Little Known Eye-Opening Facts About 9/11

Last updated: Sep 28, 2023

The day was September 11, of the year 2001, when the world shook and was never the same again. A series of attacks carried out by the terrorist organization, al-Qaeda on that morning changed the lives of countless people through its incomprehensible loss of life and destruction. The Attacks resulted in approximately 3,000 deaths of flight passengers, first responders, and individuals in the World Trade Center.

19 terrorists hijacked four commercial aircrafts bound for New York City’s North and South Towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon is the story we all know but there are more things to this historical event that you may not have realized. In honor and in remembrance of those who have fallen, here are some facts of the event that you may not know.

1. Not the First Attack on the Towers

Although this attack on the World Trade Center is the most known and talked about, this was not the first time they were targeted in an attack.


Source: The New York Times

In 1993 the was a bombing within the parking lot of the North Tower, injuring thousands but only killing 6 people.


2. The Terrorist Were Legal

These terrorists entered the U.S.A legally, they did this through the use of either student, business, or tourist visas.


Source: REUTERS/Stringer

These perpetrators went through all the protocols to ensure that their entrance into the country was legal and fully documented for the world to see.

3. Faking Documents

Although they entered legally and via protocol, they used fake or stolen documentation and identification making it harder for the country and for security to flag them as threats.


Source: U.S. Department of State

The attack changed protocols that have shaped the course of U.S. security even today.

4. Not-So-Obvious Weapons

The terrorists used a variety of weapons to take over and hijack the planes they were on, but some of them were the unexpected choice.


Source: AP Photo/Richard Drew

These hijackers used pepper spray and mace to subdue passengers to make it easier for them to take control of the plane.

5. Missed Original Target

Although Flight 77 hit the Pentagon which is no small thing, it is widely speculated that this was not the original target.

Source: U. S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 1st Class Michael W. Pendergrass

The original target according to thorough investigation can be said to have been with great certainty, no other than The White House.


6. Unlimited Funding

The U.S. Senate approved a bill in 2019 to make sure that the compensation fund for victims of such an attack never runs dry.

Source: midjourney

It is because of this initiative and bill that first responders of this attack never have to plead for additional Congress funding since the fund is protected.


7. 99 Day Burns

Because of the jet fuel and the combustible matter as a result of the attack, the office paperwork and decor within the World Trade Center continued to burn even days after.

Source: REUTERS/Brad Rickerby

This combination created an extremely dangerous and highly flammable environment for 99 days. That’s 99 days of non-stop fire causing NYC Firefighters to tend to this inferno 24/7 for its full duration in attempts to contain and neutralize it.


8. High-Profile Life Saver

There are many stories of fate playing a part in saving lives. Many people who could have or were supposed to have been either inside the towers or in the vicinity of the crashing planes were spared by a stroke of luck.

Source: REUTERS/Peter Morgan

But did you know that some of these lucky citizens were some very high-profile people? Michael Jackson and Seth MacFarlane are among them. Jackson overslept and missed his meeting in the World Trade Center, while MacFarlane had a reserved seat on Flight 11 but missed the departure time by a few minutes because of a hangover.


9. The 27-Hour Survivor

During this tragic event, many stories don’t have a good outcome but somehow several people managed to barely escape with their lives intact. Genelle Guzman-McMillan, a young migrant from Trinidad and Tobago, was an office assistant working in the North Tower at the time and was among these people.

A photo of Genelle Source: Genelle Guzman McMillan

Genelle had made her way down the stairwell just as rubble was thrust upon her and somehow survived the building’s destruction around her. She was buried under such rubble for 27 life-threatening hours before she was saved.


10. Abnormal Developments After-the-Fact

Many people suffered post-traumatic stress as a result of this attack, both survivors and first responders on the scene.

Source: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

As a direct correlation of such an incident, many people encountered asthma and lung inflammation later in life at rates abnormal for those in direct contact with the attack both during and after.


11. Unprecedented Life Loss

When examining attacks made in the U.S., 9/11’s World Trade Center attack caused the largest amount of deaths by a foreign attack.

REUTERS/Peter Morgan

On any regular work day, about 50,000 employees worked among the towers and that’s not including the estimated 40,000 people coming in and out of the World Trade Center complex on any given day.


12. Months of Clean Up

Post-terror attacks, the rescue and clean-up efforts took a considerably long time, 9 months to be exact.

Source: REUTERS/Peter Morgan

There were 1.8 million tons of wreckage from the World Trade Center.


13. Numerous Points of Origin

The plane’s hijackers took off from several different origins across the U.S.

Source: midjourney

Among the different airports were, Newark International Airport, and Boston Logan International Airport.


14. 47-Story Skyscrapper Also Effected

Although subject to endless debate, until today, an additional 47-story skyscraper also collapsed on 9/11.

Source: REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Journalist 1st Class Preston Keres

Countless people still debate whether this collapse was a direct cause of the attack or not.


15. Elaborate Codenames

These terrorists left no room for error, using very extensive codenames for their attacks in order to outsmart U.S. security and safety procedures.

United Airlines Flight 175 flies low toward the South Tower of the World Trade Center ; Source: Reuters/Sean Adair

The Pentagon was referred to ‘the Faculty of Fine Arts’ and the World Trade Center’s North Tower was referred to ‘the Faculty of Town Planning’. The perpetrators even referred to the attack itself as ‘the first semester’,  and the terrorist’s themselves as the ‘19 certificates for private education,’ since there were 19 of them.


16. Eighteen People Rescued

Out of all the deaths, only a mere 18 were rescued and survived this horrible attack.

Source: James Nachtwey / The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

They may have survived to tell the tale of this tragedy but not without many health complications.


17. Years of Planning

The scale of the 9/11 attack to extremely precise planning to carry out.

Source: midjourney

For this reason, these terrorists invested years of planning to ensure its success. The invested great survilience and resonance.


18. Hidden Pentagon Footage

When the WTC was hit, immediate footage was released, and may watched live as it was happening, but it was to the contrary when it came to the Pentagon.

Source: midjourney

The footage of the Pentagon attack was only released in 2006, years after the attack took place.


19. The Death of Frasier Co-creator

David Angell, the Frasier co-creator who was also an Emmy Winner for the series was on Flight 11 or American Airlines, with his spouse when it hit the North Tower.

Source: Angell Foundation

It seems like a scary coincidence because in the show Frasier, Dr. Crane is called by a passenger aboard a flight of the same number, American Flight 11, to be exact.


20. American Flight Training

It’s chilling that most of the plane’s hijackers received their flight training in the U.S.

Source: midjourney

These attackers attended flight schools in Florida to be exact.


21. Minimal Pentagon Casualties Because of Renovations

The renovations of the Pentagon at the time undoubtedly contributed to the minimization of casualties when it was hit on 9/11


Flight 77 aimed for the Pentagon struck an area that was due for extensive renovations that resulted in less people in the building during the time of the attack.


22. The Pennsylvania Crash

Passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 attempted to take over the plane and deter the plane’s original target, resulting in an emergency crash in Pennsylvania.

The Investigation of United Flight 93 Video Source: FBI

It is said that this saved additional lives and casualties for the speculated target of the U.S. Capitol although costing the flight passengers theirs.


23. Originally An Even Bigger Scheme

The mastermind behind the attack, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, originally wanted nine planes instead of the four passenger planes used in the attack.

Source: REUTERS/Sara K. Schwittek

He wanted to include attacks on nuclear plants as well but it was deemed unrealistic and more complicated so it was decided to scale back.


24. 56 Minutes After Impact

First the South Tower was hit and then the North Tower was hit. This tower began to fall only 56 minutes after impact.

Source: WSMV4 News

While the North Tower collapsed a mere 102 minutes after impact.


25. The Real Hijacking Motivation

Why did these attackers do this in the first place? We all know the obvious reason was to kill and hurt the United States as much as they could but there is more to it.

Source: / 9/11 Memorial & Museum

They assumed that carrying out this attack would weaken the U.S. and in return would affect their freedoms negatively eventually giving their terrorist group the upper hand. On the contrary happened, despite hurting the U.S., the U.S. bounced back stronger than ever.


26. The Fire Department on Fire

The New York Fire Department lost 343 firefighters as a result of this attack.


This is the greatest loss of firefighters on duty in their department’s 100-year history.


27. The Youngest Passenger on the Flight

The youngest passenger on the hijacked plane was on Flight 175, her name was Christine Hanson.

Source: 9/11 Memorial & Museum

She was only a mere two years old and was flying on the count of her first trip to Disneyland. They were originally supposed to fly a day before the attack but due to her father’s work commitments Christine and her parents boarded that September 11th flight on that tragic day.


28. Over 1,100 Arrests

According to news services, Justice Berman has been quoted saying that although a precise number is still unknown up until November 5th of that year, 1,182 people were arrested. Including the list of 750 people who were brought down for immigration charges and material witnesses in the attack. About 720 detainees since the 2002 attack are in the notorious American Military Prison known as Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Of these prisoners currently 39 remain today.

Source: GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba 2007 AP File Photo

The exact number is still unclear for certain but we can be sure that in connection to the 9/11 attacks over 1,100 people were arrested.


29. After 9/11 News Rooms Recieved Anthrax Letters

Anthrax, a highly dangerous and deadly virus was delivered to several newsrooms and congressional offices several weeks after the 9/11 attack.

Laboratory technician holding the anthrax-laced letter addressed to Senator Leahy after safely opening it at the U.S. Army's Fort Detrick bio-medical research laboratory in November 2001. Source: / An Official Website of the U.S. Government

This anthrax threat managed to kill five additional people.


30. Estimated $500,000 Attack Cost

The 9/11 attack cost approximately $500,000 for the attackers to carry out.

Pedestrians in lower Manhattan on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. Source: AP Photo/Amy Sancetta

From the U.S. perspective, the immediate aftermath economically in 2001, of such an attack was that it reduced real GDP growth by 0.5%. Additionally, such an attack increased unemployment rates by 0.11% which is an estimation of a 598,000 reduction in jobs.


31. Millions of Lost Art

As a result of the Twin Towers collapsing, rare and expensive artwork was also lost in addition to countless lives. An estimated 100 million dollars worth of art both from private and public art collections were lost. Arguably the most well-recognized art piece is ‘The Sphere’ by German artist Fritz Koenig, placed in the WTC plaza in the 70s. It was badly damaged but managed to survive and eventually moved to Battery Park.

The Sphere - Fritz Koenig Sculpture / Source: Robert Ullmann, FineArtMedia

On the contrary, among the millions of dollars in artwork completely lost was a memorial piece for the victims of the ’93 bombing, as well as authentic Pablo Picasso paintings.


32. Three-Day Flight Ban

After this tragic 9/11 attack, there was a 3-day flight ban across the United States.

Source: News15 / NightlyNews

The whole airspace of North America was closed to civilian traffic and slowly resumed after but in limited quantities. The pre-9/11 flight experience would never be returned, forever altering how we fly today.