The movie begins by suggesting that friends and political allies of George W. Bush at Fox News Channel tilted the election of 2000 by prematurely declaring Bush the winner. It then suggests the handling of the voting controversy in Florida constituted election fraud.
On September 11, 2001, Port Authority Police officers John McLoughlin and Will Jimeno are patrolling the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan when they see a plane fly dangerously low overhead. As all of the police officers return to the station, they see on TV that the North Tower of the World Trade Center has been hit by the plane. Sergeant McLoughlin assigns many of the officers to assist in a precautionary evacuation attempt of the North Tower and they board a Metropolitan Transit Authority bus. On the bus, they hear reports that the South Tower is also hit by another plane. When they arrive at the World Trade Center, they realize the extent of the disaster, and see one of the victims jump out of the towers to certain death. The men proceed to get safety equipment from Building 5 and enter the concourse between the towers.
In 2003, Maya, a young U.S. Central Intelligence Agency officer, has spent her entire brief career, since graduating from college and being recruited for the agency, focused solely on gathering intelligence related to Osama bin Laden, leader of al-Qaeda, following the terrorist organization's attack on the United States in 2001. She is reassigned to the U.S. embassy in Pakistan to work with a fellow officer, Dan. During the first months of her assignment, Maya often accompanies Dan to a black site for his continuing interrogation of Ammar al-Baluchi, a detainee with suspected links to several of the hijackers in the September 11 attacks. Dan subjects the detainee to approved interrogation techniques, i.e., stress positions, hooding, subjection to deafening noise, sleep deprivation, waterboarding, and humiliation. After failing to get al-Baluchi to give up information on an attack in Saudi Arabia, he and Maya eventually trick Ammar into divulging that an old acquaintance, who is using the alias Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, is working as a personal courier for bin Laden. Other detainees corroborate this, with some claiming Abu Ahmed delivers messages between bin Laden and a man known as Abu Faraj al-Libbi. In 2005, Abu Faraj is apprehended by the CIA and local police in Pakistan. Maya is allowed to interrogate him, but he continues to deny knowing a courier with such a name. Maya interprets this as an attempt by Faraj to conceal the importance of Abu Ahmed.
While serving in the United States Army Special Forces in 2007, John Tyree (Channing Tatum), a Staff Sergeant, is lying on the ground after being shot multiple times in the neck and body, with his comrades gathered around him. In a voiceover, he recalls a childhood trip to the U.S. Mint and compares himself to a coin in the United States Military before stating that the last thing he thought of before he blacked out was "you".
On the morning of September 11, 2001, four al-Qaeda terrorists Ziad Jarrah, Saeed al-Ghamdi, Ahmed al-Nami, and Ahmed al-Haznawi pray in their respective hotel rooms before arriving at Newark Liberty International Airport. The quartet wait at a gate after getting through security to board San Francisco-bound United 93. After 40 minutes of delay due to traffic the plane takes off, flown by captain Jason Dahl and first officer Leroy Homer, with all four terrorists on board.
On the evening of September 11, 2012, the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, a group of Islamic militants attack on the American diplomatic compound and a nearby CIA Annex in Benghazi, Libya. They kill four Americans, including a US Ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens. A security team of six members fight to defend Americans but only partially succeed.
Après les attentats du 11 septembre 2001, une équipe composée d'agents de la CIA et des forces spéciales américaines, menées par le capitaine Mitch Nelson, est envoyée en Afghanistan. Ils collaborent avec le général afghan Abdul Rachid Dostom pour tenter de démanteler les talibans.
In 1991 in New York City, 11-year-old Alyssa "Ally" Craig is waiting with her mother for the subway on the F Line at 18th Avenue and McDonald Avenue. Suddenly, the pair are mugged by two young men who then shoot her mother before boarding the train. Ally is left scarred by the events and refuses to travel by subway again.
Nine-year-old Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) is the son of German American Thomas Schell (Tom Hanks). Thomas would often send Oskar on missions to do something involving one of his riddles. The last riddle he ever gives Oskar is proof that New York City once possessed a Sixth Borough. In a flashback, Thomas and Oskar play a scavenger hunt to find objects throughout New York City. The game requires communication with other people and is not easy for the socially awkward Oskar who is told "If things were easy to find, they wouldn't be worth finding".
Rizwan Khan is a Muslim child who grew up with his brother Zakir and his mother Razia Khan in a middle-class family in the section of Mumbai. Rizwan is different from other children, however. He has certain gifts, particularly a special ability to repair mechanical things. His difference leads to special tutoring from a reclusive scholar and extra attention from his mother, both of which lead to heightened jealousy from his brother Zakir, who eventually leaves his family for a life in the United States.
When the Twin Towers went down in 2001, Charlie Fineman (Sandler) lost everything important in his life. Five years have passed since Charlie's wife and daughters died, and now the once-successful and sociable man has become a withdrawn shadow of his former self.
Avantika Ahuja (Kareena Kapoor) who lives in the United States returns to Delhi after her father has a cardiac arrest. While in Delhi she meets Ehsaan Khan (Saif Ali Khan), a University professor from Mumbai. Being in the same career field at the same place, love blossoms between the two. Meanwhile Avantika gets a call from New York asking her to rejoin her job. She breaks this news to Ehsaan and expresses her desire to work in the US, Ehsaan agrees and joins her but before that Avantika's father has some reservations about his daughter marrying a Muslim. However he gives in as the couple has decided to get married. Eventually they get married and move to the USA.
Ranveer Singh is shocked when his younger brother living in the US is killed in a post-9/11 hate crime. He travels to Los Angeles to bring his brother's murderers to justice. There he meets former LAPD officer Fateh Singh and Pakistani American Rizwan Hyder who help him uncover the truth of what really happened.
In 2011, Anse Rainier (Gary Richardson), an American professor at Lahore University, is kidnapped soon after he leaves a movie theatre. A ransom video is sent to the US embassy, demanding the release of 690 detainees from a Muslim concentration camp in Kot Lakhpat and €700,000 for the children of Waziristan. Bobby Lincoln (Liev Schreiber), an American journalist and undercover CIA informant in Pakistan, arranges to interview a colleague of Rainer, Changez Khan (Riz Ahmed), who he suspects is involved in the kidnapping.