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The United States and the Coalition Against Terrorism Page I o f 3 3


Historical Background
Office of the Historian
Bureau of Public Affairs



October November December

September 11, 2001: Two hijacked airliners crashed into the World Trade Center Towers in New York City.
Thousands were feared dead when the towers collapsed more than an hour after the impacts. A third hijacked
airliner crashed into the Pentagon. A fourth, possibly bound for another target in Washington, D.C., crashed in
Somerset County, Pennsylvania, apparently after passengers attempted to overpower the hijackers.

The Federal Aviation Administration suspended all air traffic in the United States and diverted international
flights to Canada. Federal offices and public buildings in Washington, New York, and other major cities were

President George W. Bush was in Florida at the time of the attacks. He flew first to Barksdale Air Force Base
in Louisiana and then to Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska before returning to the White House. During his first
stop, he said: "The resolve of our great nation is being tested. But make no mistake: We will show the world
that we will pass this test." That evening, he said that "the full resources of our intelligence and law
enforcement communities" would be used to find the terrorists and bring them to justice. "We will make no
distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell canceled a visit to Colombia and returned from a meeting of the OAS
General Assembly in Lima, Peru. Before returning, he said that terrorists "will never be allowed to kill the spirit
of democracy. They cannot destroy our society. They cannot destroy our belief in the democratic way."

The North Atlantic Council held a special meeting in which in declared its solidarity with the United States and
pledged its support and assistance. The Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council made a similar pledge.

September 12,2001: President Bush met with his national security advisers and with leading members of
Congress. He also telephoned the leaders of Great Britain, Canada, France, Germany, China, and Russia as
the first steps toward building an international coalition against terrorism. He called the attacks "acts of war"
and announced that he would ask Congress for additional funds to protect the nation's security.

Secretary of State Powell announced that he had authorized U.S. ambassadors to close their missions or
suspend operations if they believed the threat level justified it. Twenty-five percent had done so. He had also
telephoned the Secretaries-General of the United Nations and NATO and the President of the European
Union. He also expected to have active support from "friendly Muslim states" inJhe fight against terrorism and
had spoken to officials in Saudi Arabia and to the Chairman of the Arab League.

The North Atlantic Council invoked Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, thereby considering the terrorist
attacks on the United States to be an attack on all member states, and pledged any necessary assistance.

Department of State Spokesman Richard Boucher said during a briefing that the United States would make
careful preparations before responding to terrorist attacks. He said that Secretary of State Powell had also
called the Foreign Ministers of Israel and the United Kingdom.

http://www.state.gOv/r/pa/ho/pubs/fs/5889pf.htm 5/19/03