Remembering the 9/11


September 11 terror attacks (also known as 9/11 or September 11) were become a series of four combined suicide attacks and targeted against the two famous U.S. States:  New York and Washington, D.C. That beautiful and peaceful morning of September 11, 19 members of Al-Qaeda terror groups hijacked four American passenger jets.   Those hijackers had intentionally collided to the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York; both were collapsed within two hours.  Hijackers crashed a third American plane to the Pentagon Building in Arlington, Virginia.  When passengers attempted to take control of the fourth plane, which was United Airlines Flight 93, crashed into the vacant field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania to divert it from preventing the attack in Washington D.C.

The official death toll during the 9/11 attacks was nearly 3,000 including 19 hijackers and 2,977 victims.  The victims included 246 on the four planes (no survivors spared), 2,606 in New York City in the towers and on the ground, and 125 at the Pentagon.  All the deaths in the attacks were civilians, except for 55 military personnel killed at the Pentagon.

More than 90% of the workers and visitors who died in the towers had been at or above the points of impact. In the North Tower 1,355 people at or above the point of impact were trapped and died of smoke inhalation, fell or jumped from the tower to escape the smoke and flames, or were killed in the building’s eventual collapse. A further of 107 people below the point of impact did not survive. Meanwhile in the South Tower, one stairwell remained intact allowing 18 people to escape from above the point of impact. 630 people died in the South Tower which was fewer than half of the number killed in the North Tower.  Casualties in the South Tower were significantly reduced by the decision of some occupants to start evacuating when the North Tower was struck.

At least 200 people fell or jumped to their deaths from the burning towers, landing on the streets and rooftops of adjacent buildings hundreds of feet below.  Some occupants of each tower above the point of impact made their way upward toward the roof in hope of helicopter rescue, but the roof access doors were locked. No plan existed for helicopter rescues due to the thick, billowing smoke and intense heat because those helicopters could not approach to the burning towers.

A total of 411 emergency workers who responded to the scene died as they tried to rescue people and fire fights. The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) lost 341 firefighters and 2 paramedics. The New York City Police Department (NYPD) lost its 23 officers. The Port Authority Police Department lost 37 officers.  Eight emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics from private emergency medical services units were killed during the collapse of the WTCs twin towers.

THE ENEMY BEHIND 9/11 TERROR ATTACKS

According to the 9/11 Commission Report, that these attacks were carried out by various groups of Islamist extremists. The 9/11 attack was driven by Usama Bin Ladin.

The Commission Report continues,  “In the 1980s, young Muslims from around the world went to Afghanistan to join as volunteers in a jihad (or holy struggle) against the Soviet Union. A wealthy Saudi, Usama Bin Ladin, was one of them. Following the defeat of the Soviets in the late 1980s, Bin Ladin and others formed al Qaeda to mobilize jihads elsewhere.”

“Bin Ladin also stresses grievances against the United States widely shared in the Muslim world. He inveighed against the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, which is the home of Islam’s holiest sites, and against other U.S. policies in the Middle East.”

“Upon this political and ideological foundation, Bin Ladin built over the course of a decade a dynamic and lethal organization. He built an infrastructure and organization in Afghanistan that could attract, train, and use recruits against ever more ambitious targets. He rallied new zealots and new money with each demonstration of al Qaeda’s capability. He had forged a close alliance with the Taliban, a regime providing sanctuary for al Qaeda. ”

“By September 11, 2001, al Qaeda possessed

  • leaders able to evaluate, approve, and supervise the planning and direction of a major operation;
  • a personnel system that could recruit candidates, indoctrinate them, vet them, and give them the necessary training;
  • communications sufficient to enable planning and direction of operatives and those who would be helping them;
  • an intelligence effort to gather required information and form assessments of enemy strengths and weaknesses;
  • the ability to move people great distances; and
  • the ability to raise and move the money necessary to finance an attack.”

A SHOCK, NOT SURPRISE (From 9/11 Commission Report)

The 9/11 attacks were a shock, but they should not have come as a surprise. Islamist extremists had given plenty of warning that they meant to kill Americans indiscriminately and in large numbers. Although Usama Bin Ladin himself would not emerge as a signal threat until the late 1990s, the threat of Islamist terrorism grew over the decade.

In February 1993, a group led by Ramzi Yousef tried to bring down the World Trade Center with a truck bomb. They killed six and wounded a thousand. Plans by Omar Abdel Rahman and others to blow up the Holland and Lincoln tunnels and other New York City landmarks were frustrated when the plotters were arrested. In October 1993, Somali tribesmen shot down U.S. helicopters, killing 18 and wounding 73 in an incident that came to be known as “Black Hawk down.” Years later it would be learned that those Somali tribesmen had received help from al Qaeda.

In early 1995, police in Manila uncovered a plot by Ramzi Yousef to blow up a dozen U.S. airliners while they were flying over the Pacific. In November 1995, a car bomb exploded outside the office of the U.S. program manager for the Saudi National Guard in Riyadh, killing five Americans and two others. In June 1996, a truck bomb demolished the Khobar Towers apartment complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 19 U.S. servicemen and wounding hundreds. The attack was carried out primarily by Saudi Hezbollah, an organization that had received help from the government of Iran.

Until 1997, the U.S. intelligence community viewed Bin Ladin as a financier of terrorism, not as a terrorist leader. In February 1998, Usama Bin Ladin and four others issued a self-styled fatwa, publicly declaring that it was God’s decree that every Muslim should try his utmost to kill any American, military or civilian, anywhere in the world, because of American “occupation” of Islam’s holy places and aggression against Muslims.

In August 1998, Bin Ladin’s group, al Qaeda, carried out near-simultaneous truck bomb attacks on the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The attacks killed 224 people, including 12 Americans, and wounded thousands more.

In December 1999, Jordanian police foiled a plot to bomb hotels and other sites frequented by American tourists, and a U.S. Customs agent arrested Ahmed Ressam at the U.S. Canadian border as he was smuggling in explosives intended for an attack on Los Angeles International Airport.

In October 2000, an al Qaeda team in Aden, Yemen, used a motorboat filled with explosives to blow a hole in the side of a destroyer, the USS Cole, almost sinking the vessel and killing 17 American sailors.

The 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were far more elaborate, precise, and destructive than any of these earlier assaults. But by September 2001, the executive branch of the U.S. government, the Congress, the news media, and the American public had received clear warning that Islamist terrorists meant to kill Americans in high numbers.

1998 to September 11, 2001 (From 9/11 Commission Report)
The August 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania established al Qaeda as a potent adversary of the United States.

After launching cruise missile strikes against al Qaeda targets in Afghanistan and Sudan in retaliation for the embassy bombings, the Clinton administration applied diplomatic pressure to try to persuade the Taliban regime in Afghanistan to expel Bin Ladin. The administration also devised covert operations to use CIA-paid foreign agents to capture or kill Bin Ladin and his chief lieutenants. These actions did not stop Bin Ladin or dislodge al Qaeda from its sanctuary.

By late 1998 or early 1999, Bin Ladin and his advisers had agreed on an idea brought to them by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) called the “planes operation.” It would eventually culminate in the 9/11 attacks. Bin Ladin and his chief of operations, Mohammed Atef, occupied undisputed leadership positions atop al Qaeda. Within al Qaeda, they relied heavily on the ideas and enterprise of strong-willed field commanders, such as KSM, to carry out worldwide terrorist operations.

KSM claims that his original plot was even grander than those carried out on 9/11-ten planes would attack targets on both the East and West coasts of the United States. This plan was modified by Bin Ladin, KSM said, owing to its scale and complexity. Bin Ladin provided KSM with four initial operatives for suicide plane attacks within the United States, and in the fall of 1999 training for the attacks began. New recruits included four from a cell of expatriate Muslim extremists who had clustered together in Hamburg, Germany. One became the tactical commander of the operation in the United States: Mohamed Atta.

U.S. intelligence frequently picked up reports of attacks planned by al Qaeda. Working with foreign security services, the CIA broke up some al Qaeda cells. The core of Bin Ladin’s organization nevertheless remained intact. In December 1999, news about the arrests of the terrorist cell in Jordan and the arrest of a terrorist at the U.S.-Canadian border became part of a “millennium alert.” The government was galvanized, and the public was on alert for any possible attack.

In January 2000, the intense intelligence effort glimpsed and then lost sight of two operatives destined for the “planes operation.” Spotted in Kuala Lumpur, the pair were lost passing through Bangkok. On January 15, 2000, they arrived in Los Angeles.

Because these two al Qaeda operatives had spent little time in the West and spoke little, if any, English, it is plausible that they or KSM would have tried to identify, in advance, a friendly contact in the United States. We explored suspicions about whether these two operatives had a support network of accomplices in the United States. The evidence is thin-simply not there for some cases, more worrisome in others.

We do know that soon after arriving in California, the two al Qaeda operatives sought out and found a group of ideologically like-minded Muslims with roots in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, individuals mainly associated with a young Yemeni and others who attended a mosque in San Diego. After a brief stay in Los Angeles about which we know little, the al Qaeda operatives lived openly in San Diego under their true names. They managed to avoid attracting much attention.

By the summer of 2000, three of the four Hamburg cell members had arrived on the East Coast of the United States and had begun pilot training. In early 2001, a fourth future hijacker pilot, Hani Hanjour, journeyed to Arizona with another operative, Nawaf al Hazmi, and conducted his refresher pilot training there. A number of al Qaeda operatives had spent time in Arizona during the 1980s and early 1990s.

During 2000, President Bill Clinton and his advisers renewed diplomatic efforts to get Bin Ladin expelled from Afghanistan. They also renewed secret efforts with some of the Taliban’s opponents-the Northern Alliance-to get enough intelligence to attack Bin Ladin directly. Diplomatic efforts centered on the new military government in Pakistan, and they did not succeed. The efforts with the Northern Alliance revived an inconclusive and secret debate about whether the United States should take sides in Afghanistan’s civil war and support the Taliban’s enemies. The CIA also produced a plan to improve intelligence collection on al Qaeda, including the use of a small, unmanned airplane with a video camera, known as the Predator.

After the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole, evidence accumulated that it had been launched by al Qaeda operatives, but without confirmation that Bin Ladin had given the order. The Taliban had earlier been warned that it would be held responsible for another Bin Ladin attack on the United States. The CIA described its findings as a “preliminary judgment”; President Clinton and his chief advisers told us they were waiting for a conclusion before deciding whether to take military action. The military alternatives remained unappealing to them.

The transition to the new Bush administration in late 2000 and early 2001 took place with the Cole issue still pending. President George W. Bush and his chief advisers accepted that al Qaeda was responsible for the attack on the Cole, but did not like the options available for a response.

Bin Ladin’s inference may well have been that attacks, at least at the level of the Cole, were risk free.

The Bush administration began developing a new strategy with the stated goal of eliminating the al Qaeda threat within three to five years.

During the spring and summer of 2001, U.S. intelligence agencies received a stream of warnings that al Qaeda planned, as one report put it, “something very, very, very big.” Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet told us, “The system was blinking red.”

Although Bin Ladin was determined to strike in the United States, as President Clinton had been told and President Bush was reminded in a Presidential Daily Brief article briefed to him in August 2001, the specific threat information pointed overseas. Numerous precautions were taken overseas. Domestic agencies were not effectively mobilized. The threat did not receive national media attention comparable to the millennium alert.

While the United States continued disruption efforts around the world, its emerging strategy to eliminate the al Qaeda threat was to include an enlarged covert action program in Afghanistan, as well as diplomatic strategies for Afghanistan and Pakistan. The process culminated during the summer of 2001 in a draft presidential directive and arguments about the Predator aircraft, which was soon to be deployed with a missile of its own, so that it might be used to attempt to kill Bin Ladin or his chief lieutenants. At a September 4 meeting, President Bush’s chief advisers approved the draft directive of the strategy and endorsed the concept of arming the Predator. This directive on the al Qaeda strategy was awaiting President Bush’s signature on September 11, 2001.

Though the “planes operation” was progressing, the plotters had problems of their own in 2001. Several possible participants dropped out; others could not gain entry into the United States (including one denial at a port of entry and visa denials not related to terrorism). One of the eventual pilots may have considered abandoning the planes operation. Zacarias Moussaoui, who showed up at a flight training school in Minnesota, may have been a candidate to replace him.

Some of the vulnerabilities of the plotters become clear in retrospect. Moussaoui aroused suspicion for seeking fast-track training on how to pilot large jet airliners. He was arrested on August 16, 2001, for violations of immigration regulations. In late August, officials in the intelligence community realized that the terrorists spotted in Southeast Asia in January 2000 had arrived in the United States.

These cases did not prompt urgent action. No one working on these late leads in the summer of 2001 connected them to the high level of threat reporting. In the words of one official, no analytic work foresaw the lightning that could connect the thundercloud to the ground.

As final preparations were under way during the summer of 2001, dissent emerged among al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan over whether to proceed. The Taliban’s chief, Mullah Omar, opposed attacking the United States. Although facing opposition from many of his senior lieutenants, Bin Ladin effectively overruled their objections, and the attacks went forward.

September 11, 2001 (From 9/11 Commission Report)
The day began with the 19 hijackers getting through a security checkpoint system that they had evidently analyzed and knew how to defeat. Their success rate in penetrating the system was 19 for 19.They took over the four flights, taking advantage of air crews and cockpits that were not prepared for the contingency of a suicide hijacking.

On 9/11, the defense of U.S. air space depended on close interaction between two federal agencies: the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Existing protocols on 9/11 were unsuited in every respect for an attack in which hijacked planes were used as weapons.

What ensued was a hurried attempt to improvise a defense by civilians who had never handled a hijacked aircraft that attempted to disappear, and by a military unprepared for the transformation of commercial aircraft into weapons of mass destruction.

A shootdown authorization was not communicated to the NORAD air defense sector until 28 minutes after United 93 had crashed in Pennsylvania. Planes were scrambled, but ineffectively, as they did not know where to go or what targets they were to intercept. And once the shootdown order was given, it was not communicated to the pilots. In short, while leaders in Washington believed that the fighters circling above them had been instructed to “take out” hostile aircraft, the only orders actually conveyed to the pilots were to “ID type and tail.”

Like the national defense, the emergency response on 9/11 was necessarily improvised.

In New York City, the Fire Department of New York, the New York Police Department, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the building employees, and the occupants of the buildings did their best to cope with the effects of almost unimaginable events-unfolding furiously over 102 minutes. Casualties were nearly 100 percent at and above the impact zones and were very high among first responders who stayed in danger as they tried to save lives. Despite weaknesses in preparations for disaster, failure to achieve unified incident command, and inadequate communications among responding agencies, all but approximately one hundred of the thousands of civilians who worked below the impact zone escaped, often with help from the emergency responders.

At the Pentagon, while there were also problems of command and control, the emergency response was generally effective. The Incident Command System, a formalized management structure for emergency response in place in the National Capital Region, overcame the inherent complications of a response across local, state, and federal jurisdictions.

Operational Opportunities (From 9/11 Commission Report)
We write with the benefit and handicap of hindsight. We are mindful of the danger of being unjust to men and women who made choices in conditions of uncertainty and in circumstances over which they often had little control.

Nonetheless, there were specific points of vulnerability in the plot and opportunities to disrupt it. Operational failures-opportunities that were not or could not be exploited by the organizations and systems of that time-included

  • not watchlisting future hijackers Hazmi and Mihdhar, not trailing them after they traveled to Bangkok, and not informing the FBI about one future hijacker’s U.S. visa or his companion’s travel to the United States;
  • not sharing information linking individuals in the Cole attack to Mihdhar;
  • not taking adequate steps in time to find Mihdhar or Hazmi in the United States;
  • not linking the arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui, described as interested in flight training for the purpose of using an airplane in a terrorist act, to the heightened indications of attack;
  • not discovering false statements on visa applications;
  • not recognizing passports manipulated in a fraudulent manner;
  • not expanding no-fly lists to include names from terrorist watchlists;
  • not searching airline passengers identified by the computer-based CAPPS screening system; and
  • not hardening aircraft cockpit doors or taking other measures to prepare for the possibility of suicide hijackings.

Financing (From 9/11 Commission Report)
The 9/11 attacks cost somewhere between $400,000 and $500,000 to execute. The operatives spent more than $270,000 in the United States. Additional expenses included travel to obtain passports and visas, travel to the United States, expenses incurred by the plot leader and facilitators outside the United States, and expenses incurred by the people selected to be hijackers who ultimately did not participate.

The conspiracy made extensive use of banks in the United States. The hijackers opened accounts in their own names, using passports and other identification documents. Their transactions were unremarkable and essentially invisible amid the billions of dollars flowing around the world every day.

To date, we have not been able to determine the origin of the money used for the 9/11 attacks. Al Qaeda had many sources of funding and a pre-9/11 annual budget estimated at $30 million. If a particular source of funds had dried up, al Qaeda could easily have found enough money elsewhere to fund the attack.

For more details about the 9/11 Commission Executive Report, visit at http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/911Report_Exec.htm

THE COMMEMORATION

Billions around the world will commemorate the horrible and infamous tenth (10th) year anniversary of September 11 attacks happened in New York, Washington D.C., and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania — all in the United States of America.  Families, relatives, friends, and co-workers of the NYPD, FDNY, and medical staff and the entire crew will read the names of the victims who were perished in 9/11.

During this event, the U.S. officials told on CNN “specific, credible but unconfirmed” information about a potential al Qaeda threat against the United States coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.”

Comments on the Twitter from (@iamchesterdiaz)

I asked one question through the twitter:  “Where were you on 9/11 ten years ago?”  Here are the responses:

Shawn Yao (@shawnyao) showbiz anchor of News 5: “Watching it all happen on TV at home.”

Former U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney (@KristieKenney): “in Washington DC. Heard the plane hit the Pentagon. A day I will never forget.”

Debbie Gibson (@DebbieGibson), U.S. Singer and Actress: “Just finished touring w/NSync n was about to get on plane to NYC.”

Maria Ressa (@maria_ressa), former CNN correspondent: “Jakarta on a treadmill. Soon as I saw 2nd plane crash, I called CNN then booked a flight to Manila. 9/11 was memory!”

Stephanie Henares (@Stephenares), GMA-7 actress: “In highschool. Haha :)”

Manuel Quezon III (@mlq3): “I can’t forget came home from dinner and we switched on tv just as it started and watched horror and history unfold.”

Marigold Haber-Dunca (@marigoldhaber), Newswatch Anchor: “I was in d newsroom. I was doing d late night news then waiting for cue when I saw d horrifying images on our CNN monitor:-(”

Pia Hontiveros (@piahontiveros) anchor, Strictly Politics on ANC: “I was on air, anchoring @strctlypolitics on @ANCALERTS”

Jay Ann Bautista (@JayAnnBautista) former contestant on Pinoy Idol: “seriously? at school doing a report. 😉 i can clearly remember. ;)”

Pia Magalona (@piamagalona) widow of the late master rapper Francis M: “Franz n I had jst picked up my daughter Unna fr l8 nyt event. Heard it on FM radio. Pulled ovr 2 watch it on TV at a resto.”

Soledad O’Brien (@Soledad_OBrien) a CNN special correspondent and an anchor: “downtown nyc. Getting my dry cleaning. Saw the first plane hit. Then the west side hwy where ambulances were lined up.”

Say Alonzo (@sayalonso) an actress and a host: “practicing with the pep squad.”

Ruffy Biazon (@ruffybiazon) former Congressman in Muntinlupa: “I was at home entertaining guests.”

Gregorio Larrazabal (@GoYoLarrazabal) former COMELEC Commissioner: “I was in Manila. Watched on TV the live footage on CNN.”

Erika Tapalla (@ErikaTapalla) News 5 Correspondent: Home on the phone w/ fam in NY”.

 

 

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