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05 May 2009

The Top September 11 Conspiracy Theories

Numerous unfounded conspiracy theories about the September 11 attacks continue to circulate, especially on the Internet. Some of the most popular myths are:

1) The World Trade Center (WTC) twin towers were destroyed by controlled demolitions.

This is how the collapses may have appeared to non-experts, but demolition experts point out many differences:

• Demolition professionals always blow the bottom floors of a structure first, but the WTC tower collapses began at the upper levels, where the planes hit the buildings.

• Non-experts claim that debris seen blowing out of windows was evidence of explosive charges, but experts identify this as air and light office contents (paper, pulverized concrete, etc.) being forced out of windows as floors collapsed on each other.

• Demolition firms had very sensitive seismographs operating at other sites in Manhattan on September 11. None recorded signs of any explosions prior to the tower collapses. Instead, seismic spikes were noted when debris began hitting the ground.

• Cutting away walls, insulation, plumbing, and electrical conduits to place numerous charges on the towers’ structural columns in advance would not have gone unnoticed.

• Clean-up crews found none of the telltale signs of controlled demolitions that would have existed if explosive charges had been used.

• For more information, see ImplosionWorld’s article (PDF, 56 K) on the WTC collapses, the March 2005 Popular Mechanics, parts 4 and 5, “The Attack on the World Trade Center Towers,” and the video 9/11 Debunked: Controlled Demolition Not Possible.

2) No plane hit the Pentagon on September 11. Instead, it was a missile fired by elements “from inside the American state apparatus.”

Conspiracy theorists making this claim ignore several facts:

• The remains of the bodies of the crew and passengers of American Airlines flight 77 were found at the Pentagon crash site, and positively identified by DNA.

• The flight’s black boxes were also recovered at the site.

• Numerous eyewitnesses saw the plane strike the Pentagon. Some saw passengers through the plane’s windows. Missiles don’t have windows or carry passengers.

• Numerous photographs show airplane debris at the crash site, as was also witnessed by survivors and rescue personnel. See sections 4:57 to 6:00 of the “911 Case Study: Pentagon Flight 77” video for pictures of airliner debris.

• For more information, see “Did a Plane Hit the Pentagon?” and Popular Mechanics, part 6.

3) United Airlines flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania, was shot down by a missile.

• The cockpit voice recorder of this flight was recovered and showed that the passenger revolt caused the hijackers to deliberately crash the plane. The hijackers controlled the plane until its impact. See full transcript.

• The U.S. military did not learn that flight 93 had been hijacked until several minutes after it crashed, as tapes released in 2006 demonstrate.

• The military never gave interceptor pilots authorization to shoot down United flight 93. See an article on the tapes.

• Listen to the 45-second message to her husband left by flight attendant CeeCee Lyles on her home answering machine.

• For more information, see The 9/11 Commission Report chapter 1, “We Have Some Planes,” pages 13–14.

4) World Trade Center building 7 was destroyed by a controlled demolition.

• This allegation was fueled by a comment by the WTC owner that, after WTC 7 was judged to be unstable, he recommended pulling a group of firefighters out of the building, using the phrase “pull it” in reference to the contingent of firefighters.

• Conspiracy theorists have interpreted the “pull it” remark as slang for demolishing the building with explosives. But demolition experts say “pulling” a building means attaching long cables to a weakened structure and literally pulling it down with bulldozers and other powerful machinery — not using explosives.

• The audio tracks of video recordings of the WTC collapse showed no evidence of the extremely loud sounds that would have indicated the use of explosives. Also, seismographs recorded no telltale spikes or anomalies.

• An exhaustive three-year investigation by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) concluded that fires caused by the collapse of the nearby WTC north tower caused fires that burned out of control in WTC 7. These fires caused steel beams to expand and buckle, leading to the collapse of the building.

• See the NIST videos on the collapse of WTC 7.

• For more information, see “The Collapse of World Trade Center 7,” the ImplosionWorld article (PDF, 56 K), and Popular Mechanics, part 5.

5) The planes that hit the World Trade Center towers were remotely controlled.

• Boeing, which manufactured the planes that struck the towers, stated that all its commercial jet transports are configured so that they cannot be controlled from anywhere except the flight deck of the aircraft.

• Passengers onboard the flights made several phone calls. All reported that hijackers had commandeered the planes.

• For more information, see “The Attack on the World Trade Center Towers.”

6) Insider trading in the stocks of United Airlines and American Airlines just before September 11 is evidence of advance knowledge of the plot.

• The 9/11 Commission investigated this issue in detail, concluding, “Some unusual trading did in fact occur, but each such trade proved to have an innocuous explanation.”

• For example, it stated, “much of the seemingly suspicious trading in American [Airlines stock] on September 10 was traced to a specific U.S.-based options trading newsletter, faxed to its subscribers on Sunday, September 9, which recommended these trades.”

• For other examples, see The 9/11 Commission Report, “Notes” section, page 499, footnote 130.

7) Four thousand Jews failed to show up for work at the World Trade Center on September 11.

• It appears from media reports that some 10 percent to 15 percent of WTC victims were Jewish, indicating there were no mass absences.

• The “4,000” figure apparently came from an early statement by the Israeli Foreign Ministry that some “4,000 Israelis” were believed to be in the New York and Washington areas, where the attacks occurred. This figure was apparently seized upon by conspiracy theorists, in an attempt to bolster the false rumor.

• For more information, see “The 4,000 Jews Rumor.”

8) Al Qaida is not responsible for the September 11 attacks.

• Al Qaida leaders, including Osama bin Laden, have repeatedly confirmed that they planned and carried out the September 11 attacks.

• In an audiotape released on May 23, 2006, bin Laden stated, “I was responsible for entrusting the 19 brothers … with those raids..”

• In a November 2001 tape, bin Laden said, “We calculated in advance the number of casualties … who would be killed. … I was the most optimistic of them all. … Due to my experience in this field, I was thinking that the fire from the gas in the plane would melt the iron structure of the building and collapse the area where the plane hit and all the floors above it only.”

• For more information, see “Al Qaida Confirms It Carried Out the September 11 Attacks.”

29 April 2009

Al Qaida Confirms It Carried Out the September 11 Attacks

Both Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the September 11 attacks, have confirmed that al Qaida planned and carried out the September 11 attacks.

2004 Videotape

In a videotape broadcast on October 30, 2004, Osama bin Laden admitted that he and al Qaida had planned and directed the September 11 attacks. He stated, “I shall talk to you about the story behind those events (the September 11 attacks) and shall tell you truthfully about the moments in which the decision was taken ….” He confirmed his direction of the details of operational planning, stating, “for the record, we had agreed with the Commander-General Muhammad Atta … that all operations should be carried out within twenty minutes, before Bush and his administration notice.”

2006 Audiotape

Osama bin Laden repeated that he had planned the September 11 attacks in an audiotape released on May 23, 2006, stating:

I begin by talking about the honorable brother Zacarias Moussaoui. The truth is that he has no connection whatsoever with the events of September 11th, and I am certain of what I say, because I was responsible for entrusting the 19 brothers - Allah have mercy upon them - with those raids, and I did not assign brother Zacarias to be with them on that mission.

2001 Videotape

The first direct indication of al Qaida involvement came in a videotape of bin Laden talking to a group of supporters in November 2001, which was obtained by U.S. forces in Afghanistan in late November and released on December 13, 2001. The videotape was clearly intended for internal al Qaida use and bin Laden appeared fully aware that the tape was being made. Independent scholars gave verified that the translation released by the U.S. government is accurate.

The videotape shows clearly that bin Laden knew in advance of the attacks. He said:

We calculated in advance the number of casualties from the enemy, who would be killed based on the position of the tower. We calculated that the floors that would be hit would be three or four floors. I was the most optimistic of them all. (...Inaudible...) due to my experience in this field, I was thinking that the fire from the gas in the plane would melt the iron structure of the building and collapse the area where the plane hit and all the floors above it only. This is all that we had hoped for.

The videotape indicates that, five days before the attacks, which occurred on a Tuesday, bin Laden knew the date and time they would occur:

We had notification since the previous Thursday that the event would take place that day. We had finished our work that day and had the radio on. It was 5:30 p.m. our time [8:00 am in New York and Washington]. … Immediately, we heard the news that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. We turned the radio station to the news from Washington. The news continued and no mention of the attack until the end. At the end of the newscast, they reported that a plane just hit the World Trade Center. … After a little while, they announced that another plane had hit the World Trade Center. The brothers who heard the news were overjoyed by it. …

Bin Laden knew there would be multiple attacks:

They were overjoyed when the first plane hit the building, so I said to them: be patient. The difference between the first and the second plane hitting the towers was twenty minutes. And the difference between the first plane and the plane that hit the Pentagon was one hour.

The videotape shows that bin Laden was very familiar with the operational planning for the attacks:

Muhammad Atta from the Egyptian family (meaning the Al Qaida Egyptian group), was in charge of the group. … The brothers, who conducted the operation, all they knew was that they have a martyrdom operation and we asked each of them to go to America but they didn't know anything about the operation, not even one letter. But they were trained and we did not reveal the operation to them until they are there and just before they boarded the planes. … Those who were trained to fly didn't know the others. One group of people did not know the other group.

April 2002 Interview

Several months later, senior al Qaida official Khalid Sheikh Mohammed also confirmed that al Qaida had carried out the attacks. In April 2002, Al Jazeera reporter Yosri Fouda interviewed Khalid, who proposed the September 11 scheme to bin Laden, and Ramzi Binalshibh, who played a key role in the preparation for 9/11. Fouda asked Khalid if al Qaida was responsible for the September 11 attacks and Khalid confirmed that it was:

Fouda summoned every thread of experience, looked Khalid in the eye and asked: ‘Did you do it [the September 11 attacks]?’ But Khalid didn’t flinch.

‘No filming today,’ he declared, ‘and you do not have to worry about a camera or a cameraman for tomorrow. We will provide everything.’

Ramzi added his own detail of the arrangements: ‘You will be going straight from here to your flight whenever we are done.’

Then, with little fanfare, Khalid got down to business by making an announcement that hit Fouda like a heavyweight punch. ‘I am the head of the al Qaida military committee,’ he said, ‘and Ramzi is the coordinator of the Holy Tuesday operation. And yes, we did it.’ [Masterminds of Terror, Yosri Fouda and Nick Fielding (New York: Arcade Publishing, 2003), p. 38.]

9/11 Commission Report

The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, released in 2004, confirms that al Qaida planned and executed the attacks, providing many previously unknown details. Its reconstruction of events is based largely on information provided by September 11 planners Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), Ramzi Binalshibh, and others.

Excerpts from chapter five of the report:

Just as KSM was reestablishing himself in Afghanistan in mid-1996, Bin Ladin and his colleagues were also completing their migration from Sudan. Through [Al Qaida military commander Mohammed] Atef, KSM arranged a meeting with Bin Ladin in Tora Bora …. (p. 148)

… At the meeting, KSM … presented a proposal for an operation that would involve training pilots who would crash planes into buildings in the United States. This proposal would eventually become the 9/11 operation.

… Bin Ladin listened to KSM’s ideas without much comment, but did ask KSM formally to join al Qaida and move his family to Afghanistan.

KSM declined. He preferred to remain independent ….

… Bin Ladin, apparently at Atef’s urging, finally decided to give KSM the green light for the 9/11 operation sometime in late 1998 or early 1999. (p. 149)

KSM then accepted Bin Ladin’s standing invitation to move to Kandahar and work directly with al Qaida.

… At this point, late 1998 to early 1999, planning for the 9/11 operation began in earnest. (p. 150)

… KSM has insisted to his interrogators that he always contemplated hijacking and crashing large commercial aircraft. Indeed, KSM describes a grandiose original plan: a total of ten aircraft to be hijacked, nine of which would crash into targets on both coasts – they included those eventually hit on September 11 plus CIA and FBI headquarters, nuclear power plants, and the tallest buildings in California and the state of Washington. KSM himself was to land the tenth plane at a U.S. airport and, after killing all adult male passengers on board and alerting the media, deliver a speech ….

KSM concedes that this proposal received a lukewarm response from al Qaida leaders skeptical of its scale and complexity. Although Bin Ladin listened to KSM’s proposal, he was not convinced that it was practical.

… KSM acknowledges formally joining al Qaida, in late 1998 or early 1999, and states that soon afterward, Bin Ladin also made the decision to support his proposal to attack the United States using commercial airplanes as weapons.

… Bin Ladin summoned KSM to Kandahar in March or April 1999 to tell him that al Qaida would support his proposal. The plot was now referred to within al Qaida as the “planes operation.” (p. 154)

… KSM’s original concept of using one of the hijacked planes to make a media statement was scrapped, but Bin Ladin considered the basic idea feasible. Bin Ladin, Atef, and KSM developed an initial list of targets. These included the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, and the World Trade Center. According to KSM, Bin Ladin wanted to destroy the White House and the Pentagon, KSM wanted to strike the World Trade Center, and all of them wanted to hit the Capitol. No one else was involved in the initial selection of targets.

Bin Ladin also soon selected four individuals to serve as suicide operatives: Khalid al Mihdhar, Nawaf al Hazmi, Khallad, and Abu Bara al Yemeni. (p. 155)

Pages 156-159 of the report provide details on the training of these four initial suicide operatives. Further excerpts:

… Hamzi and Mihdhar … arrived in Los Angeles on January 15, 2000. (p. 159)

Meanwhile, the next group of al Qaida operatives destined for the planes operation [the Hamburg group] had just surfaced in Afghanistan. … The new recruits had come to Afghanistan aspiring to wage jihad in Chechnya. But al Qaida quickly recognized their potential and enlisted them in its anti-U.S. jihad.

… Mohammed Atta, Ramzi Binalshibh, Marwan al Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah would all become key players in the 9/11 conspiracy. (p. 160)

… In March 2000, Atta emailed 31 different U.S. flight schools on behalf of a small group of men from various Arab countries studying in Germany who, while lacking prior training, were interested in learning to fly in the United States.

… Binalshibh proved unable to obtain a visa, a victim of the generalized suspicion that visa applicants from Yemen – especially young men applying in another country (Binalshibh first applied in Berlin) – might join the ranks of undocumented aliens seeking work in the United States. (p. 168)

… By late May 2000, two operatives assigned to the planes operation were already in the United States. Three of the four Hamburg cell members would soon arrive. (p. 173)

Excerpts from chapter seven:

Hazmi and Mihdhar came to the United States to learn English, take flying lessons, and become pilots as quickly as possible. They turned out, however, to have no aptitude for English. … This lack of language skills in turn became an insurmountable barrier to learning how to fly. (p. 221)

… [Flight ] instructors who worked with Hamzi and Mihdhar remember them as poor students who focused on learning to control the aircraft in flight but took no interest in takeoffs or landings. By the end of May 2000, Hamzi and Mihdhar had given up on learning how to fly. (p. 222)

… In the early summer of 2000, the Hamburg group arrived in the United States to begin flight training. (p. 223)

… Unable to participate directly in the operation, Binalshibh instead took on the role of coordinating between KSM and the operatives in the United States. … one of Binalshibh’s first tasks in his new role as plot coordinator was to assist another possible pilot, Zacarias Moussaoui.

In the fall of 2000, KSM had sent Moussaoui to Malaysia for flight training, but Moussaoui did not find a school he liked.

… Confronting training or travel problems with Hamzi, Mihdhar, Binalshibh, and Mossaoui, al Qaida was looking for another possible pilot candidate. A new recruit with just the right background [Hani Hanjour] conveniently presented himself in Afghanistan. (p. 225)

… According to KSM, Hanjour was sent to him in Karachi for inclusion in the plot after Hanjour was identified in al Qaida’s al Faruq camp as a trained pilot, on the basis of background information he had provided.

… On December 8 [2000], Hanjour traveled to San Diego. (p. 226)

… By the end of 2000, less than six months after their arrival, the three pilots on the East Coast [Atta, Shehhi, and Jarrad] were simulating flights on large jets. (p. 227)

… During the summer and early autumn of 2000, Bin Ladin and senior al Qaida leaders in Afghanistan started selecting the muscle hijackers – the operatives who would storm the cockpits and control the passengers. (p. 231)

… Bin Ladin, assisted by Atef, personally chose all the future muscle hijackers for the planes operations, primarily between the summer of 2000 and April 2001. Upon choosing a trainee, Bin Ladin would ask him to swear loyalty for a suicide operation. After the selection and oath-swearing, the operative would be sent to KSM for training and the filming of a martyrdom video ….

… [Captured al Qaida operative] Khallad believes KSM wanted between four and six operatives per plane. KSM states that al Qaida originally planned to use 25 or 26 hijackers but ended up with only 19.

… [T]he muscle hijackers returned to Afghanistan for special training in late 2000 to early 2001. (p. 235)

… [Al Qaida trainer] Abu Turab taught the operatives how to conduct hijackings, disarm air marshals, and handle explosives. He also trained them in bodybuilding and provided them with a few basic English words and phrases.

According to KSM, Abu Turab even had the trainees butcher a sheep and a camel with a knife to prepare to use knives during the hijackings. … According to KSM, the muscle did not learn the full details – including the plan to hijack planes and fly them into buildings – before reaching the United States. (p. 236)

… By the end of June [2001], 14 of the 15 muscle hijackers had crossed the Atlantic. (p. 237)

… [In a July 2001 meeting in Spain,] Binalshibh says he told Atta that Bin Ladin wanted the attacks carried out as soon as possible. … Binalshibh advised Atta that Bin Ladin had directed that the other operatives not be informed of the date until the last minute. Atta was to provide Binalshibh with advance notice of at least a week or two so that Binalshibh could travel to Afghanistan and report the date personally to Bin Ladin.

As to targets, Atta understood Bib Ladin’s interest in striking the White House. Atta said he thought this target was too difficult, but had tasked Hamzi and Hanjour to evaluate its feasibility and was awaiting their answer. Atta said that those two operatives had rented small aircraft and flown reconnaissance flights near the Pentagon. Atta explained that Hanjour was assigned to attack the Pentagon, Jarrah the Capitol, and that both Atta and Shehhi would hit the World Trade Center. If any pilot could not reach his intended target, he was to crash the plane. If Atta could not strike the World Trade Center, he planned to crash his aircraft directly into the streets of New York. (p. 244)

… Atta told Binalshibh he wanted to select planes departing on long flights because they would be full of fuel, and that he wanted to hijack Boeing aircraft because he believed them easier to fly than Airbus aircraft, which he understood had an autopilot feature that did not allow them to be crashed into the ground. (p. 245)

… On August 3 [2001] … Atta and Binalshibh discussed several matters, such as the best way for the operatives to purchase plane tickets and the assignment of muscle hijackers to individual teams. Atta and Binalshibh also revisited the question of whether to target the White House. They discussed targets in coded language, pretending to be students discussing various field of study” “architecture” referred to the World Trade Center, “arts” the Pentagon, “law” the Capitol, and “politics” the White House.

Binalshibh reminded Atta that Bin Ladin wanted to target the White House. Atta again cautioned that this would be difficult. When Binalshibh persisted, Atta agreed to include the White House but suggested they keep the Capitol as an alternate target in case the White House proved too difficult. Atta also suggested that the attacks would not happen until after the first week in September, when Congress reconvened. (p. 248)

… Through August, the hijackers kept busy with their gym training and the pilots took frequent practice runs on small rented aircraft. The operatives also began to make purchases suggesting that their planning was coming to an end. In mid-August, for example, they bought small knives that may actually have been used in the attacks. On August 22, moreover, Jarrah attempted to purchase four GPS [global positioning system] units from a pilot shop in Miami. He was able to buy only one unit, which he picked up a few days later when he also purchased three aeronautical charts.

… All 19 [plane] tickets were booked and purchased between August 25 and September 5. (p. 249)

… According to KSM, in late August, when the operation was fully planned, Bin Ladin formally notified the al Qaida Shura Council that a major attack against the United States would take place in the coming weeks. When some council members objected, Bin Ladin countered that Mullah Omar lacked authority to prevent al Qaida from conducting jihad outside Afghanistan. Though most of the Shura Council reportedly disagreed, Bin Ladin persisted. The attacks went forward.

… In the days just before 9/11, the hijackers returned leftover funds to al Qaida and assembled in their departure cities. They sent the excess funds by wire transfer to Hawsawi in the UAE, about $26,000 altogether. (p. 252)

19 April 2009

Did a Plane Hit the Pentagon?

In 2002, French conspiracy theorist Thierry Meyssan wrote a book suggesting that a cruise missile instead of a plane hit the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. Mr. Meyssan believes the attack on the Pentagon was masterminded not by al Qaida, but “from inside the American state apparatus.” (9/11: The Big Lie, page 139)

Mr. Meyssan’s claims suffer from numerous obvious flaws. He ignores or dismisses the facts that:

• many eyewitnesses saw a plane crash into the Pentagon;

• the passenger and crew remains from American Airlines flight 77 were recovered at the Pentagon crash site;

• eyewitness reports and photographs show plane debris at the Pentagon crash site;

• passengers on American Airlines flight 77 made phone calls, reporting their aircraft had been hijacked; and

• senior al Qaida leaders have admitted they conducted the September 11 attacks.

Mr. Meyssan’s book, L’Effroyable Imposture [The Horrifying Fraud] is available in 19 languages — French, English, Spanish, German, Russian, Italian, Greek, Turkish, Persian, Arabic, Korean, Greek, Portugese, Romanian, Czech, Estonian, Croatian, Albanian, Serbian — and is being translated into four more — Chinese, Slovenian, Japanese, and Dutch. The book was published in English as 9/11: The Big Lie.

The book was severely criticized in the French press as soon as it appeared. The French newspaper Liberation called the book “The Frightening Confidence Trick … a tissue of wild and irresponsible allegations, entirely without foundation.” Nevertheless, the book was an instant bestseller in France, selling more than 200,000 copies.

Numerous Eyewitness Accounts

Mr. Meyssan suggests that a cruise missile with a depleted uranium warhead, not a plane, struck the Pentagon on September 11. But he never traveled to the United States to conduct research or interviewed any of the many eyewitnesses to the attack on the Pentagon. He ignores or dismisses the many eyewitness accounts — some of which specifically identified the plane as having American Airlines markings, as a Boeing 757, and as a plane with passengers onboard, visible through windows. See excerpts from some of the eyewitness accounts at the end of this document.

Passenger and Crew Remains Recovered at Pentagon Crash Site

In addition to the numerous eyewitness accounts, the remains of the passengers and crew on board American Airlines flight 77 were recovered from the Pentagon crash site. A team of more than 100 forensic specialists and others identified 184 of the 189 people who died in the Pentagon attack (125 from the Pentagon and 64 onboard American Airlines flight 77). All but one of the passengers on board American Airlines flight 77 was positively identified as a match with DNA samples provided by the families of the crash victims. These positive forensic identifications provide irrefutable proof that American Airlines flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon on September 11. In addition, rescue and recovery personnel at the Pentagon reported seeing the bodies of airline passengers. The September 14, 2001, edition of USA Today reported, “When [Army Sergeant Mark] Williams discovered the scorched bodies of several airline passengers, they were still strapped in their seats.”

Plane Debris Found at Pentagon Crash Site

People who went to the Pentagon crash site reported seeing parts of an airplane, including the nose cone, landing gear, an airplane tire, the fuselage, an intact cockpit seat, and the tail number of the airplane, as reported in an e-mail to a conspiracy theory Web site that debunks the conspiracy theory claims. The e-mail also contains photographs of airplane landing gear, tires, and fuselage fragments, which were taken at the Pentagon crash site. Moreover, the “black boxes” — the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder — for American Airlines flight 77 were found at the Pentagon crash site. For more photographs of debris from the airliner, including the crumpled "C" from "American Airlines," see portions 4:57 to 6:00 of the "911 Case Study: Pentagon Flight 77" video.

Passengers Report Hijackings

Mr. Meyssan’s book also ignores the fact that several passengers from American Airlines flight 77 made phone calls reporting that their plane had been hijacked.

At 9:12 am, approximately 10 minutes after the American Airlines flight 77 had been hijacked, passenger Renee May called her mother, Nancy May, to report that the plane had been hijacked and that the passengers had been herded to the back of the plane.

Minutes later, passenger Barbara Olson called her husband Ted Olson, the solicitor general of the United States, also reporting that the flight had been hijacked, and that the hijackers had knives and box cutters.

Al Qaida Admits it Conducted September 11 Attacks

Finally, high-ranking al Qaida members involved in the September 11 attacks, including Osama bin Laden, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and Ramzi bin al Shibh, have openly admitted that they planned and executed the attacks. As Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told Al Jazeera reporter Yosri Fouda in April 2002, with reference to the September 11 attacks, “I am the head of the al Qaida military committee and Ramzi is the coordinator of the Holy Tuesday operation. And, yes, we did it.” (Yosri Fouda and Nick Fielding, Masterminds of Terror, page 38)

Mr. Meyssan provides no explanation for what he believes happened to American Airlines flight 77. If the plane did not crash into the Pentagon, as he claims, where did the plane and all its passengers go? He has no explanation for this question.

Thus, there are:

• numerous eyewitness accounts of an American Airlines passenger plane crashing into the Pentagon;

• phone calls from passengers on American Airlines flight 77 reporting that it had been hijacked;

• eyewitness accounts of airplane parts and the bodies of airline passengers still strapped in their seats found at the Pentagon crash site, as well as photographs of airplane parts;

• the remains of bodies recovered at the Pentagon crash site positively identified as matching those of the passengers and crew on American Airlines flight 77;

• acknowledgements by high-ranking al Qaida members that they carried out the September 11 attacks.

In light of these facts, there is no doubt that American Airlines flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon on September 11.

Eyewitness Accounts of Pentagon Attack

Following are some of the numerous eyewitness accounts of the Pentagon crash:

• Richard Benedetto: “It was an American Airlines airplane, I could see it very clearly.”

• Omar Campo, a Salvadorean: “It was a passenger plane. I think an American Airways plane. I was cutting grass and it came in screaming over my head.”

• Joseph Candelario: “I noticed a large aircraft flying low towards the White House. This aircraft then made a sharp turn and flew towards the Pentagon and seconds later crashed into it.”

• James Cissell: “I saw this plane coming in and it was low — and getting lower. … Then I saw the faces of some of the passengers on board.”

• Dennis Clem: “There was a commercial airliner that said American Airliners over the side of it flying at just above treetop height at full speed headed for the Pentagon.”

• Michael Dobbs: “It was an American airlines airliner. I was looking out the window and saw it come right over the Navy annex at a slow angle.”

• Penny Elgas: “… the plane was directly over the cars in front of my car …. I remember recognizing it as an American Airlines plane — I could see the windows and the color stripes.”

• Cheryl Hammond: “We saw the big American Airlines plane and started running.”

• Joe Harrington: “… one of my guys pointed to an American Airlines airplane 20 feet high over Washington Blvd.”

• Albert Hemphill: “The aircraft, look[ed] to be either a 757 or Airbus.”

• Terrance Kean: “I saw this very, very large passenger jet. It just plowed right into the side of the Pentagon.”

• William Lagasse: “It was close enough that I could see the windows and the blinds had been pulled down. I read American Airlines on it. … I saw the aircraft above my head about 80 feet above the ground.”

• Robert Leonard: “I … saw a large commercial aircraft aiming for the Pentagon.”

• Lincoln Liebner: “I saw this large American Airlines passenger jet coming in fast and low.”

• Elaine McCusker: “I saw a very low-flying American Airlines plane that seemed to be accelerating.”

• Mitch Mitchell: “I … saw, coming straight down the road at us, a huge jet plane clearly with American Airlines written on it …. It crossed about 100 feet in front of us and at about 20 feet altitude and we watched it go in. It struck the Pentagon.”

• Terry Morin: “The plane had a silver body with red and blue stripes down the fuselage. I believed at the time that it belonged to American Airlines.”

• Christopher Munsey: “I couldn’t believe what I was now seeing to my right: a silver, twin-engine American Airlines jetliner gliding almost noiselessly over the Navy Annex, fast, low and straight toward the Pentagon ….”

• Vin Narayanan: “I looked up to my left and saw an American Airlines jet flying right at me. The jet roared over my head, clearing my car by about 25 feet.”

• John O’Keefe: “I don’t know whether I saw or heard it first — this silver plane; I immediately recognized it as an American Airlines jet ….”

• Steve Riskus: “I was close enough (about 100 feet or so) that I could see the ‘American Airlines’ logo on the tail as it headed towards the building . … I clearly saw the ‘AA’ logo with the eagle in the middle.”

• James Ryan: “I see an American Airlines plane, silver plane, I could see AA on the tail. … The plane was low enough that I could see the windows of the plane. I could see every detail of the plane. In my head I have ingrained forever this image of every detail of that plane. It was a silver plane, American Airlines plane, and I recognized it immediately as a passenger plane.”

• Joel Sucherman: “… looking straight ahead there was a jet, what looked to be an American Airlines jet, probably a 757, and it came screaming across the highway … [and] hit the west side of the Pentagon.”

• Donald “Tim” Timmerman, a pilot: “I live on the 16th floor, overlooking the Pentagon … and so I have quite a panorama. … It was a Boeing 757, American Airlines, no question.”

• Mike Walter: “I saw this plane, this jet, an American Airlines jet, coming. … It went right there and slammed right into the Pentagon. I saw the big ‘AA’ on the side.”

• Ian Wyatt: “I duck, I look up, it looks like a silver American Airlines, twin-engine plane and then boom.”

Finally, The 9/11 Commission Report (chapter one, pages 25-26) states that on September 11, air traffic controllers at Washington’s Reagan National Airport instructed a C-130H cargo plane that had just taken off from the airport to try to follow the plane that had been spotted on radar as heading toward Washington. According to the report, “The C-130H pilot spotted it, identified it as a Boeing 757, attempted to follow its path, and at 9:38, seconds after impact, reported to the control tower: ‘looks like that aircraft crashed into the Pentagon, sir.’”

In sum, many people on nearby roads or in nearby buildings saw a large passenger plane hit the Pentagon and, as the above eyewitness testimonies demonstrate, numerous people specifically identified it as an American Airlines plane.

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