What really happened on 9/11? Searching for the truth

911 saudi mapSeptember 11 2001, both north and south towers have been hit but did people of Saudi Arabia        help the terrorists? The ’28 pages’ may tell us.

 

Hi, today I am handing this blog over to my wife, Lisa.

Guest blog by Lisa Franks, American citizen and proud native of New York City

lisa blog

I want to know who attacked my city and killed 3,000 people including my cousin who was at work in one of the Twin Towers on that fateful day.

 

We have all heard about the conspiracy theory from the 9/11 attacks on New York, Washington DC and Pennsylvania. The question is not whether the US government was involved somehow but how much involvement did they have in the attacks.

If you have seen footage of the explosions before the planes hit the towers, why there was no apparent ‘plane’ damage to the Pentagon on that fateful day or why there remains a mystery about the alleged crash site of UA93, then you have probably questioned the attacks too.

Now, new documents come to light over the involvement of Saudi Arabia in the attacks. Before delving into their involvement, let us not forget that Osama Bin Laden was himself Saudi. If we can piece the conspiracy together with this new theory, then maybe we will find the truth of how and why 3000 people were killed and another 6000 injured on that September morn.

Let’s start by putting the day’s timeline together:

  • 7:59 am – American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767 with 92 people aboard, takes off from Boston’s Logan International Airport en route to Los Angeles.
  • 8:14 am – United Airlines Flight 175, a Boeing 767 with 65 people aboard, takes off from Boston; it is also headed to Los Angeles.
  • 8:19 am – Flight attendants aboard Flight 11 alert ground personnel that the plane has been hijacked; American Airlines notifies the FBI.
  • 8:20 am – American Airlines Flight 77 takes off from Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, D.C. The Boeing 757 is headed to Los Angeles with 64 people aboard.
  • 8:24 am – Hijacker Mohammed Atta makes the first of two accidental transmissions from Flight 11 to ground control (apparently in an attempt to communicate with the plane’s cabin).
  • 8:40 am – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) alerts North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD)’s Northeast Air Defence Sector (NEADS) about the suspected hijacking of Flight 11. In response, NEADS scrambles two fighter planes located at Cape Cod’s Otis Air National Guard Base to locate and tail Flight 11; they are not yet in the air when Flight 11 crashes into the North Tower.
  • 8:41 am – United Airlines Flight 93, a Boeing 757 with 44 people aboard, takes off from Newark International Airport en route to San Francisco. It had been scheduled to depart at 8:00 am, around the time of the other hijacked flights.
  • 8:46 am – Mohammed Atta and the other hijackers aboard American Airlines Flight 11 crash the plane into floors 93-99 of the North Tower of the World Trade Centre, killing everyone on board and hundreds inside the building. With the first crash, it was thought to be a commuter plane that hit the North Tower.
  • 8:47 am – Within seconds, NYPD and FDNY forces dispatch units to the World Trade Centre, while Port Authority Police Department officers on site begin immediate evacuation of the North Tower.
  • 8:50 am – White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card alerts President George W. Bush that a plane has hit the World Trade Centre; the president is visiting an elementary school in Sarasota, Florida at the time.
  • 9:02 am – After initially instructing tenants of the WTC’s South Tower to remain in the building, Port Authority officials broadcast orders to evacuate both towers via the public address system; an estimated 10,000 to 14,000 people are already in the process of evacuating.
  • 9:03 am – Hijackers crash United Airlines Flight 175 into floors 75-85 of the WTC’s South Tower, killing everyone on board and hundreds inside the building. We now know these two incidents are terrorist attacks but who are the terrorists?
  • 9:08 am – The FAA bans all take-offs of flights going to New York City or through the airspace around the city.
  • 9:21 am – The Port Authority closes all bridges and tunnels in the New York City area.
  • 9:24 am – The FAA notifies NEADS of the suspected hijacking of Flight 77 after some passengers and crew aboard are able to alert family members on the ground.
  • 9:31 am – Speaking from Florida, President Bush calls the events in New York City an “apparent terrorist attack on our country.”
  • 9:37 am – Hijackers aboard Flight 77 crash the plane into the western façade of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., killing 59 aboard the plane and 125 military and civilian personnel inside the building. Since there was no wing damage to the Pentagon, where did they go? In fact, where did the plane go?
  • 9:42 am – For the first time in history, the FAA grounds all flights over or bound for the continental United States. Some 3,300 commercial flights and 1,200 private planes are guided to airports in Canada and the United States over the next two-and-a-half hours.
  • 9:45 am – Amid escalating rumours of other attacks, the White House and U.S. Capitol building are evacuated (along with numerous other high-profile buildings, landmarks and public spaces).
  • 9:59 am – The South Tower of the World Trade Centre collapses. Why did the building seem to implode on itself?
  • 10:07 am – After passengers and crew members aboard the hijacked Flight 93 contact friends and family and learn about the attacks in New York and Washington, they mount an attempt to retake the plane. In response, hijackers deliberately crash the plane into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, killing all 40 passengers and crew aboard. Really? Where did the plane go then?
  • 10:28 am – The World Trade Centre’s North Tower collapses, 102 minutes after being struck by Flight 11. Again, this tower went down on itself. How is it possible that two buildings collapsed straight down on themselves? Coincidence? Twice? Was it a pre-planned demolition and needed reason to set the explosives off?
  • 11 am – Mayor Rudolph Giuliani calls for the evacuation of Lower Manhattan south of Canal Street, including more than 1 million residents, workers and tourists, as efforts continue throughout the afternoon to search for survivors at the WTC site.
  • 1 pm – From a U.S. Air Force base in Louisiana, President Bush announces that U.S. military forces are on high alert worldwide.
  • 2:51 pm – The U.S. Navy dispatches missile destroyers to New York and Washington, D.C.
  • 5:20 pm – The 47-story Seven World Trade Centre collapses after burning for hours; the building had been evacuated in the morning, and there are no casualties, though the collapse forces rescue workers to flee for their lives.
  • 6:58 pm – President Bush returns to the White House after stops at military bases in Louisiana and Nebraska.
  • 8:30 pm – President Bush addresses the nation, calling the attacks “evil, despicable acts of terror” and declaring that America, its friends and allies would “stand together to win the war against terrorism.”

So what can the world expect to see in the ’28 pages’ if and when they are declassified?

Tim Roemer, who was a member of both the joint congressional inquiry as well as the 9/11 Commission and has read the secret chapter three times, described the 28 pages as a “preliminary police report.”

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were citizens of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government says it has been “wrongfully and morbidly accused of complicity” in the attacks, is fighting extremists and working to clamp down on their funding channels. Still, the Saudis have long said that they would welcome declassification of the 28 pages because it would “allow us to respond to any allegations in a clear and credible manner.”

The pages were withheld from the 838-page report on the orders of President George W. Bush, who said the release could divulge intelligence sources and methods. Still, protecting US-Saudi diplomatic relations also was believed to have been a factor.

Neither the congressional inquiry nor the subsequent 9/11 Commission found any evidence that the Saudi government or senior Saudi officials knowingly supported those who orchestrated the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.

Roemer said many questions remain about the roles of Fahad al Thumairy, an official at the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles who allegedly helped two of the hijackers find housing and transportation after they arrived in Southern California. Al Thumairy was later denied entry into the United States in May 2003 after the State Department alleged that he might be involved in terrorist activity. Roemer also wants to know more about Omar al Bayoumi, who was strongly suspected of being a Saudi spy and was alleged to have been helpful to the hijackers.

“We did not discover … Saudi government involvement at the highest level of the 9/11 attacks,” Roemer said. But he added: “We certainly did not exonerate the Saudis. … Saudi was a fertile ground for fundraising for al-Qaida. Some of these issues continue to be problems today. That’s why we need to continue to get to the bottom of this.”

Whatever the ’28 pages’ do reveal, however, I am sure they will not to throw any light onto the facts needed to answer the real questions: how did both of the twin towers collapse in exactly the same way as carefully demolished skyscrapers? Where did the plane go that was supposed to have hit the Pentagon? The hole was too small for it to have passed through and there was no debris from the aircraft left outside. And exactly where did UA93 go? If it flew into the supposed crash site, how was some debris allegedly found eight miles away? It just doesn’t add up.

Was flight 93 shot down? This has been denied but then it would be, wouldn’t it? Was the CIA or some other US government black-ops group involved? And, just how high up the chain of command was there knowledge of any covert US action? Did it reach the Commander-in-Chief in the Oval Office?

 

 

Cruise holiday finishes in New York City

Window displays are a big part of Christmas in New York.

Window displays are a big part of Christmas in New York.

Having spent the last three days concentrating on disabilities and the cuts to benefits planned for the UK, I think today it is time to lighten the mood.

A few days ago, having written about Lisa’s and my cruise around Hawaii on NCL’s Pride of America, I wrote a second blog about our enjoying the attractions of Oahu, the most populated island and home of the state capital of Honolulu.

After that, one comment I received said that he had never been there, probably never would and thanked me for sharing our trip with you all.

Well, our holiday did not stop when we flew out of Hawaii on the first stage of our trip back to the UK, where we then lived. Having left the cruise ship after it docked in Honolulu, we transferred to the airport and flew first to Los Angeles, then on to New York.

It was in the ‘city that never sleeps’ that my sweetheart Lisa was born and grew up. She loves the city and was so looking forward to showing me around and was quite determined that me being in a wheelchair, because of mobility problems linked with multiple sclerosis, was not going to stop us. Mind you it was December and, although not snowy, after our seven-day Hawaiian cruise it did feel distinctly chilly and we had to wrap up warm,

So helpful. Wheelchairs not a problem.

So helpful. Wheelchairs not a problem.

We stayed in a hotel across the road from Madison Square Garden and, being in Manhattan, most of the attractions were fairly close by – either by Lisa walking and pushing my wheelchair or in one of the city’s famous yellow taxis. Talking of the taxis, helping fold and store my wheelchair was no problem. Drivers seemed to delight in being helpful.

Lisa and I at the top of the Empire State Building.

Lisa and I at the top of the Empire State Building.

Our hotel room had a great view of the Empire State Building which is where we went after our first night in our hotel. Once again, no issues for a wheelchair user and, having completed the usual security checks, we travelled by high-speed elevators to the viewing platform. Lisa had hoped for a clearer day but I was happy to see so much of NYC.

Other places we went and things we saw during our short stay included the Christmas spectacular in the Radio City Music Hall, the festive tree at the Rockefeller Center, the Statue of Liberty via a water-taxi ride, the 911 memorial plus the new Freedom Tower, built to replace the twin towers, Times Square, Broadway, the stores’ Christmas-themed window displays and a city sightseeing bus tour that included Central Park, Harlem, the UN building and a lot more.

Just a few of the Rockettes in the Christmas Spectacular.

Just a few of the Rockettes in the Christmas Spectacular.

Of course, one minor problem or another was bound to occur and, for me, it was during a trip to see Lisa’s sister Gen and her family. Towards the end of our visit there, I fell while in the downstairs ‘half bathroom’ and could not get up. Space was very tight, so nephew Jamie came to my assistance and helped me regain my feet before I could finish putting my trousers (pants) and underwear back in place.

Christmas Day itself started in a New York deli. I just had to try a genuine NY bagel with cream cheese and lox (like smoked salmon); it was great and went down so well after the previous night’s traditional hot dogs (Yes, I had two, but who’s counting).

Finally, on Boxing Day, we returned to the UK – our Hawaiian cruise and American holiday at an end.

 

Search and Rescue dogs have key role worldwide

911 dog

There seems to be a sizeable portion of the readers of this blog who take more than a passing interest in the lifesaving activities of mountain rescue teams and another group of people who love to read about dogs and other animals.

Well, today’s blog should satisfy them all as it is all about search and rescue dogs.

These are known throughout the world for their work in finding missing people or those buried by masses of avalanche snow or rubble from collapsed buildings. They always seem to be at the heart of post-earthquake searches and were an important part of the search operation at Ground Zero, in the wake of the 9/11 Twin Towers disaster in New York.

This year, 13 years after that terrible time, golden retriever Bretagne, the last surviving rescue dog who searched Ground Zero after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, revisited the scene.

In September, aged nearly 16 and enjoying her retirement, Bretagne returned to the Manhattan site for the first time since 2001, accompanied by Denise Corliss, her longtime handler and owner. They live now, as then, in Texas.

Nearer to my home, if a search dog is needed then police or rescue teams call upon the services of members and dogs of SARDA, the Search and Rescue Dogs Association.

helencluanieSARDA Wales is a specialist Search Dog component of Mountain Rescue (England and Wales) and are permanently staffed by unpaid volunteer dog handlers and their dogs to provide a search and rescue service to the Police, Mountain Rescue & Coastguard.

Dogs are trained in specialist skills including air scenting and trailing dogs to search for missing people in mountain, rural and urban locations. The association has 80-90 call outs each year in North Wales including missing children, vulnerable adults, dementia patients as well as hill walkers and mountaineers. Handlers and dogs are on call 365 days per year in any weather.

There is no doubt that handlers love their dogs and are united by a willingness to go out in any weather at any time of day to search for missing people anywhere in North Wales and occasionally beyond. Many SARDA Wales handlers are also members of Mountain Rescue teams. The three nearest me, Llanberis, Ogwen Valley and Aberglaslyn teams, have SARDA handlers and dogs in their organisations.

It takes many hours of commitment to train a search dog and it’s a continual process throughout each dog’s working career with the dogs and handlers regularly being assessed to ensure that they maintain the higantmossh standards for which they have come to be well-known.

Every mountain dog handler is an accomplished climber and mountaineer in their own right in summer and winter conditions, as well as being a member of a Mountain Rescue Team. Mountain dog teams are assessed at lowland standard first and then go on to be assessed at mountain level. Skills include avalanche searches and every handler is equipped to be self-sufficient in all weathers and conditions. Handlers play key roles in their own rescue teams as well as being available as a dog team to every other rescue team in North Wales.

All SARDA air scenting dog teams train as lowland search teams. They are trained and assessed to cover open areas, buildings, woodland, sand dunes and caravan parks and this type of work forms the majority of call outs. Lowland areas can be extremely complex to search and require a great deal of skill from both dog and handler. There are often many distractions and the dog will often be working out of sight in complex ground.

The trailing dogs can follow a scent of a specific person from the point that they were last seen. They can work in almost any area from urban to mountain and are trained to ignore other scents to find only the person for whom they are looking.

Running SARDA and its training and assessment operations is not cheap. As I have said, they are all volunteers, all unpaid, and they rely entirely on donations to fund the association.

salspinTo give you an idea of the costs involved, here is a summary of its main expenditure items: Assessment Weekend – Cost £2000; Training Weekend with accommodation and catering – £750; Equip a new dog team – £2000; Search Managers Lap Top with software – £1000; Re-equip an existing dog team with new waterproofs – £500; Cover a dog teams motor expenses for a year – £300; and cover a search dogs annual pet insurance – £300.

In total, SARDA Wales’s annual running costs average about £20,000 and its only income is from public donations.

If you’d like to make a donation, you can do so online by following this link or use your mobile phone (cellphone)  to text SDOG01 £5 to 70070 to donate (of course, you can change the amount)

Practical support is also welcome. Volunteers are needed as ‘Dogsbodies’ and to help with catering at training/assessment weekends.

Dogsbodies are vital as without bodies to find the dogs cannot train. Volunteer Dogsbodies will get a friendly welcome, free food and accommodation in North Wales for the weekend and join the team as a valued member.

Some important qualities are: You must like dogs and be happy to get wet and slobbered on! Must have a sense of humour and be prepared to hide in obscure places in all weathers. Lastly, you must be happy to take instructions.

Anyone interested should email info@sardawales.org.uk for further details.

 

Pictures, from top:

Bretagne, 9/11 search dog, now retired

Helen with Cluanie, Llanberis MRT

Antony with Moss, Aberglaslyn MRT

Sally with Spin, Ogwen Valley MRT