On September 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked four commercial jet planes shortly after taking off from Boston, Newark, and Washington, D.C. Two of the planes were flown directly into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, causing both buildings to collapse; a third slammed into the Pentagon, near Washington, D.C.; and the fourth crashed in a field in central Pennsylvania. About three thousand people were killed, including everyone aboard the four airliners. The hijackings were carried out by a terrorist organization known as al-Qaeda, which had been suspected of bombing two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998 and attacking a U.S. naval ship, the U.S.S. Cole, two years later. Its leader, Osama bin Laden, was a native of Saudi Arabia who was allegedly angry at the growing U.S. presence in the Middle East. U.S. President George W. Bush vowed to wage an offensive war on terrorism, and in October, with broad international support, U.S. forces attacked al- Qaeda bases in Afghanistan (see Chapter 14). The Bush administration had less success in gaining United Nations approval for an attack on the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, which Washington accused of amassing weapons of mass destruction and providing support to terrorist groups in the region.