The use of terror is a worldwide phenomenon for radical groups to gain power. It works by scaring people enough that they are forced to change their patterns of behavior. The 10 largest terrorist attacks ever have left a lasting impression and changed the modern world forever. Here they are in increasing levels of impact.
The attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 were the single largest terror attack in world history. Flying four separate jets, suicide members of Al Qaeda toppled the two towers and crashed into the Pentagon while the attempt with a fourth plane is thought to have been thwarted by passengers who crashed the plane rather than allowing it to be hijacked. This most destructive of the 10 largest terrorist attacks ever stunned the world which cannot ever forget the events of that day.
2. First World Trade Center Attack
In 1993, a driver used a rental van loaded with dangerous explosives in an attempt to bring down the towering World Trade Center. The bombing was planned and organized by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who became the brains behind the attack on the towers in 2001. Major building damage was sustained when the nitrate-hydrogen bomb exploded and six people died that day.
3. Massacre Of Children At The Beslan School In Russia
Armed Chechen and Ingush insurgents chose the softest target of all in 2004: an elementary school filled with innocent children. As the world watched in horror, Russian forces moved in aggressively and the hostages suffered horribly. More than 186 children died that day and the world widely condemned the response of the Russian military.
4. Oklahoma City Federal Building Terror Bomb
With a homemade bomb, perpetrators Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols brought down the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1995. At first thought to be the work of foreign nationals with extreme religious views, the US quickly learned that terror could be home-grown as well. As members of a militia, McVeigh and Nichols engineered one of the largest terrorist attacks that the US had ever witness. It was only eclipsed by the events of 911 in 2001.
5. US Marine Base Bombing In Lebanon
In 1983, the US Marines were in Lebanon as part of a UN Peace Keeping delegation. More than 300 Marines died when a truck bomb detonated inside the camp. A group linked to Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the attack citing the unwanted presence of US military personnel in Lebanon. Subsequently, the UN withdrew all of its troops.
6. Embassy Bombings In Africa
Before 2001, most terror attacks against the United States occurred on foreign soil. In a series of coordinated attacks in 1998, militants detonated high explosives near US embassies located in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. An extremist group known as The Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) is thought to be the source of the attacks. Osama bin Laden’s actions were first uncovered during the investigations.
7. Oregon Salmonella Biological Terror Attack
The first case of biological terror on US soil occurred in 1984 when a fringe religious group wanted to gain political power. Located in Oregon, they spread deadly salmonella into salad bars around the region hoping to kill off voters who would be unlikely to support their candidate. Their leader, an Indian mystic named Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, was never charged but was later deported for other infractions.
8. Mid-Air Destruction Of Pan Am Flight 103
In 1988, a terrorist organization placed a bomb on Pan Am Flight 103. It exploded while flying over Lockerbie, Scotland. All souls on the flight lost their lives and there were numerous injuries on the ground due to falling debris. While many groups took credit for the bombing, authorities suspected that the government of The Sudan was responsible. Sudan finally confirmed that this was the case in 2003 but expressed no regrets.
9. Suicide Bombing Of The USS Cole In Yemen
Most terrorist attacks do not occur at military facilities. In most cases, they target unprotected areas. However, in October of 2000, Al Qaeda operatives successfully approached the USS Cole which it was in port in order to refuel. They moved close to the warship with a boat heavily armed with powerful explosives. The damage to the warship caused a rapid increase in the number of recruits to Al Qaeda’s mission. Larger numbers of active recruits fueled some of the remaining 10 largest terrorist attacks ever.
10. Anthrax Letter To The Senate And News Media
While the US and the world were still reeling from the events of 911, two US senators and several news outlets received letters filled with the deadly anthrax. Panic ensued and the FBI worked quickly to find the perpetrator. It was soon discovered that the source of the anthrax was not an extreme religious group as claimed, but a disgruntled scientist who committed suicide before he could be apprehended.