Hijacked aircraft were flow into both of the main towers at the World Trade Centre in New York City, New York completely destroying the complex. A third aircraft was flown into the Pentagon building in Virginia badly damaging the headquarters of the US military.
A fourth aircraft was brought down by its passengers in a field in Pennsylvania. It is believed that this plane was intended to crash into the US Capitol in Washington D.C.
This was the worst terror attack in US history. With 2,977 people killed and more than 6,000 injured I believe it remains the worst terror attack committed anywhere in the World ever.
The aircraft were hijacked by 15 citizens of Saudi Arabia, 2 citizens of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and 2 citizens of Egypt and Lebanon respectively.
So in 2003 America invaded Iraq.
By invading Iraq the US created the space for Al Qaeda to enter the country. In October 2004 the Al Qaeda affiliate "Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn/Organisation for Jihad's Base in Mesopotamia" was created by Abu Musab al-Zarqwi. This was commonly know by the Americans as; "Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI)."
In June 2006 Abu Musab al-Zarqwi was killed by US forces. He was replaced as leader of AQI by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who renamed the group; "Islamic State of Iraq (ISI)."
Despite al-Baghdadi's delusions of grandeur ISI were largely suppressed. Both by US forces and the "Awakenings" or "Sahwah" movement. This saw the US and the Iraqi government pay Sunni Arab tribes in particularly Anbar Province to fight against ISI and other Sunni Islamist groups.
In 2011 then US President Barack Obama declared that the war in Iraq had been won. He started withdrawing US troops from Iraq and brought an end to the Awakenings movement.
This allowed ISI to flourish once again in Iraq. It also allowed them to expand to north-eastern Syria where they changed their name again to; "al-Dawlah al-Islamiyyah fi al-
Turkey under President/Prime Minister/Emperor Recep Tayyip Erdogan along with the US under Obama then started supporting ISIL.The objective of this support was for ISIL to overthrow the secular government of Syria replacing it with a Sunni Islamist government that is the puppet of Erdogan.
That would be the first step in realising Erdogan's dream of re-establishing the Ottoman Empire across the entire Middle-East, North Africa (MENA).
At the same time Erdogan was establishing a Sunni Islamist puppet regime in Egypt. The Ottoman Empire really came into being after it defeated the Egyptian based Mamluk Empire in a battle at the Syrian town of Dabiq in 1516.
Quite why former President Obama decided to support ISIL to allow Erdogan to establish a Middle-Eastern Empire remains a complete mystery to me.
Despite several years of support by Erdogan and Obama by the autumn of 2013 ISIL were in extremely bad shape in Syria. The Syrian forces had restricted them to an area around the Euphrates River basin in north-eastern Syria and the group was on the brink of defeat.
So in December 2013 ISIL returned to Iraq taking over the predominately Sunni south-western Anbar Province. In August 2014 ISIL overran northern Iraq's Nineveh Province. This invasion included committing a genocide of Iraqis who follow the Yezidi religion and taking control of the city of Mosul.
Refreshed by weapons, money and recruits stolen from Iraq the battle in Syria once again swung back in ISIL's favour. They were able to overrun almost the entire the north-east of the country and its centre coming close to the capital Damascus.
ISIL though hit a roadblock in September 2014 when they tried to overrun the city of Kobane. This sits on Syria's northern border with Turkey around 30km (20 miles) east of where the Euphrates River enters Syria.
A predominately Kurdish city Kobane was defended by the People's Protection Units (YPG). Over the course of a gruelling six month battle the YPG not only stopped ISIL seizing Kobane they drove them back as far as the town of Ayn Issa around 90km (55 miles) to the south-east.
Having defeated ISIL at Kobane the YPG then set about forming the Syrian Democrat Forces (SDF/QSD) coalition. Alongside the YPG the SDF is made up of Christian, Turkmen and Arab forces. The Arab element which makes up around 50% of the coalition is made up of both fragments of the long defunct Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Arab tribes indigenous to northern Syria.
The formation of the SDF cut off ISIL's access to Syria's border with Turkey along as roughly 160km (95 mile) wide area from the Euphrates River in the west to Syria's border with Iraq to the east. For operational reasons this constantly growing area which cuts across several of Syria's provinces has been designated; "Shangri-La."
The SDF also control another area designated; "Afrin Canton" in the north-west of Syria. In August 2016 the SDF were prevented from linking Afrin Canton and Shangri-La by an illegal invasion of northern Syria by regular Turkish forces.
Those Turkish troops continue to occupy a roughly 100km (60 mile) wide area between the Euphrates to the east and Azaz/Kilis to the west. This area has been designated; "Garvaghy Road." The purpose of the invasion and occupation was to keep open supply lines between ISIL and Turkey.
In the meantime ISIL's genocide of the Yezidis in northern Iraq finally shamed the international community to take action. Under Chapter 7 of the United Nations (UN) Charter Resolution 2170 (2014) was issued and a global military coalition - Combined Joint Task Force: Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTFOIR) was formed under American leadership.
Due to former President Obama's lingering support for ISIL the progress of CJTFOIR was initially extremely slow. For example Obama forbade CJTFOIR for supporting the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) in an operation to liberate the city of Tikrit in the spring of 2015.
However by the summer of 2016 the ISF with the support of CJTFOIR had been able to liberate the city of Fallujah. This marked the effective liberation of all of Anbar Province from ISIL. With the exception of some small border areas where the Euphrates River enters Iraq from Syria.
On October 17th 2016 (17/10/16) an operation was launched to liberate Mosul. Since the invasion in the summer of 2014 this had functioned as ISIL's de facto capital within Iraq.
In launching this operation former President Obama's primary objective was the November 2016 US Presidential Election. He wanted lots of positive headlines to propel his designated successor to victory.
Obama also wanted to preserve ISIL as much as possible so Hillary Clinton could go on using them to try and overthrow Syria's secular government.
Therefore the key part of Obama's plan for the battle of Mosul was to leave the entire western side of the city undefended. This was to allow ISIL to flee back up the the Euphrates River to Raqqa - their de facto capital in Syria - while only mounting a symbolic defence of Mosul.
It was then pointed out to Obama by other members of CJTFOIR that if ISIL were free to flee to Raqqa they were also free to flee from Raqqa up the Garvaghy Road to Turkey. From Turkey they would be free to travel to wherever they liked in the World in order to do Erdogan's evil bidding.
So at the start of November 2016 Obama sort panicked under pressure and blurted out that with the support of CJTFOIR the SDF would liberate Raqqa.
The problem was that when Obama made this announcement the SDF were located extremely far away from Raqqa. Their most advanced position was at Ayn Issa which is around 70km (40 miles) north of Raqqa.
Therefore the SDF's first task of the operation codenamed; "Wrath of Euphrates" was to actually advance towards Raqqa. This was done in three phases;
The first phase begun on November 6th (6/11/16) saw the SDF advance south from Ayn Issa to Raqqa. This was completed on November 25th (25/11/16) with the SDF taking up positions roughly 25km (15 miles) north of Raqqa.
The second phase of the operation was launched on December 10th 2016 (10/12/16).
It's objective was to see the SDF sweep down the banks of the Euphrates from the town of Sarrin to the Tabqa Dam. Sarrin is located roughly 70km (40 miles) north-west of Ayn Issa on the banks of the Euphrates while the Tabqa Dam is located around 40km (25 miles) west of Raqqa.
This second phase was completed on January 20th 2017 (20/1/17). It saw the SDF take up positions at Jabour Castle at Lake Assad some 10km (6 miles) west of the Tabqa Dam.
The third phase was launched on February 4th (4/2/17). It's objective was to secure the territory north-west of Raqqa cutting the city off from Deir-ez-Zour - the other major city on the Euphrates around 120km (70 miles) south-east of Raqqa.
This third phase was completed on March 19th (19/3/17) with the SDF taking up positions around al-Karamah which is roughly 30km (20 miles) south-east of Raqqa.
On March 22nd (22/3/17) the SDF launched an operation to liberate both the town of Tabqa and the Tabqa Dam. This was completed on May 11th (11/5/17).
While the SDF were advancing towards Raqqa ISIL seemed to be operating under the impression they would get the same deal from CJTFOIR they got in Mosul.
That is to say they would be allowed to largely flee Raqqa to establish a new de facto capital in the town of Mayadin. This sits on the Euphrates River roughly 175km (105 miles) south-east of Raqqa.
As it turns out ISIL didn't even get the deal Obama promised them in Mosul.
On October 29th 2016 (29/10/16) the Popular Mobilisation Force (PMF) militia element of the ISF broke from Obama's plan and established a front to the west of Mosul. By November 16th 2016 (16/11/17) this had effectively sealed Mosul off from Syria.
The November 2016 US Presidential Election was won not by Obama's designated successor Hillary Clinton but by Donald Trump.
Upon taking up office in January 2017 President Trump changed CJTFOIR's rules of engagement allowing them to more aggressively strike ISIL. Particularly their convoys travelling from Raqqa to Mayadin.
Within the UK this change has very much been in the news recently.
Last Thursday (12/10/17) it was made public that the British female ISIL fighter Sally Jones had been killed in CJTFOIR airstrike back in June 2017. Jones is sometimes also known as; "Umm Hussain al-Britani," "The White Widow" or "Lindsay Lohan" The strike had taken place as she and other ISIL fighters were travelling from Raqqa to Mayadin.
As a result of both the actions of the PMF and CJTFOIR's new rules of engagement ISIL's plans to establish a new de facto capital in Mayadin seem to have failed.
However their abandonment of the city as their capital and the largescale withdrawal from Raqqa did significantly undermine their ability to defend the city.
On June 6th (6/6/17) the SDF operation to liberate Raqqa itself began.
ISIL's plan for the defence of Raqqa appears to have been built around establishing a sort of main headquarters within the central areas of the city. Roughly in the area between the an-Nadah district to the west and the Old City district to the east.
This believed main headquarters actually stretches across several districts including al-Baytra, Hanah, Amin and what is known as the Security Box. It is perhaps better defined by landmarks such as Harun al-Rashid Gardens, April 7th Park, the National Hospital and the Municipal Football Stadium.
ISIL seemed to assume that the SDF would attack from the north. As a result they established the bulk of their defences to the north of the city. Roughly between the old Syrian Army - Division 17 - base and the area of their main headquarters.
Instead what the SDF actually did was attack in three directions; The North, The West and the East. At the same time the SDF swept west-to-east from Tabqa along the southern bank of the Euphrates in order to isolate Raqqa from the main body of Syria.
The northern axis' first task was to liberate the Division 17 base. They completed that task on or around August 1st (1/8/17) before entering into a holding pattern.
The SDF's western axis entered the Raqqa via the Jazra suburb. By July 3rd (3/7/17) it had succeeded in completely liberating the Sabahiya, Romaniyah, al-Qadisiyyah and al-Hattin districts and parts of the an-Nadah and al-Baryd districts. These all sit on the western outskirts of Raqqa.
The SDF's eastern axis began by entering the Mashlab district at the most south-easterly tip of Raqqa on June 6th (6/6/17). By June 17th (17/6/17) it had succeeded in liberating the Mashlab, al-Sinaa and Bitani districts. These all sit on the eastern outskirts of Raqqa.
On July 2nd (2/7/17) the eastern axis entered the Hisham Abdulmalik district at the very south of Raqqa on the banks of the Euphrates.
On July 17th (17/7/17) the western axis entered the Shahada district. This also sits at the very south of Raqqa directly adjacent to the Hisham Abdulmalik district.
On August 10th (10/8/17) the SDF were able to declare both the Hisham Abdulmalik and Shahada districts fully liberated. This linked the eastern and western axis liberating the south of Raqqa from ISIL.
The SDF then set about liberating the districts which sit between the eastern and western outskirts and the area of ISIL's believed main headquarters.
On September 2nd (2/9/17) the SDF's eastern axis succeeded in fully liberating the Old City district. This sits north of the Hisham Abdulmalik district, west of the al-Sinaa district and one city block east of the Harun al-Rashid Gardens.
On September 8th (8/9/17) the SDF's western axis liberated the Darayeh district. This sits directly north of the Shahada district and directly west of the al-Moroor district.
On September 10th (10/9/17) the western axis liberated the al-Moroor district itself. This also sits directly north of the Shahada district, directly west of the Security Box.
In doing this the SDF liberated a number of the key buildings that make up ISIL's believed headquarters.
On August 28th (28/8/17) the SDF's western axis liberated the Children's Hospital Complex. This is located on the junction between Shahada district, al-Moroor district and the Security Box. It had long been used by ISIL as a military base and a command & control centre.
On September 6th (6/9/17) the SDF's western axis liberated the Court House and Criminal Security complex. This sits north of where al-Moroor district meets an-Nadah district and is directly across the road from the National Hospital Complex.
On September 12th (12/9/17) the SDF's eastern axis liberated the Governate Building. This sits directly north of the Hisham Abdulmalik district roughly 200 metres/yards or one city block south of Harun al-Rashid Gardens.
On September 28th (28/9/17) ISIL finally realised that their central headquarters were being overrun from the south, west and east. This prompted them to withdraw their forces from the north of the city in an attempt to defend the central area.
This triggered a mass collapse in ISIL defences. In quick succession they lost many of the key landmarks in their central headquarters and several neighbourhoods in the north-east of the city. At the same time the SDF's northern axis ended their holding pattern and began advancing south.
These rapid gains meant that by October 3rd (3/10/17) ISIL were limited to a small area in the north of the city. This area was a rough "V" shape with the Naem Roundabout junction at its tip spanning out north to include parts of al-Wahdah, Hurriyah and Thawrah districts.
ISIL did though continue to hold on to two of the key landmarks within its central headquarters. The National Hospital Complex and the Municipal Football Stadium.
ISIL had been able to hold on to these locations by kidnapping potentially thousands of civilians from the surrounding area and holding them a human shields. ISIL then rigged both locations with explosives and were using heavy weapons to defend them from the SDF.
This made it extremely difficult for the SDF to liberate those locations. From a military perspective there was only two outcomes I could see;
Firstly CJTFOIR bombs both the locations. This would completely destroy the buildings, kill all the ISIL fighters and kill all the hostages.
Secondly the SDF try to mount a raid on the locations. This would prompt ISIL to blow up the buildings like the blew up the Grand Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul. That would completely destroy the buildings, kill all the ISIL fighters, kill all the civilians and kill all the members of the SDF taking part in the raid.
So instead the SDF set about negotiating the surrender of the ISIL fighters in the locations and the release of all the hostages. That negotiation was successfully completed on Sunday (15/10/17) with the surrender of 350 ISIL fighters and the release of over 1,300 civilians.
Throughout the naturally very secretive negotiations there were lots of rumours about whether the agreement would apply only to local, Syrian ISIL fighters or all ISIL fighters including foreigners. There also lots of rumours about whether the surrendering fighters would go to Deir-ez-Zour, Ayn Issa or Tabqa and whether they would be set free or not.
As it turns out the surrender only applied to Syrian ISIL fighters who are members of local Arab tribes. At least 270 of the 350 have been transferred to Tabqa where they are in prison awaiting trial.
Sunday's (15/10/17) mass surrender meant that there were only a handful of foreign ISIL fighters remaining in Raqqa to defend the V area and the National Hospital and Municipal Stadium Complexes.
Over the course of Monday (16/10/17) the SDF were able to oust those remaining fighters from that V area including the Naem Roundabout junction. On Tuesday (17/10/17) they took control of both the National Hospital and Municipal Stadium complexes.
Obviously the SDF still have mopping up operations to complete to make sure there are no ISIL fighters left hiding amid the ruins.
However those gains mean that the SDF were able to declare that after 133 days of battle Raqqa was fully liberated from ISIL on October 17th 2017 (17/10/17).
Exactly a year to the day after the operation to liberate Mosul - ISIL's de factor capital in Iraq - began.
Meanwhile the Syrians with the support of Russia have been conducting their own operation to liberate the southern banks of the Euphrates from ISIL.
On Saturday (14/10/17) they were able to liberate Mayadin.
With the exception of an isolated area in Hama Province this leaves ISIL scattered in a small area in the Euphrates River basin between the Khobar River and the Syria/Iraq border.
16:45 on 18/10/17 (UK date).