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Image: Tower collapses
The south tower of the World Trade Center is seen collapsing Tuesday.
Bush: Terror will not win
‘Thousands of lives
were suddenly ended’
in strikes at Pentagon, World Trade Center
By Alex Johnson
MSNBC
Sept. 12 — In a sophisticated attack on the nation’s financial and military centers Tuesday morning, two hijacked jetliners slammed into New York’s World Trade Center, collapsing the famous twin towers, and a third jet plowed into the Pentagon, where 800 or more people were reported dead. President Bush defiantly vowed 12 hours later to bring the terrorists to justice, promising that “we will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbored them.”



September 11 — ’Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack.’ President Bush addresses the nation.


IN A BRIEF address televised from the White House Oval Office, Bush characterized the “despicable acts of terror” as “acts of mass murder.” It was a stark acknowledgment of the likely toll of those killed in the coordinated attacks Tuesday morning, the worst terrorist strike in U.S. history.
“Thousands of lives were suddenly ended,” Bush said solemnly, when hijacked jetliners slammed into each of the Trade Center’s twin towers and the Pentagon, an attack of breathtaking brazenness for which U.S. intelligence said Saudi terrorist Osama bin Laden was most likely responsible.
NBC News reported Tuesday night that the FBI had obtained a warrant and was searching the South Florida home of a man listed on the manifest of one of the hijacked planes.

TERRIBLE TOLL
The gruesome task of counting the dead could take weeks. Airline officials said the four hijacked jetliners alone carried a total of 266 passengers and crew.

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About 20,000 people work at the Pentagon, where NBC News’ Jim Miklaszewski said fire officials had put the number of dead at about 800, including the 64 people on the hijacked plane that rammed the complex.
As many as 50,000 people were believed to work in the two main towers of the World Trade Center.
In New York, officials refused to offer estimates of the death toll, but they held out hope that it would be lower than feared because about an hour elapsed between the time the towers were struck and the time they collapsed in heaps. In that period, they said, it appeared that the majority of occupants were able to escape.
Late Tuesday, New York police Sgt. Ralph Lowe told NBC’s Anne Thompson that two officers had been found alive and unconscious in the rubble. A police source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press that police had received phone calls from people trapped in the towers.
New York Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen said Tuesday night that 300 fire and emergency personnel were listed as “missing.”

SHOCK WAVES ACROSS THE NATION

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Dateline: Air security
The attacks — the three assaults in New York and Washington and a failed fourth strike that ended when a jetliner crashed into a field near Pittsburgh — snarled the nation’s government, transportation and finances and bruised its sense of security:
* The White House, the U.S. Capitol and federal buildings in and around Washington were evacuated for hours.
* Bush placed U.S. military forces around on the world on ThreatCon Delta, the highest possible state of alert. Military police in combat fatigues guarded streets in the nation’s capital and patrolled in armored vehicles.
* The Navy dispatched three ships from Norfolk Naval Base, Va., to positions off New York: the destroyers USS Ross and USS Ramage and the cruiser USS Vella Gulf. The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, which had just left the Persian Gulf, was ordered to remain in the Indian Ocean.
* For the first time ever, the Federal Aviation Administration closed all U.S. airports, shutting down air traffic until noon Wednesday ET at the earliest.
* Financial markets also closed and were to remain closed Wednesday.
* All Major League Baseball games were canceled, and large buildings across the nation — shopping malls, skyscrapers, transportation centers — were closed.
* U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico, some of which had been closed earlier in the day, were reopened late Tuesday afternoon. But security along the borders remained extremely tight.
* The FBI set up a Web site where people could report any tips or other information:
www.ifccfbi.gov. Intelligence officials told NBC News they were especially eager to recover any video tourists may have been shooting before and during the attacks.
* The Justice Department’s Office of Victims of Crime established a hot line for families seeking information about victims and survivors. The number is (800) 331-0075.
* Gasoline prices began soaring across the nation within hours of the attacks. Prices at stations in Kansas, Mississippi and Missouri were reported to have hit as high as $5 a gallon by early evening.


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Printable version


EARLY MORNING CHAOS
The stunning attacks began at 8:45 a.m. ET, just as thousands of people were streaming to work in lower Manhattan. American Airlines Flight 11, from Boston to Los Angeles, slammed into the north tower of the 110-story World Trade Center. Fires blazed, and smoke billowed out of the skyscrapers, one of two that had famously dominated Manhattan’s skyline.

September 11 — NBC’s David Bloom reports on how Tuesday’s series of terrorist attacks unfolded, minute-by-minute.


At 9:03 a.m., as terrified occupants were still trying to flee the blazing north tower, United Air Lines Flight 175, also flying from Boston to Los Angeles, rammed into the south tower. Broadcast cameras already watching the scene taped the second plane as it exploded in a huge fireball.
MSNBC.com reporter Martin Wolk, who was inside one of the towers, said the lights flickered and there was a loud bang. People panicked and started to flee the building.
“It was sheer pandemonium. People were screaming and crying, afraid to go outside because of the falling debris,” Wolk said. “We looked up, and it looked like the top 20 floors were in flames.”
At 9:43 a.m., American Flight 77, flying from Dulles Airport outside Washington to Los Angeles, crashed into the west side of the Pentagon in Washington’s Virginia suburbs.
Seven minutes later, the south tower of the Trade Center collapsed. Untold thousands of people were trapped inside, and enormous plumes of choking gray smoke and debris tornado-tunneled through packed narrow streets rimmed by Manhattan’s enormous skyscrapers.
The north tower disintegrated at 10:29 a.m., and much of lower Manhattan was evacuated.

FOURTH ATTEMPT FAILS
Meanwhile, sometime around 10 a.m., United Flight 93, headed to San Francisco from Newark, N.J., crashed into a field about 80 miles from Pittsburgh.
Video: MSNBC cable on the terrorist attacks

Click on the image for live cable coverage of the terrorism attacks.
An emergency dispatcher in Westmoreland County, Pa., received a cell phone call at 9:58 a.m. from a man who said he was a passenger locked in the bathroom of United Flight 93, said dispatch supervisor Glenn Cramer.
“We are being hijacked. We are being hijacked!” Cramer quoted the man as saying. “He heard some sort of explosion and saw white smoke coming from the plane, and we lost contact with him.”
Officials originally presumed that the hijackers were trying to crash the jet into Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland’s Catoctin mountains. But Attorney General John Ashcroft told members of Congress late Tuesday that the plane was believed to have been turning toward Washington itself, NBC’s Mike Viqueira reported.
The Miami Herald reported in Wednesday’s editions that a passenger on Flight 93, Tom Burnett, 38, the vice president of a Pleasanton, Calif., medical devices company and father of three children, called his wife and indicated that he and other passengers were about to try to overpower the hijackers.
Burnett told his wife that somebody on the plane had been stabbed, said the Rev. Frank Colacicco, of St. Isidore’s Church in Danville, Fla. “We’re all gonna die, but three of us are going to do something,” Burnett told his wife, according to Colacicco. He added: “I love you, honey,” before the call ended.
Hours later, at 5:25 p.m. — just as overwhelmed rescuers and ordinary Americans were beginning to breathe a sigh of relief that the worst was over — a third, smaller tower of the trade center collapsed in flames.
Although the tower had been evacuated of its everyday occupants, the complex was still swarming with rescue crews and investigators. Horrified emergency officials halted the rescue effort overnight without knowing how many hundreds or thousands of people were still buried in the rubble.

September 11 — NBC’s Rehema Ellis reports from ground zero of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center.



‘CREDIBLE THREATS’ TO BUSH
Military and Secret Service officials kept Bush away from Washington all afternoon because of what senior presidential counselor Karl Rove told Newsweek’s Howard Fineman were “credible threats” against the president.
In the meantime, Bush, who had been in Florida discussing education, hopscotched the country in Air Force One.
He stopped first at Barksdale Air Force Base near Shreveport, La., and then flew on to Offutt Air Force base outside Omaha, Neb., where he was taken to an underground bunker at U.S. Strategic Command headquarters.
Vice President Dick Cheney and first lady Laura Bush were whisked away to secure locations.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who was in his office on the opposite side of the Pentagon at the time of that attack, was not injured and indeed was reported to have helped with rescue efforts.
“The Pentagon is functioning,” he told reporters Tuesday evening. “It will be in business tomorrow.”

PRIME SUSPECT: BIN LADEN
Although no one immediately claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks, suspicion immediately focused on the extensive terrorist organization run by bin Laden, 44, a wealthy Saudi militant suspected in previous attacks on U.S. interests. Among them are the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa and last year’s bombing of a U.S. Navy ship in Yemen.

September 11 — Osama bin Laden, the world’s best-known Islamic extremist, emerged as the prime suspect in Tuesday’s attacks. NBC’s Keith Miller reports.


A senior U.S. official told NBC News’ Robert Windrem on Tuesday evening that information developed left officials “90 percent certain” that bin Laden’s organization was responsible.
“This is not just surmise,” the official said. “This is new information.”
A federal law enforcement official told NBC News late Tuesday that the name of a passenger on one of the flights that crashed into the World Trade Center immediately triggered alarms at the FBI.
The FBI obtained a warrant to search the “former home” of the man, who lived in Broward County, and was searching for possible evidence, the official said.
The Associated Press reported separately that authorities were focusing some of their efforts on possible bin Laden supporters in Florida.
Officials and terrorism experts said few, if any, other organizations are believed to have the cash or expertise to mount attacks like those of Tuesday.
A spokesman for Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban, which has been accused of harboring bin Laden, condemned the attacks and denied that bin Laden was behind them. The sophistication of the coordinated assault required the expertise of a government, the Taliban said.

Attack on America
Watch MSNBC Cable for round-the-clock coverage
NBC's Brian Williams and Forrest Sawyer provide the very latest reaction to Tuesday's terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., with reporting from the Pentagon, the White House and the streets of Manhattan.



MSNBC.com’s Martin Wolk, Miguel Llanos and Molly Masland; NBC’s Robert Windrem, Robert Hager, Jim Miklaszewski, Jim Popkin and Mike Viqueira; and Newsweek’s Howard Fineman contributed to this report.

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