Political map of North America & the Caribbean 11 September 2001 (September 11 attacks): To defeat Iraq (Operation Desert Storm), the US had based troops in Saudi Arabia—a move which offended a number of Muslims. One of them was the Islamist militant Osama bin Laden, whose Al-Qaeda group began conducting terrorist attacks on US-linked targets, culminating on September 11, 2001, when Al-Qaeda operatives flew hijacked passenger jets into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Virginia, with an attack on the White House in Washington DC being narrowly thwarted (September 11 attacks).