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9/11 - Leadership and Strategy


9/11 (2001)


Famous for...

The hijacking of four American planes on September 11 2001 by the Islamic extremist group, al-Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden -9/11 - Leadership and Strategy

  • two crashed into the World Trade Centre in New York (the second crash is pictured right)
  • one crashed into the Pentagon (the American military headquarters in Washington).
  • another plane crashed in Pennsylvania, prevented from reaching the White House by unarmed passengers.

2,978 from over 90 countries were killed.


9/11’s key moments


8.46 am

Flight 11 from Boston crashes into the North Tower of the World Trade Centre, New York.


9.03 am

Flight 175 from Boston crashes into the South Tower.


9.37 am

Flight 77 from Washington crashes into the Pentagon.


10.03 am

Flight 93 from Newark, New Jersey, crashes in an open field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.


Pre-9/11 key events

 9/11 - Leadership and Strategy


Iran overthrows the Shah (the king, pictured right) and becomes an Islamic militant state.

Russia (then the Soviet Union) invades Afghanistan.



Al-Qaeda defeats the Russians in Afghanistan after Russia’s invasion.


9/11 - Leadership and Strategy


The Gulf War after Iraq’s Saddam Hussein (pictured right) invades Kuwait.

He is defeated by the West's forces:

  • led by America.
  • helped by moderate Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia.



Islamic extremists bomb the underground garage of the World Trade Centre, killing six people.



Bombing of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 224 people (including 12 Americans).



Bombing of the American warship, Cole , near Aden, Yemen, killing 17 sailors.



Key people in 9/11


Osama bin Laden

Al-Qaeda leader from Saudi Arabia killed in his Pakistan home by an American commando raid in 2011.

 9/11 - Leadership and Strategy

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 

Pakistani organizer of 9/11, captured in Pakistan in 2003 (pictured right soon after his arrest) .


19 suicide bombers

(in the four hijacked planes).

 9/11 - Leadership and Strategy

The rescuers (pictured right)

New York firefighters, police and other rescuers.



George W. Bush 

American president from January 20 2001.


9/11 - Leadership and Strategy

Rudy Giuliani

New York mayor (pictured right two months after 9/11), praised for his leadership of the rescue effort.


Why did it happen?

 9/11 - Leadership and Strategy

1. Al-Qaeda

Its leader, Osama bin Laden (pictured right):

  • raised money (from his rich Saudi father and contributions from Middle Eastern Arabs).
  • armed and trained al-Qaeda troops (who defeated the Russians in Afghanistan in 1989).
  • went to Afghanistan in 1996 (where he supported the extremist Islamic government, the Taliban)

After 9/11  the Taliban was overthrown by the Americans and British at the start of the war in Afghanistan in October 2001.

- Bin Laden was killed by the Americans in 2011. 


2. Islam

Al-Qaeda has seen its fight against the Russians and then the Americans as part of an Islamic holy war (or jihad).

In 1998 bin Laden issued a religious order (or fatwa), telling Muslims it was their duty to kill all Americans and their allies.


3. The Middle East

Arabs have been angry since in 1948:

  • Israel was created.
  • Palestine stopped being an independent state.

Israeli victories annoyed them even more – the:

  • Six Day War (in 1967)
  • Yom Kippur War (in 1973)

These wars gave Israel control of:

  • the Gaza Strip (full of Palestinians).
  • Jerusalem (a holy city for Muslims as well as Jews and Christians).

Al-Qaeda wants to:

  • remove American influence in the Middle East.
  • destroy the state of Israel.


  • is pro-Israel (because of America's influential Jewish community).
  • needs to keep friendly with Arab Middle Eastern countries (because of its dependence on oil).


Results of 9/11

 9/11 - Leadership and Strategy

1. Ground Zero and human tragedy

The bombings flattened the World Trade Centre and its empty site was called Ground Zero.

2,978 were killed by 9/11 including 343 firefighters.

Survivors were covered in dust (pictured right).


2. War on terror

9/11 shocked America, leading to:

  • its paranoia about terrorism. 9/11 - Leadership and Strategy
  • torture of terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
  • President Bush’s (pictured right) “war on terror” against al-Qaeda and its allies.

The war on terror resulted in the:


a) Afghanistan war 

(overthrowing the pro-al-Qaeda Taliban government in October 2001)


b) Iraq war 

(began by America and Britain in 2003)

This was particularly controversial because:

  • it didn’t have United Nations support.
  • the main reason for the war (the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction) were found not to exist.


3. Enormous expenditure

In 2011 the New York Times estimated the cost to America of 9/11 (including extra security and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars) at $3.3 trillion.

This has led to problems in:


a) education

War has diverted money away from educational programmes in Islamic countries to encourage people to turn away from extremism.


b) Arab relations

War alienated many Arabs and some Western countries


c) American defence

The expense of war has weakened America's potential military response to an extremist takeover of vital Islamic states like:

  • oil rich Saudi Arabia.
  • Pakistan (which has nuclear weapons).


4. More bombings

Bombings by Islamic extremists happen quite regularly, killing and wounding hundreds of people – for example, in:

  • Bali (2002). 
  • Madrid (2004). 
  • London (on July 7 2005, known as 7/7).

 9/11 - Leadership and Strategy

5. Life changing experiences

9/11 forced its survivors (including the investment banker, Ari Schonbrun ,pictured right), to re-examine their priorities, particularly valuing people instead of work.


Key quotes on terrorism

 9/11 - Leadership and Strategy

The City of New York and the United States of America is much stronger than any group of barbaric terrorists,

- Rudy Giuliani, Mayor of New York (pictured right just after 9/11), on the day of the attack. 


9/11 - Leadership and Strategy


Yes, I’m a terrorist, and I’m proud of it.

- Ramzi Yousef (pictured right), Pakistani leader of the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing.



It is not a battle for global supremacy. It is a battle for hearts and minds.

- Jason Burke (on stopping Islamic terrorism in his 2003 book, Al-Qaeda).


I didn’t capture his death. I captured part of his life.

- Richard Drew (talking about his picture of a man falling from the World Trade Centre on 9/11). The picture was immediately withdrawn for being too horrific.



Key quote on ethics9/11 - Leadership and Strategy

We all have within us the power to say ‘No – I will not retaliate’, or ‘I will not seek revenge'.

- Gill Hicks (who lost both her legs and nearly died in the London bombing) - pictured right.


Key quotes about Osama bin Laden

O Lord, shatter their gathering, divide them among themselves, shake the earth under their feet and give us control over them.

- Osama bin Laden (declaring a holy war, or jihad, against America in 1996). 


We will find you and we will bring you to justice.

- President George W. Bush in 2006

(talking about Osama bin Laden - on May 1st 2011, announcing his death, President Barack Obama says “Justice has been done”).


Key quote on work

Before 9/11 my whole world was consumed by Wall Street. I still work hard, but work is no longer my first, second and third priority.,

- Ari Schonbrun, 9/11 survivor.



Best book

Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon, 9/11 (2006) – a comic strip account of the terrible day.

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