What 9/11 will mean in the annals of history is still undetermined, but its impact has reverberated throughout the world. The following documents tell the story of the attacks and their aftermath with an immediacy that only such records can. To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the tragedy, the Milestone Documents editors invite you to read and share these texts and accompanying scholarly commentary for free during the month of September. At left is an image of Ground Zero in New York City under construction (Library of Congress).
Osama bin Laden’s Declaration of Jihad on the Americans (1996): Also known as the “Ladenese Epistle,” the declaration was bin Laden’s first call for jihad against the United States. The document can be taken to represent al Qaeda’s declaration of war on Washington. Instead of fighting local battles, they would wage a global-scale jihad against the Western superpower in response to its assaults on Muslims.
George W. Bush: Address to the Nation on September 11, 2001 (2001): U.S. President George W. Bush’s Address to the Nation on September 11, 2001, a five-minute address broadcast on television and radio at 8:30 EDT in the evening, was delivered in response to terrorist attacks on the nation that had taken place some twelve hours earlier. The attacks would become a defining moment in the Bush presidency and for the nation.
Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US (2001): A declassified intelligence report, it was presented to the president and intelligence advisors in a briefing just a month before the attacks.
Executive Order Establishing the Office of Homeland Security (2001): The primary mission of the Office of Homeland Security, which became the Department of Homeland Security, was to protect the United States from terrorist attacks.
George W. Bush: Address to the Nation on Military Operations in Iraq (2003): The primetime address, televised on March 19, 2003, was intended to explain to the American people why the United States was launching military strikes against Iraq, which officially began the following day.
9/11 Commission Report (2004): In November 2002, President George W. Bush and Congress formed the bipartisan National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States to answer questions regarding the attacks. After extensive investigation, the commission issued the report in 2004. It examined the events of that day but also surveyed events leading up to the attacks and recommended steps the nation could take to prevent such attacks in the future.