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Islamic History and September 11

QUESTION: Islamic History – September 11


On September 11, 2001,1 four commercial airliners were mutated into flying missiles in the service of radical Islamist ideology and the world changed. On each of the flights, the hijackers had used knives or box cutters, mace or pepper spray, as well as deceptively reporting to the passengers that they had bombs and needed to return to their respective airports. Nobody dreamed (except perhaps the military/suspense novelist extraordinaire, Tom Clancy2) that the “bombs” were not brought aboard in checked luggage or other cargo, but were in fact the aircraft themselves. Initiating their flights in Boston, Washington Dulles, and Newark, they were intended for destinations on the West Coast, Los Angeles, and San Francisco—destinations they never reached.

Around 8:14 that fateful morning, American Airlines Flight 11, a nonstop flight to Los Angeles, was the first to be hijacked. Five armed men, all committed to live and die for Allah, murdered several people on the flight before ramming the plane into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City thirty-two minutes later. United Airlines Flight 175, also bound for Los Angeles, was similarly hijacked at 8:45 am. It was a horrendous and frightening ordeal for the passengers and crew. At 9:00 am, one brave passenger, Peter, called his father, Lee.
    It’s getting bad, Dad — A stewardess was stabbed — They seem to have knives and Mace — They said they have a bomb — It’s getting very bad on the plane — Passengers are throwing up and getting sick — The plane is making jerky movements — I don’t think the pilot is flying the plane — I think we are going down — I think they intend to go to Chicago or someplace and fly into a building — Don’t worry, Dad — If it happens, it’ll be very fast — My God, my God.3
As the phone connection abruptly ended, Lee witnessed Flight 175 crash into the South Tower of the World Trade Center at 9:03, instantly disintegrating all on board and untold numbers in the building.

Islamic History – Eyewitness Accounts
American Airlines Flight 77, departing from Washington Dulles and also intended for Los Angeles, was hijacked minutes before 9:00. It was the passengers on this flight who relayed the detail that the hijackers were using box cutters to strike their first victims. A harrowing half-hour later, the plane’s autopilot was disengaged at 7000 feet. Officials on the ground suspected it was headed for the White House and alerted the Secret Service. The plane then descended and began a 330-degree turn, pointing the plane at downtown Washington. At 9:37 the plane crashed into the Pentagon traveling at a velocity of 530 miles per hour, annihilating all on board and several civilian and military personnel in the Pentagon.

United Airlines Flight 93, departing Newark and bound for San Francisco, met a similar fate, though not in the manner originally intended by the hijackers. The flight departed twenty-five minutes behind schedule and the passenger load was a scant thirty-seven souls. Also, the supposed fifth member of the terrorist team was being held by immigration officers in Orlando. Given the destruction of the other planes in quick succession that morning, authorities knew full well that a worst-case scenario was playing out on America soil. At 9:23 a warning message was transmitted to Flight 93. Unfortunately, the pilot somehow failed to grasp the message and requested clarification. Five minutes later the hijackers attacked. The airplane suddenly dropped 700 feet. “Mayday,” the pilot cried. Then the air traffic controllers heard a three-fold, “Hey, get out of here.”

A number of passengers and members of the flight crew began making calls to loved ones and friends, when they were informed of the fates of Flights 11 and 175. The passengers eventually voted to storm the cockpit and attempt to recover control of the plane. They had no other reasonable choice. At 9:57 they surged toward the front of the plane. The cockpit voice recorder vividly captured the commotion as the hijackers rolled the plane, attempting to jumble the passengers. When that failed to suffice, they then pitched the plane up and down. Thumps, crashes, and shouts were captured on the recording. At 10:00 the plane stabilized, though the hijackers seemed to realize they too would fail to reach their intended destination.

The hijacker pilot asked another terrorist, “Is that it? Shall we finish it off?” But his cohort said they should wait for the next assault from the passengers. He pitched the plane up and down again but the passengers were still battling away for their lives. “Allah is greatest! Allah is greatest!” cried one of the terrorists.

    The passengers continued their assault and at 10:02:23, a hijacker said, “Pull it down! Pull it down!” The hijackers remained at the controls but must have judged that the passengers were only seconds from overcoming them. The airplane headed down; the control wheel was turned hard to the right. The airplane rolled onto its back, and one of the hijackers began shouting “Allah is the greatest. Allah is the greatest.” With the sounds of the passenger counterattack continuing, the aircraft plowed into an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, at 580 miles per hour, about 20 minutes’ flying time from Washington, D.C.4

Rendered with permission from the book,Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews(Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.

1 On September 11, 1683, the “Muslims were turned away at the gates of Vienna” at the Battle of Vienna. This loss resulted in the demise of Islam in the West, which Muslims have never forgotten or forgiven. See “Battle of Vienna” on Wikipedia. 2 The scenario of a commercial airliner crashing into the Capital Building and killing many politicians, including the president, is played out in the final pages of Tom Clancy’s Debt of Honor (New York, NY: Putnam, 1994), as well as at the beginning of Executive Orders (New York, NY: Putnam, 1996). The latter story tells of a terrorist disbursal of the Ebola virus in the U.S., the assassination of the Iraqi president, and a move by Iranian militants to take Saudi Arabia.
3 The 9/11 Commission Report (Washington, DC: National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, 2004), 8.
4 Ibid., 14.

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