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Friday, July 23, 2004
Cockpit Struggle on Flight 93
By TED BRIDIS
WASHINGTON - Passengers aboard
Airlines Flight 93
fought back against the hijackers but never
actually made it into the cockpit, the Sept. 11
The assertion, included in the panel's dramatic
summary of the harrowing flight, contradicts the
firmly held belief by some victims' families that
passengers breached the cockpit and fought with
hijackers inside during their final moments.
UNLIKE most of the
world's press, we have consistently
refused to believe official Washington's
story of courageous American passengers
storming into the cockpit of United
Airlines 93 and overpowering the
Bit by bit the
official version is coming the way of
finally admitting that a F16 fighter plane
shot the airliner down, in line with Vice
President Dick Cheney's
instructions that morning.
Note that there are
still wild discrepancies and anomalies,
which nobody is addressing. The passengers
are "heard" to yell things? How? Hardly by
the cockpit voice recorders, and cellular
phones do not work at that altitude inside
As for the hijackers'
remarks -- presumably shouted in Arabic,
though appearing in English in the report:
are they not equally consistent with them
sighting one or more fighter planes
closing in on the plane, and with the
airliner waggling its wings in an
attempted standard recognition signal of
undetermined meaning -- in fact another
airliner pilot, watching from a great
distance, referred to its "waggling its
wings," according to televised evidence
before the 9/11 inquiry only a few weeks
So, why the
extraordinary reluctance of the FBI and
authorities to release the full cockpit
transcripts even now? The authorities are
still sitting on vital evidence, as the
belated release of the Dulles airport
surveillance videos of the hijackers
clearing security procedures at the gates
The public had no
inkling of their existence until two days
In phone calls from the
plane, four passengers said they and others
planned to fight the hijackers after learning of
the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York
earlier that morning.
Beamer: "Let's Roll"
With the words "Let's roll," passengers rushed
down the airliner's narrow aisle to try to
overwhelm the hijackers.
Relying on the cockpit recorder and flight data,
the commission said terrorist-pilot Ziad
Jarrah violently rocked the jet's wings and
told another hijacker to block the door. With the
sounds of fighting outside the cockpit, Jarrah
asked, "Is that it? Shall we finish it off?"
Another hijacker, who wasn't identified,
replied, "No, not yet. When they all come, we
finish it off."
Jarrah then began pitching the nose of the plane
up and down to throw passengers off balance.
Seconds later, a passenger who wasn't identified
yelled, "In the
cockpit! If we don't, we die!" And 16 seconds
afterward, another passenger
yelled, "Roll it!"
Investigators previously have said they believe
passengers tried to use a food cart to break the
Jarrah said, "Allah is the greatest! Allah is
the greatest!", and he asked his fellow hijacker,
"Is that it? I mean, shall we put it down?"
The other hijacker answered, "Yes, put it in,
and pull it down."
Roughly 90 seconds
later, the jet rolled onto its back and crashed
into a Pennsylvania field at more than 580 mph,
killing everyone aboard.
The commission concluded that the hijackers
remained at the controls of the plane, "but must
have judged that the passengers were only seconds
from overcoming them."
The commission said the hijackers' destination
was Washington. It praised the courage of the
passengers and said their struggle "saved the lives
of countless others, and may have saved either the
Capitol or the White House from destruction."
The Associated Press reported last year that the
government's theory about Flight 93 - described by
FBI Director Robert Mueller to congressional
investigators in closed testimony - also concluded
that passengers grappled with terrorists but never
actually got into the cockpit.© 2004 The
Washington Post Company
Our dossier on United
Airlines Flight 93