Bin Laden to justice. Between 2001 and 2017, the war on terror has cost the United States more than $1 trillion. Moreover, the attack led to an increase in defense spending, which is estimated to have cost $17 trillion dollars. This calculation does not include the instant loss immediately after the attack. Following the attack, more than four hundred businesses were destroyed at the World Trade Center and The Fiscal Times reported that one thousand businesses in the area were forced to close down. Insurance companies also lost billions of dollars. There is no doubt that 9/11 was a huge economic disaster for the United States.

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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