From the History Commons Groups blog:
Many entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons, covering various events relating to the 9/11 attacks, including a number of anti-terrorism training exercises held in the years leading up to 9/11 and various incidents from the day of September 11, 2001, itself.
Numerous Exercises Prepared for a Terrorist Attack in New York
Many new timeline entries describe training exercises that were held in New York before 9/11. These include Operation ICE, the city’s largest ever terrorism response exercise, which was held in November 1997 and included a simulated chemical attack near the World Trade Center. Another exercise, which tested the response to a biological attack, was held in June 1999 at the city’s new emergency command center in World Trade Center Building 7.
A major exercise called CitySafe, based around the scenario of a bioterrorist attack involving anthrax, was set to take place in September 1999–possibly on September 11–but was canceled due to an outbreak of West Nile virus in the city. In the summer of 2000, top city officials attended an exercise based around the scenario of a biological warfare agent being released at a sporting event and came up with a plan for shutting down Manhattan during a crisis.
In August 2001, members of the US Marine Corps’ Chemical Biological Incident Response Force participated in an exercise with members of the New York City Fire Department, during which the Fire Department’s response to the 1993 WTC bombing was discussed. And one week before 9/11, preparations were underway for an exercise that would develop plans for restoring operations in New York’s Financial District, where the WTC was located, after a terrorist attack.
Two exercises were held just three days before 9/11 at New York’s La Guardia Airport. One of these involved the Greater New York chapter of the American Red Cross training to deal with a terrorist attack with a biological weapon. The other, called Operation Low Key, was held by the New York City Fire Department Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and was based around the scenario of a jet aircraft carrying about 150 passengers crashing at the end of the runway.
Also on September 8, 2001, an exercise was held at Inova Fairfax Hospital, just outside Washington, DC, based around the scenario of a terrorist attack with a chemical weapon.
New York Fire Chief Thought a Major Attack Was Imminent
A couple of timeline entries describe the concerns of Chief Ray Downey of the New York City Fire Department, before 9/11, about a major terrorist attack taking place in the United States. At a conference in April 1997, Downey warned that an attack was “going to happen.” And in the summer of 2001, he was reportedly certain that a major attack was imminent, which he thought would likely involve a chemical or dirty bomb going off in an urban environment.
The FBI was also concerned about terrorism. In July 2001, representatives of the bureau went to a meeting held by the New York Police Department and said a serious attack was likely to occur, which they thought would take place overseas. Around the same time, Mayor Rudy Giuliani updated a directive that was intended to eliminate conflict between agencies when they responded to emergencies, such as terrorist attacks, in New York.
Meanwhile, at a conference in San Francisco, California, which examined airport security, terrorism and hijackings were two of the main topics of discussion.
Fighters Were Controlled by an Agency That Should Not Have Communicated with Them
A number of entries describe events from the day of September 11, 2001.
Shortly after they took off, three fighter jets launched from Langley Air Force Base came under the control of a Navy air traffic control agency known as “Giant Killer,” even though controllers at Giant Killer have stated that the facility should not have been communicating with the fighters. Meanwhile, the fighters launched from Otis Air National Guard Base in response to the first hijacking that day were still 15 miles from the WTC when the first tower collapsed.
After their command center in WTC 7 was evacuated, personnel from the mayor’s Office of Emergency Management used the office’s special, well-equipped bus as their command post. After the first tower came down, a group of police officers tried to get into WTC 7 in order to get out of the WTC plaza, but they found the door was locked and the building was on fire.
Two entries deal with a man of Middle Eastern appearance who was found acting suspiciously in the WTC. Police officers encountered the man in the North Tower as it was being evacuated and, after he behaved in a threatening manner, arrested him. The detective who carried out the arrest passed the man on to the FBI but was told to keep quiet about what had happened by an unidentified individual who appeared to be a government agent.
Another man was questioned by the police after being noticed behaving suspiciously near the Capitol building in Washington and was found to belong to an Islamic organization with links to terrorism. And alarm was raised when a panel truck was noticed that had a drawing of a plane crashing into the WTC on its side.
Recovery Workers Searched for the Planes’ Black Boxes at Ground Zero
A few entries describe events that occurred after 9/11.
A couple of entries deal with the search for the black boxes from the planes that crashed into the Twin Towers. In the first 10 days after 9/11, recovery workers searched in locations where the Federal Aviation Administration said it had detected a signal from one of the black boxes. And a month after 9/11, workers found an object that appeared to be one of the black boxes, but FBI agents who inspected it denied that it was a black box.
A couple of months later, recovery workers unearthed an armored truck in the rubble of the WTC and discovered that over a million dollars’ worth of diamonds and bonds were inexplicably missing from it.
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