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2001: The terror attacks that changed the world

US deals with tragedy; Singapore banks merge; HDB builds to order.


FOUR commercial jets crashed in the United States on Sept 11, 2001, three into heavily occupied buildings, in the world's deadliest ever terror attack.

The tragedy led the United States into deep military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, and pushed governments around the world to reassess the threat of unconventional attacks.

The first crash came at 8:46am in New York, when hijackers flew American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Centre in downtown Manhattan. That was followed by another plane crashing into the South Tower, then one into the Pentagon near Washington, DC. A fourth plane believed to have been headed for the White House or the Capitol Building crashed in a field in Pennsylvania when passengers subdued the hijackers.

The attacks killed 2,996 people, including the hijackers, and total costs associated with the attacks were estimated to be about US$3 trillion, making Sept 11 the deadliest ever terrorist attack.

The disaster provided a basis for subsequent military action in Afghanistan and Iraq, decisions that have been linked to ongoing unrest in the Middle East, including the rise of the extremist Islamic State. Around the world, governments also stepped up efforts to combat terrorism and to improve security at airports and in public spaces.

Before Sept 11 struck, Singapore was in the midst of a historic banking merger. The crown jewel turned out to be Overseas Union Bank (OUB), over which United Overseas Bank (UOB) and DBS Bank were jostling for control. The battle for OUB cemented UOB chairman Wee Cho Yaw's dealmaking prowess, as he won the acceptance of OUB statesman Lien Ying Chow after a personal visit.

The Singapore public housing system also received a structural update with the introduction of the build-to-order scheme, which was touted as a way to match housing supply with market demand.

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