- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Terrorists flying airliners hijacked from Boston and Dulles airports today demolished both towers of the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon in coordinated sneak attacks on the most visible symbols of U.S. military and financial power.
Thousands of the 50,000 people arriving at work in New York City's landmark twin towers were presumed dead, police said, and uncounted others are missing after both 110-story buildings collapsed.
As maimed and dead bodies were carried from the New York disaster, the rest of the country went on the defensive against an unseen enemy using Pearl Harbor-style tactics that killed at least 156 passengers on two commercial airliners.
Minutes after the second World Trade Center impact, President Bush blamed "an apparent terrorist attack on our country" and headed back to the capital from Florida.
"Terrorism against this nation will not stand," the president said, invoking the memorable line-in-the-sand phrase his father used when Saddam Hussein's forces invaded Kuwait. That attack eventually was repelled by conventional desert forces fighting a uniformed enemy.
One wire service report said the radical Islamic Jihad movement called the attacks "a consequence of United States policy in the Middle East." It was not clear if the organization was claiming full responsibility.
The airliner that hit one of the World Trade Center towers apparently was the hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles, carrying 92 persons. Ownership of the plane that hit the other tower was not immediately known.
Initial reports indicated that American Airlines Flight 77 — hijacked on a flight from Dulles Airport — demolished the Army side of the Pentagon. But American Airlines officials said that flight was one of the planes that struck in New York, and some witnesses at the Pentagon said that attack was made by a small plane believed to be packed with explosives.
Air Force F-16 fighter planes were launched above Washington to protect from further attacks and all civilian airplanes were grounded indefinitely nationwide.
"How can you stop something like this without anti-aircraft guns sitting on top of buildings?" said James Lee Witt, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
American Airlines said 58 passengers and a crew of six were on the flight that left Dulles for Los Angeles. That Boeing 767 reportedly was the aircraft that hit the Pentagon.
The precautions also were too late for a United Airlines Boeing 757 passenger jet, Flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco, that crashed in Somerset County, Pa., about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. That crash occurred about the same time as the New York and Washington assaults, but was not immediately linked to those attacks.
United Airlines also expressed "deep concern" for its Flight 175 missing enroute from Boston to Los Angeles.
The New York National Guard was quickly called up to reinforce 41,000 city police officers. All bridges and tunnels into the city were closed to incoming traffic and officials encouraged employees to evacuate the city.
"Everyone was screaming, crying, running, cops, people, firefighters, everyone. It's like a war zone," said New York City fire marshal Mike Smith.
"I have a sense it's a horrendous number of lives lost," Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani said in a broadcast from his emergency bunker. "If you're south of Canal Street, get out. Walk. Walk slowly, walk directly north."
Bodies were seen falling 70 or 80 stories from the fiercely burning World Trade Center, some of them thrust out as the building designed to withstand the impact of a 707 jetliner collapsed onto surrounding buildings.
"Everything is blocked off. They're telling us to get out, but there's nowhere to go. There's people jumping out of windows. Oh, God," one frantic unidentified woman screamed on the street below.
In Washington, top officials convened at the White House situation room, at least until the White House also was evacuated and congressional leaders were taken to a secure bunker in West Virginia. Although emergency measures were launched to deal with chemical or biological attacks, no such attacks were reported.
White House personnel were herded at a trot to Lafayette Park where Secret Service counter-terrorism forces stood guard with automatic weapons.
By the time the president's Air Force One Boeing 747 headed north from Sarasota, Fla., it was perhaps the only large aircraft still flying.
As of 9:25 a.m. EDT all civilian flights were grounded nationwide, the United Nations and New York Stock Exchange were shut down, while the Capitol and the Treasury, State and Justice departments were evacuated for fear they might be the next targets.
"This 'ground stop' is expected to be in effect indefinitely," said Tony Molinaro of the Federal Aviation Administration, using an FAA term for the order at airports controlled by towers to ground all flights.
International flights en route to the United States were diverted to Canadian airports.
Israel immediately assumed the attacks on the U.S. were related to Middle East conflicts and abandoned diplomatic missions worldwide. Radical Islamic forces were responsible for the Feb. 26, 1993, truck bombing of the World Trade Center which left five known dead and one person still missing. That plot reportedly had the objective of bringing down one of the 110-story towers. Both towers fell today.
The building designers were aware of the risk to such tall buildings from being hit by large airplanes, in part because a U.S. Army bomber hit the 86th floor of the fog-shrouded Empire State Building on July 28, 1945. That crash killed 14 persons.
The World Trade Center north tower was hit first by a plane at about 8:45 a.m. While workers were fleeing both towers, the second plane hit some 20 minutes later.
The South Tower collapsed a half hour after the second attack, with huge portions of debris falling on people in crowded streets below and imploding on the already crowded building. The North Tower collapsed sometime later.
The scene in Manhattan was nightmarish. Terror-stricken people on fire were jumping from the Trade Towers. Others compared it to Pearl Harbor as hundreds of people poured off the bridge on the Brooklyn side, covered in gray dust and debris which was heaped in the streets like windblown snow.
Many citizens wore respiratory masks, distributed by the police and fire departments.
"Everything came like a tornado," said Shirley Bates, who was evacuated from the 88th floor. "People started running."
New York Gov. George E. Pataki said at noon there was no estimate of casualties from city hospitals where all available personnel were called in.
Some of those wandering the streets were so dazed they couldn't describe what had happened.
* This story is based in part on wire service reports.

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