Rarely in history can a single day be seen as a turning point, a transition between eras, but in the story of the United States, September 11, 2001 constituted an obvious pivot. Four teams of terrorist hijackers seized control of airliners over US soil, and crashed three of them into highly visible targets, obliterating the World Trade Center in New York City, and destroying part of the Pentagon, in Washington DC. In all, some three thousand Americans died. A fourth airliner was targeted for the US Capitol building, but the mission was prevented by a courageous rising by the passengers and crew: the flight crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. The perpetrators were members of al-Qaeda under the leadership of Afghanistan-based leader Osama bin Laden. Fury at the September 11 attacks – ‘9-11’ – led the country into a series of overseas military engagements and entanglements. The event ensured that the United States would for the foreseeable future be deeply involved with the Middle East, with terrorism, and with radical forces within Islam.
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