September 11, 2021, marks the 20 year anniversary of Al-Qaeda terrorists attacking the United States – a day that changed the course of history.
The National Counterterrorism Center honors the lives lost on 9/11 by displaying a series of items recovered after the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and crash site near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
In front of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s main auditorium, at Liberty Crossing, artifacts donated to NCTC are displayed, including steel fragments and an American flag recovered from the World Trade Center as well as limestone blocks from the Pentagon.
Nearly 3,000 people were killed, and countless more suffered immediate injuries and long-term health issues that are still being felt to this day.
September 11th remains the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history and exposed systemic issues with how counterterrorism information was coordinated across the Intelligence Community and U.S. government.
After the attacks, the Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC) was created in 2003 and mandated to integrate Counter-Terrorism capabilities and missions across the government, including the ingestion and use of terrorist screening information.
TTIC was later incorporated into the National Counterterrorism Center by Executive Order 13354, which became the foundation for codifying NCTC’s authorities under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.
Additionally, the 9/11 Commission report of July 2004 proposed sweeping change in the Intelligence Community, which resulted in Congressional passage of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.
Through EO 13354 and subsequently IRTPA, NCTC was given the responsibilities for not only integrating analysis and coordinating information sharing and situational awareness, but also for strategic operational planning in direct support to the President.
The IRTPA also created ODNI and the formal position of the DNI to improve information sharing, promote a strategic unified direction, and ensure integration across the U.S. Intelligence Community. NCTC is now aligned under ODNI.
The lessons learned through the 9/11 Commission led to the current day NCTC Operations Center’s 24/7 capabilities.
The hallway outside of NCTC’s Operation Center features a series of artifacts that memorialize the attacks of Sept. 11th.
There are artifacts from airplane debris recovered from the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93, including a air phone, as well as parts of the plane siding donated from the National Park Service from the United Airlines Flight 93 National Memorial.
United Airlines Flight 93 was hijacked by four al-Qaeda terrorists, as part of the September 11 attacks. All 44 people on board were killed, including the four hijackers, after the plane crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania following an attempt by the passengers and crew to regain control of the plane.
Additionally, in NCTC’s museum there are a series of items honoring those who worked to save lives at Ground Zero, donated by the New York State Museum.
In the days following the 9/11 attacks, thousands of people flooded the streets of Manhattan, eager to help with the rescue effort at Ground Zero.
On September 11, 2001, firefighters, police officers, and volunteer civilians handed out food, water, and medical supplies to victims and rescue workers. As a nation, we persisted, we endured, we rebuilt and we thrived once again. These items remind us that in a time of tragedy there was humanity.