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

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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.

 

Family love and celebration

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As days continue to pass by, amazingly it is now just a week until Lisa and I are due to fly to Spain to begin our new life in our home in the Mediterranean sunshine. Right now, we are in the United States of America halfway through a holiday in Lisa’s home country.

Saturday and Sunday have been special family days. Two days ago we travelled to upstate New York to visit Great Aunt Nina and her son Anthony. Neither of them had seen Lisa for many years and had never met me.

mumNina was aunt to Lisa’s late mom Mary but, being close in age, they had been more like sisters.  Today, Aunt Nina is 92 years old but certainly doesn’t look or sound like it. She is a lovely little lady, full of spirit and totally aware of everything that is going on. I say ‘little’ as Nina is just 4’9” tall.

Years ago, she moved from New York City to the rural area with her husband Tony.  There, they ran a dairy farm as well as growing corn and grass for hay. In the early years, all milking was done by hand of which Lisa has fond childhood memories but one thing she did not know was revealed by Aunt Nina. She said that when she first moved to the farm she only had city clothes and was soon driving the tractor while wearing high heels. Now, that would be a great photograph.

In the area in which Nina and Anthony live is an absolutely fantastic barbecue restaurant and takeaway. It uses open charcoal pits to cook the tastiest chicken I have ever encountered. It is called Brooks and, on the strength of what I tasted, I strongly recommend trying it out if you are ever in the region of Oneonta, NY.

Having said a very fond farewell to Nina and Anthony, we set off yesterday to meet Lisa’s oldest sister Gen, her husband Billy, and their children Maria, Jamie and Pam along with her partner Scott. All eight of us enjoyed a superb buffet brunch that also served as a celebration of my birthday. In fact, it has been very many years since I have been joined by so many people on my birthday.

It was an occasion of good humour and family celebration as we were asked questions about what we had done so far in the USA, what we still have planned and our upcoming move to Spain.

Lisa and I are two-thirds of the way through our great adventure. Part one was the transatlantic crossing that I had dreamed of as a child, part two is our current tour of four states in the north-east of the USA, and part three will be our arrival in Spain, heralding the start of our new life.

Birthday footnote: Thanks to everyone from whom I have received birthday greetings, either personally, via Facebook or via email. So far, 63 years and many more to come (I hope). Actually, 63 is a good number as it means I can say I’m 21 again, for the third time.

Pictures at top from left – Aunt Nina and me; she is standing while I am sitting.  Lisa’s sister Gen, right, with daughters Pam and Maria. Lisa with Aunt Nina. Inset – Lisa’s late mom Mary and her Aunt Nina had been like sisters.

 

Customs cause disembarking madness as Anthem reaches USA

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Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas arrived in New York on 4th November, passing under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge before reaching the Statue of Liberty shortly after 3am. We finally docked at Cape Liberty, New Jersey, at about 5am.

Lisa and I enjoyed an early breakfast and by 7am we were ready to go ashore. US Customs and Border Protection, however, had other ideas. We never found out what their problem was but it caused absolute havoc as passengers queued to disembark.

Having been ready so early, it was extremely irritating that we did not manage to exit the cruise terminal until 10.30am and then find our pre-booked transport was not there. Lisa searched but found nothing, finally managing to contact the company that claimed that their driver had been there but they had recalled him as we were not there at the booked time of 9.45am. If he had been there, and we have reason to believe he wasn’t, many other drivers were waiting for their passengers because of the delays – but not ours.

Good news though, the office said that they might be able to send another driver. Bad news was that the company would treat it as a new booking and would require a second payment. We refused to buckle in the face of such awful treatment and made other arrangements. We will now be seeking a full refund from the company that failed to provide us with the service for which we had pre-paid. In the event that it does not happen, I am prepared to go public and both name and shame them in both the UK and USA. The company has offices in both countries.

After we finally arrived at Dollar rent-a-car, we found our pre-booked hire car waiting for us, a gleaming white 2015 Chrysler, and quickly completed the formalities, packed our luggage and my wheelchair, and set off on a long drive through northern New Jersey, New York state, Connecticut finally arriving in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, at 11.20pm. I should explain that we had made a couple of stops along the way and that, once again driving a left hand drive car, I was taking it easy and making sure to always remain within the speed limit.

By the time Lisa and I reached our motel in Sturbridge we were both absolutely shattered. We had been up since 2am to watch Anthem’s arrival in New York, had suffered so much frustration trying to get off the ship and through customs and border protection, then discovered our transport had failed us, causing us to arrive at the hire car outlet some three hours later than planned.

At midnight, having been up for 22 hours, we crashed into bed and were soon out for the count.

Thank goodness Lisa had planned a quieter day for today but more about that in my next post.

 

 

Dream the impossible dream…..but sometimes our dreams do come true

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Left: The beautiful Na Pali coast, Hawaii in December. Right, reindeer in Norway, in July.

Dream the impossible dream? Ok, ok, what’s he rambling on about now?

To tell you the truth, my dreams only really started to come true after I met Lisa. Let me explain.

I first married in 1977. It was on 26th February to be exact, I was 24 years old. Over time, the relationship deteriorated until we were finally divorced on 5th September 2011. Somehow it had managed to last nearly 34½ years. It should have ended years earlier but inertia kept it going.

It was not a life in which I was happy. Of course, there were good times but overall neither of us were enjoying the marriage.

My earliest dreams that I never, ever thought would come true were as a youngster. My mum (who would eventually become a top breeder, exhibitor and international judge of Pembroke Welsh Corgis) sold a couple of dogs to someone in Honolulu. It sounded so exotic but was so far away, so out of my reach.

Australia was another country on my dream list, also sparked by mum exporting dogs there.

Similarly, at high school there was a trip to the USA but it was expensive and I thought it was too much money to ask my parents to find. So I said that I didn’t want to go but, in reality, I would have loved it.

During my first marriage, I wanted to go on a cruise but that was not to be. In fact, I had dreamed of crossing the Atlantic on a liner since that form of travel caught my attention as a child watching television.

Then it all changed. I won’t bore you with exactly what happened and when; it is enough to say that Lisa and I met virtually at first, playing a computer game. That was in October 2009 and after two years, and two divorces, we married.

married2  Lisa and I on our wedding day at sunset.

Not any old marriage ceremony for us though. We married on a beach in south western Florida, where Lisa then lived. It was at sunset on 31st October 2011, it was attended by Lisa’s mom, sister, brother in law and two of our friends whom we had also met online. That was my very first trip to the USA. A dream wedding in a dream location, with dolphins playing just off the beach.

A cruise holiday was next on my list and that came true in 2013 after I received a £1,200 grant from the short break fund of the UK’s Multiple Sclerosis Society. It was great, two weeks on board with various shore visits in and around the Norwegian fjords. That was on Lisa’s dream list too as her dad’s family were from Norway, so she is half-Norwegian.

A second, week long cruise, followed a few months later. This time we few to Milan for a circular cruise around the Mediterranean. A day on Sicily ticked off a second dream on Lisa’s list as her mom’s family came from there, making her half Sicilian.

Last year, we enjoyed an absolutely magnificent holiday. In December, we flew to Honolulu (childhood dream) and enjoyed three full days there visiting a luau and Pearl Harbour– among other things. After that we boarded a ship for a seven day cruise around the Hawaiian islands, with shore excursions every day. The whole trip was warm and sunny, even in December.

We then flew to New York (high school dream) and spent three full days there. My ex had never wanted to go to NYC but Lisa was born and brought up there and so I was given my own personalised tour with a very special tour guide. Highlights were riding to the top of the Empire State Building, going to the famous Radio City Music Hall to see its Christmas Spectacular, Times Square, Central Park, the 9-11 Memorial which I found very moving, the Rockefeller Center and store windows all decorated for Christmas.

Added to that, we travelled a little outside the city to meet up with Lisa’s other sister and her husband, plus their children and grandchildren.

Needless to say that the weather in New York was more wintry than in Hawaii but we went prepared for both.

This year, we are in for quite a busy time this autumn. In October we are sailing on an eight-day Atlantic crossing (childhood dream) from Southampton to New Jersey, then spending nine days touring several north-eastern states. We fly back – and then we are moving to Spain. There we will be able to escape the rainy British climate and be able to soak up sunshine for much of the year. And that is fulfilling a dream that I only had early this year.

Do I have dreams left on my list? Oh yes, a cruise taking in Australia, an African safari (photos only, no shooting), a Caribbean cruise and a second trip to Hawaii are all high up there.

But my biggest dream has already come true and I live it everyday. I am talking about meeting and marrying Lisa. She is the one true love of my life, my soulmate, my lover, my best friend – my everything. We make each other so happy and so full of life that my illness, my multiple sclerosis, pales into insignificance. That’s what dreams are made of.