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<i—•

TO: Philip Zelikow


FM: Team 7
RE: Facts vs. Fiction
DATE: 9/12/2001

CASE STUDY
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The Question: v/ " /^f ' '

Do the facts support allegations that a shooting occurred aboard American Airlines Flight
number eleven on September 11, 2001?

The question about such an incident arises from an FAA "Executive Summary" prepared
by FAA headquarters personnel at 5:13 p.m. (EDT) on September 11,2001. The memo
contains the following passage:

"The American Airlines FAA Principal Security Inspector (PSI)


was notified by Suzanne Clarke of American Airlines Corporate
Headquarters that an on board flight attendant contacted American
Airline Operations Center and informed that a passenger located in
seat 10B shot and killed a passenger in seat 9B at 9:20 a.m. The
passenger killed was Dan Lewin, shot by passenger Satam
Al Suqami. One bullet was reported to have been fired."

Published accounts of the FAA memorandum include the following:


Morrison, Blake, "9/11 Group Troubled By Gun Report; FAA
Call it an Error; Families Seeking Probe," USAToday.
February 28, 2002.

Eggen, Dan, "Airports Screened Nine of September 11


Hijackers, Officials Say," Washington Post. March 2,2002,
pgAll.
UP1 Hears, "Insider Notes from United Press International for
March 6, 2002;" http://www.upi.com

y The Background:
The FAA "Executive Summary" was produced by (Shirley Miller of T/SA is
identifying the author of the executive summary so that we may talk with that individual)
from information collected by various personnel stationed in the Federal Aviation
Administration Command Center activated by the agency in response to the crisis on
September 11,2001.

As information flowed into the command center from many sources throughout the day
on 9/11/2001, the data was placed into an official log. The executive summary was
produced by FAA Civil Aviation Security personnel from the log information that
evening, for distribution to the FAA administrator's office. .

9/11 Working-level Employee


Commission Sensitive
The Discrepancy: 9/11 Working-level Employee

Commission staff interviewed Ms. JANET RIFFE who is the FAA Principal Security
Inspector cited in the "Executive Summary." MS. RIFFE says that the summary
accurately depicts the information she received from MS. CLARK.

MS. SUZANNE CLARK, Security Manager, American Airlines maintains that she made
no such statement to MS. RIFFE and that the information with regard to the shooting in
the memorandum is erroneous. (Philip: Riffe said that the GAO investigated the gun
issue and that Clark has consistently denied ever saying anything about a gun or shooting.
The GAO says it conducted no such investigation. The DOT-IG has not conducted an
investigation either. We are seeking to talk to Ms. Clark through AAL. This discrepancy
is a problem that we should at least try to resolve if we can.)

The differing accounts by MS. CLARK and MS. RIFFE about the source and veracity of
the shooting report are troubling, but the discrepancy centers only on the question of what
Ms. CLARK told Ms. RIFFE. The more important question is whether the facts suggest
that such a shooting indeed took place. Clearly, the best evidence of what occurred
aboard AAL #11 is provided by the accounts of eye witnesses aboard the plane and by
the reports of those who heard their accounts directly.

The Finding:

The evidence derived from eyewitness accounts of the events that unfolded on AAL #11,
does not support a conclusion that a shooting on the flight is likely to have occurred.

Facts:

Commission staff has identified evidence of at least three phone calls placed by flight
attendants aboard AAL # 11 to American Airlines personnel on the ground.

At least one phone call was placed by flight attendant BETTY ONG to the American
Airlines Southeastern Reservations Center located in Gary, North Carolina.

At least two phone calls were placed by flight attendant AMY SWEENEY to American
Airlines Flight Services personnel located at Boston's Logan International Airport. The
first call from Ms. SWEENEY to Boston was cut-off for unknown reasons. Ms.
SWEENEY called back establishing the second phone contact. (See FBI Document 265A NY
280350 CE 1013).

In the course of their phone calls, Ms. ONG and Ms. SWEENEY reported events
onboard until the grounding of the aircraft. (See FBI Document 265A NY 280350 302 2882).

Commission Sensitive
/9/11 Personal Privacy

A four-minute portion of the estimated 20 to 25 minute phon? call placed by Ms. ONG
to the American Airlines Reservation Center was recorded oh tape.j Ms. ONG reported:
"Somebody stabbed in business class and there is, we cari't breath in business class, so
somebody's got mace or something." Ms. ONG provides no accouht of either the
presence of a gun or the incidence of a shooting aboard the aircraft. ;(See FBI Document 265 A
NY 280350 CE 1013). / j

The Commission staff has identified at least nine/individuals who heard all, or portions
of, the phone calls from Ms. ONG and Ms. SWEENEY. j

The witnesses, all of which are American Airlines employees, include: MICHAEL
WOODWARD, JIM SAYER, EVY NUNEZ. NYDIA GONZALEZ. RAY C. SCOTT,
CRAIG MARQUIS, WINSTON SADT.fiR.r" land VANESSA
MINTER.

Seven of the witnesses were interviewed, individually, by the FBI about the phone calls,
(staff must confirm individual interviews). Commission Staff can locate no FBI
interviews of Ms.I |br Ms. MINTER.

The witnesses that were interviewed by the FBI report that both Ms. ONG and Ms.
SWEENEY explicitly reported the incidence of stabbings. No witnesses reported any
mention by the flight attendants of a gun or shooting involving any pilot, passenger or
crewmember. Excerpts of the witnesses' accounts of what Ms. ONG and Ms.
SWEENEY said with regard to violence aboard the aircraft are as follows:

MICHAEL WOODWARD: "A man in business class has had his throat slashed and is
presumably dead " and "Number 1 flight attendant has been stabbed and number 5 flight
attendant has been stabbed. There is a bomb in the cockpit." (See FBI Document 265A NY 280350
30257614).

JAMES SAYER: "Two flight attendants were stabbed and a man in business class had
been Stabbed in the throat. " (See FBI Document 265A NY 280350 302 14510).

EVY NUNEZ: "Passenger in row 9 who had their throat cut. " (See FBI Document 265A NY
280350 302 9787).

NYDIA GONZALEZ: "stabbed" flight attendant, and, "Passenger by the name of


Daniel Lewin may have been fatally wounded." (See FBI Document 265A NY 280350 CE 1018).
RAY SCOTT: "stabbing of a flight attendant" and "individual seated in 9(B) appeared
to be dead. " (See FBI Document 265ANY 280350 CE 1013).
CRAIG MARQUIS: "Ong informed Marquis that the passenger in Seat 9(B) David
Lewin had been fatally stabbed. " (See FBI Document 265A NY 280350 302 30391). (STAFF NEEDS TO
COM-IKM M I A (' VIAUOUIS WAS ON TNI; I'HONI. R A T H E R HI AN SIMPLY HEARD THE ACCOUNT THIRD
HAND)

Commission Sensitive
9/11 Personal Privacy

WINSTON SADLER: "FA's Number I and Number 5 had been stabbed" and "A
passenger in 9(B) had been injured and possibly deceased." (See FBI Document 265A NY 280350
CE 1022). ..,""""

| [NO FBI INTERVIEW LOCATED (Staff to follow-up with FBI)

VANESSA MKER: NO FBI INTERVIEW LOCATED (Staff to follow-up with FBI)

Accounts of the calls from Ms. ONG and Ms. SWEENEY were provided to the American
Airlines System Operations Center (SOC) in Dallas, Texas, while the calls were in
progress. (See FBI Document 265A NY 280350 302 30391) (STAFF NEEDS TO ADD CITATION OF IV WITH
BKTH WILLIAMS WHO REPORTED SWEENEY CALL TO THE SOC).

The Commission can find no evidence that separate calls were placed to the SOC by any
flight attendant from AAL #11. (NO RECORD OF PHONE CALLS FROM ANY
OTHER FLIGHT ATTENDANTS ON AA11 CAN BE IDENTIFIED. BUT STAFF
NEEDS TO SEE IF THE FBI EXAMINED EACH FLIGHT ATTENDANT'S CELL
PHONE RECORDS AND THE GTE AIRPHONE RECORDS TO CONFIRM. NO
INDICATION THE FBI DID THIS).

Staff listened to tape recordings covering 5 positions at FAA's Air Traffic Control
Systems Command Center (ATCSCC) for the period 08:15 to 11:15 a.m. on September 9,
2001. Those tapes covered multiple conversations concerning the hijack and tracking of
AAL Flight #11. The FAA Command Center Tactical Net was frequently heard on those
tapes. At approximately 11:00 EDT a conversation among officials in the ATCSCC can
be heard discussing hijackers on American flight #11 with knives. No mention is made of
firearms.

Discussion:

Eyewitnesses

Ms. ONG and Ms. SWEENEY placed phone calls from aboard the aircraft to American
Airlines authorities on the ground in accordance with the air carrier's hijacking protocol.
The protocol directs flight crews to contact ground personnel as soon as possible to
provide a situation report of the emergency, including key details such as the precise seat
assignment of the perpetrators. (STAFF WANTS TO CONFIRM THE PROTOCOL)

Staff notes that the flight attendants did their duty with remarkable courage and
composure. The evidence shows that both Ms. ONG and Ms. SWEENEY remained in
phone contact with authorities up to the grounding of the aircraft, providing valuable
information.

Commission Sensitive
Neither the tape recorded portion of Ms. ONG's call, nor the accounts by seven separate
witnesses to the calls indicate that either Ms. ONG or Ms. SWEENEY reported the
presence of a gun or the incidence of a shooting. The witnesses' accounts of the phone
calls are consistent.

The accounts indicate that the flight attendants were quite specific about the kind of
weapons they reported present—knives, mace and a bomb—as well as the nature of the
assaults on board—the "stabbing" of two other flight attendants and a passenger.

A third flight attendant

The possibility must be considered that perhaps a third flight attendant situated in a
different part of the cabin than Ms. ONG and Ms. SWEENEY might have witnessed a
shooting of which Ms. ONG and Ms. SWEENEY were unaware, and independently
contacted the airline's System Operations Center to report the incident.

Staff can find no evidence of any phone contact by any member of the other flight crew
with the SOC either directly or indirectly. The facts show that the SOC was apprised of
both the ONG and SWEENEY calls while they were in progress, and therefore SOC
personnel including CRAIG MARQUIS were aware of the "stabbing" reports. (STAFF
WANTS TO BE SURE THE FBI CHECKED THE CELL PHONE RECORDS OF TOE
FLIGHT CREW AND THE GTE AIRPHONE RECORD FROM THE AIRCRAFT TO
CONFIRM NO CALL WAS MADE TO THE SOC).

Firearm experts indicate that the sound of a gun being fired in the cabin of an aircraft
would be unmistakable and clearly evident to all aboard. It is implausible that Ms. ONG
and Ms. SWEENEY would have neglected to report a shooting if they knew one had
occurred, but it is equally implausible that a shooting occurred aboard the aircraft without
their cognizance.

Had the FAA executive summary described reports by American Airlines' System
Operations Center of both a stabbing and a shooting, the accuracy of the memo which
mentions only a "shooting" would be less suspect.

Staff would note that in order to accept the accuracy of the executive summary with
regard to a shooting, (disregarding the evidence by eyewitnesses to the contrary), one
would have to believe that the SOC relayed to the FAA the account of a shooting that no
witness recalls while neglecting to relay the account of a stabbing that was widely
reported, including to personnel in the SOC. This is beyond the pale of plausibility.

Finally, staff notes that the alleged victim of the shooting was seated in 9(B). Both the
seat and its occupant are described by several of the witness accounts as the locus of the
stabbing.

Commission Sensitive
It seems evident that the form of attack on the business class passenger—the only
individual attack upon a passenger reported by eyewitnesses—became garbled as the
account of the assault was relayed among airline and FAA authorities in the fog and
confusion of the unfolding events of the day.

Hijacker weapons and tactics

Other relevant evidence bears mentioning. While investigators have uncovered evidence
of numerous knife purchases by the 19 hijackers leading up to September 11, 2001, no
firearm purchases are in evidence.

The tactics of all four hijacking teams involved in the plot were similar. No evidence has
been uncovered to suggest that firearms were used by the hijackers on any of the other
flights. On the contrary, the common tactic among the four teams of employing knives,
box cutters and mace, and the wielding of a bomb (either real or simulated), is indicated
by the evidence. It seems unlikely that one of the teams would depart from the tactical
discipline of the plotters' common strategy.

Shooting account related to UAL #175

The evidence shows that authorities did receive a report of a "shooting" aboard one of the
other flights hijacked on September 11, 2001.

A passenger aboard UAL Flight #175, Mr. PHILIP BURTON HANSON placed two
phone calls to his father LEE HANSON to report the hijacking of the aircraft. According
to the FBI interview of LEE HANSON, his son reported that a flight attendant had been
stabbed, and that the hijackers appeared to have knives and mace, and claimed to have a
bomb. PHILIP HANSON requested that his father alert the airlines to the emergency.

After hanging up with his son, LEE HANSON immediately contacted the Easton,
Connecticut Police Department to report the hijacking.

The phone call from LEE HANSON to CAPTAIN JAMES CANDEE of the Easton,
Connecticut Police Department was tape-recorded. The tape recording indicates no
mention of a shooting aboard UAL 175. (STAFF NEEDS TO REVIEW TRANSCIPT
TO CONFIRM).

Staff contacted CAPTAIN CANDEE of the Easton, Connecticut police. Mr. CANDEE
confirms that LEE HANSON reported his son's account of a stabbing, but made no
mention of a shooting aboard the hijacked aircraft.

The evidence shows that a third party] ((apparently a family friend—


Staff needs to find out) acting on behalf of the passenger's father, contacted United
Airlines to report the emergency. Mr. I I to Id representatives of United Airlines
that a passenger calling from aboard UAL #175 had told his father someone had been

9/11 Personal Privacy


Commission Sensitive
shot. From the evidence this appears to be erroneous information that is the product of
the classic "phone" phenomenon.

Ms. RIFFE told the staff that the environment in the FA A Command Center on 9/11 was
quite hectic and that FAA personnel were dealing with a lot of erroneous information.
The evidence shows that both United Airlines and American Airlines personnel were
providing information to the Command CenterVSTAFF NEEDS TO CONFIRM). The
AAL System Operations Center was similarly Wtctic. It is not unreasonable to expect
that given the environment and the events of the pay, erroneous information was being
communicated and recorded.

Whatever the source of the notation in the FAA/interaal memo, the most authoritative
evidence—that being eyewitness accounts of tne events that unfolded on AAL #11, does
not support a conclusion that a shooting on the/flight is likely to have occurred.

###

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Commission Sensitive
COMPUTER SEARCH METHODOLOGY

Review of FBI reports naming each of the Flight Attendants via Concordance Database:

Flight Attendant FA mentioned in FBI CALLS REPORTED OR


Documents IN EVIDENCE
Ong 13 Yes
Sweeney 18 (confirm) Yes
Ares1fl&ui 2 No
Collman 2 No
Low 2 No
Martin 5 No
Nicosia 4 No
Roger 2 No
Snyder 1 No

Concordance Search Terms Hits


Shot AND flight attendant zero
Shooting AND flight attendant zero
Shot AND flight AND 1 1 zero
Shooting AND flight AND 1 1 zero
Shooting AND hijack* zero
Flight attendant AND call AND American 80 (all documents reviewed)

* Means the search engine will search every permutation of the word.

Commission Sensitive
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John Raidt

I contacted Captain James Candee of the Easton, (Connecticut) Police Department to ask him
about his conversation with Lee Hanson, father of Peter Burton Hanson, a passenger aboard
United Flight #175..

The following is what Captain Candee told me:

Lee Hanson called the Easton Police Department originally looking for Chief Solomon. Solomon
was not available to take the call, so it was given to Capt. James Candee.

Candee said that Lee Hanson told him "one of the stewardess' throats had been slashed."
Candee said that nothing was said about a gun or shooting.

Candee also told me that Lee had called the commission twice, and that it was his impression
Lee Burton had called the Police Department immediately after receiving the phone call from
Peter.

Candee said he called the FBI to report the conversation with Lee, and Lee's conversation with
his son.
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Briefing
f
OSI was asked to obtain the facts surrounding the preparation of and the information
contained in an executive summary prepared for FAA Administrator Jane Garvey on
September 11, 2001.

We interviewed 27 people during the course of our investigation, to include the FAA
Administrator; Deputy Administrator; FAA senior management and personnel; and
American Airlines personnel.

We conducted 11 interviews of various FAA security and intelligence personnel before


identifying the author of the executive summary, a security staff member. The security
and intelligence managers could not identify the person(s) involved in preparing the
executive summary.

FAA Security had 2 crisis management centers in operation on September 11, 2001. The
primary crisis management center (ACC) became operational at approximately 8:55 a.m.
It was staffed with FAA security directors/senior managers and other pertinent staff.
They also setup an auxiliary crisis management center at approximately 11:00 a.m. Both
crisis management centers received and recorded information concerning the hijackings.

FAA's Principal Security Inspector (PSI) contacted American Airlines via telephone for a
status update at 9:20 a.m. and was advised of a shooting. The PSI received specific
information regarding the names and seat numbers of the passengers involved in the
alleged shooting. The information was recorded and posted in both crisis management
centers without any additional corroboration. Interviews of the PSI, the author and
other security personnel confirmed that this information was recorded and posted in the
crisis management centers and later included in the executive summary.

We uncovered a phone call received by the FAA Washington Operation Center (WOC)
reporting a shooting aboard American Airlines Flight 11. The WOC, a 24-hour operations
center located in a room adjacent to the ACC, received the report of a shooting at 8:44
a.m. on September 11, 2001. The WOC never reported this information to FAA security
personnel in the ACC.

Interviews of American Airlines personnel contradict the statements of FAA security


personnel. American Airlines personnel deny ever reporting a shooting on any of the
hijacked flights on September 11, 2001. However, a former American Airlines employee
recalled hearing an anecdotal report of a gunshot aboard one of the hijacked flights on
September 11, 2001 at the American Airlines Corporate Security Office in Dallas, TX.
Due to the lack of cooperation from American Airlines, we did not receive any additional
information.

Based on our investigation, there is no information to corroborate a shooting on


American Airlines Flight 11.
f-
. I

F
i
Alleged Gun on AA Flight 11

Q: Was there a gun on AA#11. An FAA Executive Summary states that a gun
was fired. What is the truth?

Major Points:

• Questions about information from the criminal investigation should be directed to


the FBI and the TSA has the records concerning the operations of the Aviation
Command Center on September 11th.

• Also the matter was investigated by the GAO - and we are not privy to their report
on the mater

• DOT/FAA has no information which confirms the presence of a gun on AA Flight 11 or


any other of the four hijacked aircraft.

• FBI has advised that they had no evidence of a gun being used onboard the aircraft.

• It is our understanding that one of the personnel working in the FAA's Aviation
Command Center during the incident believed they had been provided information by a
representative of American Airlines to the effect that one individual onboard the aircraft
had shot another individual onboard with specific passenger names and a seat location
being mentioned.

• This information was received in the command center during a chaotic period in which a
great deal of information, some of it erroneous, was being received. Later in the day this
information was included in a draft "Executive Summary" briefing book item prepared in
a separate room based on information received in the Command Center.

• At about the same time, however, in the Command Center, the information in question
was double checked and FAA was advised by American Airlines that the information
was not correct. American reported that it had no information about anyone being shot.

• We do not know if someone mistakenly used or thought they heard the word "shot" when
the term used was actually "killed", "stabbed", "cut" or some other word - or if the error
arose in some other fashion - nor if an error occurred, if it occurred at American Airlines
or in the Aviation Command Center.

• In such situations the term "Fog of War" applies. In the early reporting on incidents it is
quite common for erroneous facts to be reported, conclusions to be based on incomplete
facts or various forms of mis-communication to occur. On 9/11 there were reports of
incidents which did not actually occur, such as the reported car bomb exploding at the
Department of State.