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    September 11th
    K-12 Lesson Plans, Class Activities & Background Information
    For Primary, Elementary, Middle and High School Students and Teachers

    September 11 Lesson Plans

    September 11 Background Information


    The September 11th attacks were a series of coordinated suicide attacks by al-Qaeda upon the United States on September 11, 2001.


    The September 11, 2001 attacks, shortened as nine-eleven, 9/11 or "9-11", were four attacks by terrorists that happened on the same day. Four groups of people, each with a trained pilot, captured airplanes and flew them into US landmarks. These landmarks were the twin towers in New York, and the Pentagon. The fourth plane crashed before reaching its target in Washington, D.C. After the event, the US government said the people who had done the attacks were close to the terrorist group al-Qaeda. During the events, nearly 3000 people died. Most of them were from the United States, but over 300 were from other places, such as the United Kingdom, India and Canada.

    Airplanes Involved

      1. American Airlines Flight 11, which crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York at 8:46 a.m. local time (Eastern Daylight Time, 12:46:30 UTC).
      2. United Airlines Flight 175, which crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center at 9:02:59 a.m. local time (13:02:59 UTC). Many people saw this as it happened because television news cameras were filming the site of the first crash when the second airplane hit the south tower.
      3. American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia (near Washington DC), at 9:37:46 a.m. local time (13:37:46 UTC).
      4. United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed into the ground at 10:03:11 a.m. local time (14:03:11 UTC). It is believed that the terrorists wanted to crash the plane into the United States Capitol. The passengers tried to take over the plane. They stopped the terrorists from taking full control of the plane but could not save it. The plane ended up crashing near the town of Shanksville, Pennsylvania.


    All 246 people on the four planes died in the crashes. 19 terrorists were also killed in the attacks. Both towers of the World Trade Center caught on fire after the crashes. The south tower (2 WTC) burned for 56 minutes before it fell and was destroyed. The north tower (1 WTC) burned for 102 minutes before it also fell. As the towers fell, parts of the towers hit other buildings around them. It is believed that because of this damage, a third building, 7 World Trade Center (7 WTC), fell at 5:20 p.m., but this is a debated subject. Many other buildings in the area were damaged badly and had to be destroyed. 2,602 people died at the World Trade Center.

    The plane that hit the Pentagon hit the ground just as it hit the western side of the building. It then crashed through three of the five "rings" that make up the Pentagon. The crash killed 125 people in the Pentagon.

    2,973 people died in the attacks, including people such as firemen and policemen trying to save the lives of other people.

    This was the first big attack by non-Americans on the United States since 1941, when Japanese war planes attacked the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. There had been some big terrorist acts against American targets before but most of them have been outside the U.S. (such as the Marine camp in Lebanon).

    Many conspiracy theories have appeared which say that certain people in the United States government knew about the attacks beforehand, or even made them happen, and many people in the United States believe that this is the truth.

    War on Terrorism

    After the attack, the United States blamed al-Qaeda, which the U.S. believed was a terrorist group. President George Bush said he would start a "War on Terror". He meant that the United States would take major steps to protect Americans and their property from terrorists. For example, the American government would be reorganized. Security in public places was made stronger, especially at airports. Americans were told every day whether there was a serious threat of terrorism. (This was done by giving a color for the day. Red meant there was a severe risk, green meant a low risk, and there were several levels in between.)

    The War on Terror also led to real military wars. The leader of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, lived in the country of Afghanistan. The United States told the government of Afghanistan, called the Taliban, to turn bin Laden over to them. The Taliban would not do this. The leader of the Taliban, Mullah Muhammad Omar, demanded to see proof first from the United States government. President George Bush said that he did not need to provide proof. The United States then went to war against Afghanistan. The Taliban was removed from power, and a new government was elected by the people of Afghanistan.

    While this was happening, the United States government changed in a few ways. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) created the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Before 9/11, security at American airports was provided by the airlines. The TSA made it the government's job to provide airport security. New officers were hired by TSA to work at airports and to fly on planes as air marshals. The TSA also provides security on American trains and subways. A new Department of Homeland Security was also created. It became their job to protect Americans and their property inside the United States. When this department was created, the TSA moved from the DOT to Homeland Security.

    After defeating the Taliban, President Bush thought the US should invade Iraq. He believed that Iraq helped terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda. He said he had evidence that Iraq was also making weapons of mass destruction. He sent Secretary of State Colin Powell to the United Nations to show them some of the evidence. In March, 2003, the United States began its invasion of Iraq. (Four other countries also took part, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Poland, and Denmark.) The government of Iraq was overthrown, and the people of Iraq elected a new government. No weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq.

    Topics of Interest

    al-Qaeda: Al-Qaeda is a militant Islamic group started between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network, as a stateless army, and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad. Most of the world considers it a terrorist organization. Members of the organisation have performed many acts of terrorism. These acts were usually directed against the United States, and other liberal countries. The most well-known attacks include the September 11, 2001 attacks, the bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, and the attack on the US Navy ship USS Cole in 2000. Characteristic techniques include suicide attacks and simultaneous bombings of different targets. Al-Qaeda works for a complete break from foreign influences in Muslim countries, and the creation of a new Islamic caliphate. Reported beliefs include that a Christian–Jewish alliance is conspiring to destroy Islam, (largely embodied in Israel–United States relations), and that the killing of bystanders and civilians is religiously justified in jihad.

    Osama bin Laden: Osama bin Laden (born Saudi Arabia, 10 March 1957) is an Islamic fundamentalist, the founder and head of the al-Qaeda terrorist organisation. He is a member of the very rich Bin Laden family. Most people see him as the person who did all the planning for the 9/11 attack on the United States. The terror network which he helped create (al-Qaeda) is considered to be among the deadliest in the world. Quite a few people call him a terrorist. bin Ladin has admitted that he planned the 9/11 attack. A videotape of him talking about it was shown on TV. In the fall of 2003, he went to Pakistan to meet Abu Hafiza and Ayman al-Zawahiri to talk about Al Qaeda's 2004 plans. Bin Laden and fellow al-Qaeda leaders are believed to be hiding near the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

    For more information:

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License and Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)

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