09.11.11 8:45 PM ET
Fighter Jets Escort Plane to JFK
Fighter Jets Escort Plane to JFK
Sept. 11, 2011 4:50 PM EDT
Twitter was buzzing Sunday afternoon when three passengers in a flight heading from Los Angeles to New York City’s JFK airport reportedly locked themselves in a bathroom and were “not compliant.” With New York City on edge because of the anniversary of 9/11 and recent threats from al Qaeda, fighter jets were launched to escort American Airlines Flight 34 to the ground. Eventually passengers returned to their seats and the flight arrived safely.
A Place to Remember
It’s taken 10 years, but Ground Zero finally has an official 9/11 memorial. And it is a powerful experience, writes Nick Summers.
The National September 11 Memorial and Museum, as it is officially known, won’t be all things to all people. But it will be a lot of things to a lot of people. A place to mourn the dead. A place to look down into fountains and up into the sky, tracing where the planes struck. A place for tourists to pay their respects, and a place for suits to eat Chipotle at lunch. A nice place to attract new residents to a neighborhood that needs them; a sad place for widows and momless kids to mark the birthdays that could have been. A place to complain about the committee-made architecture replacing the boxy towers we didn’t know we loved; a place to marvel that a moving memorial was built at all. A place to curse Osama and the decade he made, and a place to transfer from the PATH train to the A/C/E subway line.
NYC's Emergency Services Grapple With Reform
The way New York's police and fire departments communicate was a problem on 9/11—and ten years later, despite progress, there is more to be done. Wayne Barrett reports.
New York’s police officers and firefighters ran toward the World Trade Center on Sept. 11—but the way they work between departments was a problem. “One mark of Giuliani’s willful ignorance of the terrorist threat was that a number of NYPD detectives assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task force was the same on 9/11 as it was the day of the first bombing nine years earlier—a mere 16 or 17,” writes Wayne Barrett in The Daily Beast.
Where were you when the terrorist attack happened? What memory stays with you? How did it change you? Five Newsweek and Daily Beast writers and editors share their personal memories of that day. Watch video of Christopher Dickey, Tina Brown, and others.
The 9/11 Attacks’ Spiritual Father
Abdullah Azzam, an angry Palestinian almost unknown in the U.S. who inspired Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda’s Hamburg cell, was killed two decades ago, but his ideas won’t die.
The heart of the attack on America 10 years ago was a small cell of fanatics led by Mohammad Atta, the so-called emir of the Manhattan raid, who created the group among fellow Muslims living in Hamburg, Germany, in the late 1990s. The Hamburg cell was inspired by the father of modern Islamic terrorism, Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian who still inspires attacks on America around the world but is virtually unknown to most Americans.
Al Qaeda’s Failure on Wall Street
By destroying the Twin Towers on 9/11, the terror group wanted to destroy the U.S. financial system—but it spurred an economic rebound. Zachary Karabell on how the attacks acted as a spur to succeed.
The World Trade Center was never seen as an overly attractive piece of architecture, but as a symbol of American economic might, it was undeniably powerful. Never mind that it was built just as New York was imploding financially in the mid-1970s; it still stood as a set of dual icons representing the economic primacy not just of the United States, but of Wall Street and the entire financial industry.
The Lessons of 9/11
Richard A. Clarke
In a scathing essay, a former national-security chief writes that the cost of 9/11 has been billions of dollars spent, an unneeded war, and thousands of lives lost.
The events of that day were so jarring that they are recorded in our memories as if they had taken place last week. But it has been a long decade, one in which we have made as many mistakes as we have had successes. Now, and not after we suffer another major terrorist attack, is good time to pause, look back, learn lessons, and begin to chart a path away from the past.
The Terrible Missed Chance
Credible terror threats put New York and Washington on highest alert the day before 9/11’s tenth anniversary. Exclusive interviews show how the FBI bungled its final opportunity to prevent tragedy the first time.
Special Agent Harry Samit of the FBI’s Minneapolis field office knew he was looking into the eyes of a terrorist. It was early afternoon on Friday, Aug. 17, 2001. Across from him sat Zacarias Moussaoui, a 33-year-old French-born student arrested the day before for overstaying his visa. Moussaoui had paid more than $8,000 in cash that summer to sit in a cockpit simulator in a flight school in the suburbs of Minneapolis and learn—in a matter of days—the basics of how to fly a 747-400. Samit, a former intelligence officer at the Navy’s celebrated Top Gun flight school, felt sure the man across the desk from him was a Muslim extremist who was part of a plot to hijack a commercial jetliner filled with passengers. “The trick,” Samit wrote, in a soon-to-be-released excerpt of a book he’s written about the case, “was getting Moussaoui to admit this and reveal details and associates to allow us to stop the plot.”
9/11’s Iconic ‘Falling Man’
On Sept. 11, 2001, AP photographer Richard Drew witnessed the twin towers imploding and filmed ‘The Falling Man’—arguably the most haunting photo from the tragedy. On the 10th anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil, Drew recounts what happened on that fateful day and how he recorded the iconic image.
“I had been two weeks at the U.S. Open tennis tournament out in Queens and it finished on a Sunday, so I had Monday off and then Tuesday morning was my first day covering fashion week. It was my first show and I was covering a maternity fashion show by Liz Lange at Bryant Park. I was doing hair and makeup feature photos and it was interesting to see that they were using pregnant models. I got those backstage pictures out of the way and then went to the end of the runway to stake out my real estate for the fashion show. I was talking to a CNN cameraman who was shooting the fashion show and all of a sudden, he puts his finger to his ear and says, ‘There’s been an explosion at the world trade center… an airplane has hit the World Trade Center.’ Then, I got a call from my editor that said, ‘Bag the fashion show. You have to go.’ I took the 3 train down to Chambers Street to the World Trade Center. It was just before 9 a.m.
45 Failed Terror Plots Since 9/11
As counterterrorism officials investigate a new 'credible' terror threat, records show there have been at least 45 jihadist terrorist-attack plots against Americans since 9/11—thwarted by intelligence work, policing, and citizen involvement. John Avlon reports.
As news of a new “credible” threat swept across the nation on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Americans were abruptly reminded that terrorism is always one bad day away from being issue No. 1.
When my mom died in Tower 2, they made a documentary about us. Here's what happened next.
We had just begun our math class when the teacher suddenly got up and walked out of the room. Then, around 8:30, every alarm went off, all of them blaring at the same time. We all panicked. Our teacher rushed back in and told everyone to go home—whether your parent was there or not made no difference, you still had to go home.
It’s been ten years since the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks—and the families who lost their loved ones are still grieving. Talat Hamdani tells Newsweek that when she went to indentify her son’s body, an emergency medical technician who responded to the attack on the World Trade Center on his way to work, officials did not believe someone who was Pakistani-American could have been killed. “I want people of all nations to remember my son Salman as an American, and a hero who gave his life saving his fellow Americans,” Hamdani says. Ann MacRae, whose daughter, Catherine, perished in the North Tower, said her friends and Cat’s friends all came over to their house on Sept. 11th as they tried to reach Cat via phone. “I won’t use the profanity, but I said, if I don’t hear from her by four o’clock … I’m not sure I said it would mean she was dead, but it would be bad. And then at four, I said, ‘Oh it’s four o’clock.’ And the kids went to work and started calling hospitals.” Toni Ann Carroll lost her husband, Pete, a firefighter who wasn’t even supposed to be working on Sept. 11th. Three years after the attack, Carroll went out to dinner the firefighter Pete switched shifts with, who turned to her crying and said “I have to say something … Pete came to me in a dream, and it was so real, and Pete said, ‘I want you to grab her and I want you look at her right in the eyes and tell her everything is going to be okay.” Debra Burlingame’s brother Charles Frank “Chic” Burlingame was the pilot of American Airlines’ Flight 77, the plane that hit the Pentagon. “I started out as a grieving sister, and then I underwent an extreme education,” she told Newsweek. “I have a room in my house which has a big wall that is filled with primary source material … When I think about walking away from this, I remember that the enemy is still plotting.”
The Intelligence Spam Machine
Andrew Becker and G.W. Schultz
Since 2003, Homeland Security has published more than 21,000 intelligence reports—an average of 300 a month in recent years. Homeland intelligence and analysis office tried to keep local and state enforcement officials informed about domestic terror threats—but the result has been little more than spam. The examples are grim: In one report, the office warned law enforcement officials of suspicious vehicle fires—more than seven months after a similar incident in Times Square. “I stopped paying attention to [the office’s] analysis a long time ago because it had become redundant and therefore irrelevant,” said Louis B. Trucker, who recently stepped down as staff director for the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The Day We Got bin Laden
In their own words, the team in the Situation Room tells Newsweek about that fateful morning—the bookend to Sept. 11th terrorist attacks. “We were all waiting on bated breath to get the final decision back from him,” said deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes about the decision to take out bin Laden. President Obama described how the small team were able to monitor the situation in real time—and the first reports came in about the downed planes left all the room speechless. “Everything was quiet, and we were just listening and trying to work out what had happened,” Obama said about the attack. But Obama stressed there was no whooping or hollering after the attack—they were all focused on getting the Navy SEALS out. “Gasps, literally … The just said ‘We got him, we got him,’” Rhodes said.
After the Twin Towers collapsed, everyone said its surrounding neighborhood would never recover. Bu ten years later, the neighborhood surrounding Ground Zero has come roaring back, writes John Avlon in Newsweek. Ground Zero is just north of where the Dutch formed the colony of New Amsterdam in the 1600s, and between 1890 and 1930, downtown Manhattan was the home of the tallest buildings on the island. Even though loss of the towers served as a huge hole for New York, a combination of civic pride, government incentives and entrepreneurial investment has led to a resurgence of the neighborhood. “There’s always people looking, longing to see something positive emerging out of this tragedy,” said Daniel Libeskind, the designer of the Freedom Tower who lives in the neighborhood. “I think that the right response to the terrorists. They did not win that day. New Yorkers won. New York did not lose its heart. New York rebuilt its heart. We’re laying down the foundation for a better future.”
Disappearing Before Our Eyes
How does an artist create a piece about something that no longer exists? German painter Gerhard Richter took on the challenge of making art out of 9/11, and the result is a piece simply entitled September. At first, Richter tried to paint the burning towers—something that turned out to be “garish.” Instead, he took his failed painting, scraped off most of the surface detail and smeared an abstract veil of gray on top of what was left. September is close to the size of a flat-screen TV, “matching the proportions of the vessel through which we learned the terrible news,” said Richard Storr, the author of a new book on this one artwork.
America’s Mayor Wants a Job
Rudy Giuliani defined calm under pressure exactly when the nation needed it—but it’s been a very tough act to follow. In his long career, Giuliani has been a crime-busting prosecutor, a transformational mayor, and a failed Republican candidate for president—but nothing will ever top Giuliani’s legendary leadership in the terrifying days and nights following 9/11. He left office as a hero—an intoxicating feeling—and he has been unable to recapture the magic, despite raking in some serious money in his post-mayorial career. Despite his disastrous 2008 candidacy, Giuliani is flirting with running for president again. “I love Washington, D.C.,” Giuliani said. “I’d be happy to serve again.” Although he once described being New York’s mayor as the world’s best job, Giuliani admits those days are in the past. “I like going forward, not backward.” In the immediate future, Giuliani will face President Obama at the Sept. 11th commemoration, and after that is anyone’s guess.
The Right-Hand Man
New York’s Police Commissioner had a meteoric rise after Sept. 11th—and he fell hard after that. Writing from a minimum security prison in Cumberland, Maryland, Bernard Kerik—now known as Inmate 84888-054—remembers how his staff burst into the gym where he was still in a towel to tell him about the attack. “Within minutes I was there,” Kerik writes. “Debris was falling from the top of the North Tower. People were running out of buildings … In that instant, I knew we were at war.” Before returning to police headquarters, Kerik took a walk around Ground Zero, which he described as the “gates of hell.” “All in one day, I had witnessed the worst and the best in humanity … the evil that attacked us and the courageous men and women working tirelessly around the clock in an attempt to rescue any possible survivors.”
Did Osama Win?
Osama bin Laden hoped to provoke a civilizational war between Islam and the West—and he did that, writes Andrew Sullivan in Newsweek. “It took months for this initial trauma to ebb, years for my psyche to regain its equilibrium,” Sullivan writes. “And it took me close to a decade to realize just how sickly Osama bin Laden has done his evil work, how insidiously his despicable performance art had reached into my mind and altered it, how carefully he set the trap and how guilelessly I—we—had walked right into it.” Bin Laden intended to radicalize an entire generation of Muslims against the U.S., the bait we took by starting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. If bin Laden had not been able to tap into a nation’s deepest fears, then the U.S. public—Sullivan admits he is one of those panicked—fell into line to support the war in Iraq. But despite taking bin Laden’s bait—and becoming a broke, jobless and lost nation—Sullivan writes that bin Laden did not succeed. “We have survived and endured as a civilization because we have recognized our errors and corrected them,” Sullivan writes. “That capacity is proof that our democracy still lives.”
Jim Smith, a retired NYPD officer, lost his wife, Moira, a patrol officer assigned to the Thirteenth Precinct in Manhattan. “The way she charged into those buildings time and again to get people out—that wasn’t a tragedy,” Smith writes. “That was heroism, the definition of what it is to be a hero.” Firefighter Zack Fletcher’s twin brother, Andre, perished when he responded to the call. “Twins often feel the same thing,” Fletcher writes. “But when the North Tower fell, I didn’t feel anything—there was no feeling of separation. That’s why I still hold on to a little hope.” Firefighter Brendan Iedpi’s brother—and his entire ladder company—were killed in the South Tower. “I’d never seen anything like what I was seeing on 9/11, and most people haven’t,” he writes. “But I got to work. Whatever they told me to do that day, I did. The first day, I just had to root around the pile with my hands, feeling for anything.”
Time to Brace for the Next 9/11
For the past ten years, Americans have feared the next big terror attack—but they should be worrying about Mother Nature, writes Christopher Dickey in Newsweek. Paul Stockton, the Pentagon’s point man for national security, says he is preparing for events more along the lines of Hurricane Katrina, not Sept. 11. According to former Vice President Al Gore, some scientists are considering adding a Category 6 to the hurricane scale—a designation that means “exponential increase in destructive power.” There’s the added danger that so many have been worried about terrorism that the nation will be “blindsided” by the weather disaster. And one consequence of 9/11 has been that after a decade of foreign wars, the way the military delivers help in the homeland has been changed.