Aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks

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Sept. 11, 2001 attacks
Background history
September 11, 2001
Rest of September
Missing people
Foreign casualties
Rescue workers
Hijacked Airlines
American Airlines Flight 11
United Airlines Flight 175
American Airlines Flight 77
United Airlines Flight 93
Sites of destruction
World Trade Center
The Pentagon
Government response
World political effects
World economic effects
Airport security
Closings and cancellations
Audiovisual entertainment
Rescue and recovery effort
Financial assistance
Memorials and services
Slogans and terms
Misinformation and rumors
U.S. Congress Inquiry
9/11 Commission

This article talks about the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Some of the most important issues are listed here.

The news shocked the world. Men and women wept openly. People watched the television coverage in stores (or at the nearest television set), while others followed the news on the internet.

The event left a lasting impression on many Americans. The question, "Where were you when you heard of the terror attacks on September 11, 2001?" has become a common topic of discussion, and will be for years to come.


Military and security measures

Missing image
Lower Manhattan as seen from New Jersey, shortly after the attacks

The attacks defined the first term of President George W. Bush and led to what he has called the War on Terror, or war against terrorism. The accuracy of describing it as a "war" and the political motivations and consequences are the topic of strenuous debate. The U.S. government increased military operations, economic measures and political pressure on groups it accused of being terrorists, as well as on governments and countries accused of sheltering them. October 2001 saw the first military action initiated by the U.S. under this policy, when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in a failed attempt to capture Osama bin Laden. Prior to the invasion, the Taliban had refused to hand over bin Laden without being shown evidence of his connection to the attacks. While the primary objective of capturing bin Laden failed, the invasion did succeed in uprooting the Taliban from power, enabling the implementation of a government somewhat more cooperative and supportive in the search for bin Laden and the general "War on Terror".

The September 11 attacks also precipitated a focus on domestic security issues and the creation of a new cabinet-level federal agency, the Department of Homeland Security. The USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 was passed soon after the attacks, giving law enforcement agencies sweeping search and surveillance powers over U.S citizens. This led to the creation in 2002 of the Information Awareness Office (IAO), led by John Poindexter, who was convicted of multiple felony counts in 1990 in connection with the Iran-Contra affair, but was later exonerated. The IAO has initiated a program called Total Information Awareness, amended in May 2003 to Terrorist Information Awareness (TIA), with the aim of developing technology that would enable it to collect and process massive amounts of information about every individual in the United States, and trace patterns of behavior that could help predict terrorist activities. The information the IAO would gather includes Internet activity, credit card purchase histories, airline ticket purchases, car rentals, medical records, educational transcripts, driver's licenses, utility bills, tax returns, and other available data. Critics of the IAO believe it goes too far in the sacrifice of civil liberties and privacy, putting in place an Orwellian infrastructure prone to abuse.

In the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the United States and other countries around the world were placed on a high state of alert against potential follow-up attacks. Civilian air travel across the U.S. and Canada was — for the first time ever — almost completely suspended for three days (as part of Operation Yellow Ribbon), with numerous locations and events affected by closures, postponements, cancellations, and evacuations. Other countries imposed similar security restrictions. In the United Kingdom, for instance, civilian aircraft were forbidden to fly over London for several days after the attacks.

International reaction

Missing image
CNN broadcast of 9/11 destruction
The attacks had major world-wide political effects. Many other countries introduced tough anti-terrorism legislation and took action to cut off terrorist finances, including the freezing of bank accounts suspected of being used to fund terrorism. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies stepped up cooperation to arrest terrorist suspects and break up suspected terrorist cells around the world. This process was highly controversial, as restrictions on government authority were lifted and certain civil rights protections were rescinded. The controversy was highlighted in September 2004 when Yusuf Islam, a leading British Muslim noted for his peaceful charitable work and previously known as the singer Cat Stevens, was barred from entering the U.S. and was subsequently returned to the UK after his flight was briefly diverted to Canada. Yusef Islam's expulsion led to a complaint from British foreign secretary, Jack Straw to the U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who ordered a review of restrictions placed on people entering the United States.

The attack prompted numerous memorials and services all over the world. In Berlin, 200,000 Germans marched to show their solidarity with America. The French newspaper Le Monde, typically critical of the United States government, ran a front-page headline reading "Nous sommes tous Américains", or "We are all Americans". In London, the U.S. national anthem was played at the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. (To mark the Queen's Golden Jubilee, New York City lit the Empire State Building in purple and gold, to say "thank you" for this action.) In the immediate aftermath, support for the United States' right to defend itself was expressed across the world, and by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1368 [1] (

Reaction to the attacks in the Muslim world was mixed. The great majority of Muslim political and religious leaders condemned the attacks — virtually the only significant exception was Saddam Hussein, then president of Iraq. Shortly after the attack, there were reports of popular celebrations in some countries by people opposed to U.S. policies in the Middle East. Several images of these celebrations were broadcast or published, but some are believed to have been staged.

The initial overwhelming support for the U.S. has dropped significantly since 2002 because of its "War on Terror". Support fell even more after the subsequent invasion of Iraq, due in large part to the failure of US intelligence to adequately provide information about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, which was the keystone for the United States' invasion of Iraq.

Reaction amongst the United States population

Missing image
The Honolulu Advertiser was mindful of the attack on Honolulu on December 7, 1941 in its headline.
, : A New York City firefighter looks up at what remains of the South Tower.
September 13, 2001: A New York City firefighter looks up at what remains of the South Tower.

The attacks also had immediate and overwhelming effects upon the United States population. Gratitude toward uniformed public-safety workers, and especially toward firefighters, was widely expressed in light of both the drama of the risks taken on the scene and the high death toll among the workers. The number of casualties among the emergency service personnel was unprecedented. The highly visible role played by Rudolph Giuliani, the Mayor of New York City, won him high praise nationally. He was named Person of the Year by Time magazine for 2001, and at times had a higher profile in the U.S. than President George W. Bush.

Two other major public reactions to the attacks were a surge in patriotism and flag-waving not seen since World War II, and an unprecedented level of respect, sympathy, and admiration for New York City and New Yorkers as a group by Americans from other parts of the U.S. Some criticized this particular reaction, noting that not everyone who died was from New York (for example, some of the passengers on the planes), and that the Washington, DC community also suffered in the attacks.

Economic aftermath

The attacks had significant economic repercussions for the United States and world markets. The New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange and NASDAQ did not open on September 11 and remained closed until September 17. New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) facilities and remote data processing sites were not damaged by the attack, but member firms, customers and markets were unable to communicate due to major damage to the telephone exchange facility near the World Trade Center. When the stock markets reopened on September 17, 2001, after the longest closure since the Great Depression in 1933, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (“DJIA”) stock market index fell 684 points, or 7.1%, to 8920, its biggest-ever one-day point decline. By the end of the week, the DJIA had fallen 1369.7 points (14.3%), its largest one-week point drop in history. U.S. stocks lost $1.2 trillion in value for the week.

The attacks led to decreased travel, and as of 2005, the U.S. airline industry has not fully recovered.

Insurance claims and claims against the airlines

The attack on the World Trade Center led to huge insurance claims, with many insurance companies throughout the world having to disclose the impact of the attack in their financial statements. In April 2004, a U.S. District Court jury rejected claims by World Trade Center leaseholder, Larry Silverstein, that two planes hitting the Twin Towers should, within the terms of his insurance policies, be considered two separate incidents, which would have entitled him to $7 billion in insurance reimbursements. The insurers, Swiss Reinsurance Co. and others, initially argued successfully that the attacks in New York were one incident and that Silverstein was only entitled to $3.5 billion. In December 2004, a federal jury decided that the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center was, for insurance purposes, two occurrences, which means that Silverstein stands to collect up to $4.6 billion. [2] (

In 2003, U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein agreed to hear a consolidated master case against three airlines, ICTS International NV and Pinkerton's airport security firms, the World Trade Center owners, and Boeing Co., the aircraft manufacturer. The case was brought by people injured in the attacks, representatives of those who died, and entities that suffered property damage. In September 2004, just before the three-year statute of limitations expired, the insurers for the World Trade Center filed suit against American Airlines, United Airlines, and Pinkerton's airport security firm, alleging their negligence allowed the planes to be hijacked. Because the Air Transportation Act, which was passed after September 11, limits the liability of airlines, aircraft manufacturers, and airports to the amount of their insurance coverage, this case will likely be combined with the consolidated master case filed in 2003.

Rescue and recovery

Rescue and recovery efforts took months to complete. It took weeks simply to put out the fires burning in the rubble of the WTC, and the clean-up was not completed until May 2002. Many relief funds were immediately set up to assist victims of the attacks. The task of providing financial assistance to the survivors and the families of victims is still ongoing.

A small number of survivors and surprisingly few intact victims' remains were found in the rubble of the WTC. The forces unleashed by the towers' disintegration were so great that many of those trapped in the buildings were pulverized in the collapse. Some victims had to be identified by a few scraps of flesh or individual teeth. Most bodies were never found, presumably because the heat of the fires incinerated them. On January 18, 2002, the last hospitalized survivor of the World Trade Center attack was released from the hospital.

Fires burned amidst the rubble of the World Trade Center for weeks after the attack.
Fires burned amidst the rubble of the World Trade Center for weeks after the attack.

Over 1.5 million tons of debris produced by the collapse of the WTC posed unique problems for the cleanup effort. A fully occupied skyscraper had never collapsed before, and the environmental and health consequences of such an event were unknown. About 100 tons of asbestos used in the construction of the WTC had not yet been fully removed [3] ( The attacks released dense clouds of dust containing pulverized cement, glass fibers, asbestos, and other airborne contaminants.

By 2004, nearly half of more than 1,000 screened rescue-and-recovery workers and volunteers reported new and persistent respiratory problems, and more than half reported persistent psychological symptoms. [4] ( Because of the long latency period between exposure and development of asbestos-related diseases, exposed Manhattan residents, especially rescue-and-recovery workers, may suffer future adverse health effects.

Six months after the attack, the 1.5 million tons of debris had been removed from the WTC site, and work continued below ground level, despite concerns that the slurry wall encompassing the site foundation — known as the Bathtub — might collapse. Ceremonies marking the completion of debris removal took place at the end of May 2002.

Effects on children

The attacks were regarded by some as particularly disturbing to children, in part because of the frequency with which the images were replayed on television. Many schools closed early, especially those with children whose parents worked in Washington, D.C. and NYC.

The following day, the first lady, Laura Bush, a former school librarian, expressed the view that it was not good for children to be exposed to replays of the attacks, and advised parents to turn off their televisions. [5] ( She also composed open letters to children, which she distributed through state education officials. A "Dear Students" letter went to middle and high school students [6] (, while elementary school students received one beginning "Dear Children." [7] (



Thursday, November 1, 2001

  • Night: The unions fax a notice to the New York firefighters to hold a demonstration on Friday morning.

Friday, November 2, 2001

  • Approx. 10:30 a.m. EST Emotions spill over into violence at a two-hour protest by several hundred to a thousand firefighters near City Hall, beginning at West and Chambers Streets, to protest Giuliani's October 31st ruling to reduce the number of firefighters permitted at the World Trade Center site from 64 to 25. After firefighter Mike Heffernan, brother of John Heffernan, retired fire captain Bill Butler, father of Tommy Butler, and Kevin E. Gallagher, the president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, speak, the assembled protesters push aside a barricade and begin walking south down West Street. At the next barricade the police move in, punches are thrown, and firefighters handcuffed. Both sides shout for understanding, and the conflict quickly subsides. The firefighters then march out to the applause of construction workers, the protest breaking up around 12:30 p.m.
  • 12 firefighters (including four ranking fire officers and one fire marshal) are arrested and taken to the 28th Precinct station house in central Harlem. 5 police officers are injured, two with black eyes and facial trauma, three with neck, shoulder and back injuries.

Monday, November 12 2001


December 19, 2001

  • The World Trade Center fire was finally extinguished after burning for three months



Monday, March 11, 2002

  • On the six-month anniversary of the attack, numerous ceremonies of remembrance take place.
  • The Tribute in Light project begins. The project goes for a month and is re-launched on September 11, 2003, to mark the second anniversary of the attack. The Tribute in Light is now done every year on September 11.

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

  • The remains of at least 11 firefighters and several civilians are found when recovery workers reach the site of what had been the south tower lobby.


Tuesday, May 28, 2002

  • The last steel beam standing at the World Trade Center site is cut down and placed on a flatbed truck in a quiet ceremony.


June 4, 2002

  • As a sign of saying thank you for her support in the days immediately following the attacks, New York City lit the Empire State Building in purple and gold to mark the Golden Jubilee celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II.


Monday, August 19, 2002

  • The New York City medical examiner releases an updated list of World Trade Center casualties. There were 2819 killed or missing, 4 less than the Police Department list which had been the best official tally publicly released. One name removed was that of a woman who had been listed under both her maiden and married names. The other three were of people reported missing once by people who had since not been in contact with New York City officials.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

  • Police determine that Albert John Vaughan, 45, and George V. Sims, 46, missing and presumed dead, are alive. Vaughan has been a patient at the Rockland Psychiatric Center in Orangeburg, N.Y. Sims is a patient with amnesia and schizophrenia at a Manhattan hospital.

August 27, 2002

  • The Newark Star-Ledger reports that George V. Sims is alive. By this point at least 7 people on the August 19 list have been found; there are now 2812 killed or presumed dead.


September 7, 2002

  • The New York City medical examiner releases a new list of World Trade Center deaths. The new list is 22 less than the previous one. The death toll now stands at 2801, including the dead on the airplanes but not the 10 hijackers.

September 10, 2002

  • USA goes on high security alert as anniversary approaches. Other countries such as the UK go on similar alert status.
  • Al-Jazeera releases videotapes of four of the September 11 hijackers - Ahmed al-Nami, Hamza Alghamdi, Ahmed Alghamdi and Wail Alshehri. All four are seen talking to the camera.

September 11, 2002

First anniversary of the September 11, 2001 Attacks

  • Remembrance services are held throughout the USA.
  • The ceremony at New York, broadcast throughout the world, falls an hour behind schedule, but is well attended. The ceremony included the reading out of the names of all the persons who died there (on both the planes and the World Trade Centre) and the recitals of American historical speeches such as the Gettysburg Address. Moments of silence are observed at 8:46 AM and 9:03 AM, the moments when the two planes struck the two towers, and church bells ring at 9:59 AM and 10:29 AM, the moment at which the South and North towers respectively collapsed. Foreign dignitaries gather in Battery Park for the lighting of the eternal flame at sunset. President George W. Bush addresses the nation from Ellis Island an hour and a half after the lighting of the eternal flame.
  • The private ceremony at The Pentagon is also well-attended, and included the President amongst its participants. A prayer is said at the end that referred to Todd Beamer's "Let's Roll" remark.
  • The public ceremony at Shanksville also had a large turnout. It included two flybys and a release of doves. President George W. Bush attends a private followup service for the families of Flight 93's victims in the afternoon.
  • In Karachi, wanted terrorist Ramzi Binalshibh (a.k.a. Ramzi Omar) is among five alleged terrorists captured by Pakistani authorities at a Defence Housing Authority estate. Binalshibh is wanted by US authorities in relation to the September 11 attacks. His capture does not become public knowledge for two days, but photographs featuring him being led away blindfolded are published on the day.

September 26, 2002

September 27, 2002

November 14, 2002


February 26, 2003

  • Daniel Libeskind's design is announced as the winner and future occupant of the former World Trade Center site. The design includes an office building and a Wedge of Light which will honor the victims of the terrorist attacks by shutting down its lights between 8:46AM and 10:28AM EST every September 11. It will also use the WTC's foundations.

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