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Washington Prepares for Long Campaign

2300 GMT, 010918


As Washington tries to build an international coalition against terrorism, the Bush administration is preparing the nation for a long campaign rather than a single retaliatory strike. With Afghanistan the primary initial target, Washington must deal with a problem it has rarely encountered since World War II: attacking a landlocked country.


The Bush administration is searching the globe for coalition support for its war on terrorism. At the same time, it is preparing Americans for a long campaign that may not include a rapid, high-profile, retaliatory strike.

Washington's initial military response to the Sept. 11 attacks will shape U.S. relations not only with Middle Eastern nations but also with the rest of the world.

For this reason the administration must carefully consider its reprisal so as not to undermine the confidence of allies or fuel wider enmity among Arab and Islamic nations. Although strikes are inevitable, they will likely take much more time and preparation than the cruise missile strikes that followed the 1998 bombings of the embassies in Africa.

By labeling Osama bin Laden the key suspect, Washington has also marked Afghanistan, where the Saudi exile has been living, as the likely first target. This presents a problem the U.S. military has rarely encountered since World War II: attacking a landlocked nation. The effectiveness of U.S. carrier battle groups will be severely reduced in any operation against Afghanistan.

The Limits of Solidarity

The United States has experienced much success so far in forming a broad international coalition to fight terrorism following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But frictions with vital countries such as Germany, France and Egypt could hamper America's ability to wage covert war.


In some ways Sept. 17 was a bad day for American strategists. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and others have made it clear the United States intends to prosecute the coming campaign against terrorism as it did in the Kosovo and Iraqi wars: with a broad, international coalition's backing.

In terms of logistics, Washington must find either land bases for a sustained coalition air strike against Afghanistan or provide in-air refueling for carrier-based planes.

Afghanistan's neighbors, with whom the United States has tenuous relations, limit both choices. Afghanistan is bounded by Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to the north, Iran to the west, China to the east and Pakistan to the south. Any partnership with the northern neighbors will require substantial negotiations with Russia, which retains a strong influence and military presence in Central Asia. Even with permission to fly out of Central Asia, the supply chain into these nations would be long and difficult to maintain.

Iran, which has no love for the Taliban, is even more unlikely to offer basing for U.S. aircraft. China, too, is unlikely to offer basing, and even if it does, significant supply line problems would remain.

Washington's best hope for regional assistance, then, is Pakistan. Pakistan was once a close ally, and its port access is useful for logistical purposes. Pakistan's long border along the southern and eastern parts of Afghanistan also offers the closest access to the cities of Kandahar, the Taliban headquarters, and Kabul, the frontline in the battle between the Taliban and the opposition Northern Alliance.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has offered substantial cooperation to the United States in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. But pro-Taliban forces inside Pakistan threaten his hold on power.

These threats come from those who feel he is too secular as well as from ethnic rivalries within Pakistan. Musharraf is a Muhajir, an Urdu-speaking member of an immigrant family from India. Although Urdu-speakers have dominated Pakistan's political and economic elite, the many of the country's indigenous groups -- including the native Pushtun population, which geographically straddles the border with Afghanistan -- view them as usurpers.

Even with Musharraf's promises of cooperation, military planners in Washington must be absolutely sure that he has control of his entire military. The main questions in Washington now are whether Pakistan's offer of assistance is firm and whether the government is stable enough to allow the United States to strike Afghanistan from Pakistan.

Whether the U.S. military is based in Pakistan or not, simply flying over Pakistan on the way to Afghanistan poses a serious security challenge. First, bringing significant firepower to bear on Afghanistan requires Washington to bring in more carriers or -- for a sustained and more effective operation -- to establish land bases. The nearest places for such land bases are in India, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

If the aircraft are launched from carriers, they will require in-air refueling somewhere over Pakistan. This presents a significant security risk: Tanker aircraft would provide a ready target for potential rogue elements inside Pakistan's army or air force. With the situation in Pakistan still uncertain, it would be hard for a U.S. military commander to confidently fly tankers over Pakistan. The loss of a single tanker to surface-to-air missiles or fighter aircraft would also lead to the loss of mission-bound aircraft that depended on the tanker for fuel.

Similar problems pertain to operations not based on carriers. Because land-based aircraft generally have a longer combat radius, it is possible that flights from Oman, the UAE or Qatar could refuel over the Pakistani coast and still have the range to strike at Kandahar or other targets in Afghanistan. Operating from land bases in the Gulf or from India, however, would require a long buildup.

It is for this kind of protracted operation rather than a quick retaliation that Washington is preparing. During a briefing Sept. 18, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld reiterated the dominant theme in Washington now -- that this will be a new style of war, one that will be fought for a long time. Rumsfeld emphasized that this is "not a matter of a single event" nor a campaign against one or two terrorist leaders.

Washington needed six months to gear up for Operation Desert Storm, and preparations for strikes on Afghanistan or other targets may take as long. Although pressure from within the United States for a retaliatory strike will grow, President George W. Bush currently enjoys high popularity ratings. His administration is much more likely to take the heat now rather than risk a disastrous attack that accomplishes little.

If Washington could fully trust Pakistan's stability, it would likely have begun operations already. But the administration is making every effort to prepare a long-term strategy -- to avoid the appearance abroad and at home of a Clinton-esque strategy of launching an ineffective cruise-missile strike against some tents in Afghanistan as well as to avoid undermining tenuous relations with the Arab and Muslim world.

This strategy may involve more carrier-based aircraft, land-based assets or even long-range strategic bombers from the United States and the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Such strikes will ultimately take place but only after the administration can overcome the logistical concerns posed by Pakistan's delicate political balance.

From: http://www.stratfor.com/home/0109191630.htm

Arafat Scrambles for Cover

1630 GMT, 010919


Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat up to now has been successful in driving a wedge between the United States and Israel while retaining plausible deniability for suicide bombings in the Middle East. But in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, Arafat's strategy is in shambles. He is now trapped between an unrestrained Israel and the anger of the Palestinian public.


Immediately after the events of Sept. 11, STRATFOR wrote that Israel would be a major beneficiary of the attacks. We said: "Given that pressures for Israel to restrain operations against the Palestinian Authority will decline dramatically, it might be expected that Yasser Arafat, anticipating this evolution, will rapidly change his position on suicide bombings and become more accommodating to Israel. In effect, today's events have wrecked Arafat's nearly successful drive to split the United States from Israel."

That appears to be what has happened. After agreeing to a truce with Israel, Arafat took the unprecedented step Sept. 18 of ordering his forces not to fire even in self-defense. In return, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has ordered a halt to "unilateral action" by Israeli forces. The differing formulas tell it all. Sharon has promised to withhold strikes unless the Palestinians strike first. The Palestinian Authority has committed itself not to strike under any circumstances.

Behind all this is a grim reality for Arafat. He was executing a superb strategy. The suicide bombing campaign against Israel allowed Arafat some plausible deniability, at least with Europe and the United States. He argued that he was unable to restrain the bombers because they were controlled by other groups such as Hamas. The more intensely Israel attacked the Palestinians, the more frequently the suicide bombings would occur. This argument allowed Arafat to shift responsibility for events away from himself toward Sharon and Palestinian radicals. He could play the victim of both while generating sympathy for the Palestinians and support for himself.

The intent of his strategy was to drive a wedge between the Sharon government and the United States. Sharon's response to the Palestinians had been to launch what was, in effect, a war against the Palestine Authority's infrastructure: attacking command facilities, assassinating leaders and moving into towns to clear out armed Palestinians. It was little noticed that on the night of Sept. 10, Israeli forces surrounded the town of Jenin as part of this conflict.

But following the Sept. 11 suicide hijackings in the United States, Arafat's strategy is in shambles. He is still in the middle, but now he is trapped. He fully understands the United States will no longer restrain Sharon. Arafat also knows Sharon well enough to know he will seize any provocation to press the war to a new level of intensity.

On the other hand, Arafat may not have complete control over the suicide bombers attacking Israel. After the July 2000 Camp David summit, Arafat deftly maneuvered himself into a position wherein his policies were aligned with those of more radical Palestinians. They had reached a mutual accommodation of sorts: Arafat would use their attacks on Israel to position his diplomacy, and the radicals would carry out operations to their satisfaction and permit Arafat to exploit them for political ends. This cooperation, or parallel play if you will, was not the same as Arafat being in genuine control of all elements.

This means that although Arafat sees no alternative to accepting a cease-fire, it is far from certain that all Palestinian groups will accept it. Indeed, both Islamic Jihad and Hamas have opposed the cease-fire, with Islamic Jihad vehemently opposing Arafat's participation in a U.S.-led coalition against Osama bin Laden.

It will be much more difficult for these groups to operate now. Arafat might not have controlled them before, but his intelligence apparatus refrained from interfering with them. That is primarily what the Israelis were furious about because they felt Arafat could have shut down the bombers if he had wanted to. Now it is in Arafat's interest to do so. He will certainly try and to some extent succeed -- but not perfectly. There will be bombings and Israeli retaliation.

Arafat is now trapped between overwhelming, unrestrained Israeli force and the genuine anger of the Palestinian public. They understand full well that Arafat has been trapped by events and forced to retreat. What they don't see are the benefits that will accrue from the retreat: Hamas and Islamic Jihad will argue vehemently that Arafat and the secular leadership of the Palestinians are politically bankrupt and that it is time for a new generation to take charge -- a generation that is religious in perspective.

We strongly suspect that those who planned the Sept. 11 attacks were fully aware of the dynamic they were creating. Assuming the attackers knew what they were doing, they understood their actions would paralyze the American financial markets and air traffic system. They also knew that by extension, their actions would strengthen Sharon and weaken Arafat. That is precisely what they wanted because it would serve to increase the strength of Islamic forces within the Palestinian community.

If this develops as logic dictates, then Arafat will find himself with nowhere to go but into Israeli arms. His one hope is that if he reaches a settlement with the Israelis, the Israelis will understand the benefit of improving economic conditions for Palestinians, who have been devastated by occupation and war. If Arafat cannot deliver the kind of victory that was possible a few days ago, he must at least deliver a better life for the Palestinians.

For that to happen, the Israelis must be prepared both to support Arafat politically and to infuse capital into the West Bank. But this would require radicals to permit a period of economic stabilization -- and that is not very likely.

September 19, 2001


Officials Say 2 More Jets May Have Been in the Plot


WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 — Federal authorities said today that they were investigating the possibility that terrorists might have plotted to commandeer two more commercial flights on the day that four planes were hijacked and used in attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

Law enforcement officials said they were taking the possibility of other hijack targets seriously, based on information from several sources, including citizens' tips and information from cooperating witnesses.

One flight under investigation is American Airlines Flight 43, which left Newark International Airport about 8:10 a.m. bound for Los Angeles; it made an emergency landing in Cincinnati after the government ordered all flights grounded.

The other flight is American Airlines Flight 1729 from Newark to San Antonio via Dallas that was scheduled to depart at 8:50 a.m. and was later forced to land at St. Louis.

Attorney General John Ashcroft acknowledged that the authorities were investigating whether other aircraft besides the four might have been targeted. But, Mr. Ashcroft added, "we are not able at this time to confirm that."

Mr. Ashcroft said that 75 people who might have information in the case were in custody on immigration charges, and reports of new arrests came in today from Los Angeles, Detroit and Orlando, Fla.

As investigators continued to make arrests and conduct searches, law enforcement officials acknowledged that the F.B.I.'s efforts to conduct electronic surveillance of foreign terrorists in the United States had been troubled in recent months, prompting an internal inquiry into possible abuses.

Justice Department and F.B.I. officials, who acknowledged the existence of the internal investigation, said the inquiry had forced officials to examine their monitoring of several suspected terrorist groups, among them Al Qaeda, the network led by Osama bin Laden, and Hamas, the militant Palestinian group. Al Qaeda is the group that President Bush and others have cited for last week's attacks.

Senior F.B.I. and Justice Department officials said that they had not allowed the internal investigation of terrorism-related wiretaps to affect their ability to monitor Al Qaeda or Hamas. But other officials said the inquiry might have hampered electronic surveillance of terror groups.

The matter remains highly classified.

The officials said the internal inquiry was opened in part because of legal problems arising from the government's investigation into the 1998 bombings of two American Embassies in East Africa, involving Al Qaeda members

Today, law enforcement officials said that the evidence of a broader plot in the airliner hijackings was suggestive but inconsistent. In the case of American Airlines Flight 1729, the authorities have detained two men from the flight who were arrested aboard an Amtrak train in Fort Worth after their flight had been forced to land in St. Louis. The two men, identified as Ayubali Ali Kahn and Mohammed Jaweed Azmath, were the only people aboard the flight who appeared to be suspicious; each of the other flights had hijack teams of four or five men.

A senior F.B.I. official said today that the authorities were examining hundreds of e-mail messages to and from the suspected hijackers and their known associates.

The messages were mainly in English and Arabic, said the official, who would not describe the content aside from saying that the messages were provided by large Internet service providers.

American intelligence officials also said today that they had received a report that Mohamed Atta, a suspected hijacker on American Airlines Flight 11, which struck the World Trade Center North Tower, met several months ago with an Iraqi intelligence official in Europe. The American officials said the report of the meeting had been received in the last few days.

The officials said they were not sure of the purpose of the meeting, if it did occur, and were investigating the possible connection. They emphasized that it did not prove that Iraq played a role in the attacks.

In addition to the two men who were arrested on the Amtrak train and taken to New York as material witnesses in the investigation, federal agents have also taken to New York for questioning a man who was arrested in Minnesota in mid-August on a passport violation after he sought training on a airplane flight simulator.

The man, Zacarias Moussaoui, apparently raised suspicion at the Pan Am International Flight Academy in Eagan, Minn., although officials with the academy have declined to describe why.

Within days of Mr. Moussaoui's arrest, federal agents showed up at the Airman Flight School in Oklahoma, where he had enrolled earlier in the year, said Dale Davis, director of operations at the flight school. Mr. Davis said the agents took copies of Mr. Moussaoui's immigration form and asked, among other things, whether Mr. Moussaoui had ever made anti-American statements. Mr. Davis said he told the agents that Mr. Moussaoui had not.

At the same time, investigators appeared to be uncertain about the scope of the entire operation, particularly in cities outside the Northeast. Several connections to San Antonio have been developed.

Albader Alhazmi, a 34-year-old radiologist from San Antonio, is being held in New York as a material witness, one official said. Dr. Alhazmi's home and workplace have been searched.

The internal debate at the Justice Department and F.B.I. over wiretap surveillance of terrorist groups ignited in March, prompted by questions raised by Royce C. Lamberth, the chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a little- known panel that decides whether to approve Justice Department applications to permit wiretaps and clandestine searches in espionage and international terror cases.

In a letter to Attorney General Ashcroft, Judge Lamberth raised questions about a wiretap request related to a Hamas member, officials said. Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the F.B.I. must make applications, through the Justice Department, to the surveillance court to authorize wiretaps and clandestine searches of the homes and offices of suspected terrorists and spies.

The foreign surveillance act, passed in 1978 in the wake of Watergate and other revelations of abuses by the F.B.I. and C.I.A., created a legal framework to allow the government to eavesdrop on people considered dangerous to American national security, even if prosecutors had not yet developed a criminal case against them.

The legal standards that the F.B.I. must meet to obtain court authorization under the act are lower than the probable cause required under most criminal cases. But that flexibility comes with a cost: information gathered under the act can be used only in criminal cases under highly limited conditions.

Civil liberties advocates have frequently expressed concerns about whether the act allows the government to blur the lines between intelligence gathering and criminal prosecutions.

Judge Lamberth's concerns about F.B.I. applications to the court are apparently related to whether the bureau was seeking wiretaps under the act on individuals without informing the court of a subject's status pending criminal investigations.

The Bush administration team at the Justice Department reacted to Judge Lamberth's complaints by opening an inquiry into Michael Resnick, an F.B.I. official who coordinates the act's applications.

Mr. Ashcroft and Robert S. Mueller III, now director of the F.B.I., who at the time was temporarily serving as deputy attorney general, ordered a review of foreign surveillance authorizations. Louis J. Freeh, who was then the F.B.I. director, and Lawrence Parkinson, the bureau's general counsel, ordered a review of several applications in terrorism cases dating back several years.

Disclosure of the internal investigation of the foreign intelligence process comes just as Mr. Ashcroft is seeking Congressional support for an emergency package of anti-terrorism legislation, including an expansion of the Justice Department's ability to use wiretaps in cases of suspected terrorism or espionage.

Under his proposal, law enforcement agents would have broad authority to conduct roving electronic surveillance of suspected terrorists as they move from phone to phone or from computer terminal to computer terminal.

Some officials argue that the current system imposes burdens on the F.B.I. and Justice Department as they seek to obtain wiretaps of suspected terrorists. Under the foreign intelligence act, electronic surveillance authorization must be renewed by the F.I.S.A. court every 90 days, and authorization for physical search warrants must be renewed by the court every 45 days.

Applications surged after Tuesday's attacks, officials said.



Date: 9/20/2001 2:11:14 AM Pacific Daylight Time

From: posse@penn.com (Pastor August & Karley Kreis)


Published by: AL-MANAR TV

Web Site: http://www.manartv.com/ Javascript:displayArticle(2897)

4000 Israeli Employees in WTC Absent the Day of the Attack

With the announcement of the attacks at the World Trade Center in New York, the international media, particularly the Israeli one, hurried to take advantage of the incident and started mourning 4000 Israelis who work at the two towers. Then suddenly, no one ever mentioned anything about those Israelis and later it became clear that they remarkably did not show up in their jobs the day the incident took place. No one talked about any Israeli being killed or wounded in the attacks.

Arab diplomatic sources revealed to the Jordanian al-Watan newspaper that those Israelis remained absent that day based on hints from the Israeli General Security Apparatus, the Shabak, the fact which evoked unannounced suspicions on American officials who wanted to know how the Israeli government learned about the incident before it occurred, and the reasons why it refrained from informing the U.S authorities of the information it had.

Suspicions had increased further after Israeli newspaper Yadiot Ahranot revealed that the Shabak prevented Israeli premier Ariel Sharon from traveling to New York and particularly to the city’s eastern coast to participate in a festival organized by the Zionist organizations in support of the "Israel".

Aharon Bernie, the commentator at the newspaper, brought up the issue and came up with a negative conclusion, saying “no answer”. He then asked about the clue behind the Shabak’s position in preventing Sharon’s participation, and again without giving an answer. Bernie added that Sharon, who was delighted for having his speech on top of the festival agenda, asked the head of the organization to mediate and convince the Shabak to change its position, but his attempts were in vein. One day after Sharon’s secretary officially announced that Sharon would not participate, the incident took place.

For its part, the Israeli Ha’aretz newspaper revealed that the FBI arrested five Israelis four hours after the attack on the Twin Towers while filming the smoking skyline from the roof of their company’s building. The FBI had arrested the five for “puzzling behavior”. They are said to have been caught videotaping the disaster in what was interpreted as cries of joy and mockery.

Sheriff's Posse Comitatus
Pastor August B. Kreis III
P.O. Box 321
Ulysses, Pennsylvania USA [16948-0321]
(814) 848-7945


Secret plans for 10-year war


Generals rule out 'D-Day invasion'

AMERICA and Britain are producing secret plans to launch a ten-year “war on terrorism” — Operation Noble Eagle — involving a completely new military and diplomatic strategy to eliminate terrorist networks and cells around the world.

Despite the mass build-up of American forces in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean, there will be no “D-Day invasion” of Afghanistan and no repeat of the US-led Operation Desert Storm against Iraq in 1991, defence sources say.

The notion that a US-led multinational coalition would attack Afghanistan from all sides for harbouring Osama bin Laden, the wealthy Saudi dissident leader and prime suspect for the terrorist outrages in New York and Washington, has been rejected in Washington and London. The sources also say that the planned campaign is not being focused on just “bringing bin Laden to justice”.

The build-up of firepower by the Americans in the region, notably the two aircraft carrier battle groups that are to be joined by a third carrier, USS Theodore Roosevelt, is seen as a major display of available military capability. While it is important for these assets to be in the right place in case of a political decision to launch a strike, there are no plans for a “short-term fix”.

The dramatically different anti-terrorism campaign is being planned to meet what is now regarded as the most dangerous threat to global security, known as asymmetric warfare. “We’re expecting it to last from five to ten years,” one source said.

New ideas are needed to counter small groups armed with the minimum of weaponry, whether conventional or non-conventional. Such groups have the capability to attack a nation as powerful as the United States, which is equipped with the full range of modern weapons and professional Armed Forces.

Old doctrines for fighting wars, based on lining up tanks and artillery and layers of troops, are being thrown out and replaced by a more subtle and wide-ranging doctrine which seeks to defeat the enemy at its own game. “The aim is not to go for the enemy’s strengths, but its weaknesses,” one source said.

American and British planners are working on the basis that military strikes will take place only as part of a broader global counter-terrorist operation, embracing every other type of international action — diplomatic, economic and political.

Most of the focus of the ten-year campaign plan, the sources say, is on using military action as a potent back-up to all the other strands of Operation Noble Eagle.

However, President Bush, conscious of the demand for “revenge” from the American public, might sanction shorter-term military operation by special forces, or airstrikes, but only if there is sufficient intelligence to guarantee a sucessful outcome. “There’s no point in firing a lot of missiles at bin Laden if they miss their target, or launching Tomahawks at bin Laden training camps if they are empty,” one source said.

Donald Rumsfeld, the American Defence Secretary, also gave the strongest hint yesterday of what Operation Noble Eagle is all about. “I think what you will see evolve over the next six, eight, ten, 12 months, probably over a period of years, is a coalition to help battle terrorists,” he told CNN.

He added: “This is a very new type of conflict or battle or campaign or war or effort, for the United States. We’re moving in a measured manner. As we gather information, we’re preparing appropriate courses of action, and they run across the political and economic and financial, military, intelligence spectrum.”

British officials said the whole focus of the long-term American approach was being driven by Richard Cheney, the American Vice-President, and General Colin Powell, the Secretary of State. The combination of the two highly experienced men was guaranteeing a well-coordinated strategy. “Everyone now knows it’s going to be a long haul, not a spectacular single strike,” one official said.

The war on terrorism could be likened, they said, to the war on drugs or poverty, and the best way to undermine and eventually dismantle the terrorist structures around the world was to use the method of “hearts and minds” — encouraging foreign governments and people to join in the “war” so that terrorists would be isolated and identified.

Some of the most dramatic achievements, the sources say, might come, not from military action, but from political pressure on foreign governments to turn their backs on terrorism and to hand over the organisers of terrorist networks.

They point to the campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999. Although the airstrikes fitted more closely to the “old doctrine concept” of using massed firepower to target the enemy, which brought criticism from many parts of the world, Nato was also seen to be working as a humanitarian agency with its operation in Albania helping to build shelters for the thousands of refugees pouring out of Kosovo.

The eventual outcome, the political downfall of Slobodan Milosevic and the decision by the new Government to hand him over to the war crimes tribunal in The Hague, is seen as a classic example of how military action can serve two purposes, defeating the enemy and effecting political change.

In the Gulf War, the American-led coalition achieved one objective, driving the Iraqis out of Kuwait, but not the other, the overthrow of President Saddam Hussein by his own people.

Already, the sources say, just over a week after the terrorist attacks in America, there have been positive developments: the Israeli and Palestinian leaders have agreed a new ceasefire and 1,000 clerics have been forced to gather in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, to discuss the fate of bin Laden.

Yesterday it was also announced that President Putin is to visit Nato headquarters in Brussels on October 3 and will meet Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, the Secretary- General, another positive sign that the Russian leader supports the campaign against terrorism.

Russia and Nato put out a joint statement last week condemning the terrorist attacks and vowing that they would not go unpunished.

Other coalitions against terrorism are also being rapidly formed and several countries, notably Pakistan yesterday, have offered bases for American military action.

However, sources in Washington say there are no plans to deploy huge numbers of US troops to Pakistan, which would only inflame Islamic fundamentalists opposed to the decision by President Musharraf to grant US access to two air bases in the country.

Copyright 2001 Times Newspapers Ltd.


Weekend alert as FBI warns of new attack


AMERICA and the West are bracing themselves for another potential “Day of Infamy” this Saturday, when accomplices of the hijackers are suspected of having plotted new outrages.

The most solid evidence so far is the discovery that five associates of the suicide gang had booked seats on two internal passenger flights, taking them from Texas to California, in two days’ time.

FBI agents are trying to capture as many key operatives as possible before any plot can be put into action.

Water, gas and electricity suppliers, bridges, tunnels and underground railways have increased security because of the perceived threat of biological, chemical or physical attacks.

In a dramatic development, three Arab airport workers in Detroit were arrested after FBI agents found them in a house with handwritten sketches of an airport, aircraft and runways. They had a notebook containing information about the “American base in Turkey”, “Alia Airport” in Jordan and the “American foreign minister”, legal documents state. The three, Ahmed Hanna, 33, Karim Koubriti, 23, and Farouk Ali-Halmoud, 21, from Morocco and Algeria, worked at Detroit Metropolitan Airport preparing food for airlines.

FBI agents stumbled across the trio while searching the address of Habil al-Marabh, a suspected associate of the World Trade Centre hijackers. The Arabs said that they did not know him. They have been charged with conspiracy and having false immigration papers.

The FBI is concentrating its energies on deterring more attacks this Saturday. “Yes, we have heard something about September 22 but nothing specific,” an investigative source told America’s Knight Ridder news service.

“We have information that leads us to believe that there could be more attacks very soon. The same murky sources that indicated something might be happening in the weeks before the attacks have indicated something may be happening this weekend.”

Bob Graham, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that the New York and Washington suicide strikes were “part of a larger plan with other terrorism acts, not necessarily the hijacking of airplanes”.

The FBI has issued a “watch list” of 223 people suspected of being associates of the hijackers. Nearly a quarter of the people on the list are able to fly aircraft.

Copyright 2001 Times Newspapers Ltd.

Soviet Veterans Warn United States

By SARAH KARUSH, Associated Press Writer


MOSCOW (AP) - The prospect of a U.S. attack on Afghanistan brings an ominous message from veterans of the Soviet Union's decade-long war with Afghan guerrillas: You'll never win.

"You can occupy it, you can put troops there and keep bombing, but you cannot win," said Lt.Gen. Ruslan Aushev, who was decorated for bravery during the 1979-89 war.

The Soviet Union's brutal conflict in the mountainous land helped bring about the superpower's collapse. The Soviet Union said it lost 15,000 troops in Afghanistan, and unofficial estimates are much higher.

Moscow sent troops to Afghanistan to back a fledgling leftist government against Islamic rebels supported by the United States. The Taliban militia who now rule most of the country have sheltered Osama bin Laden, whom the United States suspects of masterminding last week's terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Any nation sheltering bin Laden faces "the full wrath" of the United States, Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday.

But even if U.S. officials are certain bin Laden is in Afghanistan, it may be impossible to find him there, Aushev said in a telephone interview Tuesday from the Russian region of Ingushetia, of which he is president.

"It's as easy to lose yourself in the mountains as in the jungle," he said. "They'll find him only if they're ready to go over 500,000 square kilometers (200,000 square miles) rock by rock."

Renowned warriors, the people of Afghanistan have staved off many a foreign enemy. Like the Soviet Union and Britain, which attempted to conquer the country in the 19th century, the United States is destined to fail, Aushev said.

"America doesn't want to kill 20 million Afghans," he said, implying that nothing short of genocide could win a war in Afghanistan.

"No matter how they prepare for a ground operation, it is hopeless," said Yevgeny Zelenov, a member of the Russian parliament and a veteran of the Soviet war.

U.S. troops would be facing a people who have learned to "sleep and live with their weapons," he said.

After the Soviet occupation, violence among rival factions killed more than 50,000 people. And fighting between the Taliban, who preach the idea of holy war, and the northern-based opposition alliance has continued since the Islamic fundamentalist militia took power in 1996.

But Alexei Arbatov, deputy chairman of the Russian parliament's defense committee, said U.S. officials have the advantage of Soviet experience as they plan their campaign.

Moscow has amassed in-depth knowledge of Afghanistan's terrain and may still have valuable intelligence contacts that it could share with Washington. But the United States may be able to learn the most from Soviet mistakes, Arbatov said.

"At a minimum, the experience of Russia in Afghanistan is already influencing the U.S. in the sense that the United States is not planning - and I am convinced will never plan - to bring in a big contingent of ground troops with the goal of occupying Afghanistan," he said at a news conference.

But because of the abundance of hiding places, missile strikes without a ground operation are destined to be nothing but "noise, aimed at showing the government is doing something," Zelenov said.

Khulkar Yusupov, who covered the Soviet war for the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, said he doubted the United States could pinpoint military targets and avoid heavy civilian casualties.

During the Soviet war, Yusupov was most disturbed by the suffering among the already impoverished civilian population. "You can't just pinpoint one gorge there. If you hit one gorge, you hit all the nearby villages," he said.


Bin Laden heads off on horseback

Luke Harding in Islamabad

Wednesday September 19, 2001

The Guardian

Osama bin Laden took an oath of allegiance from some 500 of his Arab supporters in Kabul before setting off towards a secret location in the mountains on horseback, reports in Pakistan said yesterday.

The Saudi dissident apparently made a farewell speech to his followers in the centre of the Afghan capital on Monday. "The fidayeen [militant supporters] were all Arabs, who vowed to fight to the last man," an Arab source was quoted as saying.

According to the source, Bin Laden said goodbye to his comrades-in-arms before disappearing with his bodyguards on horses.

"They left behind the vehicles and left on horses. He must have gone to some place which is not motorable," the source said.

The report appears to be the latest confirmation that Bin Laden has gone to ground in the face of an overwhelming US attack. Sources in Kandahar two days ago said that all of Bin Laden's Arab followers had left the city, together with his four wives and many children.

Bin Laden is known to have at least three bases in Afghanistan: a large Arab camp next to the airport north of Kandahar, where some 300 of his supporters live; a smaller base in the remote Oruzgan mountains; and a third camp in the eastern city of Jalalabad. The last camp is cut into a rockface and is supplied with an Islamic library and three uncomfortable beds.

Bin Laden is known to be fond of riding. He owns several horses at his two farms, one in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan and another in Ningrahar, near Jalalabad, an area famous for its fertile citrus groves.

As well as his main bases, Bin Laden is also able to draw upon a network of smaller, near-impregnable hide-outs deep in the Hindu Kush mountains. His followers would also be able to make use of the innumerable hidden bases used by the mojahedin in the 1980s in their fight against invading Soviet troops.

In the unlikely event that the Taliban decide to hand over Bin Laden to the Americans later today, they may have a difficult job in finding him. Since the Americans fired 70 Tomahawk cruise missiles at his training camps in August 1998, Bin Laden no longer carries a satellite phone. Instead, he relays urgent messages to subordinates.

The Saudi dissident has so far steadfastly denied having anything to do with the attacks in New York and Washington. In a statement to the Afghan Islamic Press agency on Sunday he protested his innocence. "I am residing in Afghanistan. I have taken an oath of allegiance (to the Taliban's leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar) which does not allow me to do such things from Afghanistan," he claimed.

Most sources say that Bin Laden is quite capable of disappearing for months at a time.

He vanished from Kandahar last October, when there seemed a prospect of another revenge strike against him, following the death of 17 American sailors in an attack on the USS Cole in Yemen.

Article Date 09/20/2001

Report: Osama may have fled Afghanistan


NEW DELHI, India, Sept. 20 (UPI) - The prime suspect in last Tuesday's terror attacks on New York and Washington, Osama bin Laden, may have fled Afghanistan four days ago, India's leading news Web site rediff.com reported Thursday.

"The bird has flown," a highly placed source in Pakistan told the Web site. "They (the ulema) officially asked him to leave today, but he had left four days ago," the unnamed official was quoted as saying.

Intelligence sources say that bin Laden may have joined thousands of Afghanis who have gathered along the Pakistan border in an effort to cross the border before a possible attack on Afghanistan by the United States.

Although both Iran and Pakistan have officially sealed their borders with Afghanistan, it would not be difficult for bin Laden to sneak across the border. Dawn, a Pakistani daily, had earlier reported that bin Laden on Sunday took an oath of allegiance from 500 of his Arab supporters in Kabul before disappearing on horseback for a place that may not be motorable.

The Sept. 11 attacks are believed to have killed more than 5,000 people and destroyed the World Trade Center in New York and a part of the Pentagon near Washington.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

Bomb Alert Halts Euro High Speed Trains

Thursday, Sept. 20, 2001; 12:39 p.m. EDT

BRUSSELS, Belgium –– High-speed trains between Brussels, Paris and London were halted Thursday because of a bomb alert, Belgian railways said.

An official at the state rail company said army bomb disposal units were checking tracks, and trains were likely to be halted for at least an hour. No bomb had been found half an hour into the alert, she said.

Eurostar trains through the Channel Tunnel to London and the Thalys high-speed link between Paris and the Belgian capital were affected, the rail official said. She spoke on condition of anonymity.

© Copyright 2001 The Associated Press

WTC Landlord Envisions 4 New Towers

By Adam Geller

Thursday, Sept. 20, 2001; 12:53 p.m. EDT

NEW YORK –– The operator of the World Trade Center said he is leaning toward erecting four 50-story buildings in place of the felled twin towers, as well as a memorial to people killed in last week's terrorist attack.

Larry Silverstein, the leader of a consortium that just months ago signed a 99-year lease on the complex worth $3.2 billion, said in an interview Thursday he is determined to rebuild for both emotional and economic reasons.

"The people who have inflicted this upon us are clearly out to destroy our way of life," said Silverstein, whose company lost four employees in the attack. "It would be a tragedy to allow them their victory."

Beyond making a moral statement, replacing the World Trade Center makes sense because lower Manhattan needs the office space, he said. The twin tower's 10-million square feet comprised about 10 percent of the financial district's total space and served as the area's economic anchor.

Silverstein has previously said he wanted to rebuild. But his comments Thursday marked his first discussion of limited specifics.

"I don't envision building a carbon copy of what was," the developer said.

Instead, he has been studying one set of plans drawn up and then put aside more than 30 years ago, to build four towers at the trade center site. But Silverstein said he has just begun trying to assemble a team of planners and architects to consider options.

Building a quad of 50-story buildings at heights similar to the rest of the Manhattan skyline would avoid creating a new set of terrorist targets as well as fears businesses might have of renting space 100 stories up, he said.

"In that fashion, you avoid the problems that could otherwise develop with two 110-story towers," said Silverstein, speaking in his company's midtown conference room lined with photos and drawings of various building projects, including a night view of the Trade Center, the Statue of Liberty in the foreground.

Silverstein lead a consortium, including shopping center developer Westfield America Inc., that in July signed a lease with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey to operate the World Trade Center complex.

Silverstein said his company had already paid more than $600 million to close the deal. He said the contract with the Port Authority "might very well" include provisions binding the consortium to fulfill the terms of the lease.

"We're just getting into all the details now," he said of discussions with the Port Authority, insurance companies and other key parties. "But you know, it always was my decision to rebuild. ... You can't rebuild on land you don't control."

Silverstein said he has received a flurry of letters and e-mail from the public since the attacks, some urging him to leave the site fallow as a memorial, but the majority encouraging him to rebuild.

© Copyright 2001 The Associated Press

Fugitive on FBI List Arrested

By Mike Robinson

Thursday, Sept. 20, 2001; 10:48 a.m. EDT

CHICAGO –– A Middle Eastern man on the FBI list of people wanted for questioning in the terrorism investigation was captured outside Chicago, the FBI said Thursday.

Nabil Al-Marabh, 34, was arrested Wednesday night in suburban Justice by police and FBI agents, FBI spokeswoman Mary Muha said. She said he was being held on a warrant issued in Boston in March for assault with a knife.

Federal agents had been looking for him since at least Monday. That day, they raided a Detroit house with Al-Marabh's name on the mailbox and arrested three men after discovering false visas, passports and other ID, as well as what appeared to be a diagram of an airport flight line.

The FBI list that Al-Marabh is on includes suspects, potential associates of the suspects, and potential witnesses related to the attacks, the FBI said.

While agents were in Detroit on Monday, Al-Marabh was in Three Oaks, in the southwestern corner of Michigan near the Indiana state line, getting a duplicate driver's license, state authorities said.

The FBI said details of his capture were not immediately available.

In December, Al-Marabh was convicted of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon – a knife – in Boston. He was to have started serving a sentence in March but failed to show up.

During the raid in Detroit on Monday, federal agents found a cache of documents and arrested Karim Koubriti, 23, Ahmed Hannan, 33, and Farouk Ali-Haimoud, 21, on charges of having false immigration papers. The men were identified as resident aliens from Morocco and Algeria.

Agents also found a planner with handwriting in Arabic, according to court papers. The planner included information about an American base in Turkey, the "American foreign minister," and Alia Airport in Jordan, the FBI said.

Investigators also found what appeared to be a diagram of an airport flight line, including aircraft and runways, according to the court document, which did not identify the airport.

Hannan and Koubriti briefly worked as dishwashers for an airline catering company, LSG Sky Chefs, near the Detroit airport between May and June, the company said. More recently, they worked for Technicolor in Livonia, putting together cardboard boxes for shipping DVDs and videos.

The FBI did not say where Al-Marabh was from; his former landlord in the Boston area, Marian Sklodowski, said Al-Marabh told him he was Palestinian.

In Massachusetts, where Al-Marabh lived from at least 1989 to 2000, he had worked for the Boston Cab Co., according to state driver's license records.

All four men hold chauffeur's licenses in Michigan, according to state records. Al-Marabh holds a commercial driver's license and is certified to transport hazardous materials. Koubriti and Al-Marabh also hold commercial driving license endorsements allowing them to drive trucks and other large vehicles.

© Copyright 2001 The Associated Press

Thursday September 20 5:12 PM ET

More Than 6,300 Said Missing at WTC

By LARRY McSHANE, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said Thursday that the number of missing and presumed dead at the World Trade Center has climbed to 6,333 - an increase of more than 900 since the last estimate.

``The number may go up or down,'' Giuliani said. He said the higher number reflects reports of foreigners believed to be in the ruins.

Giuliani has said it is virtually certain that no one will be found alive. The number of missing had been at 5,422 for several days.

According to the mayor, the British consulate reported that 250 of its citizens were among the missing.

The bodies of 241 people have been recovered from the Trade Center ruins. Of those, 170 have been identified by the coroner.

Earlier Thursday, with the small steps of children walking back into schools and the sounds of traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge, lower Manhattan edged closer to normal.

But at ground zero, where two of the world's tallest buildings were demolished by terrorists, rescue workers hunting survivors toiled in vain. A delegation of 40 U.S. senators toured the World Trade Center site for a firsthand look at the devastation.

Giuliani acknowledged that the combination of the 2,000-degree fire caused by the explosion of two hijacked planes and the implosion of the 110-story towers make it likely that some victims' bodies will never be recovered.

``Even weeks ahead, while we're removing stuff, obviously we're going to be looking,'' Giuliani said. ``Right now, the possibility still remains. They're slim, but they still remain.''

Still, the curtain of sadness that had enveloped the city since Sept. 11 parted a bit on Thursday, as thousands of students who were driven from their classrooms near the World Trade Center by the attack went back to school.

But not back to their own schools, which remain closed. Instead, they moved into other schools around the city, a tight squeeze but not an unhappy one.

``I'm excited to be back,'' said kindergartner Jason Brilliant as he arrived at Public School 3 in Greenwich Village. ``It was a long time because the World Trade Center went `boom.'''

Parents exchanged hugs and smiles outside the school's red doors.

``The kids were amazing,'' said teacher Julie Hiraga, who clutched the hands of two students as they ran for safety last week.

The Brooklyn Bridge - a pathway to safety for thousands as they fled the collapsing Trade Center - reopened two Manhattan-bound lanes to automobile traffic for the first time since the attack. The Holland Tunnel could reopen next week, Port Authority officials said.

A delegation of 40 U.S. senators, led by Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Minority Leader Trent Lott, toured the Trade Center site for a look at the ruins left by the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil.

``We support you,'' said Daschle, D-S.D. ``We're here because we recognize this loss must be shared not only by New Yorkers, but by all Americans.''

The group pledged to help the city recover and rebuild from the attack. Last week, Congress voted a $40 billion appropriation to help New York. The Bush administration has pledged to cover all the costs of the massive cleanup.

``I've never seen anything comparable to what we've seen here today, the magnitude of it,'' said Lott, R-Miss. ``It's so important that we come and see what we're dealing with.''

Larry Silverstein, leader of a consortium that took over a 99-year, $3.2 billion lease on the complex in July, said Thursday he intends to rebuild - but not ``a carbon copy of what was.'' Instead, he may construct four 50-story buildings.

At least 30 people remained hospitalized at five Manhattan hospitals that saw the majority of patients following the attack.

Twenty Manhattan hospitals treated people that day, said Mary Johnson of the Greater New York Hospital Association. All in all, 83 hospitals in the five boroughs and the suburban counties of Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk treated 5,284 people, Johnson said. Of them, 418 were admitted.

Some residents were allowed into Battery Park City on Thursday for the first time since the attack. They were allowed just 15 minutes. Most emptied refrigerators of spoiled food and packed precious items into a suitcase or two.

When will they be allowed back to their homes?

``You can ask five different people, you get five different answers,'' said Jay Jaffe, 34, an equity trader who lugged some of his possessions through the rain.

Article Date 09/20/2001

U.S. memo warns of more attacks

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- An internal memo circulated to federal employees Thursday warned that the government has "credible evidence" more terror attacks are being planned on sensitive targets in the United States.

The e-mail memo did not give details.

U.S. agencies are already on heightened alert following last weeks attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A senior administration security official, talking on background, said the memo reinforced many of the public statements by President Bush.

"We're clearly in a heightened state of security, and clearly we're taking precautions," the official said.

In the midst of the largest investigation in U.S. history, a number of people are being held either by the Immigration and Naturalization Service or in federal detention centers.

FBI Director Robert Mueller said last week that "some" of those being held are cooperating with U.S. investigators.

A number of media reports have singled out Saturday, Sept. 22, as the date for a second wave of attacks. But Justice Department officials said Wednesday that information has been examined and rejected.

"We don't have any credible evidence of any threat on Sept. 22," department communications chief Mindy Tucker said. " … There has been a lot of information pertaining to Sept. 22. We have taken a look at that information," but investigators now believe that intelligence to be mistaken.

Even though 19 hijacking suspects died in last week's attacks, "We believe there are associates of the hijackers that have connections to terrorist networks that may be present in the United States," Tucker told reporters Wednesday.

By last count, the INS was holding 115 people who have been caught up in the probe, up from 75 on Tuesday.

Another 200 people are on an FBI "watch list" being circulated to federal, state and local agencies and to the airlines. The FBI says the 200 are not necessarily suspects, just people the bureau would like to talk to in connection with the investigation.

Meanwhile, the FBI said it arrested Nabil al-Marabh in a Chicago suburb Wednesday night. Al-Marabh was held on an assault warrant issued by Boston police.

The 34-year-old al-Marabh, lived in Boston for more than 10 years and was a longtime cab driver.

Investigators reportedly were interested in al-Marabh because he obtained a license to drive trucks carrying hazardous material, including explosives and radioactive material, on Sept. 11, 2000 -- exactly one year before last week's deadly attacks.

Three men -- Karim Koubriti, 23; Farouk Ali-Haimoud, 21, and Ahmed Hannan, 33 -- were arrested at a Detroit home with al-Marabh's name on the mailbox on Monday.

Investigators said they found false identification papers at the house and a diary with notations and diagrams in Arabic relating to a U.S. base in Turkey, the American "foreign minister" and an airport in Amman, Jordan, as well as sketches of airports.

Koubriti, Ali-Haimoud and Hannan were held without bond.

None of the men, including al-Marabh, have been charged directly in connection with terror attacks.

As many as 6,000 people are feared dead after hijackers forced airliners into the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon near Washington last week. A fourth hijacked airliner was forced into the ground in rural Pennsylvania, possibly after passengers stormed the hijackers in the cockpit.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

Numbers suggest terrorists targeted flights

September 20, 2001 Posted: 2:18 PM EDT (1818 GMT)

Investigators suspect the hijackers targeted specific flights that had low passenger loads

By Mike Fish

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- The numbers appear out-of-whack, thankfully. And so, a lingering question is why the passenger loads on the four planes hijacked in U.S. skies are being described by industry officials as "very, very low.''

Is it simply incredible fortune that more people weren't aboard the commercial airliners used as deadly missiles? Is it just another tidy piece of a large, well-executed terrorist act?

Is it further reflection of an already reeling U.S. economy?

Or, contrary to airline denials, did the hijackers purchase a large chunk of seats that went unused?

Many investigators suspect the terrorists at the very least shopped for flights with low passenger loads, making it easier for them -- presumably armed only with knives and box cutters -- to prevent passenger uprisings.

"You have to think it was by design, that they didn't want to go on a flight with the chance of the passengers working against them,'' said Dave Esser, head of the aeronautical science department at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. "If you've got the threat of a bomb or a gun you can hold people at bay. These guys were strong-arming people with box cutters and knives.

"They wanted the numbers to be on their side.''

And they were, staggeringly so.

Three of the transcontinental flights departed for the West Coast with at least two-thirds of the seats empty. Only 37 of the 182 seats were occupied -- including four by hijackers, at least two in first class -- as United Airlines' Flight 93 left Newark for San Francisco.

The only flight that was even half full proved to be American Airlines' Flight 11, a wide-body Boeing 767 that left Boston bound for Los Angeles with 81 passengers.

Through July, airlines in the United States reported flights on average were 71 percent capacity this year.

All four of the hijacked flights had passenger loads significantly down in comparison with similar flights in June, the second quarter this year and last September -- according to statistics provided by the Department of Transportation.

A well-scripted plot

From all appearances, the selection of flights was just another part of a meticulously scripted scheme that was likely years in the planning.


-- The planes hijacked were Boeing 767s and 757s, which pilots train for in the same cockpit. If you can fly one, you can fly both -- unlike the airlines' smaller and more popular 737s. The 767s in question account for only 3 percent of the United Airlines fleet.

-- The planes were fully loaded with fuel, and crashed soon after takeoff on transcontinental flights bound for Los Angeles and San Francisco.

-- The two wide-body 767s, which have the largest fuel capacity (16,700 gallons) of those hijacked, were used to fly into the World Trade Center.

-- Most of the hijackers had assigned seats in first class, putting them close to the cockpit and distancing them from the bulk of passengers. The five hijackers aboard United Flight 175, the second to strike the twin towers, purchased one-way tickets totaling more than $14,000.

-- They acted on a Tuesday, normally one of the slowest air traffic days. And just after Labor Day, when summer travel eases considerably.

-- They boarded the flights in teams of five. The exception was the four aboard United Airlines Flight 93, which authorities believe crashed in a Pennsylvania field after passengers took on the hijackers.

Knowledge of flights easy to obtain

The hijackers had apparently finalized their plans at least three weeks before the attacks when they began purchasing tickets for the flights, according to an FBI document provided to German police. Some paid cash for their purchases. Others used their Visa cards. Some booked tickets on the Internet. Their knowledge of the passenger loads could have been the result of assistance from an insider within the airline or travel industry, if not simply tedious research by the hijackers themselves as to the days and departure times when passenger loads would be lowest.

Most airline Web sites post seating configurations of flights, revealing which seats have been purchased as well as those available.

On Tuesday, a week after the hijackings, the only flight still flying near its former departure time was the United Airlines flight from Boston to Los Angeles. A check on the airline's web site the night before found 62 seats reserved in coach, alone -- compared to the 51 passengers and five hijackers who left Boston the morning of September 11.

"They were very low loads, especially when we only had 37 passengers on the flight that went down near Pittsburgh,'' said Liz Meagher, a United Airlines spokesperson. "I'm sure we are looking at this as a blessing and I'm sure it is being investigated as well.''

Specifics about the number of no-shows for the flights, as well as the passenger load history of the flights, have been turned over to the FBI, Meagher said.

Flights were on low travel days

Industry sources said post-Labor Day isn't normally a strong time and air traffic is off this year, but passenger loads on the four flights are off about 20 percent from similar routes last September.

"They may have done some research,'' said John Hotard, an American Airlines spokesperson. "If it's an issue of being able to control a fewer number of passengers, they may have been astute enough to know that Tuesday and Wednesday are your lower load factor days.''

Hotard said the airline hasn't detected any unusual booking activity on its two flights, dismissing speculation that the hijackers bought a large number of unused tickets.

He confirmed that the hijackers aboard the American flights were seated in first class, adding American and United Airlines were likely targeted because they're the primary transcontinental carriers.

"You have to assume they choose 'trans-cons' because those things were full of fuel,'' Hotard said. "So you knew if successful you're going to get a bigger fireball than with either a smaller aircraft or a domestic flight of only an hour or two.

"As to why they choose those two airlines, American is certainly a big bull's-eye out there, if you want to strike America. They picked the world's two largest carriers and we're out there with American spread all over and the American eagle on the tail.''

One hero's final message relays love -- and a prayer

By Douglas Holt

Tribune staff reporter

Published September 17, 2001

CHAMPION, Pa. -- During the last moments aboard the hijacked Boeing 757 careering over Pennsylvania, Wheaton College graduate Todd Beamer calmly reported the situation to a telephone operator.

The pilot and co-pilot were apparently injured or dead. Hijackers were flying the plane. And one hijacker guarded the passengers while wearing what he said was a bomb tied around his waist with a red belt.

"I know we're not going to make it out of here," Beamer told Lisa Jefferson, a GTE-Airfone supervisor, before he and 44 others died when the plane crashed in rural Pennsylvania Tuesday, the only one of four hijacked aircraft that did not strike a terrorist target.

Before reciting the Lord's Prayer, Beamer, 32, asked the operator to contact his wife to tell her that he loved her. Then he put the phone down and apparently joined a passenger revolt to retake control of the plane.

"Are you guys ready?" the operator heard before the connection was lost. "Let's roll!"

U.S. officials believe that United Flight 93 from Newark, N.J., originally bound for San Francisco, was streaking toward the U.S. Capitol or some other target in Washington when it came down.

"What they did was to foil, I think, the attack on Washington," Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"Without question, the attack would've been much worse if it hadn't been for the courageous acts of those individuals on United 93."

Oak Brook-based GTE-Airfone faxed a summary of the 15-minute conversation to Beamer's wife, Lisa, of Cranbury, N.J., Friday, an account she supplemented in a call from the operator.

Beamer said she recognized "Let's roll" as the words of her husband, who was raised in Wheaton. "He uses that with our little boys all the time," she said Sunday. "When I heard that part of the conversation, I knew that was Todd."

Calm encouragement

She described the operator as soft-spoken and professional, seemingly keeping her emotions in check as she recounted hearing her husband's even-tempered voice over the sound of screams in the background.

"I told her she must have been such a pillar of strength for him," Beamer said. "I thanked her for that."

According to previous accounts, passenger Jeremy Glick told his wife he believed they could overpower the hijackers. "We can take them," he said. Thomas Burnett told his wife: "I know we're all going to die. There's three of us who are going to do something about it."

In her account, Jefferson wrote that Beamer told her the hijackers divided passengers into two groups: 10 in front and 27 in back, which would account for all but one passenger. (Her memo had put the larger number of passengers in front; Lisa Beamer said Jefferson corrected that in their conversation.)

"Todd told me that there were three people ... on the flight hijacking the plane, two with knives and one with a bomb strapped around his waist with a red belt," Jefferson wrote. "I asked him if there were any children on the plane. Todd responded, not that he could see."

He said two people were hurt -- the pilot and co-pilot, according to Lisa Beamer. He was "not sure if they were dead or alive," Jefferson wrote.

"Some of the passengers on the flight had decided to `jump on' the hijacker with the bomb and try to get him down," the memo says. "The last thing Todd said to me was to call his wife for him and to pray for him. At this point Todd started reciting the Lord's Prayer."

Enduring legacy

Someday, Lisa Beamer said, she will tell the story to sons David, 3, and Andrew, 1. She is expecting a third child in January.

"This doesn't change the future of my family, but it sure gives credence to the person I know Todd was," Lisa Beamer said. "It gives us something we can hand down to our little boys.

"Certainly when the chips were down, his character, his faith, his love for his family and his love for his fellow man showed through. There're not too many bright stories coming out of this. Hopefully the story that comes out of Flight 93 will give people hope."

On Monday, the Beamer family will join relatives at a memorial service near the crash site. Lisa Beamer plans to leave a Chicago Bulls hat, a pack of M&Ms, an Oracle Inc. pen for the job he loved and two other items to represent his spiritual and family life.

David Beamer, 59, called his son a "freedom fighter." "Obviously there was a struggle, but I can tell you who lost," he said. "That plane was headed for a target, and it wasn't a field with nobody there in Pennsylvania."

Timeline of Events


What is being largely lost in the grief and sorrow following the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center is the fact that the current count of dead and missing reveals more foreign nationals died in the attack than Americans. Although the major media has reported that other nations lost a number of their citizens, it is not being reported that their numbers, some 3061, are in excess of U.S. casualties, currently estimated at around 2589. These figures do not include any Canadians who may have been lost in the cataclysm. From information culled from a number of wire service accounts, the estimates of dead and missing by country are:

Revised 20 September 2001
Argentina 2 Australia 95 Austria 40 Belgium 1
Bangladesh 50 Brazil 84 Cambodia 20 Canada 45
Chile 250 Colombia 295 Denmark 5 Dominican Rep. 3
Ecuador 101 Egypt 4 El Salvador 100 Finland 17
France 10 Germany 205 Ghana 4 Great Britain 300
Guatemala 5 Honduras 200 Hong Kong 19 India 250
Indonesia 16 Ireland 24 Israel 10 Italy 49
Japan 100 Jordan 1 Kenya 1 Malaysia 7
Mexico 500 Netherlands 3 New Zealand 2 Norway 1
Pakistan 200 Paraguay 2 Peru 6 Philippines 117
Portugal 25 Russia 117 South Africa 6 South Korea 27
Spain 8 Sweden 1 Switzerland 6 Taiwan 9
Thailand 2 Turkey 131 Ukraine 1 Uruguay 1
Venezuela 3 Zimbabwe 6