The day that changed the world

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 September, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 September, 2006, 12:00am

Five years ago today, terrorists linked to al-Qaeda hijacked four passenger planes in the United States.

Two of them crashed into the World Trade Centre in New York City, sending the Twin Towers crashing to the ground and causing thousands of civilian deaths. Another plane crashed into the Pentagon, while all passengers died when the fourth one slammed into a field in Pennsylvania.

The 'war on terror' has since intensified, but we are still living under the shadow of extremists who are plotting their next evil plan to disrupt world order.

Amid the gloom, the news last month that the British police had foiled attempts to blow up US-bound commercial jetliners at least gave us an assurance that intelligence officials are one step ahead of the saboteurs.

Though mass civilian casualties were avoided this time, governments around the world remain vigilant over potential terrorist threats.

After the failed hijacking plot came to light, security was tightened at British airports, and carry-on luggage on all trans-Atlantic flights were banned.

In response to the British move, the US government announced plans to ban all liquids and electronic devices from cabin baggage, saying that they could be used as explosives or detonators in mid-air.

Most passengers thought the security measures, although temporary, were too harsh and an infringement of their basic human rights.

Chaos at airline counters caused flights to be delayed or cancelled, leading to thousands of passengers being stranded at airports.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration is hoping that Congress will approve more stringent security measures to protect civilians from terrorists.

As governments implement new legislation as part of the anti-terror campaign, some think that security can only be maintained at the expense of people's rights and freedom.

After that fateful day, it seems the world will never be the same again.

9/11 in numbers

1. 2,973 people died during the attacks.

2. 24 people remain listed as missing.

3. Nearly 200,000 jobs were lost or relocated out of New York City.

4. The economic cost of the catastrophe was estimated at US$27.2 billion.

Word Power

Nouns and verbs

Can you fill in the blanks below? The first one has been done for you.


1. terrorist

2. assurance

3. saboteur

4. _________

5. detonator

6. infringement

7. legislation

Answers on page 11

Fill in the blanks

Can you fill in the blanks below using the above words? You may need to change the structure of some words.

1. Following a rise in cruelty against animals, activists have called for tougher ___________ against animal abuse.

2. Before we set sail, the ship's captain _________ us that his vessel was in good condition.

3. A majority of ordinary people have objected to the proposed __________ of the goods and services tax.

4. Four planes were hijacked by ___________ on September 11, 2001.

5. Many people died when rebels _________ a bomb in a crowded market.

6. Photocopying books without the publishers' permission is an ___________ of intellectual property rights.

7. The police uncovered a plot to ________ the country's oil supply.


1. terrorise

2. _________

3. _________

4. implement

5. ___________

6. _________

7. ____________

Think about it

1. Does the ban on carry-on luggage on planes encroach upon your basic rights?

2. Do you think Hong Kong will become a terrorist target?

3. What should the government do to prevent such attacks?

4. How can we strike a balance between upholding human rights and maintaining security?


Pages 6, 7: Nouns and verbs: 2. assure; 3. sabotage; 4. implementation; 5. detonate; 6. infringe; 7. legislate; Fill in the blanks: 1. legislation; 2. assured; 3. implementation; 4. terrorists; 5. detonated; 6. infringement; 7. sabotage