Zero Hour: A History of 9/11

Zero Hour: A History of 9/11

A narrative nonfiction podcast chronicling the people and events leading up to the attacks of September 11th, 2001.


April 8, 2024 154 mins

2001 - 2011

Osama bin Laden pulls off a disappearing act at the Battle of Tora Bora, and spends the rest of his life as the world's most wanted terrorist, on the run or in hiding.  
After nearly a decade's worth of intelligence leads and special forces operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the manhunt for the Al Qaeda leader culminates with a risky, top secret raid at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.  

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2002 - 2009

With the Taliban ousted and Al Qaeda on the run, the United States begins to shift its attention and resources to Saddam Hussein and Iraq.  
The United States and its allies topple the Hussein regime fairly quickly, and soon learn how difficult it is to assume responsibility for running the very fractured country.  
Meanwhile, a new U.S. president orders the CIA to come up with a plan to find Osama bin ...

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November 26, 2022 96 mins

2001 - 2002
In the aftermath of 9/11, the United States and its allies invade Afghanistan for the beginning of a decades-long stay.  Al Qaeda and the Taliban are decisively routed in a matter of weeks, but Osama bin Laden manages to give the U.S. military the slip at Tora Bora.  
Meanwhile, the United States and other countries around the world begin to face new security challenges, from the outside as well as within.  

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April 2, 2022 138 mins

The events of September 11, 2001 are explored from almost every possible angle: the hijackers; the flights; inside the World Trade Center and the Pentagon;  the first responders who risked their lives to save others in an unprecedented emergency; how the President of the United States and top White House officials reacted to the worst attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor. 

It is a story of ordinary people forced to d...

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November 16, 2021 102 mins

 2000 - 2001

While planning 9/11 and running Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden somehow finds time to marry a new bride, and his other wives aren't happy about it. As 9/11 approaches, his family life begins to fall apart, and eventually he is forced to make a choice.  

In Washington, George W. Bush is sworn in as president several months after a closely contested election. His government is filled with experienced Rep...

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November 5, 2021 80 mins

1992 - 2001

This episode is an in-depth look at the nineteen men who carried out the biggest terrorist attack in history.  The story begins with four Muslims who go to Germany to pursue graduate studies and discover radical Islam instead.  These four men - Mohammed Atta, Ramzi Binalshibh, Marwan al Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah - come from very different backgrounds, but by late 1999, they all want to fight jihad.  Within a year,...

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September 30, 2021 117 mins

1980 - 2000

This episode is a look at U.S. counterterrorism policy in the intelligence and law enforcement communities during the years leading up to 9/11, culminating with the Millennium Plot. The episode also profiles some of the men and women who were on the terrorism beat, who heard of Osama bin Laden years before he was a household name.  The CIA creates a virtual station exclusively dedicated to tracking Osama bin La...

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August 22, 2021 123 mins

1996 – 2000 

Now safely set up in Afghanistan with his family, Osama bin Laden begins a media offensive to promote himself and his message, granting a series of interviews to Arab and Western journalists. The initial reaction among world leaders and the public at large? Crickets.  

What does get their attention and puts bin Laden on the global stage is Al Qaeda’s coordinated attacks on the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Bi...

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August 2, 2021 122 mins

1990 – 1997

The assassination of a right-wing rabbi in a New York City hotel offers a hint of the larger threat to come, though its significance is not fully understood at the time.  The assassin has ties to a Brooklyn-based cell of jihadists preparing for war, which culminates with the bombing of the World Trade Center.  

The lives of Ramzi Yousef and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed are examined for the events and forces that drove them to l...

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July 19, 2021 70 mins

1989 – 1996 

Battle-hardened Osama bin Laden is a war hero back in Saudi Arabia when Saddam Hussein threatens the peace and stability of the Middle East by invading and occupying Kuwait. He offers the services of his Afghan mujahedeen to the Saudi royal family to force the Iraqi army out of Kuwait.   

Much to his dismay and growing anger, the royal family declines his offer and invites the United States and its coalition allies to ba...

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July 12, 2021 69 mins

1957 - 1989
 How and where does the story of 9/11 begin? The answer is a tale of two countries: Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. 
This first episode looks into Osama bin Laden's family history and formative years, his education, and the bin Laden family's long and highly profitable relationship with the Saudi royal family.
The scene shifts after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 outrages Muslims around...

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July 6, 2021 3 mins

It's considered one of the defining events of the 21st Century, whose consequences are still being felt and are playing out two decades later. If we are to understand how we got to that terrible day, it is necessary to understand the people and the geopolitical events that set the stage for 9/11, sometimes decades in advance. 

Based on an extensive review of the historical record, combined with original interviews wit...

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