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Alternate History

September 11, 2006

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Background

The attacks of September 11, 2001 were prevented. Seeing just how vulnerable our nation was, the US government created new, extremely strict rules for air travel, even more so than in OTL. Anything that has even the tiniest chance of being a weapon is prohibited, even pens and pencils. However, this does not stop Al-Qaeda's thirst to bring Armageddon upon the United States.

Planning

Following the failed attacks of 9/11/01, Osama Bin Laden meets with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to plan a new attack on the US. They agree that their original plan would have worked if they had planned it a bit better. They also agree that Mohammed's original vision of hijacking ten planes wasn't too complicated after all. In fact, they decide to make the plan even worse by hijacking 31 planes and crashing them into America's most famous and important buildings and landmarks.

For the next five years, Al-Qaeda works to train pilots and muscle hijackers. They also obtain US visas and are trained to blend into their environments. As a result, the terrorists are able to get into the US without raising suspicion.

The general plan for the hijackings: The hijackers will change their names, train to become flight attendants, and board the planes via the tarmac. With less security blocking them than in the airports, Al-Qaeda will be able to smuggle weapons, such as handguns aboard. These weapons will enable the terrorists to blow open the cockpit doors. The terrorists will subdue the crews and passengers. Then the pilot hijackers can take control of the planes.

The Attack

The morning of September 11, 2006 starts out just like five years earlier: clear and sunny throughout the US. But by 9:00 AM EDT, the attacks had begun. Air Marshals had been placed on all flights following 9/11/01. But even they could not stop the hijackers, who were well-trained and well-equipped. Using their knowledge of how flights work as well as their military training, the hijackers overcame the passengers, air marshals, and crews and took control of the planes.

Flight

Target

City

Time of Impact

American Airlines 8723 North Tower of the World Trade Center New York City, New York 8:44 AM EDT
United Airlines 932 South Tower of the World Trade Center New York City, New York 8:53 AM EDT
American Airlines 702 The Pentagon Arlington, Virginia 9:13 AM EDT
United Airlines 647 US Capitol Building Washington, DC 9:17 AM EDT
Delta Airlines 321 White House Washington, DC 9:24 AM EDT
American Airlines 1343 Sears Tower Chicago, Illinois 9:29 AM EDT
Airtran Airways 921 US Bank Tower Los Angeles, California 9:38 AM EDT
American Airlines 755 Columbia Center Seattle, Washington 9:42 AM EDT
US Airways 497 Space Needle Seattle, Washington 9:50 AM EDT
United Airlines 764 Empire State Building New York City, New York 9:52 AM EDT
American Airlines 3211 FBI Headquarters Washington, DC 10:01 AM EDT
Airtran Airways 673 CIA Headquarters Washington, DC 10:06 AM EDT
US Airways 541 Mount Rushmore Keystone, South Dakota 10:11 AM EDT
American Airlines 1782 United Nations Building New York City, New York 10:23 AM EDT
US Airways 127 Organization of American States Washington, DC 10:26 AM EDT
United Airlines 167 Statue of Liberty New York City, New York 10:29 AM EDT
Delta Airlines 218 Mall of America Bloomington, Minnesota 10:32 AM EDT
Airtran Airways 5409 Hollywood Sign Los Angeles, California 10:36 AM EDT
Delta Airlines 188 Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco, California 10:39 AM EDT
American Airlines 872 Gateway Arch St. Louis, Missouri 10:44 AM EDT
US Airways 104 General Motors Headquarters Detroit, Michigan 10:48 AM EDT
Southwest 544 John Hancock Center Chicago, Illinois 10:51 AM EDT
US Airways 13 Transamerican Pyramid San Francisco, California 10:52 AM EDT
Airtran Airways 111 US Supreme Court Building Washington, DC 10:53 AM EDT
United Airlines 921 Library of Congress Washington, DC 10:57 AM EDT
Delta Airlines 402 Brooklyn Bridge New York City, New York 11:04 AM EDT
American Airlines 47 Verrazano-Narrows Bridge New York City, New York 11:06 AM EDT
Southwest Airlines 2100 National Archieves Washington, DC 11:08 AM EDT
United Airlines 501 Lincoln Memorial Washington, DC 11:12 AM EDT
US Airways 7639 Washington Monument Washington, DC 11:19 AM EDT

Details of the Attacks

The crashes into the World Trade Center were much lower and faster than in OTL. The buildings' capacity was also much higher, possibly 100,000 or more. At the Pentagon, the plane dived straight down at the building, damaging a much larger section than in OTL. Due to the much lower levels of impact at the WTC, the towers tipped over rather than collapsed, similar to the vision of the 1993 bombing. As a result, nearby buildings were also severely damaged or destroyed. The same held true for the Sears Tower, US Bank Tower, Columbia Center, Space Needle, and the Empire State Building. Due to the weaker structural nature of the other targets, they all collapsed or tipped over either immediately or within a few minutes of impact. For the 31st and final plane, KSM did as he originally wanted: He boarded a Delta Airlines flight at JFK Airport. After hijacking it, he returned to the airport where he made a live cellphone connection to CNN. He then made a very angry, terrifying, and threatening speech against the US. When he was finished, viewers were forced to listen in shock, horror, and disgust as KSM clearly paraded the flight crew to the exit and cut their heads off. After killing the rest of the adult males, he released all of the women and children.

US Response

Upon impact of the second plane, the FAA initiated Security Control of Air Traffic and Air Traffic Aids (SCATANA) for the first time ever and ordered all planes flying over the US to land. But tragically, the order would come too late for the terrorists made their moves right there and then. Thanks to a fifteen minute warning, President Bush and his staff were evacuated from the White House and put on Air Force One. He and the Joint Chiefs of Staff ordered the US Military placed on the highest alert level of Defense Condition (DEFCON) 1 for the first time in history. The commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) also declared an Air Defense Emergency because the planes were being used as missiles. After the impact of the second plane, the Air Force scrambled multiple fighter jets to try to find the other hijacked planes. But the shrewd hijackers ended all radio communications and were highly trained in piloting, allowing them to fly the planes well, making it almost impossible to distinguish between hijacks and non-hijacks. Bush was rushed to Barksdale Air Force Base, in Shreveport, Louisiana. Here, he made initial remarks and encouraged America to be strong. He was then flown to Offut Air Force Base, home of the United States Strategic Command, in Nebraska. It was here that Bush activated the national Emergency Alert System and issued the first ever Emergency Action Notification. Unlike OTL, which did not see the activation of the EAS, these attacks were much more dispersed, making it much more difficult for Americans to find shelter. They needed to know where it was safe and where it wasn't. Despite the opposition from his staff, the President wanted to return to Washington. He did not want Al-Qaeda to have the satisfaction of knowing that he was hiding. He also wanted to project calm in the American people. In order to ensure this, Bush spoke in front of the rubble of the destroyed US Capitol Building at 8:30 PM EDT. He swore that Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda would pay dearly for their act of barbarity and war and vowed to rebuild the nation. In order to keep Bush safe, the Secret Service wanted him to sleep at the bunker at Camp David. Bush agreed to go to Camp David, but refused to sleep in the bunker. US financial markets closed for the next 2 weeks, as well as major highways, bridges, tunnels, and all other major mass transportation systems until it was confirmed that there are were no more terrorist threats to the infrastructure.

Aftermath

From 8:48 AM EDT until a month later, the attacks were the only thing covered on the news. Air Force fighter jets patroled the skies over all major US cities for 3 months. Aircraft carriers sailed to all coastal cities. All civilian air traffic remained grounded indefinitely until it was confirmed that there were no more major terrorist threats. Rescue and recovery operations ran non-stop across the US. However, there were only very few survivors. In New York, only 18 people were pulled out alive from the ruins of the World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, the UN Building, the Statue of Liberty, and the Brooklyn and Verrazano-Narrow's Bridges. In DC, 12 people in total were pulled out alive from the rubble of the US Capitol, White House, Library of Congress, Supreme Court Building, FBI and CIA Headquarters, Lincoln Memorial, and Washington Monument. All of these results would only echo throughout the US as only a small handful of people were pulled out alive. The total fatalities from September 11, 2006: 800,000+. 5 years after the attacks, the US tracked Bin Laden to a compound in Abbotabad, Pakistan. After many months of gathering evidence and mission preparation, the US sent in the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (Navy SEAL Team 6) under cover of night to capture or kill him. The mission was highly successful. On the night of the 5 year anniversary of the attacks, not only did the SEALs kill Bin Laden, but they also gathered a wealth of information that would be extremely useful in the War on Terror. Today, the War on Terror is ongoing with the US Military placed indefinitely at DEFCON 2.

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