Terrorists strike U.S.
BY AP Wire Service
Sep 11, 2001
A jet crashes into the World Trade Center on Tuesday morning in New
York. Terrorists crashed two planes into the 110-story twin towers, collapsing both of them.
MOSHE BURSUKER / Associated Press
Andy Card, the White House chief of staff, whispers word to President
Bush of the plane crashes Tuesday into the World Trade Center towers. Bush was at an elementary
school in Sarasota, Fla.
DOUG MILLS / Associated Press
Planes hit NY
NEW YORK -- In one of the most audacious attacks ever against the United States, terrorists
crashed two airliners into the World Trade Center in a deadly series of blows Tuesday that
brought down the twin 110-story towers. A plane also slammed into the Pentagon, bringing the
seat of government itself under attack.
Thousands could be dead or injured, a high-ranking city police official said, speaking on
condition of anonymity.
Authorities had been trying to evacuate those who work in the twin towers when the
glass-and-steel skyscrapers came down in a thunderous roar within about 90 minutes after the
crashes, which took place minutes apart around 8 a.m. CDT. But many people were thought to have
been trapped. About 50,000 people work at the Trade Center and tens of thousands of others
visit each day.
American Airlines initially said the Trade Center was hit by two of its planes, both
hijacked, carrying a total of 156 people. But the airline later said that was unconfirmed. Two
United airliners with a total of 110 aboard also crashed -- one outside Pittsburgh, the other in
a location not immediately identified.
"This is perhaps the most audacious terrorist attack that's ever taken place in the world,"
said Chris Yates, an aviation expert at Jane's Transport in London. "It takes a logistics
operation from the terror group involved that is second to none. Only a very small handful of
terror groups is on that list. . . . I would name at the top of the list Osama bin Laden."
President Bush ordered a full-scale investigation to "hunt down the folks who committed this
Within the hour, the Pentagon took a direct, devastating hit from an aircraft. The fiery
crash collapsed one side of the five-sided structure.
The White House, the Pentagon and the Capitol were evacuated along with other federal
buildings in Washington and New York.
Authorities in Washington immediately called out troops, including an infantry regiment.
The Situation Room at the White House was in full operation.
Authorities went on alert from coast to coast, the U.S. and Canadian borders were sealed,
all air traffic across the country was halted, and security was tightened at strategic
"This is the second Pearl Harbor. I don't think that I overstate it," said Sen. Chuck Hagel,
In June, a U.S. judge had set this Wednesday as the sentencing date for a bin Laden associate
for his role in the bombing of a U.S. embassy in Tanzania that killed 213 people. The
sentencing had been set for the federal courthouse near the World Trade Center. No one from the
U.S. attorney's office could be reached Tuesday to comment on whether the sentencing was still
Afghanistan's hardline Taliban rulers condemned the attacks and rejected suggestions that
bin Laden was behind them, saying he does not have the means to carry out such
well-orchestrated attacks. Bin Laden has been given asylum in Afghanistan.
American Airlines initially identified the planes that crashed into the Trade Center as
Flight 11, a Los Angeles-
bound jet hijacked after takeoff from Boston with 92 people aboard, and Flight 77, which was
seized while carrying 64 people from Washington to Los Angeles.
In Pennsylvania, United Airlines Flight 93, a Boeing 757 en route from Newark, N.J., to San
Francisco, crashed about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh with 45 people aboard. United said
another of its planes, Flight 175, a Boeing 767 bound from Boston to Los Angeles with 65 people
on board, also crashed, but it did not say where. The fate of those aboard the two planes was
not immediately known.
United's pilots union said United Flight 175 crashed into the Trade Center. But the airline
had no immediate comment.
Evacuations were ordered at the United Nations in New York and at the Sears Tower in Chicago.
Los Angeles mobilized its anti-terrorism divi
sion, and security was intensified around the naval installations in Hampton Roads, Va. Walt
Disney World in Orlando, Fla., was evacuated.
At the World Trade Center, "everyone was screaming, crying, running, cops, people,
firefighters, everyone," said Mike Smith, a fire marshal. "It's like a war zone."
"I just saw the building I work in come down," said businessman Gabriel Ioan, shaking in
shock outside City Hall, a cloud of smoke and ash from The planes blasted fiery, gaping holes
in the upper floors of the twin towers. A witness said he saw bodies falling and people jumping
About an hour later, the southern tower collapsed with a roar and a huge cloud of smoke; the
other tower fell about a half-hour after that, covering lower Manhattan in heaps of gray
rubble and broken glass. Firefighters trapped in the rubble radioed for help.
"I have a sense it's a horrendous number of lives lost," Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said. "Right
now we have to focus on saving as many lives as possible."
"Today we've had a national tragedy," Bush said in Sarasota, Fla. "Two airplanes have
crashed into the World Trade Center in an apparent terrorist attack on our country." He said he
would be returning immediately to Washington.
The crashes at the World Trade Center happened minutes apart, beginning just before 8 a.m.
Heavy black smoke billowed into the sky above one of New York City's most famous landmarks,
and debris rained down on the street, one of the city's busiest work areas. When the second
plane hit, a fireball of flame and smoke erupted, leaving a huge hole in the glass and steel