The 9/11 Attacks, 19 Years Later


On Sept. 11, 2001:

  • Nineteen men hijacked four U.S. commercial airplanes on September 11th, 2001 as part of an orchestrated terrorist attack by al-Qaeda.1
  • Two airplanes were deliberately crashed into the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center complex in New York City; a third plane crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, VA.
  • Although a fourth attack was planned, after passengers fought back, the plane crashed into a field in western Pennsylvania.3
  • The attacks claimed the lives of a total of 2,977 people.4

Nineteen Years Later:

2020 marks the first election in which a generation born after the 9/11 attacks will be of voting age. Here’s how the United States—and the world—has been impacted in the nineteen years since.

  • War in the Middle East. As president during the time of the attacks, George W. Bush enacted mass bombings on Afghanistan in response to the Taliban’s refusal to turn over suspected terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden.5
    • The U.S. declared an end to the Iraq War in 2011, but the war in Afghanistan remains ongoing.6
  • Heightened security. After 9/11, two new government agencies, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), were created.
    • Since 2001, the U.S. government has budgeted significant financial resources toward defense efforts.
  • Rise in Islamophobia and general xenophobia. Immediately after the 2001 attacks, Muslim Americans became the target of increased hate and abuse.
    • This has had a lasting effect; recent polls find that 75% of Muslim adults believe there is still significant discrimination against Muslims in the U.S. today.9
    • The xenophobia stemming from the terrorist attack has since extended beyond hate against Muslims.
  • Rise in patriotism and nationalism. In the days, weeks and months following 9/11, people across the country flew the American flag in solemn patriotism, displaying pride in the strength of the country following the tragedy.
    • Yet, in the 19 years since, despite increased fear of foreign terrorism, white nationalism has instead become a much larger threat.
    • White nationalist extremists have been responsible for three times as many attacks in the United States than Islamic extremists since Sept. 11, 2001.12

In a Quote:

“I was born after 9/11 but I do know how it affected [Muslim Americans]. My parents had been living in the US for around ten years at the time, and when they saw the news coverage happening on 9/11, they were just as shocked and horrified by it as anyone else. But at the same time, because they’re Muslim, they did feel targeted afterward. Almost like people blamed them in part for the terrorist attacks.

“Personally, I’ve been lucky enough to grow up in a community where I don’t often experience direct Islamophobia, but still I remember learning about 9/11 [in elementary school] and understanding that there was this effect on Muslims that was never really part of the discussion. I think it's important for those of us born after 9/11 to remember the tragedy and lives lost on that day, but also recognize that the effects of the Islamophobia it caused are still hurting Muslims today.”

Bismah Syed, 18.


  2. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  9. Ibid.