In 2001, the terrorist organization al-Qaeda attacked a series of targets inside the United States. The Pentagon was the symbol of America's military strength, and the second planned DC target (presumed to be either the White House or Congress) represented the seat of the U.S. government. But what I've never understood was, what was Al Qaeda's motivation for selecting the Twin Towers as a target, not once but twice?

It seems like there is no shortage of prominent and impressive skyscrapers in the United States, or even just New York. If their motivation was to terrorize, destroy an iconic landmark, or just kill thousands, it could have been accomplished just as easily with the Empire State Building, the Chyrsler Building, Sears Tower, George Washington Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, etc. In fact, al-Qaeda could have hit two two targets with the planes they used to destroy the Twin Towers.

Has anyone ever shed any light on the decision-making at the highest levels of al-Qaeda when selecting the World Trade Center as a target on either occassion?

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    Understand this was not the first time the old World Trade Center was targeted by Al Qaeda. If I recall, the reason the WTC was targeted both in 1993 and 2001 was a belief that the towers exemplified the American free market and Al Qaeda's extrapolation of this into ongoing support for Arabic oil-exporting monarchies. Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 5:45

1 Answer 1


The answer you are looking for is in the name of the building.

World Trade Center.

The Pentagon is the seat of military power for the United States, and the White House is the seat of Political power for the United States, but the World Trade Center, when it stood, was a bustling and busy tower that stood as a testament and as a focal point for the Economic Power of the United States.

It certainly had an effect in that regard. (Pardon the Wikipedia reference, but it is quite complete on the economic impact of the attack).

  • Do we have any captured documents or intercepts of the terrorists that say why the WTC was chosen over other economic symbols? Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 23:19

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