9/11: 20 Years Later
On 11 September 2001, 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked and crashed four passenger jets, destroying the World Trade Centre towers in New York and damaging the Pentagon. The attack killed almost 3,000 people and injured 25,000, prompting the launch of US-led military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.
'Jill, What is It?' Joe Biden's First Reaction to 9/11 in Spotlight on 20th Anniversary of Attacks
13:44 GMT 11.09.2021 (Updated: 14:12 GMT 11.09.2021)
Back in 2001, US President Joe Biden was a US senator for Delaware who was commuting to Washington on a daily basis. It was during one of his morning trips on the train, when he had apparently learned about the 9/11 tragedy.
As the world commemorates 20 years since the deadly 11 September attacks, US President Joe Biden’s first reaction to the horrific events has seen renewed attention in the media in the light of the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
In Joe Biden’s 2007 memoir 'Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics’, the then-senator recalled his experience on the morning of terror, when two planes hijacked by al-Qaeda terrorists flew into the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
Biden, who was commuting from Wilmington to Washington on that day as usual, was on the phone with his wife Jill, who told him that the second of the planes had crashed into the building.
"Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God,” the future First Lady apparently told her husband as he was on a train.
"Jill, what is it?"
"Another plane ... the other tower."
In the book, Biden recounted seeing smoke around the Capitol when he arrived at Union Station, as a third plane had just hit the side of the Pentagon.
The fourth aircraft, that was flying towards Washington to target either the White House or the Capitol building, later crashed into a Pennsylvania field as passengers fought with the terrorist on board to divert the flight from its intended aim.
Biden’s family apparently told the senator to leave Washington as all House and Senate office buildings were being evacuated, but the senator had refused. He said in the memoir that it was important to "show the country we were still doing business” and pushed to call Congress into session.
"Terrorism wins when, in fact, they alter our civil liberties or shut down our institutions," Biden said back then, according to a transcript of the broadcast. "We have to demonstrate neither of those things have happened."
"This nation is too big, too strong, too united, too much a power in terms of our cohesion and our values to let this break us apart. And it won't happen,” Biden added.
The future president then received a call from Bush himself, who wanted to thank the senator for his TV comments.
Former Rep. Bob Brady of Philadelphia, who has reportedly been with Biden for most of the day, told CNN that during the call the senator had strongly urged Bush to return to Washington immediately:
"You don't want the people to see our leader going into a bunker. Get him out of there, put him back in the White House,” Brady recalled Biden’s words. “And he did, to his credit, he did.”
The recount of the president’s experience of the 9/11 events has been shared by CNN at the time when the US administration is licking wounds around its rambling withdrawal from Afghanistan.
13 US service members and over a hundred of civilians died in Kabul last month following a terrorist attack near the city’s airport as the West was trying to get out its citizens and allies from the country, which had been captured by the Taliban*.
Washington later responded to the attack with an airstrike on Kabul, saying that they had managed to kill two Daesh-K* militants. A bombshell report later argued, however, that in reality the strike killed 10 civilians, including seven children, in what could have been an erroneous judgement about the terrorist suspect’s daily routine.
* Daesh and the Taliban are terrorist groups banned in Russia and many other countries.