The Day the Towers Fell: The Story of September 11, 2001

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This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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Book Excerpt: 'Fall And Rise'

Categories navigate down. Newsletters navigate down. Credit: Courtesy of Avid Reader Press. Some of the testimonies from people you spoke with really convey also the helplessness of the onlookers. Commander Frank Culbertson was an astronaut on the international space station — the only American, as you say, not on Planet Earth that day. Watching from space was probably the only way to get a bigger picture of that day. He even saw Air Force One's contrails heading back to Washington because, as he said, planes were grounded and the sky was clear as a bell.

Why did you compile these accounts? Here is Andrew Card reading his recollections for you of how he broke the news to the president, who was visiting a school in Florida that day: Card: " I decide to pass on two facts and an editorial comment. Credit: Sara K. I have to say some of these accounts, Garrett, are really tough to read.

It's stuff people may recall from , but perhaps it was stuff that was just so horrifying they had to turn away at the time. You have witnesses who saw some of those people as they went to work in the World Trade Center, but were incinerated on the spot by fireballs after the first impact of the planes. Others got really severely burned and lived. Did you meet any of them and where in the world are they and how are they getting on with their lives?

9/11: Airliner hits North Tower

Wow that is some kind of perspective. You also sat down with Col. Mark Tillman, who piloted Air Force One that day.

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Here's Tillman reading his account from your book. I got goosebumps from your description of that just now, just saying. Your book includes many more accounts, though, from men than from women. Why do you think that is? I'm wondering, with the remove of time, can you start to see the gears starting to shift in their accounts in terms of how innocent they were and [how], years later, were not?

Main article: World Trade Center — Main article: 7 World Trade Center. New York City portal. It is unclear whether the effect of jet fuel and aircraft contents was a consideration in the original building design, but this study is in line with remarks made by John Skilling following the WTC bombing. Without original documentation for either study, NIST said any further comments would amount to speculation. By this time, only the fireproofing of the lower 40 floors of the north tower had been completed, and more than half of this was later replaced before the building was completed.

NIST noted that upon reviewing the building records, it could not determine how this thickness was arrived at. NIST further concluded that the aircraft impact removed a significant portion of the fireproofing, contributing to the buildings' collapse, though many engineers, including one of NIST's top advisers, strongly disputed that claim, instead saying the fireproofing was simply not thick enough.

Journal of Engineering Mechanics. Retrieved August 22, September Retrieved July 9, The New York Times.

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The Bridge Volume 32, Number 1. National Academy of Engineering. Retrieved July 28, NIST The Seattle Times. National Institute of Standards and Technology. August Retrieved May 25, Fox News. Archived from the original on June 16, Retrieved February 21, Archived from the original on June 19, McAllister Retrieved November 24, The Guardian. December 20, Retrieved May 5, Cabne News Network. November 13, Retrieved August 29, Progressive Collapse of Structures. Thomas Telford Publishing. Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Retrieved July 27, Randall; Vettori, Robert L.

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August 19, Archived from the original on June 8, Retrieved January 16, Archived from the original PDF on June 15, Retrieved July 10, August 9, Retrieved July 12, Appendix L. Archived from the original PDF on August 9, Retrieved August 20, November Retrieved July 11, Retrieved September 11, Retrieved August 26, December 12, New York City: Spak, Steve. Archived from the original PDF on March 29, May 24, September 9, Retrieved March 3, October 24, Retrieved June 28, Retrieved February 17, CBS Sept.

Archived from the original on September 12, Retrieved August 23, Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center. Retrieved January 18, Archived from the original on May 3, Retrieved April 11, March 25, Archived from the original on March 28, San Francisco Chronicle. The Washington Post. Retrieved June 18, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved June 26, Engineering News-Record. September 24, March 17, September 11, Archived from the original on April 19, Retrieved April 23, Even today, the media report and many scientists believe that the steel melted.

Many structural engineers believe that the weak points—the limiting factors on design allowables—were the angle clips that held the floor joists between the columns on the perimeter wall and the core structure. March 23, Archived from the original on May 29, Retrieved May 17, Retrieved April 1, New Civil Engineer. Retrieved January 30, May 27, Chung; J.

Torero At , a fourth airliner crashed in a field in southern Pennsylvania. It had been aimed at the United States Capitol or the White House, and was forced down by heroic passengers armed with the knowledge that America was under attack. More than 2, people died at the World Trade Center; died at the Pentagon; died on the four planes.

The death toll surpassed that at Pearl Harbor in December This immeasurable pain was inflicted by 19 young Arabs acting at the behest of Islamist extremists headquartered in distant Afghanistan. Some had been in the United States for more than a year, mixing with the rest of the population. Though four had training as pilots, most were not well-educated. Most spoke English poorly, some hardly at all. In groups of four or five, carrying with them only small knives, box cutters, and cans of Mace or pepper spray, they had hijacked the four planes and turned them into deadly guided missiles.

Why did they do this? How was the attack planned and conceived? How did the U.

What can we do in the future to prevent similar acts of terrorism? Islamist extremists had given plenty of warning that they meant to kill Americans indiscriminately and in large numbers. Although Usama Bin Ladin himself would not emerge as a signal threat until the late s, the threat of Islamist terrorism grew over the decade. They killed six and wounded a thousand. Plans by Omar Abdel Rahman and others to blow up the Holland and Lincoln tunnels and other New York City landmarks were frustrated when the plotters were arrested. In October , Somali tribesmen shot down U.

In early , police in Manila uncovered a plot by Ramzi Yousef to blow up a dozen U. In November , a car bomb exploded outside the office of the U. The attack was carried out primarily by Saudi Hezbollah, an organization that had received help from the government of Iran. Until , the U. In February , Usama Bin Ladin and four others issued a self-styled fatwa, publicly declaring that it was God's decree that every Muslim should try his utmost to kill any American, military or civilian, anywhere in the world, because of American "occupation" of Islam's holy places and aggression against Muslims.

In August , Bin Ladin's group, al Qaeda, carried out near-simultaneous truck bomb attacks on the U. The attacks killed people, including 12 Americans, and wounded thousands more. In December , Jordanian police foiled a plot to bomb hotels and other sites frequented by American tourists, and a U.

Customs agent arrested Ahmed Ressam at the U. Canadian border as he was smuggling in explosives intended for an attack on Los Angeles International Airport. In October , an al Qaeda team in Aden, Yemen, used a motorboat filled with explosives to blow a hole in the side of a destroyer, the USS Cole , almost sinking the vessel and killing 17 American sailors. But by September , the executive branch of the U. Who Is the Enemy?

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Who really blew up the twin towers?

Who is this enemy that created an organization capable of inflicting such horrific damage on the United States? We now know that these attacks were carried out by various groups of Islamist extremists. In the s, young Muslims from around the world went to Afghanistan to join as volunteers in a jihad or holy struggle against the Soviet Union. A wealthy Saudi, Usama Bin Ladin, was one of them.

Following the defeat of the Soviets in the late s, Bin Ladin and others formed al Qaeda to mobilize jihads elsewhere.