- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 11, 2001

An unimaginable scene: Manhattan Island vanishing under clouds of smoke, the Statue of Liberty's torch barely visible through the murk, people leaping and bodies falling from the World Trade Center Towers, and before noon on a glorious late-summer day, thousands of injured New Yorkers writhing from an attack officials said could happen, but few could contemplate until now.
"This may be one of the worst tragedies ever to strike this country," said MSNBC's John Siegenthaler, who was describing the scene following the deliberate crash of two airliners into the majestic, twin World Trade Center Towers in Manhattan.
Indeed, there was early speculation that the casualty toll might exceed the toll from the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. On the day President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said "will live in infamy," 2,403 Americans were killed. There were 3,700 casualties.
A producer from CNN, Rose Arce, reported that people were jumping from the 110-story towers immediately after the planes rammed the structures. She and others said Manhattan was in chaos.
Then within moments of her comments, cameras caught the collapse of both of the twin towers, showing white smoke billowing through the streets of lower Manhattan and debris raining on nearby streets.
President Bush, who was visiting Florida, called the sneak attacks in New York and the District "an apparent terrorist attack." He declared, "Terrorism against our nation will not stand," and he ordered "the full resources of the federal government to help the victims and their families and to conduct a full-scale investigation to hunt down and to find those folks that committed this act."
His words had hardly lost their echo when there were reports that a third jet had crashed just north of Somerset County Airport roughly 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. The craft was believed to be a Boeing 767, and there was early speculation that it too had been hijacked and was tied to the attacks in New York and the District.
This was not the first time the World Trade Center had been attacked. A massive car-bomb explosion damaged portions of the complex eight years ago. The two towers, which house businesses, government organizations and various trade organizations, sustained $300,000,000 in damages. Six persons were killed.
Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and nine other militant Islamists, including nationals of Sudan, Egypt and Jordan, were convicted of conspiracy and other charges related to the bombing. In 1998 the suspected mastermind, Ramzi Yousef, also was convicted of the attack and sentenced to life plus 240 years in prison.
In an immediate follow-up to today's assault, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Harvey Pitt said that the U.S. stock markets have decided not to open.
Mr. Pitt, whose agency is responsible for regulating the nation's securities markets, said in a statement that trading will resume "as soon as it is practicable to do so."
In the first hours after the attacks, some Americans who have been unable to reach family members by clogged phone networks have been turning to the Internet to e-mail relatives to let them know they are alive and well.
Core Menschen of New York e-mailed his family and friends in Texas to let them know he was all right.
"Just so you know, I was not downtown when the World Trade Center was attacked. I am in shock, the city is in shock," he said in the e-mail made available to Reuters news service.
This article was based in part on wire service reports.

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