The world looked in horror when the World Trade Center was hit by two planes collapsing the buildings and killing thousands of innocent people. It was a day that can never be erased from the memory of anyone directly or indirectly affected by it. As much as the scale of the incident is shocking there are also less-known facts related to 9/11 that move the hearts and fill us with a longing emptiness left in the wake of the tragedy.
1. Nuclear power plants were the initial targets for 9/11 attack. Al-Qaeda later decided not to pursue it for fear that things could get out of control.
In an interview with Yosri Fouda, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Al-Qaeda military commander, revealed that they considered targeting nuclear facilities. He was the organization’s number three according to CIA and FBI, and more important than Bin Laden himself. Their motive was to take as many lives as possible. According to Khalid, they didn’t lack any potential volunteers, or martyrs for the attack.(source)
2. Actor James Woods reported noticing four suspicious men behaving strangely one week before the incident. The flight attendant and the authorities were said to have shrugged off the matter.
According to the actor, during his journey from Boston to Los Angeles in first class there were only four other middle-eastern looking men along with him. He felt they acted strangely as they did not eat, drink or sleep during the entire flight and were only talking in low voices. The day after the incident he told the FBI of his experience. Later his spokesperson said the actor thought it best to let them do their duty. Whether those four men really were the hijackers or not was never confirmed by the FBI.(source)
3. Betty Ann Ong, a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11, made a telephone call to the operators to report the hijacking. She managed to speak for over eight minutes and give the seat numbers of the hijackers.
Ong was returning to Los Angeles to visit her sister and go to Hawaii for a vacation. When the hijacking happened she was able to notify a lot of useful information to the operators. She told them that the cockpit was locked and could not be reached or contacted. She also informed that two other attendants were stabbed and that Mace, a self-defense aerosol spray, was sprayed in the business class making it hard for them to breathe.(1, 2)
4. Ben Sliney made the call to ground 4000 planes on 9/11. It was his first day as chief of air-traffic control at FAA’s command center.
Four planes were hijacked on the 11th of September 2001, with two of them crashing into the World Trade Center, the third into the Pentagon and fourth intended for the Capitol building. When the news came to the command center, Ben Sliney promptly took the decision to have all the 4000 planes grounded and the airborne ones to be landed in nearby airports. His role was so important that he was asked to play himself in the movie United 93 by Universal Pictures.(source)
5. $100 million worth of art was destroyed in 9/11 attacks, including the works Pablo Picasso and Auguste Rodin.
Among the many things that were destroyed during the attack were 21 libraries and many files and case files of the CIA, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, including all their office facilities in the buildings. Invaluable works of art belonging to both private collections and public were destroyed. Studios, photography and equipment were destroyed.(source)