Authorities in Massachusetts have arrested at least five Arab men as suspects in yesterday?s terror attacks launched from Logan International Airport in Boston. As with the earlier bombing of the World Trade Center, evidence centers around a rental car.
Authorities seized a car parked in the airport parking garage that had Arabic-language flight training manuals inside it. Two of the men who were arrested were brothers who had passports from the United Arab Emirates, and one of them was a trained pilot. At least two other suspects flew to Logan yesterday from Portland, Maine, where authorities believe they went after crossing over from Canada recently.
Authorities were tipped off about the rental car by a civilian who got into an argument with several Arab men as they were parking their car, a Mitsubishi sedan. The man, whose name has not been made available, called state police from an airport after his own flight landed yesterday and he learned that planes hijacked from Logan had been involved in the attacks. The car, rented from National, was secured by the FBI. Moments before the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center, air traffic controllers heard the voice of the terrorist pilot speaking from the cockpit, saying, ?We have more planes, we have other planes.? The voice was heard through a microphone that was secretly activated by one of the regular pilots of American Airlines Flight 11.
?One of the pilots keyed their mike so the conversation between the pilot and the person in the cockpit could be heard,? an unnamed controller says. ?The person in the cockpit was speaking English. He was saying something like, ?Don?t do anything foolish. You?re not going to get hurt.?? The Los Angeles-bound plane requested a flight change to JFK Airport in New York, then its tracking transponder was shut off as it veered toward the Manhattan skyline.
A flight attendant aboard Flight 11 called superiors to report that two flight attendants had been stabbed and hijackers had broken into the cockpit. The attendant was also able to tell them the seat number of one hijacker before the plane struck the Trade Center.
U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said that knives were used in the Flight 11 hijacking. The suspects smuggled knife-like weapons made up of plastic handles embedded with razor blades in shaving kits and other carry-on luggage, say sources familiar with the investigation.
Since the hijackers had no guns, there has been speculation about how they could have subdued an entire aircraft with such meager weapons. An anonymous source has said that they lured the pilots from their cockpits by killing flight attendants one by one. ?They started killing stewardesses in the back of the plane as a diversion. The pilot came back to help and that is how they got into the cockpit,? according to the source. He couldn?t specify whether that took place on the American Airlines flight or the United Airlines flight, or both. Both planes were intentionally crashed into the World Trade Center about an hour after they departed from Logan airport in Boston.
Aboard American Airlines Flight 93, just moments before it crashed into the Pentagon, CNN reporter Barbara Olson called her husband, U.S. government official Ted Olson, on a cell phone to tell him hijackers with knives and box cutters had herded passengers and crew into the back of the plane. ?She called her husband twice during the hijacking to tell him the plane had been hijacked, and they lost contact once and she called back,? says CNN. ?She said to Ted, ?What do I tell the pilot to do?? But there was nothing they could do, they were all kept in the back of the plane.?
In Pennsylvania, an emergency dispatcher received a cell-phone call at 9:58 a.m. from a man who said he was a passenger locked in a bathroom aboard United Flight 93. ?We are being hijacked, we are being hijacked!? the man said. He told dispatchers the plane ?was going down. He heard some sort of explosion and saw white smoke coming from the plane and we lost contact with him,? the dispatcher says.
It has been speculated that the 4th hijacked plane, which crashed near Pittsburgh, was heading for the Capitol or the White House in Washington, D.C., but Virginia Rep. James Moran believes the intended target of the plane was Camp David in Maryland, 85 miles away from the crash site.
?No one has been ruled out, but our initial feeling is that this is the work of [Osama] bin Laden,? says a high-ranking federal law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity. ?He is top of our list at this point.?
U.S. intelligence intercepted communications between bin Laden supporters discussing the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, according to Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch. ?They have an intercept of some information that included people associated with bin Laden who acknowledged a couple of targets were hit,? Hatch says.
In June, a U.S. judge set September 12 as the sentencing date for a bin Laden associate for his role in the bombing of the Tanzania embassy that killed 213 people. The sentencing was to have been held at the federal courthouse near the World Trade Center.
Robert Fitzpatrick, formerly of the FBI’s Boston office, says, ?There?s a terrorist cell operating out of Boston. [The terrorists] had to have support, they had to have people on the ground, in Boston, supporting them.?
Cell phones have been an important tool during this tragedy. Rescue workers are still searching through the World Trade Center rubble for people who called 911 on their cell phones, saying that they are trapped in the debris.
During the hijackings, ?People were calling from the plane saying they were getting killed, calling 911,? says one source. ?One stewardess called her husband to say goodbye.?
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