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The September 11 Attacks (11th September 2001)
The War on Terror was sparked off by the September 11 attacks, the deadliest terror attack in history. On that fateful day, nineteen men affiliated with al-Qaeda hijacked four airliners bound for California. The first plane, American Airlines Flight 11, was flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Centre while the second plane, United Airlines Flight 175 was flown into the South Tower of the WTC about 17 minutes after. Everybody on the two planes, including the hijackers, perished, but the terrorists had achieved their goal. After burning and smoking for slightly less than an hour, the South Tower collapsed. About 30 minutes or so later, the North Tower also crumbled down to the ground, smashing into the 7 WTC Building and collapsing that too. The third plane, American Airlines Flight 77, was flown into the Pentagon, the heart of the US Military. The West Side of the Pentagon was heavily damaged, but the building, being more structurally stable and significantly flatter than the WTC Towers, did not collapse. The final plane, United Airlines Flight 93 was headed for Washington D.C. to strike an unknown target(believed to be the White House or the Capitol) when the passengers revolted against the hijackers, forcing them to crash the plane harmlessly into a field in Pennsylvania, with all lives on board lost. The attacks saw a total of 2977 casualties and made it the worst terrorist attack in history. The USA basically went to a standstill after these attacks. Following the attacks, the government allowed for a military attack against any and all responsibility or involved somehow in the attacks. The War on Terror had begun about a month later, on 7th October 2001.
First Military Operations
On 4th October, three days before the war officially started, NATO launched Operation Active Endeavor, backed up by many NATO countries and some others like Russia and Israel, to monitor the Mediterranean and the Straits of Gibraltar. As of 2009, over 100,000 ships have been monitored and over 100 actually boarded by NATO troops. This operation cut off all routes in the Mediterranean that terrorists could use to transport equipment or supplies to other terrorists.