Bush was in a school when his chief of staff informed him about the attack. (Photo: Youtube video screengrab)
The United States on Wednesday honoured almost 3,000 people killed in the deadly terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 also known as the 9/11 attack when hijacked Al-Qaeda planes brought down the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre.
It has been 18 years since al-Qaida hijackers commandeered four US commercial airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The attack was one of the deadliest terrorist strikes on the US soil.
However, when the first plane hit the World Trade Centre, then US president George W Bush, who was in a school, first thought it was a "terrible accident" due to the pilot’s mistake.
In an interview given the National Geographic Channel, Bush had recalled what he was thinking and feeling when he first heard about the attack from his chief of staff and what drove the real-time, life-or-death decisions he faced after the most lethal terrorist attacks ever on U.S. soil.
"I was at a school when my chief of staff told me about a plan hitting the Word Trade Centre. Initially I thought it was a terrible accident. I also fly planes so I though the pilot might have made a terrible mistake. However, after few minutes, he told me that a second plane has hit the Twin Towers and then I came out and saw on TV a plane hitting the building," Bush had said.
Bush was the US President when the 9/11 attacks took place. Following the strike, he took several hard-line measures, including a crackdown on Asians, especially from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and India. He also declared a war on terrorism that lead to ongoing military engagements in Afghanistan and subsequently Iraq.