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Special Report


A hijacked jetliner explodes into one of the World Trade Center towers, moments before it and its twin tower collapsed.




hortly before 8 a.m. Eastern time Tuesday, American Airlines Flight 11 left Boston for Los Angeles. It was one of four U.S. jetliners that would not reach their destinations. Something happened shortly after takeoff. An apparent hijacking. Instead of climbing well aloft and heading west, the plane swept to the

south, to New York. Clyde Ebanks, vice president of an insurance company, was at a meeting on the 103rd floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center when his boss said, “Look at that!” He turned and through a window saw a plane go by and hit the other building. It was 8:45 a.m. For Peter Dicerbo and 44 co-workers at First Union National Bank, it was the start of their workday — a beautiful day, with sunlight glinting

off the Hudson River and streaming though the windows on the 47th floor of the trade center. And then, “I just heard the building rock. It knocked me on the floor. It sounded like a big roar, then the building started swaying — that’s what really scared me.” Harriet Grimm, inside the Borders bookstore on the trade center’s first floor, heard a large boom, “and then we saw all this debris just falling.” TURN








Sequence shows the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsing after it was struck by a hijacked jetliner. The other tower collapsed later.

World Trade Center The Center was a complex of seven buildings including the two towers, rising above an enormous underground shopping concourse. Number of stories in each tower: 110 Height of the towers: 1,250 feet Base length of each tower: 400 feet Number of people who worked in the towers: About 50,000 How old: Towers were completed in 1976 Construction: A metal-mesh skin supported the bulk of the towers weight, unlike typical modern skyscrapers, which are supported on a steel frame. The towers under construction in 1971 SOURCES: The Encyclopedia of New York; Compiled from AP wire reports



In this video image, a hijacked jetliner banks toward one of the World Trade Center towers seconds before striking it.


Pedestrians flee the area of the World Trade Center as the south tower crashes to the ground.

Attack on the Pentagon A hijacked Boeing 757 plane carrying 58 passangers crashed into the Pentagon Tuesday morning. About 20,000 military and civilian personnel work at the Pentagon, which covers 34 acres. 110

River entrance Area of offices for the highest officials, including Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld.

Metro Rail and Metro Bus entrance

Mall entrance Heliport entrance The helipad is used by senior officials and President Bush.

South parking




Boeing 757


A helicopter flies over the burning Pentagon near Washington, D.C., as the Washington Monument appears through the smoke at right. The White House roof is visible in the trees at left.

First built in 1978, the plane carries 178-239 passengers. It is 155 feet long and has a wing span of 124 feet. SOURCE: Compiled from AP wire reports


Dulles Airport


Fairfax 66 0 0

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World Trade terror One of two planes that crashed into the upper floors of both World Trade Center towers was hijacked after takeoff from Boston in an apparent terrorist attack Tuesday, according to U.S. officials.

Shortly before 9 a.m., a plane crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center leaving gaping holes in its side.

Minutes later, a second plane was seen over the Hudson River headed towards the south tower. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Brenda Parker, left, comforts her mother, Shirley Pendleton, as they watch the collapse of the World Trade Center on TV at Oakland International Airport in California. Both women were grounded at the airport because of the FAA flight travel ban.

U.S. embassies told they can shut down attacks occurred. In Cairo, Egypt, the U.S. Embassy decided to suspend nonessenWASHINGTON — In tial operations at governresponse to the terrorist ment facilities in Cairo and attacks in New York and Alexandria today, according Washington, the State to a message posted on the Department gave U.S. embassy Web site. embassies worldwide permisThe embassy strongly recsion to shut down and urged ommended that Americans in them to take all necessary Egypt keep travel to a minisecurity precautions. mum and avoid public places Several U.S. embassies in and large gatherings. the Middle East decided to Embassies in Yemen, close indefinitely. The Ameri- Kuwait, Oman and the can Embassy in Japan opted United Arab Emirates not to open today. announced that as of today, Secretary of State Colin they were closing indefiPowell cut short a visit to nitely. The embassy in Qatar Peru and was returning was undecided. The embassy Tuesday to Washington. He in Saudi Arabia will remain was in Lima for an Organiza- open. tion of American States conThe U.S. Embassy in ference on democracy. Kuwait was closing as a sign Powell canceled a visit to of mourning for the fatalities Colombia planned for Tuesof Tuesday’s terror attacks, day. Egypt’s Middle East News In Italy, the U.S. Embassy Agency reported. warned American tourists to In Zagreb, Croatia, the be vigilant and take approembassy said it was closing priate action to increase today “out of respect for the security and reduce their vul- victims of the tragic terrorist nerability. incidents.” It was late Tuesday in the The ambassador, Lawrence Rossin, said on Middle East when the BY GEORGE GEDDA


The plane crashed into the south tower, creating a fireball of flame and smoke.

SOURCES: NBC; compiled from AP wire reports


Croatian state-run television, “I can assure you that people who did this can never sleep and have a safe night in their beds.” The U.S. Embassy in Sweden closed early Tuesday and was to remain closed to the public today. The downtown building and the ambassador’s residence were cordoned off by Swedish riot police. In Oslo, Norwegians left bouquets of flowers in a park near the U.S. Embassy. NATO and European Union institutions also took special security measures, including partial evacuations. The Israeli Embassy in Washington closed for two to three hours after first evacuating nonessential staff. Spokesman Marc Regev said Israel has offered the U.S. government any technical help it needs from the Israeli Army, because “unfortunately, we have people with practical experience in pulling people out of bombed buildings.”

Attacked: ‘All this stuff started falling’ CONTINUED

E1 lower Manhattan. No one knew what happened; the towers, target About 18 minutes later, Luigi of a terrorist bombing in 1993, Ribaudo — who works nearby, in seemed to be ground zero once Tribeca — heard what he thought again. was a plane making a strange Three miles away in Brooklyn, noise. He looked up; he saw a plane sheets of office paper fluttered out that was “too low.” of the sky. “It was going to hit something President Bush, visiting schooland it hit and exploded inside,” he children in Sarasota, Fla., heard of said. the attack at 9:05 a.m. Less than Two towers, two direct hits. 30 minutes later he appeared on The chaos was immediate. television to reassure a country Dicerbo led his 44 colleagues that hoped this day would never down 47 flights of stairs. He stagcome. gered away from the building, his “Two airplanes have crashed clothes torn; the workers were into the World Trade Center in an stunned, dazed and coughing. apparent terrorist attack on our “The minute I got out of the country,” the president said. “I’ve building, the second building blew ordered that the full resources of up,” said Jennifer Brickhouse, 34, the federal government go to help from Union, N.J., who was going the victims and their families and up the escalator into the World Trade Center when she “heard this to conduct a full-scale investigation to hunt down and to find those big boom.” “All this stuff started falling and folks who committed this act.” About 9:40 a.m., an aircraft all this smoke was coming through. People were screaming, falling, and crashed at the Pentagon in Washjumping out of the windows,” from ington. The nerve center of the high in the sky. nation’s military burst into flames Emergency vehicles flooded into and a portion of one side of the fiveFROM

then the sound of floors collapsing. Then an incredible surge of air, followed by a vast cloud of dirt, GABRIEL IOAN smoke, dust, paper and debris. Manhattan businessman Windows shattered. People screamed and dived for cover. In Midtown, several miles away, office workers could look down the sided structure collapsed, sending Avenue of the Americas and see billows of smoke over the capital. the gray shroud that enveloped the The White House’s West Wing remaining World Trade Center was evacuated about 15 minutes tower. What they could not see was later, when Secret Service agents the carnage, as people stumbled learned that it too, might be a taraway from the devastation caked in get of the terrorist attacks. Soon dust, pieces of cloth clutched to thousands of government employtheir faces. Ash two to three inches ees were leaving their offices all deep blanketed the streets and over the city. sidewalks like snowfall. By then, the Federal Aviation It was like the aftermath of an Administration had grounded air unimaginable natural disaster. traffic nationwide. But nothing Only this catastrophe was mancould be done for the hundreds of made, and it wasn’t over yet. flights still aloft. How many of Around 10 a.m. one of those still them would reach their destinaairborne planes, a United Airlines tions? At 9:50 a.m. — an hour after the flight from Newark to San Francisco with 45 aboard, crashed 80 first crash — One World Trade miles southeast of Pittsburgh. Center collapsed. Then, at 10:30 a.m., the second There were reports of an explotower of the World Trade Center sion soon before the tower fell, then a strange sucking sound, and collapsed.

“I just saw the building I work in come down.”

The top of the building exploded with smoke and dust. There were no flames, just an explosion of debris and dust and smoke, and then more vast clouds swept down to the streets. People were knocked to the ground onto their faces as they were running from the building toward cover. And then the same huge clouds of smoke, dust and debris and came through the buildings and blocked out the sun. “I just saw the building I work in come down,” said businessman Gabriel Ioan. At noon, United Airlines announced that another of its planes had gone down. No location was given; it was not confirmed whether this was the plane that hit the Pentagon or one of the two that had hit the World Trade Center. “I just can’t believe what’s happened. God, my heart goes out to all of these people, believe me. I just hope there is justice,” said Martha Ridley, whose daughter died in the April 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.






Palestinians fire weapons in the air at the Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp near the southern port city of Sidon on Tuesday. Palestinians in Lebanon’s refugee camps celebrated the attacks in the United States with all kinds of weapons.

World watches in horror Global leaders denounce attack, but Palestinians rejoice BY BETH GARDINER THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

People around the world watched in horror as images of terror in the United States filled their television screens Tuesday. On the West Bank, Palestinians celebrated but most world leaders expressed solidarity with an America that looked more vulnerable than ever. Iraqi television played a patriotic song that begins “Down with America!” as it showed the World Trade Center’s towers falling. Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers condemned the attacks and rejected suggestions that suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden could be behind them. “It is premature to level allegations against a person who is not in a position to carry out such attacks,” said Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban ambassador in Pakistan. “It was a well-organized plan and Osama has no such facilities.” In the West Bank city of Nablus, thousands of Palestinians poured into the streets to celebrate, chanting “God is Great” and distributing candy to passersby, even as their leader, Yasser Arafat, expressed horror over the attacks. Audiences everywhere were transfixed by the devastation, as both World Trade Center towers collapsed in New York and the Pentagon took a direct hit from an aircraft. Key indexes sank on world stock markets and some European airlines canceled flights to the United States and recalled planes already in the air. Canada tightened security in major cities and along the U.S. border. A Canadian Foreign Affairs spokesman said on condition of anonymity that the border

had been sealed, but traffic continued to flow at a crossing point at Buffalo. The U.S. border with Mexico remained open. Many countries beefed up security at American embassies. The U.S. embassy in the United Arab Emirates closed indefinitely and the ambassador in Egypt suspended nonessential operations at U.S. facilities there. Europeans offered condolences at American embassies — Norwegians left bouquets of flowers in a park near the embassy in Oslo, Russians placed flowers near the Moscow mission, and in Budapest, there were dozens of candles. U.S. armed forces in Europe and Asia were put on high alert. In Brussels, NATO called an emergency meeting for 3 p.m. while European Union institutions took special security measures, including partial evacuations. Israel closed its airspace to foreign flights and evacuated staff from diplomatic missions and Jewish institutions around the world. In Paris, Moscow, Warsaw and Berlin, police and security were put on high alert. “It is impossible to fully comprehend the evil that would have conjured up such a cowardly and depraved assault upon thousands of innocent people,” said Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien. Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed condolences to the American people, calling the attacks “terrible tragedies.” “This mass terrorism is the new evil in our world today,” said British Prime Minister Tony Blair. “It is perpetrated by fanatics who are utterly indifferent to the sanctity of human life, and we the democracies of this world are going to have to come together


A Palestinian woman receives free sweets from a vendor as groups in east Jerusalem’s Old City celebrate the terrorist attack. and fight it together.” U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said “there can be no doubt that these attacks are deliberate acts of terrorism, carefully planned and coordinated, and as such I condemn them utterly.” Queen Elizabeth II said she watched developments in “growing disbelief and total shock” and offered her prayers to Americans. President Jacques Chirac of France called the attacks “monstrous.” “There is no other word for it,” he said in a televised statement.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and his top aides followed the events at his seaside office in Gaza City, gathered around a TV set. “I send my condolences to the president, the government and the people for this terrible incident,” Arafat said. “We are completely shocked. It’s unbelievable.” The leaders of Northern Ireland’s joint Protestant-Catholic government, Reg Empey and Seamus Mallon, also offered condolences.

“As a society that has suffered from the effects of terrorism for over 30 years, we have some recognition and understanding of the hurt being felt by the American people,” they wrote. “It is hard to comprehend what could motivate anyone to cause such misery, destruction and deliberate loss of human life.” Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak condemned called the attacks “horrible and unimaginable.” In Berlin, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said “my government condemns these terrorist attacks to the utmost.” Airlines including British Airways, Scandinavia’s SAS and Belgium’s Sabena canceled flights across the Atlantic and recalled planes that were already in the air. In Puerto Rico, people scrambled for news of relatives and friends in New York, where an estimated 2 million Puerto Ricans live. Groups gathered on the corners of cobble-stoned streets in the colonial city of San Juan, clinging to strangers in search of more details. “Dios mio, have mercy!” exclaimed a whited-haired man, making the sign of the cross as he watched the second tower explode on TV. Broadcasters around the world broke into programming to show images of the disaster. “It’s incredible. I thought I was watching a Hollywood movie,” said Hong Kong school teacher Doris Tang. In the Nigerian capital of Abuja, aghast hotel workers at the local Hilton stopped their chores to watch. “If this can happen in America, then the whole world is not safe,” said one, Augustine Okweche.





‘The resolve of our great nation is being tested’ THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

The texts of President Bush’s remarks Tuesday following attacks on U.S. installations:


President Bush watches television as he talks on the phone with New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani and Gov. George Pataki aboard Air Force One during a flight following a statement about the two planes that crashed into the World Trade Center in New York on Tuesday.

■ At Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Tuesday afternoon: Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward, and freedom will be defended. I want to reassure the American people that the full resources of the federal government are working to assist local authorities to save lives and to help the victims of these attacks. Make no mistake: The United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts. I’ve been in regular contact with the vice president, secretary of defense, the national security team and my Cabinet. We have taken all appropriate security precautions to protect the American people. Our military at home and around the world is on highalert status and we have taken the necessary security precautions to continue the functions of your government. We have been in touch with the leaders of Congress and with world leaders to assure them that we will do whatever is necessary to protect America and Americans. I ask the American people to join me in saying a thanks for all the folks who have been fighting hard to rescue our fellow citizens and to join me in saying a prayer for the victims and their families. The resolve of our great nation is being tested. But

make no mistake: We will show the world that we will pass this test. God bless. ■ In Sarasota, Fla., Tuesday morning, before attacks spread to Washington: Ladies and gentlemen, this is a difficult moment for America. I unfortunately will be going back to Washington after my remarks. Secretary Rod Paige and the lieutenant governor will take the podium and discuss education. I do want to thank the folks here at the Booker Elementary School for their hospitality. Today we’ve had a national tragedy. Two airplanes have crashed into the World Trade Center in an apparent terrorist attack on our country. I have spoken to the vice president, to the governor of New York, to the director of the FBI, and I’ve ordered that the full resources of the federal government go to help the victims and their families and to conduct a full-scale investigation to hunt down and to find those folks who committed this act. Terrorism against our nation will not stand. And now if you join me in a moment of silence. May God bless the victims, their families and America. Thank you very much.

Emergency response plan put into action BY LAURA MECKLEER THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON — President Bush and congressional leaders were whisked to secure locations as the government evacuated federal buildings across the capital, sent out search-and-rescue teams in New York and called in volunteer doctors and nurses. Government agencies sent in medical supplies, dogs to sniff for victims and portable morgues. The government began implementing an emergency response

plan, in the works for decades, immediately after two airplane attacks on New York’s World Trade Center. Minutes later, a third plane crashed into the Pentagon. Bush, who started his day at a Sarasota, Fla., elementary school, was flown to military bases in Louisiana and Nebraska before planning to return to Washington Tuesday evening. The Secret Service took immediate steps to ensure that the president, Vice President Dick Cheney and House Speaker Dennis Hastert were safe, said Karen Hughes, a

top Bush aide. Agents also took precautions for members of the national security team, the Cabinet and senior White House staff. Top congressional leaders were returning to Washington after being sent to a secure government facility 75 miles west of Washington. The House and Senate each planned to convene at 10 a.m. today for the sole purpose of passing resolutions condemning the attacks. They will recess until Thursday morning, when normal business resumes.

Across the globe, American forces and embassies went on high alert. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta and other senior White House staffers gathered at a White House command center, where they coordinated with other branches of federal government. Secretary of State Colin Powell was returning to Washington from South America. The Federal Emergency Management Agency activated eight urban search-and-rescue task forces for New York and four for

the Pentagon. The 62-member teams provide emergency medical care, help stabilize damaged buildings and include dogs trained to search for victims. FEMA’s emergency response has been plan in place since the early 1990s, spokesman Marc Wolfson said. “We have had exercises, we have had training, we have had meetings with the agencies involved,” he said. “Now it’s a matter of getting through this situation. We will be here to help.”

Donors rush to give blood Victims of attacks file into hospitals in N.Y., Washington BY MICHELLE BOORSTEIN THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK — Victims of the World Trade Center attacks streamed to hospitals Tuesday as officials in the city and surrounding states called in every available surgeon and nurse. Hundreds of blood donors rushed to help, even overwhelming blood centers across the country in Louisiana. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said at least 2,100 people had been injured, 600 of them taken to hospitals by mid-afternoon. Hospitals said the numbers would rise. About 1,500 “walking wounded” were taken across New York Harbor to New Jersey’s Liberty State Park, Giuliani said. Dozens of ambulances had raced to the park, near the Statue of Liberty. Officials at the trauma centers closest to the Trade Center — St. Vincent’s Hospital and Medical Center and Bellevue Hospital Center — said the relatively low numbers of victims they had seen were only temporary. They said had received only people who were injured outside the Trade Center towers, and that the number would likely rise dramatically once rescue workers started digging into the rubble. “It’s a catastrophe of unparalleled proportions,” said Bellevue medical director Eric Manheimer. Amid the early rush to get the wounded to treatment, St. Vincent’s and Bellevue hospitals counted only four dead. A triage area was set up at Penn Station in Newark, N.J., to evaluate


Blood donor Johanna Moran, bottom center, presses gauze on her arm after giving blood as Charge Nurse Mary Campbell, right, handles the packet of blood at the American Red Cross Dedham Donor Center in Dedham, Mass., on Tuesday. some of the hundreds of injured people taken across the Hudson River, most by ferries. Officials in Washington said at least 100 people were injured at the Pentagon. At least 10 were taken to northern Virginia’s Inova Alexandria hospital, in good to fair condition, and 26 went to Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington. Washington hospitals had 40 by mid-afternoon, seven in critical condition. Hundreds of blood donors lined up outside Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan, and the line of donors at St. Vincent’s wrapped around the block. “It’s a crisis. You must help. There’s nothing else to do,” 19-year-old donor Jessica McBlath said at St. Vincent’s.

New York Blood Center officials said they were running low on O-negative blood. It can be given to any patient, but only 5 percent of people have it to donate. The American Red Cross did not call for emergency blood donations, saying it had 50,000 units ready to ship to New York if needed. However, it urged blood donors throughout the country to keep any appointments they have this week to give blood. Donors in Washington lined up for two- to three-hour waits at Washington Hospital Center, including Roman Catholic Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. “Since I can give blood, this is one of the ways I can be helpful,” McCarrick said.


Emergency workers help a woman after she was injured in the terrorist attack on the Worl Trade Center in New York on Tuesday.





ON THIS PAGE: New York workers make their way along the debris-filled streets near the World Trade Center towers on Tuesday. The second of the 110-story towers collapsed moments before these photos were taken.

U.S. comes to grips with its vulnerability BY CALVIN WOODWARD THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Any notion of America being invincible died in the monstrous rubble. With the twin towers crumbled in New York, the Pentagon burning, a jetliner down in Pennsylvania, a morning’s cruel work ended the nation’s normalcy. “America is forever changed,” said Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb. “America is in for a long fight.” On the confused streets of Washington, where police gazing skyward stood with guns drawn, where much of the nation’s leadership went into hiding, where pockets of pedestrians would start running but not know where or even why, the allusion that so many reached for was Pearl Harbor. But even that great shocker of American history was not completely apt, for this time the invader was unknown. The enemies were simply “they.” “So devastating, so frustrating, what can you do?” asked Ajay Kapoo, a software engineer who saw the World Trade Center explosions from his office two blocks away. “How could they pull this off?” Joyce Jackson, an AT&T security expert in Washington, asked with a sigh. “This country is supposed to be able to protect against something like this.” So many questions. So much danger come improbably to the doorstep.

ANALYSIS For the nation’s security and his own safety, President Bush, flying from Florida in skies emptied of regular traffic because of the attacks, put off his return to the White House. He worked for a time out of a Louisiana air base, then went into the deepest heartland, Nebraska. Congressional leaders, some administration officials and first lady Laura Bush were whisked to a place or places undisclosed — a rare if not unprecedented security veil drawn over top government officials. The sort of veil meant for nuclear war. They were taken to a “secure location.” Kevin O’Keefe, a college student in Washington, rushed to the Red Cross to give blood. The crowd of donors grew. “I can’t believe I’m in downtown D.C., in the middle of a terrorism crisis,” he said. “This shows how vulnerable we are.” John Croom, 69, a retired Army staff sergeant, watched in bewilderment from his hilltop home as the smoke poured from the Pentagon. “I don’t understand how they could do this,” he said. “They flew so low. I was in the military for 20 years. I thought Washington was protected.” Delusions of invincibility have been dashed before and at the same ground zeros — in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing,

when six people died, and in the mad actions of people with grudges or demons shooting guns at the White House and at Congress. The Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people, attacks on Americans abroad — all have contributed in myriad ways to the fortification of public places and made people more alert. But there has been nothing remotely like this. “Every single American, no matter where you live, the whole country’s on edge,” said Linda Wilson, 42, of Denver. “This has the capacity to change the way we live our lives in this country,” said Rep. Ted Strickland, D-Ohio. “I don’t think we will ever feel as secure as we have in the past.” Where would it end? many asked. “They could be hitting all major cities at this point,” said Christie Nitsch, 39, from Columbus, Ohio. “How do you know?” Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the attacks have set off “a war without boundaries, but it’s total war.” “We’ve been very lucky up to now,” he said. One cruel morning made the American debate over a national missile defense seem absurdly abstract, even as it pointed to dangers from abroad. Death came from the sky, all right, but in hijacked commercial planes.





Rescue workers look over damage at the Pentagon on Tuesday. The Defense Department headquarters burst into flames and a portion of one side of the five-sided structure collapsed after the building was hit by a jetliner.



Steve Swarts holds up a sign in downtown Bakersfield, Calif., on Tuesday in reaction to the terrorist attacks in New York and at the Pentagon.


Vineyard Christian Fellowship member Philip Low, rear, the Rev. Mark Klepac, assistant pastor, on ground, and member John Campbell pray for the victims of the World Trade Center attack, at a service held behind Wickliffe (Ohio) City Hall on Tuesday.


A priest prays over a wounded man outside the west entrance of the Pentagon as emergency workers from all services mobilize to help the wounded Tuesday after a terrorist attack in Arlington, Va.


Firefighters and emergency personnel investigate the scene of a fatal crash involving a United Airlines Boeing 757 with at least 45 passengers Tuesday morning near Shanksville, Pa.

Craig McFarland of Los Angeles holds his head at the ticket counter of American Airlines on Tuesday at Logan International Airport in Boston. McFarland, who exchanged his ticket, says he was supposed to leave on American Flight 11 which left Boston for Los Angeles and was reportedly hijacked and crashed into the World Trade Center in New York.







People flee lower Manhattan across the Brooklyn Bridge in New York on Tuesday following the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.


It is a notion as old as human history, a cold-eyed calculation made by zealots down the ages: that the taking of innocent lives, or the threat to do so, can serve as a brutally effective means of advancing a cause. Still, the modern age of mass terrorism — culminating with Tuesday’s devastating kamikaze-style attacks against some of the greatest icons of American prestige and power — dates back only a little more than three decades. “You look at the ancient Greeks, at Roman history, at biblical accounts — all the elements are there,” said Ariel Merari, a terrorism expert at Tel Aviv University. “These are acts that we as a species have always been capable of, and we as a species have carried out. But as an international, political phenomenon, it’s relatively new.” The late 1960s ushered in a wave of commercial airline hijackings, the first of them carried out in 1968 by a radical Palestinian faction, with many others to follow in the name of what was then the relatively little-known Palestinian cause. With success — in the form of world attention — a host of imitators sprang up. Left-wing and nationalist groups proliferated in Western Europe and

regimes use the terrorist tag to discredit those who struggle against them. So who is a terrorist, and who is a freedom fighter? Even decades after the fact, the answer is sometimes clear, sometimes ARIEL MERARI not. Nelson Mandela is a universally terrorism expert beloved and respected statesman. But with the Mideast’s latest plunge into intrinsic value.” violence, Palestinian leader Yasser The public revulsion inspired by ter- Arafat’s claim to the title of leader and ror attacks is part of the point — but in statesman is being bitterly challenged. a way beside the point. Terrorism as we The line between guerrilla warfare know it today is the product of a media and terrorism has always been a diffiage, a calling card of a global culture in cult one to define. which fame and infamy are closely couConfronted with a powerful foe, pled. rebel movements and guerrilla armies “The whole idea — the only idea, in use tactics that are in some ways akin some sense — is to bring attention to to terrorism, relying heavily on stealth, the cause,” said Rohan Gunaratna of surprise and audacity — and somethe Center for the Study of Terrorism times striking at civilian targets rather and Political Violence in Edinburgh, than military ones. Scotland. “What some people call terrorism Sometimes, the battle over terrorism would probably be better defined as is a struggle over semantics. low-intensity warfare,” said Merari, the “Terrorist” is an epithet, and even Tel Aviv University expert. the most enthusiastic practitioners of Tuesday’s horrifying strikes against terror’s black arts bridle at it. When the World Trade Center and the Pentathe U.S. State Department periodically gon — in which fully loaded commerupdates its list of terror organizations cial airliners were wielded as weapons and the countries that sponsor them, — could herald the start of an era in this judgment is often accompanies by which terror and retribution are hard howls of protest. But it is a two-sided coin: repressive to distinguish from all-out war.

“You look at the ancient Greeks, at Roman history, at biblical accounts — all the elements are there. . . . These are acts that we as a species have always been capable of, and we as a species have carried out. But as an international, political phenomenon, it’s relatively new.” Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s, many of them employing terror as a tactic. The arena widened to the world’s far-flung corners, and the target list expanded — airports, cruise ships, embassies. Terrorism. The very idea is to strike paralyzing fear into the hearts of an enemy, or a perceived one. To invest an act of violence with far-reaching consequences that go beyond the moment’s spectacular display of blood and destruction. It requires a chilling degree of detachment from the fundamental values upon which civilization is built, ethicists say. “The world view that undergirds any terrorist activity is as far removed from any ethical philosophy as can be imagined,” said Tom Morris, a former Notre Dame University professor of philosophy. “It involves treating people as mere means to ends. It ascribes only instrumental value to people, and no

Special Report: America Attacked  

Special Report: America Attacked

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