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Context of 'September 29, 2002: Israeli Spies Hunting for Iraqi Scud Missile Sites'

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Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian-born Palestinian, travels to Afghanistan in 1989 and fights against the pro-Soviet government there. He becomes a radical Islamist and reportedly trains at an al-Qaeda training camp there. He forms a militant group later known as al-Tawhid. In 1993, he returns to Jordan but is quickly arrested for possessing grenades and is sentenced to 15 years in prison. But he gathers many followers inside the prison and is connected to growing Jordanian radical militant networks outside the prison. In May 1999, Abdullah II becomes the new king of Jordan and al-Zarqawi is released from prison as part of a general amnesty. (Weaver 6/8/2006) In late 1999, al-Zarqawi is allegedly involved in an unsuccessful attempt to blow up the Radisson SAS Hotel in Amman, Jordan (see November 30, 1999). (Borger 10/9/2002; Buncombe and Milmo 2/6/2003; Pincus 2/7/2003) By the end of 1999, he returns to Afghanistan and meets bin Laden. However, bin Laden reportedly strongly dislikes him, because al-Zarqawi comes across as too ambitious, abrasive, and overbearing, and has differing ideological views. But another al-Qaeda laeder, Saif al-Adel, sees potential and convinces bin Laden to give a token $5,000 to set up his own training camp near the town of Herat, close to the border with Iran. He begins setting up the camp in early 2000 (see Early 2000-December 2001). (Weaver 6/8/2006)

In early 2000, Islamist militant leader Musab Abu al-Zarqawi starts a new training camp in Afghanistan, near the town of Herat. Osama bin Laden reportedly does not like him, but al-Zarqawi gets some help from al-Qaeda leader Saif al-Adel, who serves as a liaison between al-Zarqawi and al-Qaeda. His camp starts with only a dozen or so followers, but it rapidly grows and eventually numbers several thousand. His group consists mostly of Jordanians and Syrians, and is helped by links to the Muslim Brotherhood. According to the Atlantic Monthly, bin Laden repeatedly asks al-Zarqawi to come to him and take an oath of allegiance, but each time al-Zarqawi refuses. “Under no circumstances did [al-Zarqawi] want to become involved in the battle between the Northern Alliance and the Taliban. He also did not believe that either bin Laden or the Taliban was serious enough about jihad.” But in October 2001, the US begins bombing Afghanistan, and al-Zarqawi’s camp is targeted. He is reportedly wounded in the chest when a ceiling falls on him. But in December 2001, he manages to escape to Iran with about 300 followers and is based there for several months while regrouping. (Weaver 6/8/2006)

Akamai’s headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.Akamai’s headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. [Source: Akamai]In order to protect the White House website against a predicted attack by the Code Red virus, Richard Clarke, the White House counterterrorism chief, employs high-tech firm Akamai, which is run by Daniel Lewin, who will be the first person killed in the 9/11 hijackings. (Clarke and Knake 2010, pp. 112; Greenberg 4/8/2010; Greenberg 7/1/2010; Maltz 11/11/2011) Akamai was co-founded in 1998 by Lewin, a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Tom Leighton, a professor of applied mathematics at MIT. Its technology enables the Internet to handle Web congestion, so content can be delivered quickly and efficiently. (Raskin 9/11/2015; High 3/25/2019) The Code Red worm was created to cause damage by conducting a “distributed denial of service” attack, which, according to Scientific American, “overwhelms a website by directing computers to deluge it with spurious connections.” (Meinel 10/28/2002) It is designed to attack the White House infrastructure on the Internet by bombarding the White House Web server with data, thereby shutting it down for hours or even days. (Leyden 7/24/2001; Reilly 8/26/2001; Roush 10/1/2003; High 3/25/2019)
Help Is Needed to Stop an Attack on the White House Website - Clarke wants help from Akamai because he has learned that 300,000 computers infected with Code Red are about to attack the White House website. (Greenberg 4/8/2010) He therefore turns up at the company’s headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This is the first time Akamai has dealt with him. “We did not know him, but he somehow knew us,” Leighton, who is Akamai’s chief scientist, will later remark. (High 3/25/2019) Lewin is presumably one of the people Clarke deals with during the visit since, as well as being the firm’s co-founder, as chief technology officer he “effectively ran the company,” according to Lior Netzer, one of his colleagues. (Maltz 11/11/2011) Clarke tells Akamai “that there was going to be a massive attack on the White House Internet infrastructure… and he believed that we could help him,” Leighton will recall. Akamai agrees to provide the White House with the assistance he requests. (High 3/25/2019)
Akamai Stops the Virus - The Code Red worm attacks the White House website with requests that threaten to overload its server on July 19. (Lemos 7/27/2001; Left 8/31/2001) But Akamai is able to stop the fraudulent data requests by redirecting them to Akamai servers around the world.
Akamai Has No Experience of Cybersecurity Work - It is unclear when Clarke approaches Akamai for help. The firm is enlisted by him “with just a few hours’ notice,” according to Forbes magazine. (Greenberg 7/1/2010) But Leighton will say he visits Akamai two weeks before the worm is set to attack the White House’s Internet infrastructure. It is also unclear why Clarke has chosen to go to Akamai for help since the company apparently has never previously done any cybersecurity work. Leighton will in fact say that the assistance it provides to the White House on this occasion “gave birth to our government and security business.” According to Leighton, the reason is that Clarke has “figured out that [Akamai] had a large edge network with a large number of servers close to where the users were and where the attacking bots were,” and he “felt that if the traffic was directed through us, that the network had enough capacity to filter out the attack and protect the core.” (High 3/25/2019) Ironically, Lewin will apparently be the first person killed in the 9/11 attacks. He will be a passenger on Flight 11, the first plane to be hijacked, and reportedly have his throat slashed when the hijackers are taking over (see (8:14 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Maltz 11/11/2011; Raskin 2013, pp. 218; Leopold 9/11/2013; Leibovitz 9/11/2013)

Daniel Lewin.Daniel Lewin. [Source: Akamai]Daniel Lewin, a 31-year-old Internet entrepreneur who is a passenger on Flight 11, has his throat slashed by hijacker Satam Al Suqami while the plane is being hijacked, thereby becoming the first person to be killed in the 9/11 attacks. (Maltz 11/11/2011; Raskin 2013, pp. 202-203; Leopold 9/11/2013) Lewin was traveling to California to sign a deal he hoped would save his company, which is struggling as a result of the dot-com collapse. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/18/2001; Zuckoff 2019, pp. 39) He is in seat 9B in the business class section of the plane, behind hijackers Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari, and directly in front of Al Suqami. (9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 8; US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division 7/31/2006)
Assault Will Be Described by Flight Attendants - Details of the events that lead to Lewin’s death will be revealed in phone calls made by two of the flight attendants on Flight 11 to people on the ground. Betty Ong will speak to employees at the American Airlines Southeastern Reservations Office in Cary, North Carolina, and at 8:19 a.m., presumably referring to Lewin, tell them, “Somebody’s stabbed in business class” (see 8:19 a.m. September 11, 2001). (American Airlines 9/11/2001; 9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 8) She will subsequently report that Lewin might be dead, saying she has been “informed by other flight attendants that a passenger by the name of Daniel Lewin may have been fatally wounded.” She will say the passenger who was killed was “possibly” in seat 9B (see 8:33 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/12/2001; 9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 12) Meanwhile, Amy Sweeney will talk to personnel at the American Airlines flight services office at Logan International Airport in Boston in a series of calls beginning at 8:25 a.m. and, presumably referring to the attack on Lewin, report that “a passenger in row 9… had their throat cut by a passenger in seat 10B,” which is Al Suqami’s seat (see 8:25 a.m. September 11, 2001, 8:29 a.m. September 11, 2001, and (8:32 a.m.-8:44 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 6; 9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 10-11) She will say the injured passenger “is bleeding severely” and “is not going to make it.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001)
Claim Will Be Made that Lewin Was Shot - Some evidence will indicate that Lewin was shot, rather than having his throat slashed, by Al Suqami (see 8:44 a.m. September 11, 2001, 9:20 a.m. September 11, 2001, and 5:13 p.m. September 11, 2001). (Federal Aviation Administration 9/2001; United Press International 3/6/2002; General Accounting Office 8/30/2002) However, FAA and FBI officials will later say a report of a gun on Flight 11 was a mistake, and the 9/11 Commission will conclude that a shooting on Flight 11 was unlikely to have occurred. (Eggen 3/2/2002; 9/11 Commission 2003; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 452-453)
Lewin Would Have Tried to Stop the Hijackers - Lewin is presumably attacked by Al Suqami at around 8:14 a.m. or shortly after, since this is when the hijacking of Flight 11 begins, according to the 9/11 Commission Report (see 8:14 a.m. September 11, 2001). It is unclear whether he has his throat slashed while attempting to stop the terrorists. The 9/11 Commission Report will tentatively suggest that he “may have made an attempt to stop the hijackers in front of him, not realizing that another was sitting behind him.” (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 4-5) However, numerous friends and family members of Lewin who are interviewed by author Molly Knight Raskin for a book about the entrepreneur will say they are sure he died while trying to stop the hijackers. They will state that “there was no way Lewin could have sat idly by and watched terrorists hurt flight attendants and attempt to hijack the plane.” “I know he’d have fought like a lion,” Brad Rephen, who knew Lewin as a teenager, will say.
Lewin Is 'Pure Strength' - Their belief that Lewin would have tried to stop the hijackers is due in part to his physical strength. (Maltz 11/11/2011; Raskin 2013, pp. 218-219) He is “muscular and agile,” and “pure strength from head to toe,” according to Raskin. As a teenager, he regularly attended a gym and trained so hard “that his physical strength multiplied,” friends of his will say. By the age of 16, he was able to bench-press more than 300 pounds. (Raskin 2013, pp. 30-31; Raskin 9/2013) He won the title of “Mr. Teenage Israel” in a coveted bodybuilding competition. (Leibovitz 9/11/2013) Rephen will find it difficult to believe a hijacker could have taken him down with just a knife. “I’m pretty sure that if [the hijackers] had knives, [Lewin] would have taken them,” he will say. (Maltz 11/11/2011)
Lewin Had Training in Counterterrorism - The ability of Lewin to take on the hijackers and his willingness to do so are presumably greater due to his military experience. He moved with his family from Denver, Colorado, to Israel when he was 14 and, when he was 18, joined the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). He spent almost four years in the IDF, eventually rising to the rank of captain, and served in the Sayeret Matkal—the IDF’s most elite counterterrorism unit. (Chicago Tribune 9/17/2001; Maltz 11/11/2011; Raskin 2013, pp. 4) The Sayeret Matkal is “perhaps the most effective counterterrorism force in the world,” according to Vanity Fair, and, according to Raskin, its members have “almost unmatched counterterrorism skills.” (Cohen 12/2001; Raskin 2013, pp. 38)
Lewin Committed Himself to Defeating Terrorism - Furthermore, Lewin knows conversational Arabic and, Raskin will note, this would have enabled him to pick up on any verbal cues of the planned hijacking, if the terrorists had given any. (Raskin 9/2013) Ironically, while he was in the IDF, Lewin became committed to eliminating terrorism. “Danny had a very clear view that the way to address terrorism was not to sit idly by and let innocent people be killed, but to actively go out and cut the head off the stick,” one of his brothers will say. (Raskin 2013, pp. 37-38)
Lewin Is a Highly Successful Businessman - Lewin is a particularly talented and successful person. After returning to the US from Israel in 1996, while he was a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) he co-invented a way for the Internet to handle Web congestion, thereby making it run faster. (Raskin 9/2013; Zuckoff 2019, pp. 38; High 3/25/2019) This led him to co-found the high-tech firm Akamai in 1998. The company, of which he is chief technology officer, now has around 1,500 employees. (Mualem, Arbeli, and Shamir 9/13/2001; Greenberg 9/5/2008; Raskin 2013, pp. 200) It has had great success. By the age of 30, Lewin’s net worth was $285.9 million and Lewin was, for a time, a paper billionaire. (Raskin 2013, pp. 195; Raskin 9/2013; Leopold 9/11/2013) In April 2001, Forbes magazine placed him at number 72 in its annual list of “100 Highest Rollers,” made up of the highest earners working in information technology. Three months later, Enterprise Systems magazine included him in the top 10 of its list of leaders in technology. (Willis 4/2/2001; Enterprise Systems 7/2001; Raskin 2013, pp. 195) Akamai was even employed recently by the White House to provide cybersecurity for its Internet infrastructure (see July 2001). (Clarke and Knake 2010, pp. 112; High 3/25/2019)

Betty Ong.Betty Ong. [Source: The Eagle-Tribune]Betty Ong, a flight attendant on Flight 11, begins relaying information about the trouble on her plane to employees at the American Airlines Southeastern Reservations Office in Cary, North Carolina. (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 5) Ong has just called the reservations office to report the hijacking of Flight 11, and is on the line with two employees there: Vanessa Minter and Winston Sadler (see 8:18 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/12/2001, pp. 38-41; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 453)
Ong Describes Hijacking but Gives Wrong Flight Number - Ong tells Minter and Sadler: “The cockpit’s not answering, somebody’s stabbed in business class, and I think there’s Mace, that we can’t breathe.… I think we’re getting hijacked.” Sadler asks Ong what flight she is on and Ong replies, incorrectly, “Flight 12.” She says her plane just left Boston and is supposed to go to Los Angeles, and the pilots are not answering the phone in the cockpit. She says she is in the jump seat, 3R, which is at the back of the plane, behind the coach section. (American Airlines 9/11/2001, pp. 3-6; 9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 6, 8) However, Amy Sweeney, another flight attendant who makes a call from Flight 11, is in the next-to-last row of passenger seats in the coach section of the plane, and she will say that Ong is sitting next to her (see (8:32 a.m.-8:44 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Sheehy 2/15/2004; Sheehy 6/20/2004; 9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 11)
Ong Says Two Flight Attendants Stabbed - Sadler asks Ong her name and she replies: “My name is Betty Ong. I’m number three [flight attendant] on Flight 11.” She says the number one flight attendant and the number five flight attendant have been stabbed. (American Airlines 9/11/2001, pp. 3-6) These two attendants are Barbara Arestegui and Karen Martin. (9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 6) Ong says, “Nobody knows who stabbed who and we can’t even get up to business class right now, ‘cause nobody can breathe.” She also says: “We can’t get into the cockpit. The door won’t open.” (American Airlines 9/11/2001, pp. 3-6) Sadler takes notes of the call, using his computer “scratch pad.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/12/2001, pp. 42-44) He notifies Ong of this, saying, “I’m taking it down, all the information.” He tells Ong, “We’re also, you know, of course, recording this.” (American Airlines 9/11/2001, pp. 3-6)
Ong Receiving Details of Hijacking from Colleague - During the entire conversation, Sadler will later recall, Ong seems to be talking to someone in the background and receiving information from them. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/12/2001, pp. 42-44) This person is presumably Sara Low, another of the flight attendants, who was assigned to the front of the plane and so would have witnessed the hijacking when it happened. (Associated Press 3/5/2009; Zambito 3/6/2009; Keith 9/11/2011) Ong will keep repeating herself during the call, Minter will recall, such as repeatedly mentioning the stabbings on her plane. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/12/2001, pp. 38-41) Nydia Gonzalez, a supervisor at the reservations office, has been alerted to the call and will soon join it (see 8:21 a.m. September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 11/19/2003 pdf file; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 453)

Amy Sweeney, a flight attendant on Flight 11, finally reaches the American Airlines flight services office at Logan International Airport in Boston, and tells the employee who answers the call about the trouble on her plane. Sweeney’s two previous attempts at calling the flight services office failed to connect (see 8:22 a.m.-8:24 a.m. September 11, 2001). But her third attempted call is answered by Evelyn Nunez, a passenger service agent for American Airlines. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001, pp. 57-58; 9/11 Commission 2004, pp. 4; 9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 9-10)
Sweeney Says Two Attendants Stabbed, One Passenger Had Throat Cut - Sweeney talks fast during the call. She says she is an American Airlines flight attendant, but does not give her name. Nunez will later tell the FBI that Sweeney says that “Flight 12 at Gate 32 had two flight attendants stabbed.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001, pp. 57-58) (Although Sweeney is on Flight 11, not Flight 12, Flight 11 departed from Gate 32 at Logan Airport (see 7:40 a.m. September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 7) ) Sweeney says a passenger seated in row 9 of the plane had their throat cut by a passenger in seat 10B. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001, pp. 57-58) This would be a reference to passenger Daniel Lewin being attacked by hijacker Satam Al Suqami (see (8:14 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Guttman 7/22/2004; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 5) Sweeney also says there is a bomb on the plane. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001, pp. 57-58)
Sweeney Given Details of Hijacking by Another Flight Attendant - Sweeney makes this call from the next-to-last row of passenger seats in the coach section of her plane, using an Airfone. (Sheehy 2/15/2004; Sheehy 6/20/2004) She gets her information about the trouble on Flight 11 from Sara Low, another of the flight attendants, who was assigned to the front of the plane and so would have witnessed the hijacking when it happened. (Dwinell 12/15/2008; Associated Press 3/5/2009) But after 1 minute and 47 seconds, the call is cut off. (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 6; US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division 7/31/2006)
Flight Services Manager Overhears Call - Michael Woodward, an American Airlines flight services manager at Logan Airport, hears Nunez talking on the phone to Sweeney. Nunez is talking in a “rather loud” voice, Woodward will recall, and keeps saying to Sweeney: “What, what, what?… Who’s hurt?… What?” When Woodward asks what is wrong, Nunez says she has received an odd phone call, in which the caller said someone was hurt on Flight 12. “She indicated that someone had been hurt, stabbed,” Woodward will recall. Woodward will tell the 9/11 Commission that he mistakenly thinks the incident the caller described “was air rage, because there was a lot of that type of thing going on at the time.” He thinks that “maybe there was a disturbance in the terminal.” Woodward will subsequently head to a departure gate to see if anything is wrong there (see (8:27 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 1/25/2004 pdf file)
Agent Determines Name of Hijacker - Nunez immediately calls flight operations for American Airlines to determine the status of Flight 12, the plane Sweeney said she was on. Nunez learns that it was in fact Flight 11 that recently left Logan Airport. She then runs a computer check to find the name of the passenger Sweeney identified, who was in seat 10B on Flight 11. Nunez determines that the passenger was Al Suqami. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001, pp. 57-58) Sweeney will call the American Airlines flight services office again at 8:29 a.m. and 8:32 a.m. (see 8:29 a.m. September 11, 2001 and (8:32 a.m.-8:44 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 6; US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division 7/31/2006)

James Sayer.James Sayer. [Source: Boston Globe]Amy Sweeney, a flight attendant on Flight 11, reaches the American Airlines flight services office at Logan International Airport in Boston for the second time, and describes the trouble on her plane to an employee there. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001, pp. 7-8; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 6; US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division 7/31/2006) Sweeney called the flight services office at 8:25 a.m. and told Evelyn Nunez, a passenger service agent, about the trouble on Flight 11, but the call was cut off after less than two minutes (see 8:25 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001, pp. 57-58; 9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 10; US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division 7/31/2006) Sweeney now calls the flight services office again. Nunez is busy making a phone call, so Sweeney’s call is answered by James Sayer, a staff assistant.
Sweeney Describes Stabbings on Flight 11 - Sayer takes notes while he is talking to Sweeney. He will later describe to the FBI what she tells him. Sweeney apparently does not give her name during the call. Sayer will recall that “[o]n the telephone was [a] female flight attendant on… Flight 11, calling from the air, who stated that two flight attendants were stabbed and a man in business class had been stabbed in the throat.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001, pp. 7-8) Sweeney would be referring to flight attendants Barbara Arestegui and Karen Martin, and passenger Daniel Lewin (see (8:14 a.m.) September 11, 2001), who were attacked by the hijackers. (ABC News 7/18/2002; Guttman 7/22/2004) Sweeney says that a “doctor and nurse on board the plane [are] caring for the injured man,” Sayer will recall. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001, pp. 7-8) Michael Woodward, a manager in the flight services office who talks with Sweeney in a subsequent call (see (8:32 a.m.-8:44 a.m.) September 11, 2001), will also tell the FBI that Sweeney says a doctor and nurse are caring for a passenger who has been stabbed. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001, pp. 5-6) However, Betty Ong, another flight attendant on Flight 11, is currently talking over the phone to employees at the American Airlines Southeastern Reservations Office in North Carolina (see 8:19 a.m. September 11, 2001 and 8:21 a.m. September 11, 2001), and she will say there are no doctors on the plane (see 8:36 a.m.-8:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). (American Airlines 9/11/2001, pp. 7-19; 9/11 Commission 1/27/2004 pdf file)
Hijackers Have a Bomb and Are in the Cockpit - Sweeney tells Sayer that the individuals who took over her plane “had Mace and pepper spray,” and she can “detect an odor in the cabin.” She says that “two people had gone in the cockpit and they said they had a bomb.” Apparently describing the bomb, Sweeney says she “observed two boxes connected with red and yellow wire.”
Sweeney Gives Incorrect Information about Plane's Location and Hijackers' Seat Numbers - Sweeney says Flight 11 is currently in the air over New York City, Sayer will recall. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001, pp. 7-8) However, Flight 11 recently turned south over Albany, which is about 150 miles north of New York (see (8:26 a.m.-8:29 a.m.) September 11, 2001), and so is still a long way from the city. (Federal Aviation Administration 9/17/2001 pdf file; National Transportation Safety Board 2/19/2002 pdf file) Sweeney also indicates that she thinks there are only three hijackers on Flight 11, telling Sayer that the hijackers were in seats 9C, 9G, and 10B. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001, pp. 7-8) However, apart from seat 10B, these seat numbers are different to those registered in the hijackers’ names. The five hijackers on Flight 11 had been in seats 2A, 2B, 8D, 8G, and 10B, according to the 9/11 Commission Report. (BBC 9/21/2001; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 2)
Call Is Disconnected, but Sweeney Phones Again - Sweeney’s call is cut off after 43 seconds. (US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division 7/31/2006) Sayer will answer the phone when Sweeney contacts the flight services office again at 8:32 a.m., but he will pass the call on to Woodward. It is unclear whether all the information that Sayer describes to the FBI, about the problems on Flight 11, is given to him by Sweeney in the current call, or if she provides some of it to him in the 8:32 a.m. call. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001, pp. 7-8; 9/11 Commission 1/25/2004 pdf file; 9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 11)

Michael Woodward.Michael Woodward. [Source: Discovery Channel]Amy Sweeney, a flight attendant on Flight 11, reaches the American Airlines flight services office at Logan International Airport in Boston for the third time, and, in a phone call lasting 12 or 13 minutes, gives details of the trouble on her plane to a manager there. (9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 11; US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division 7/31/2006) Sweeney has already called the flight services office two times and provided employees there with details of the hijacking of Flight 11, but both calls were cut off after a short time (see 8:25 a.m. September 11, 2001 and 8:29 a.m. September 11, 2001).
Manager Takes Over Answering Call - At 8:32 a.m., Sweeney reaches the office for the third time. (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 6; US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division 7/31/2006) The call is answered by James Sayer, a staff assistant. But Sayer tells Michael Woodward, an American Airlines flight services manager at Logan Airport, that the caller is Sweeney, and Woodward then takes over the call. Woodward is friends with Sweeney and has known her personally for 10 years. Furthermore, Woodward will tell the 9/11 Commission, Sayer is not trained to handle emergency calls. Woodward asks Sweeney, “Amy, sweetie, what’s going on?” She replies, “Listen to me very, very carefully.” Realizing that Sweeney is going to give him important information, Woodward immediately begins taking notes.
Sweeney Provides Details of Hijacking - Woodward will tell the 9/11 Commission that, in a matter-of-fact and official manner, Sweeney then describes to him the trouble on her plane. She says she is sitting in the back of the aircraft next to Betty Ong, another flight attendant, and the two of them are trying to relay as much information as they can to people on the ground. She says her plane has been hijacked, a man in first class had his throat slashed, and two flight attendants—Karen Martin and Barbara Arestegui—have been stabbed. Sweeney says that Martin isn’t doing very well and is on oxygen, but Arestegui is less seriously injured and seems to be alright. She says the hijackers have gained entry into the cockpit, though she doesn’t say how they did this, and there is a bomb in the cockpit. She makes no comments about the condition of the pilots, but says the flight attendants are unable to contact the cockpit. Later in the conversation, she says she doesn’t think the original pilot is in control of the plane, because they are flying “all over the place.” (9/11 Commission 1/25/2004 pdf file; 9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 11-12)
Sweeney Gives Seat Numbers of Hijackers - Sweeney apparently believes there are only three hijackers on Flight 11. She tells Woodward that the people who hijacked her plane were in seats 9D, 9G, and 10B. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001, pp. 5-6; 9/11 Commission 1/25/2004 pdf file; 9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 14) However, apart from seat 10B, these are different seats to those assigned to the hijackers on the tickets they purchased. (Lichtblau 9/20/2001; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 2) Sweeney tells Woodward that the hijackers are of Middle Eastern descent. She says one of them spoke excellent English and another spoke very little English. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/13/2001, pp. 1-2; 9/11 Commission 1/25/2004 pdf file)
Doctor or Nurse Requested - Woodward will say, when he is first questioned by the FBI about Sweeney’s call, that Sweeney tells him that a doctor and nurse are caring for the passenger who had his throat slashed. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001, pp. 5-6) But Ong, who is on the phone with employees at the American Airlines Southeastern Reservations Office in North Carolina (see 8:19 a.m. September 11, 2001 and 8:21 a.m. September 11, 2001), says there are no doctors on Flight 11 (see 8:36 a.m.-8:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). (American Airlines 9/11/2001, pp. 7-19; 9/11 Commission 1/27/2004 pdf file) However, in a second interview with the FBI and in his interview with the 9/11 Commission, Woodward will say only that a doctor or nurse has been paged.
Woodward Gives Contradictory Accounts of Type of Phone Used - Woodward hears no noise in the background during his conversation with Sweeney. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/13/2001, pp. 1-2; 9/11 Commission 1/25/2004 pdf file) The information Sweeney provides about the hijacking has been given to her by Sara Low, a flight attendant who was assigned to the front of Flight 11 and so would have witnessed the hijacking when it happened. (Dwinell 12/15/2008; Associated Press 3/5/2009) In interviews with the FBI, Woodward will say that Sweeney makes the call using an Airfone, or that he is unsure whether she uses an Airfone or a cell phone. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001, pp. 5-6; Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/13/2001, pp. 1-2) But he will tell the 9/11 Commission that she makes the call on a cell phone. (9/11 Commission 1/25/2004 pdf file) However, the FBI will state that Sweeney is using an Airfone. (9/11 Commission 2004, pp. 4; Sheehy 6/20/2004; Keith 9/11/2011) There is no tape machine in the flight services office, and so her call is not recorded. (9/11 Commission 1/25/2004 pdf file; Sheehy 6/20/2004)
Airline Contacted about Call - At 8:40 a.m., one of Woodward’s colleagues in the flight services office calls the American Airlines System Operations Control center in Fort Worth, Texas, and passes on to it the information that Sweeney is providing to Woodward (see 8:40 a.m.-8:48 a.m. September 11, 2001). Sweeney’s call ends after 12 or 13 minutes (see (8:44 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 11, 14; US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division 7/31/2006)

Betty Ong, a flight attendant on Flight 11, tells American Airlines employees on the ground that a passenger on her plane has been stabbed and may be dead. (American Airlines 9/11/2001, pp. 7-19; 9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 12) Ong is on the phone with three members of staff at the American Airlines Southeastern Reservations Office in North Carolina. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/12/2001, pp. 38-41; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 5, 453)
Ong Names Passenger Who May Have Been 'Fatally Wounded' - One of them, Nydia Gonzalez, asks Ong if the first class section of her plane was full when the flight was hijacked. She then asks, “Do we know how the passengers up there [in first class] are doing, if any of the passengers got hurt?” (American Airlines 9/11/2001, pp. 7-19) When she first reached the reservations office, Ong mentioned that somebody had been “stabbed in business class,” but gave no further details about the stabbing (see 8:19 a.m. September 11, 2001). (American Airlines 9/11/2001, pp. 3-6; 9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 8) Now, Gonzalez will later recall, Ong says she has been “informed by other flight attendants that a passenger by the name of Daniel Lewin may have been fatally wounded” (see (8:14 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/12/2001, pp. 69-71) This is “the first indication” that authorities on the ground receive “of a fatality on board” Flight 11, according to the 9/11 Commission. (9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 12) Gonzalez asks, “One of our passengers is?” She then checks with Ong, “So just, you know of just one [passenger] that got stabbed?” (American Airlines 9/11/2001, pp. 7-19)
Gonzalez Passes on News of Fatality to Airline Operations Center - Gonzalez has been relaying the information Ong provides to Craig Marquis, the manager on duty at the American Airlines System Operations Control center in Texas, on another phone line (see (8:21 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 11/19/2003 pdf file; Spencer 2008, pp. 17-18) She immediately passes on the new information. Gonzalez tells Marquis: “They think they might have a fatality on the flight. One of our passengers, possibly on [seat] 9B, Levin or Lewin, might have been fatally stabbed.” She says, “I was just asking about how [the] first class passengers were doing, and [Ong] mentioned that there might be one that they think might be fatally stabbed.” Gonzalez then returns to her conversation with Ong (see 8:35 a.m.-8:36 a.m. September 11, 2001). (American Airlines 9/11/2001, pp. 7-19; 9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 12)

Betty Ong, a flight attendant on Flight 11, tells American Airlines employees on the ground the name and seat number of a hijacker who is in the cockpit of her plane and is likely responsible for stabbing a passenger. (American Airlines 9/11/2001, pp. 7-19; 9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 12) Ong has, since 8:18 a.m., been on the phone with employees at the American Airlines Southeastern Reservations Office in Cary, North Carolina, and has been describing to them the trouble on her plane (see 8:18 a.m. September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 5) She previously provided the seat numbers of two hijackers who, she said, were in the cockpit (see 8:28 a.m. September 11, 2001). She now gives details of a third hijacker who she also says is in the cockpit.
Ong Says Hijacker 'Tom Sukani' Is in the Cockpit - Nydia Gonzalez, one of the reservations office employees talking with Ong, asks about this hijacker. She says to Ong, “He’s the one that’s in the, he’s in the cockpit,” and then asks: “You said ‘Tom Sukani?‘… And he was in [seat] 10B.” (American Airlines 9/11/2001, pp. 7-19; 9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 12) “Tom Sukani” is presumably Satam Al Suqami, and either Ong has mispronounced his name or Gonzalez has misheard it. Al Suqami was assigned to seat 10B. (9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 6) Gonzalez continues, saying, “Okay, so he’s one of the persons that are in the cockpit.” She then asks Ong, “And as far as weapons, all they have are just knives?” (American Airlines 9/11/2001, pp. 7-19; 9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 12)
Gonzalez Relays Hijacker's Details to Operations Center - Gonzalez has been relaying the information Ong provides to Craig Marquis, the manager on duty at the American Airlines System Operations Control center in Texas, on another phone line (see (8:21 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 11/19/2003 pdf file; Spencer 2008, pp. 17-18) She now passes on Ong’s latest information. She tells Marquis, “Apparently, one of the passengers that’s in the cockpit: the name that they got was Tom Al Zukani and he was in [seat] 10B, not 9A and B as they previously stated.”
Ong Gives Details of Stabbed Passenger - Gonzalez then asks Ong about the details of a passenger who was stabbed. Ong previously mentioned that Daniel Lewin had been stabbed and may have died (see 8:19 a.m. September 11, 2001 and 8:33 a.m. September 11, 2001). (American Airlines 9/11/2001, pp. 3-6; American Airlines 9/11/2001, pp. 7-19; Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/12/2001, pp. 69-71) Lewin had been seated directly in front of Al Suqami, and so, according to the 9/11 Commission Report, Al Suqami was “probably” the hijacker who stabbed him (see (8:14 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 5) After checking Lewin’s details, Gonzalez passes on the information to Marquis, albeit stating Lewin’s first name incorrectly. She tells Marquis, “Okay, and the passenger that got hurt was [in seat] 9B, David Lewin.” (American Airlines 9/11/2001, pp. 7-19)
Marquis Thinks Hijacker Has a Swiss Army Knife - Presumably referring to this latest information from Ong, Marquis will later tell the FBI that when he learns that Al Suqami is armed with a knife, he thinks “that the knife might have been a Swiss Army knife of some sort, because it was not that uncommon for passengers to have these.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001, pp. 49-51) After receiving the information about Al Suqami being in the cockpit, Marquis initiates procedures to “lockout” Flight 11 (see 8:36 a.m.-8:38 a.m. September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 11/19/2003 pdf file; 9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 12)

Nancy Wyatt, a manager at the American Airlines flight services office at Logan International Airport in Boston, talks on the phone with an employee at the American Airlines System Operations Control (SOC) center, and passes on to them information that is being provided by a flight attendant on the hijacked Flight 11, but the SOC employee advises Wyatt to keep quiet about the hijacking. (American Airlines 9/11/2001, pp. 34-41; 9/11 Commission 2004, pp. 4; 9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 14; et al. 9/7/2011, pp. 14 pdf file) Amy Sweeney, a flight attendant on Flight 11, called the flight services office at 8:32 a.m., and has since then been providing details of the trouble on her plane to Michael Woodward, an American Airlines flight services manager at Logan Airport (see (8:32 a.m.-8:44 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 11)
Wyatt Passes on Details of Call in Real Time - Wyatt, who, like Woodward, is an American Airlines flight services manager, calls the American Airlines SOC in Fort Worth, Texas, at 8:40 a.m. Her call is answered by Ray Howland. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/15/2001, pp. 2-4; 9/11 Commission 2004, pp. 4; 9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 14) During the call, Wyatt is able to pass on information to Howland in real time, because she is standing next to Woodward and so is hearing his side of the conversation with Sweeney, and she is also able to read the notes he is taking, based on what Sweeney tells him. (9/11 Commission 1/25/2004 pdf file)
Wyatt Unclear about Name of Flight Attendant - Wyatt is unclear about the identity of the flight attendant Woodward is talking to. At the start of the call with Howland, she says, “We’ve got the flight attendants on the line here.” A couple of minutes later, she says, “We’ve got… Betty Ong, the purser, on the line.” (American Airlines 9/11/2001, pp. 34-41) However, Ong is currently on the phone with the American Airlines Southeastern Reservations Office in North Carolina (see 8:18 a.m. September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 8) Finally, another couple of minutes later and after checking with Woodward, Wyatt tells Howland, “Amy Sweeney is on the phone.”
Wyatt Passes on Hijackers' Seat Numbers - Based on Sweeney’s information, Wyatt says that Flight 11 “is in a rapid descent.” She tells Howland that the hijackers were in seats 9D, 9G, and 10B, and she says one of them “speaks no English.” She also reports, several minutes into the call, that the hijackers are “in the cockpit.” Wyatt tells Howland that two flight attendants, Karen Martin and Barbara Arestegui, have been stabbed. (American Airlines 9/11/2001, pp. 34-41) Referring to passenger Daniel Lewin, who was attacked by one of the hijackers (see (8:14 a.m.) September 11, 2001), she says: “There is severe bleeding. There is a slashed throat.” She subsequently says, “There is a passenger also injured.” (American Airlines 9/11/2001, pp. 34-41; Nickisch 9/8/2011)
Airline Wants Information Withheld from Plane's Crew - During the call, Howland tells Wyatt that the SOC wants some information to be withheld from Sweeney and the other crew members on Flight 11. After Wyatt says the flight attendants on Flight 11 “are concerned” because they “don’t know what’s going on in the cockpit,” Howland replies that the SOC is “trying to get in contact with the cockpit,” but then says, “We don’t really want to tell [Sweeney] that.” Wyatt confirms: “Okay, don’t. Okay, okay. Got it.” And when Wyatt later asks: “Do we know where that plane is going to right now?” Howland replies: “We don’t know.… [I]t looks like it’s going to JFK” International Airport in New York, but he then says: “I mean, we don’t really want to give a whole lot of information to that flight. Okay?” Wyatt confirms: “Okay, we’re not. We’re not giving them that information to that flight.”
Airline Employees Told to Keep Quiet about Hijacking - Wyatt and Howland also want American Airlines employees on the ground to keep quiet about the hijacking. At about 8:46 a.m., while she is still on the phone with Howland, Wyatt says to a colleague of hers: “Evelyn, don’t mention this to anyone. Me, you, Beth. Just the five of us. Okay?” (American Airlines 9/11/2001, pp. 34-41) (“Evelyn” and “Beth” are Evelyn Nunez and Elizabeth Williams, two American Airlines employees at Logan Airport. (Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/11/2001, pp. 57-58; Federal Bureau of Investigation 9/13/2001, pp. 3-4; 9/11 Commission 1/25/2004 pdf file) ) Near the end of her call with Howland, Wyatt asks, “What do you want us to do as far as just keeping our mouths shut and not… ?” Howland answers simply, “That’s basically it.” (American Airlines 9/11/2001, pp. 34-41) Wyatt notifies Howland when the call from Sweeney gets disconnected, at around 8:45 a.m. (see (8:44 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 14) Her call with Howland ends at 8:48 a.m. (9/11 Commission 2004, pp. 4)

The FAA hears that a passenger on Flight 11 has been shot. The operations center at FAA headquarters in Washington, DC, receives the information over a conference call with the FAA’s New England Regional Operations Center (ROC). Further details, such as where the ROC got this information from, are unstated. (Federal Aviation Administration 9/2001; Federal Aviation Administration 9/11/2001; General Accounting Office 8/30/2002) The passenger being referred to who was allegedly shot is presumably Daniel Lewin, a 31-year-old Internet entrepreneur who was seated in the business class section of Flight 11. (9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 8; Raskin 9/11/2015) At 9:20 a.m., Janet Riffe, the FAA’s principal security inspector assigned to American Airlines, will reportedly talk to Suzanne Clark, a manager for corporate security at the American Airlines System Operations Control center in Fort Worth, Texas, and be told that the passenger in seat 9B on Flight 11 was shot by the passenger in seat 10B (see 9:20 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Federal Aviation Administration 9/11/2001; General Accounting Office 8/30/2002; 9/11 Commission 9/11/2003 pdf file) 9B is Lewin’s seat and 10B is the seat of alleged hijacker Satam Al Suqami. (Leibovitz 9/11/2013) An FAA memo written this evening will include the same information, stating that “a passenger located in seat 10B shot and killed a passenger in seat 9B.” (United Press International 3/6/2002) However, FAA and FBI officials will later say the report of there being a gun on Flight 11 was a mistake, and the 9/11 Commission will determine that a shooting on Flight 11 was unlikely to have occurred. Officials will say Lewin was probably killed with a knife. (Eggen 3/2/2002; 9/11 Commission 2003; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 452-453) Most evidence will indicate he had his throat slashed by Al Suqami, apparently at around 8:14 a.m. when the hijackers took over Flight 11 (see (8:14 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 16-17; Raskin 2013, pp. 218)

Janet Riffe.Janet Riffe. [Source: FAA]Janet Riffe, the FAA’s principal security inspector for American Airlines, reportedly talks over the phone with Suzanne Clark, a manager of corporate security at American Airlines, and is told that a passenger on Flight 11 was shot dead by another passenger. (Federal Aviation Administration 9/11/2001; General Accounting Office 8/30/2002; 9/11 Commission 2003) Riffe went to the aviation command center at FAA headquarters in Washington, DC, after being alerted to the hijacking of Flight 11 by a colleague sometime between 8:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., she will later recall. Since then, she has been making notes about the calls she has received providing information about the hijacking. (9/11 Commission 9/11/2003 pdf file; 9/11 Commission 2/26/2004 pdf file; 9/11 Commission 2/26/2004)
Airline Manager Says a Hijacker Shot a Passenger - She now calls the American Airlines headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, for a status update and talks to Clark. (General Accounting Office 8/30/2002) Clark is not her usual point of contact at the headquarters. She usually talks to Chris Bidwell, another manager of corporate security, but he is currently out of his office. After Riffe tries unsuccessfully to reach him, her call is passed on to Clark. (9/11 Commission 9/11/2003 pdf file; 9/11 Commission 11/18/2003 pdf file) During the call, Clark tells her about the alleged shooting on Flight 11. She says one of the plane’s flight attendants contacted the American Airlines System Operations Control center and reported that the passenger in seat 9B had been shot and killed by the passenger in seat 10B. (Federal Aviation Administration 9/11/2001) 9B is the seat of Daniel Lewin, a 31-year-old Internet entrepreneur, and 10B is the seat of alleged hijacker Satam Al Suqami. (Leibovitz 9/11/2013; Raskin 9/11/2015) Just one bullet was fired, Clark says. (Federal Aviation Administration 9/11/2001) She also says the plane is heading back to JFK International Airport in New York. This is the only conversation between the two women today, according to Riffe. (9/11 Commission 9/11/2003 pdf file; 9/11 Commission 2/26/2004 pdf file; 9/11 Commission 2/26/2004)
Alleged Shooting Will Be Mentioned in an FAA Memo - After the call ends, Riffe will fill out an event sheet, describing what was said. The event sheet will subsequently be seen by Riffe’s manager, Fran Lozito, who in turn will show it to Lee Longmire, the director of civil aviation security operations at the FAA. The details in it will later be entered into a log and the information in the log will be included in a memo that the FAA prepares this evening (see 5:13 p.m. September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 9/11/2003 pdf file; 9/11 Commission 5/11/2004)
Airline Manager Will Claim the Call Likely Never Occurred - Riffe will confirm to the 9/11 Commission that a conversation in which Clark told her about a shooting on Flight 11 took place. (9/11 Commission 2003; 9/11 Commission 9/11/2003 pdf file) Clark, though, will dispute this, claiming that the conversation probably never occurred. She will tell the 9/11 Commission that she “doesn’t remember talking to Janet Riffe” today. But “if the conversation ever took place,” she will comment, “[i]t was brief” and she “can’t remember what she said.” Furthermore, she will claim she only learned the names and seat numbers of the Flight 11 hijackers on the day after 9/11, and she doesn’t recall receiving any information about the weapons or tactics used on the hijacked flights, thereby implying she would have been unable to provide the information she was supposed to have given to Riffe. (9/11 Commission 11/18/2003 pdf file) But Steve Jenkins, the FAA’s principal security inspector for United Airlines who is with Riffe in the aviation command center today, will corroborate Riffe’s account. He will tell the 9/11 Commission that he recalls Riffe commenting “on a report she said she received from American’s corporate offices about a gun being used on Flight 11, just after she received the report.” (9/11 Commission 2/24/2004 pdf file)
Officials Will Dismiss the Claim of a Shooting - Other people besides Riffe have been told about a shooting on Flight 11. At 8:44 a.m., the operations center at FAA headquarters was told that a passenger on the plane had been shot over a conference call with the FAA’s New England Regional Operations Center (see 8:44 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Federal Aviation Administration 9/2001; General Accounting Office 8/30/2002) However, FAA and FBI officials will say the report of a gun on Flight 11 was a mistake, and the 9/11 Commission will determine that a shooting on Flight 11 was unlikely to have occurred. Officials will say Lewin was probably killed with a knife. (Eggen 3/2/2002; 9/11 Commission 2003; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 452-453) Most evidence will indicate he had his throat slashed by Al Suqami, apparently at around 8:14 a.m. when the hijackers took over Flight 11 (see (8:14 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 16-17; Raskin 2013, pp. 218)

Cathal Flynn.Cathal Flynn. [Source: PBS]An Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) employee tells journalist Seymour Hersh that the 9/11 hijackings were accomplished with guns put on the planes by airport employees. Hersh then calls Rear Admiral Cathal Flynn, associate administrator of security at the Federal Aviation Administration, and tells him, “The guns were put onto the plane by the ramp workers.” When Flynn argues that there are no reports of this, Hersh replies, “Those ramp workers aren’t even checked,” and insists, “There were pistols and they were put onto the plane by the ramp workers.” (Trento and Trento 2006, pp. 47-8) Although there are some reports of guns being used on the hijacked flights (see (8:14 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and 9:27 a.m. September 11, 2001), the 9/11 Commission, for example, will not say that guns were used by the hijackers. (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004)

An internal FAA memorandum is written, which mentions that Daniel Lewin, a passenger on Flight 11, was shot dead by hijacker Satam Al Suqami, but various agencies and investigations will later determine that the alleged shooting never happened. (Eggen 3/2/2002; General Accounting Office 8/30/2002; 9/11 Commission 2003; 9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 16-17) The memo, titled “Executive Summary,” is prepared by civil aviation security personnel officials in the aviation command center at FAA headquarters in Washington, DC, and intended for distribution to the office of FAA Administrator Jane Garvey. It is based on information received in the command center from numerous sources throughout the day that was recorded in an official log. (Morrison 2/27/2002; 9/11 Commission 2003; 9/11 Commission 9/11/2003 pdf file) The details of the alleged shooting on Flight 11 come from information entered into the log based on notes made by Janet Riffe, the FAA’s principal security inspector for American Airlines, in which she described a phone conversation she had this morning with Suzanne Clark, a manager of corporate security at American Airlines (see 9:20 a.m. September 11, 2001). (General Accounting Office 8/30/2002; 9/11 Commission 9/11/2003 pdf file)
Memo States that a Flight Attendant Reported a Shooting - The memo states that it is “a summary of the events which have occurred” today and includes brief descriptions of the four hijackings that took place this morning. In its description of the hijacking of Flight 11, it states that at 9:20 a.m., Riffe “was notified by Suzanne Clark of American Airlines corporate headquarters that an onboard flight attendant contacted American Airlines operations center and informed that a passenger located in seat 10B shot and killed a passenger in seat 9B.” The memo names Lewin as the passenger who was killed and Al Suqami as the passenger who shot him. Just one bullet was reported to have been fired, it states. It also states incorrectly that Flight 11 crashed into one of the towers at the World Trade Center at 9:25 a.m. (Federal Aviation Administration 9/11/2001) (Flight 11 actually crashed into the North Tower of the WTC at 8:46 a.m. (see 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 7) )
Agencies Will Dismiss the Allegation of a Shooting - Various agencies and investigations will determine that the reported shooting on Flight 11 never occurred. After the memo is leaked to the press in 2002, FAA and FBI officials will say the report of a gun on the plane was a mistake. The FAA will say the memo is just a “first draft” and the final draft omits any claim of a gun being fired. FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown will say the mistaken information was due to “a miscommunication” and add that the memo “was corrected that very evening.” (Morrison 2/27/2002; Eggen 3/2/2002; United Press International 3/6/2002)
GAO Will Find No Corroboration for the Allegation - The General Accounting Office (GAO) will conduct a comprehensive investigation of the alleged shooting in which it interviews FAA personnel and senior managers, and American Airlines personnel. Based on these interviews, it will subsequently state, “American Airlines personnel deny ever reporting a shooting on any of the hijacked flights on September 11, 2001.” The GAO will conclude that “there is no information to corroborate a shooting on American Airlines Flight 11.” (General Accounting Office 8/30/2002)
Accounts of Calls from Flight 11 Will Not Support the Allegation - The 9/11 Commission will subsequently also investigate whether there was a shooting on Flight 11 and determine, “The evidence derived from eyewitness accounts of the events that unfolded on [Flight 11] does not support a conclusion that a shooting on the flight is likely to have occurred.” (9/11 Commission 2003) In explaining how it reached its conclusion, the Commission will point out that “authoritative information about whether a shooting occurred on Flight 11 could have come only from individuals on the aircraft who were reporting events to contacts on the ground.” It will note that two flight attendants on Flight 11—Betty Ong and Amy Sweeney—“placed calls to ground contacts to report what was happening on the aircraft.” But, it will state, in none of the tape recordings of these calls and accounts of witnesses to them “is the presence of a gun or the occurrence of a shooting reported.” In contrast, witnesses to the calls stated that the two flight attendants were “quite specific about the presence of knives, and the stabbing or slashing of two crew members and a passenger.” Furthermore, the victim of the alleged shooting is said in the memo to have been in seat 9B, which was the same seat that “according to several of the witness accounts from the aircraft, was assigned to the passenger who was stabbed.” (9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 16-17) (9B was Lewin’s seat. (Leibovitz 9/11/2013) )
FAA and the FBI Will Find No Evidence of a Gun on Flight 11 - Additionally, the Commission will state that the “FAA has no information which confirms the presence of a gun on… Flight 11” and the FBI has similarly advised that it has “no evidence of a gun being used onboard the aircraft.” (9/11 Commission 2003) The Commission will point out that “while investigators have uncovered evidence of numerous knife purchases by the 19 hijackers leading up to September 11, 2001, there was no evidence that they purchased or possessed firearms.” Furthermore, while the four hijacking teams generally used similar tactics, “No evidence has been uncovered to suggest that the hijackers on any of the other flights [besides Flight 11] used firearms.” The Commission will comment that it “seems unlikely that one of the teams would depart from the tactical discipline of the plotters’ mutual strategy.” (9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 17)
American Airlines Manager Will Deny that a Shooting Occurred - The Commission will state that in interviews it conducted, while Riffe said the information in the memo was accurate, Clark denied having reported a shooting. The Commission will also mention that around the time the memo was written, someone in the aviation command center contacted American Airlines to verify the account of a shooting and was informed that it was incorrect. American Airlines “reported that it had no information about anyone being shot,” the Commission will state. (9/11 Commission 2003; 9/11 Commission 9/11/2003 pdf file; 9/11 Commission 11/18/2003 pdf file) Most evidence will indicate that, rather than being shot, Lewin had his throat slashed by Al Suqami (see (8:14 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 16-17; Raskin 2013, pp. 218) However, one other incident supports the allegation in the memo of a shooting on Flight 11. At 8:44 a.m., the operations center at FAA headquarters was told that a passenger on the plane had been shot over a conference call with the FAA’s New England Regional Operations Center (see 8:44 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Federal Aviation Administration 9/2001; General Accounting Office 8/30/2002)

According to Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker, a few days after 9/11 members of the elite Israeli counterterrorism unit Sayeret Matkal arrive in the US and begin training with US Special Forces in a secret location. The two groups are developing contingency plans to attack Pakistan’s military bases and remove its nuclear weapons if the Pakistani government or the nuclear weapons fall into the wrong hands. (Hersh 10/29/2001) There may have been threats to enact this plan on September 13, 2001. The Japan Times later notes that this “threat to divest Pakistan of its ‘crown jewels’ was cleverly used by the US, first to force [Pakistani President] Musharraf to support its military campaign in Afghanistan, and then to warn would-be coup plotters against Musharraf.” (Chellaney 11/10/2001)

Jordanian Islamist militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi flees Afghanistan (see Early 2000-December 2001) and heads to Iran where he continues to run his militant group, al-Tawhid. He uses telephones and a network of couriers to maintain contact with operatives in Europe. By April 2002, he still is based in Iran and has little to no ties to Iraq. But some time in mid-2002, he unites with Ansar al-Islam, an Islamist group based in a part of northern Iraq controlled by Kurdish rebels and opposed to Saddam Hussein (see Mid-2002). He reportedly moves his base of operations there and establishes an explosive training center camp there as well. (Buncombe and Milmo 2/6/2003; Isikoff 6/25/2003) In an effort to justify military action against Iraq, the Bush administration will later claim that Saddam Hussein is aware of al-Zarqawi’s presence in Baghdad and therefore is guilty of knowingly harboring a terrorist (see September 26, 2002). The administration will also allege—falsely—that al-Zarqawi is a senior al-Qaeda agent and that his visit is evidence that Saddam’s regime has ties to Osama bin Laden. (Borger 10/9/2002; Buncombe and Milmo 2/6/2003; Isikoff 6/25/2003 Sources: Shadi Abdallah) But the administration never offers any conclusive evidence to support this allegation. The claim is disputed by intelligence analysts in both Washington and London. (Smith and Rennie 2/4/2003)

It is reported that in the wake of 9/11, Attorney General John Ashcroft has prevented the FBI from investigating gun-purchase records to discover if any of the hundreds arrested or suspected since 9/11 had bought any guns. The White House supports him, saying they have no intention of changing the law to clarify the FBI’s ability to search gun-purchase records. (CNN 12/6/2001; Butterfield 12/6/2001) A spokesman for The International Association of Chiefs of Police, the largest group of law enforcement executives in the US, says, “This is absurd and unconscionable. The decision has no rational basis in public safety. It sounds to me like it was made for narrow political reasons based on a right-to-bear-arms mentality.” (Butterfield 12/6/2001) There were reports that the 9/11 hijackers on at least Flight 11 and Flight 93 used guns in the hijacking (see (8:14 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and 9:27 a.m. September 11, 2001).

An aerial photo of the Khurmal training camp, actually in the nearby village of Sargat. This image was shown during Colin Powell’s presentation to the UN on February 5, 2003.An aerial photo of the Khurmal training camp, actually in the nearby village of Sargat. This image was shown during Colin Powell’s presentation to the UN on February 5, 2003. [Source: Public domain, via National Security Archive]US intelligence determines that Islamist militant leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has recently moved to a part of northern Iraq controlled by Kurdish rebels, and his militant group has set up a chemical weapons lab there. The lab, located near the town of Khurmal, allegedly produces ricin and cyanide. (Miklaszewski 3/2/2004) By early 2002, al-Zarqawi had been identified as a significant terrorist target, based on intelligence that he ran an important training camp in Afghanistan (see Early 2000-December 2001) and had already unsuccessfully attempted plots against Israeli and European targets. CIA intelligence indicates al-Zarqawi is in the camp, along with many al-Qaeda fighters who had recently fled from US air strikes in Afghanistan. Additionally, there are preparations and training in the camp for new attacks on Western interests. (Paltrow 10/25/2004) The US military draws up plans to attack the site with cruise missiles, and the plans are sent to the White House. However, NBC News will later report that, “according to US government sources, the plan was debated to death in the National Security Council.” (Miklaszewski 3/2/2004) Officials involved in the planning expect a swift decision, but are surprised when weeks go by without any response from the White House. Finally, information is somehow leaked to the media in Turkey that the US is considering targeting the camp, and intelligence shows that al-Zarqawi and his group flee the camp soon thereafter. (Paltrow 10/25/2004)

Map showing ranges of suspected Iraqi Scud missiles.Map showing ranges of suspected Iraqi Scud missiles. [Source: CIA]Jane’s Foreign Report reveals that Israeli forces have been operating within Iraq. Citing Israeli sources, it reports that the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit was dispatched into Iraqi sovereign territory “to find and identify places used by, or likely to be used by, Iraqi Scud missile launchers.” The newsletter explains, “Our information is that neither Israel nor the United States have a clue about what, if anything, Saddam Hussein is hiding,” and that “It was this ignorance that persuaded the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, to assign the Sayeret Matkal to a job that is sensitive and dangerous.” (Ha'aretz 9/29/2002; Jerusalem Post 9/29/2002; Diamond 11/3/2002)

In a vice-presidential debate between Vice President Cheney and Senator John Edwards, Cheney says of Islamist militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi: “We know he was running a terrorist camp, training terrorists in Afghanistan prior to 9/11. We know that when we went into Afghanistan that he then migrated to Baghdad. He set up shop in Baghdad, where he oversaw the poisons facility up at Khurmal, where the terrorists were developing ricin and other deadly substances to use.… He was, in fact, in Baghdad before the war, and he’s in Baghdad now after the war.” (Commission on Presidential Debates 10/5/2004) It is true that al-Zarqawi was running a camp in Afghanistan prior to 9/11 (see Early 2000-December 2001). But just days before this debate, the CIA gave Cheney a new report about possible links between al-Zarqawi and Saddam Hussein’s government, a report that Cheney himself had requested several months before (see October 4, 2004). The report doubts there were any such links, and also doubts that al-Zarqawi was in Baghdad getting medical treatment in the months before the Iraq war (see October 4, 2004). (Strobel, Landay, and Walcott 10/4/2004)


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