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The Washington
Friday, July 23, 2004


Panel: No Cockpit Struggle on Flight 93


WASHINGTON - Passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 93 fought back against the hijackers but never actually made it into the cockpit, the Sept. 11 commission concluded.

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David Irving comments:

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 hijackers.
   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 planes.


   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 ago.
   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 indicates.
   The public had no inkling of their existence until two days ago.

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.

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.

Todd Beamer

Todd 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 cockpit door.

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


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