Terror strikes on US
CNN September 11, 2001 Posted: 5:14 p.m. EDT
In an apparently coordinated terrorist attack against the United States, four commercial passenger jets crashed on Tuesday, three of them into significant landmarks.
U.S. intelligence officials tell CNN "there are good indications that persons linked to Osama bin Laden may be responsible for these attacks." The sources say they based the statement on specific information that had been gathered Tuesday. Bin Laden is the Saudi millionaire who has been blamed for terror attacks against U.S. interests and is believed to be in Afghanistan.
American Airlines Flight 11, carrying 81 passengers and 11 crew members, slammed into the north tower of the World Trade Center in Manhattan shortly before 9 a.m. About 15 minutes later, United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston to Los Angeles, with 56 passengers and nine crew members on board, crashed into the south tower.
Both towers eventually collapsed in a shower of debris and plume of thick dust.
A half-hour after the second crash, American Flight 77 took off from Washington, D.C.'s Dulles Airport en route to Los Angeles, California, carrying 58 passengers and six crew members -- but crashed into the Pentagon instead. Less than an hour after the third crash, United Flight 93 en route from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, with 38 passengers and seven crew aboard.
Huge chunks of debris falling from remains of World Trade Center towers more than six hours after the crashes. Firefighters could get no closer than 2 blocks from the burning hulk.
The FBI said it believes all four planes, carrying a total of 266 people, were hijacked.
The Pentagon, the White House, the State Department, the Justice Department, the Capitol, the CIA and all other government buildings in Washington are evacuated.
Federal Emergency Response Plan is implemented immediately after first attack, according to White House. All U.S. embassies and U.S. forces around the world are put on high alert. The highest alert is THREATCON DELTA.
All federal agencies implement continuity plans to make sure U.S. government continues to function effectively.
President Bush calls the crashes "a national tragedy." Later in the day, Bush issues a statement from Barksdale AFB near Shreveport, Louisiana. "Make no mistake: The United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts."
Secret Service secures President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and key members of Bush's Cabinet and national security team. Air Force One lands in Omaha, Nebraska, and spokeswoman Karen Hughes says Bush is in a secure location.
Mullah Omar, the Taliban spiritual leader, condemns the attacks and denies that Osama bin Laden, was responsible.
Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, says in reaction to the terror attacks that "we want to tell the American children that Afghanistan feels your pain and we hope that the courts find justice."
In the first-ever national ground stop of aircraft, all flights nationwide are stopped at their departure airports.
International flights are initially diverted to Canada; FAA says later, however, that 22 U.S.-bound international flights will be allowed to land.
Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta tells FAA to suspend operation of all flights until at least noon Wednesday. He also issued orders controlling the movements of all vessels in U.S. waters.
In New York, more than 10,000 rescue personnel rush to the scene. Evacuation of lower Manhattan begins.
Israel evacuates all of its missions around the world.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta is evacuated. CDC prepares emergency response teams in case they become necessary.
Senate Majority leader Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, Republican leader Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, Sen. Don Nickles, R-Oklahoma, House Democratic leader Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Missouri, and House Speaker Rep. Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, were taken by helicopter to an undisclosed location.
Philadelphia landmarks are evacuated.
In Chicago, the Sears Tower is evacuated; United Nations in New York is evacuated.
Two aircraft carriers and five other ships are deployed along the East Coast of the United States, and two aircraft carriers go to New York area, all from Norfolk, Virginia.
The New York Port Authority closes all bridges and tunnels into the city.
U.S. stock markets close after the New York attacks and will remain closed Wednesday.
NATO sends home all non-essential personnel from its Brussels, Belgium, headquarters.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service puts the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada on highest state of alert.
Los Angeles International Airport is evacuated.
Disney closes its parks in Orlando, Florida, and Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
FEMA implements plan established for such events: FBI leads investigation and Justice Department heads crisis management. White House spokeswoman Karen Hughes says FEMA activates eight urban search and rescue teams in New York and four teams are at work at Pentagon.
Three Palestinian groups -- Hamas, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Islamic Jihad -- deny responsibility for the attacks, but blame U.S. policies in the Mideast.
Washington, D.C., and San Francisco declare states of emergency.
A Delta flight makes emergency landing in Cleveland and all passengers are safely evacuated. Federal officials search the plane for a possible bomb.
Posted by: Fred Pruitt 2001-09-11