September 11, 2001 attacks Quotes

Preludes

Quotations of relevant statements made prior to the attacks.

Should terrorists launch new attacks, we believe their preferred targets will be U.S. Government facilities and national symbols, financial and transportation infrastructure nodes, or public gathering places…
Should terrorists launch new attacks, we believe their preferred targets will be U.S. Government facilities and national symbols, financial and transportation infrastructure nodes, or public gathering places…

  • Should terrorists launch new attacks, we believe their preferred targets will be U.S. Government facilities and national symbols, financial and transportation infrastructure nodes, or public gathering places. Civil aviation remains a particularly attractive target in light of the fear and publicity that the downing on an airline would evoke.
    o National Intelligence Estimate (1995), contained in the 9/11 Commission Report (2004) p.54

  • The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies — civilians and military — is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim.
    o Osama bin Laden, in a translation of a statement he claims to be a fatwa published in the Arabic language newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi (23 February 1998)

  • The pieces of the bodies of infidels were flying like dust particles. If you would have seen it with your own eyes, you would have been very pleased, and your heart would have been filled with joy.
    o Osama bin Laden about the 17 sailors who died in the suicide bombing of the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen, on a video made at the wedding of his son in southern Kandahar (February 2001)

    September 11, 2001

    Quotations of statements made during the events of September 11th, 2001.

  • Something is wrong. We are in a rapid descent… we are all over the place. … I see water. I see buildings. We are flying low. We are flying very, very low. We are flying way too low. … Oh my God, we are way too low… Oh my God! Oh my God.
    o Flight attendant Madeline Amy Sweeney, at the end of her phone call to a supervisor describing the hijacking of American Airlines Flight 11.

  • What do I tell the pilots to do?
    o CNN commentator Barbara Olson, passenger on American Airlines Flight 77, cell phone call to her husband, Solicitor General Theodore Olson.

  • Are you guys ready? Let’s roll.
    o Todd Beamer, passenger on United Airlines Flight 93, last reported words from his cell phone call to Lisa D. Jefferson, a GTC telephone switchboard operator

  • They’re coming.
    o Translation of a statement in Arabic reportedly heard in radio transmissions at the end of United flight 93.

    Aftermath

    Public responses of victims, officials, terrorists and commentators.

    This enemy attacked not just our people, but all freedom-loving people everywhere in the world…
    This enemy attacked not just our people, but all freedom-loving people everywhere in the world…

  • This enemy attacked not just our people, but all freedom-loving people everywhere in the world. The United States of America will use all our resources to conquer this enemy. We will rally the world. We will be patient, we will be focused, and we will be steadfast in our determination…. we will not allow this enemy to win the war by changing our way of life or restricting our freedoms.
    o George W. Bush

    The target of the terrorists was not only New York and Washington but the very values of freedom, tolerance and decency which underpin our way of life.
    The target of the terrorists was not only New York and Washington but the very values of freedom, tolerance and decency which underpin our way of life.

  • September 11 was, and remains, above all an immense human tragedy. But September 11 also posed a momentous and deliberate challenge not just to America but to the world at large. The target of the terrorists was not only New York and Washington but the very values of freedom, tolerance and decency which underpin our way of life.
    o Tony Blair

  • I’m fighting so I can die a martyr and go to heaven to meet God. Our fight now is against the Americans.
    o Osama bin Laden statement in al-Quds al-Arabi, as quoted in “Bin Laden: I Didn’t Do It” CBS News (12 September 2001); also at Positive Atheism’s “Big List of Scary Quotes”

  • It was the advent of the second plane, sharking in low over the Statue of Liberty: that was the defining moment. Until then, America thought she was witnessing nothing more serious than the worst aviation disaster in history; now she had a sense of the fantastic vehemence ranged against her. … For those thousands in the south tower, the second plane meant the end of everything. For us, its glint was the worldflash of a coming future.
    Terrorism is political communication by other means. The message of September 11 ran as follows: America, it is time you learned how implacably you are hated. United Airlines Flight 175 was an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile aimed at her innocence. That innocence, it was here being claimed, was a luxurious and anachronistic delusion.
    o Martin Amis in “Fear and loathing” – The Guardian (18 September 2001)

  • A week after the attack, one is free to taste the bile of its atrocious ingenuity. It is already trite — but stringently necessary — to emphasise that such a mise en scène would have embarrassed a studio executive’s storyboard or a thriller-writer’s notebook (“What happened today was not credible,” were the wooden words of Tom Clancy, the author of The Sum of All Fears). And yet in broad daylight and full consciousness that outline became established reality: a score or so of Stanley knives produced two million tons of rubble.
    o Martin Amis in “Fear and loathing” – The Guardian (18 September 2001)

  • This moment was the apotheosis of the postmodern era — the era of images and perceptions. Wind conditions were also favourable; within hours, Manhattan looked as though it had taken 10 megatons.
    o Martin Amis in “Fear and loathing” – The Guardian (18 September 2001)

    The firefighters were not afraid to die for an idea. But the suicide killers belong in a different psychic category…
    The firefighters were not afraid to die for an idea. But the suicide killers belong in a different psychic category…

  • The bringers of Tuesday’s terror were morally “barbaric”, inexpiably so, but they brought a demented sophistication to their work. They took these great American artefacts and pestled them together. Nor is it at all helpful to describe the attacks as “cowardly”. Terror always has its roots in hysteria and psychotic insecurity; still, we should know our enemy. The firefighters were not afraid to die for an idea. But the suicide killers belong in a different psychic category, and their battle effectiveness has, on our side, no equivalent. Clearly, they have contempt for life. Equally clearly, they have contempt for death.
    Their aim was to torture tens of thousands, and to terrify hundreds of millions. In this, they have succeeded.
    o Martin Amis in “Fear and loathing” – The Guardian (18 September 2001)

    America must have catharsis. We would hope that the response will be, above all, non-escalatory.
    America must have catharsis. We would hope that the response will be, above all, non-escalatory.

  • Violence must come; America must have catharsis. We would hope that the response will be, above all, non-escalatory. It should also mirror the original attack in that it should have the capacity to astonish. A utopian example: the crippled and benighted people of Afghanistan, hunkering down for a winter of famine, should not be bombarded with cruise missiles; they should be bombarded with consignments of food, firmly marked LENDLEASE — USA.
    o Martin Amis in “Fear and loathing” – The Guardian (18 September 2001)

    Our best destiny, as planetary cohabitants, is the development of what has been called “species consciousness” — something over and above nationalisms, blocs, religions, ethnicities.
    Our best destiny, as planetary cohabitants, is the development of what has been called “species consciousness” — something over and above nationalisms, blocs, religions, ethnicities.

  • Our best destiny, as planetary cohabitants, is the development of what has been called “species consciousness” — something over and above nationalisms, blocs, religions, ethnicities. During this week of incredulous misery, I have been trying to apply such a consciousness, and such a sensibility. Thinking of the victims, the perpetrators, and the near future, I felt species grief, then species shame, then species fear.
    o Martin Amis in “Fear and loathing” – The Guardian (18 September 2001)

  • If inciting people to do that is terrorism, and if killing those who kill our sons is terrorism, then let history be witness that we are terrorists.
    o Osama bin Laden on the September 11, 2001 attacks, in CNN broadcast of an interview that Al-Jazeera conducted in October 2001 (31 January 2002)

  • September 11 was a day of de-Enlightenment. Politics stood revealed as a veritable Walpurgis Night of the irrational. And such old, old stuff. The conflicts we now face or fear involve opposed geographical arenas, but also opposed centuries or even millennia. It is a landscape of ferocious anachronisms: nuclear jihad in the Indian subcontinent; the medieval agonism of Islam; the Bronze Age blunderings of the Middle East. … The champions of militant Islam are, of course, misogynists, woman-haters; they are also misologists — haters of reason. Their armed doctrine is little more than a chaotic penal code underscored by impotent dreams of genocide. And, like all religions, it is a massive agglutination of stock response, of cliches, of inherited and unexamined formulations.
    o Martin Amis in “The voice of the lonely crowd” – The Guardian, (1 June 2002)

    We come back to this place to remember the heartbreaking anniversary — and each person who died here — those known and unknown to us, whose absence is always with us.
    We come back to this place to remember the heartbreaking anniversary — and each person who died here — those known and unknown to us, whose absence is always with us.

  • Like all “acts of terrorism” (easily and unsubjectively defined as organised violence against civilians), September 11 was an attack on morality: we felt a general deficit. Who, on September 10, was expecting by Christmastime to be reading unscandalised editorials in the Herald Tribune about the pros and cons of using torture on captured “enemy combatants”? Who expected Britain to renounce the doctrine of nuclear no-first-use? Terrorism undermines morality. Then, too, it undermines reason. … No, you wouldn’t expect such a massive world-historical jolt, which will reverberate for centuries, to be effortlessly absorbed. But the suspicion remains that America is not behaving rationally — that America is behaving like someone still in shock.
    o Martin Amis in “The Palace of the End” -The Guardian (4 March 2003)

  • What happened on September 11? On September 11 — what happened? Picture this: two upended matchboxes, knocked over by the sheer force of paper-darts.
    Only it was much, much worse than that. In fact, words alone cannot adduce how much worse it was than that. September 11 was an attack on words: we felt a general deficit. And with words destroyed, we had to make do, we had to bolster truth with colons and repetition: not only repetition: but repetition and: colons. This is what we adduce.
    o Martin Amis in “The world: an explanation” in The Daily Telegraph (8 March 2003)

  • Every Muslim, from the moment they realize the distinction in their hearts, hates Americans, hates Jews and hates Christians. For as long as I can remember, I have felt tormented and at war, and have felt hatred and animosity for Americans.
    o As quoted in Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden (2005) by Bruce Lawrence ISBN 1844670457

  • Five years have come, and five years have gone, and still we stand together as one. We come back to this place to remember the heartbreaking anniversary — and each person who died here — those known and unknown to us, whose absence is always with us.
    o Michael Bloomberg, NYC Mayor (September 11, 2006) Sept. 11, 5 years later: ‘We stand together’

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