The US Secret Service has released unseen pictures of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks for the first time as the country prepares for the 20th anniversary and FBI insiders reveal more details about the horrifying day.
This week, the Secret Service announced it will be sharing photos “from that day and the days that followed”, some that “have never been seen” before.
Among the images released so far include a photo taken by a Secret Service “employee” of the Twin Towers at the World Trade Centre up in flames and billowing smoke after being struck by both planes.
Another sees a hazy Ground Zero after the collapse of the Twin Towers with what appears to be a sole medic in the foreground, shielding his face from the debris.
“I always say it reminded me of a monster movie from when I was a kid, like a dinosaur or some … creature was chasing people up Broadway,” FBI Special Agent “J.A.” revealed.
Special Agent “J.A.” was working on a truck hijacking squad in Brooklyn-Queens and was attending a meeting for hostage negotiators in New York City on September 11. He subsequently led the investigation of two suspected co-conspirators in the weeks that followed.
“When I went out to Broadway and started looking south I saw … this is not going to be good,” he said.
More images are expected to be released as the anniversary fast approaches, as US President Joe Biden announced an executive order to oversee a “declassification review” of documents related to the FBI’s September 11th investigations.
he president’s signature “requires the Attorney-General to release the declassified documents publicly over the next six months,” the White House said in a statement.
“When I ran for president, I made a commitment to ensuring transparency regarding the declassification of documents on the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America,” Biden said.
“As we approach the 20th anniversary of that tragic day, I am honouring that commitment.
“We must never forget the enduring pain of the families and loved ones of the 2977 innocent people who were killed during the worst terrorist attack on America in our history. For them, it was not only a national and international tragedy. It was a personal devastation.”
It’s hoped the redacted documents could shed light on further Saudi involvement.
“As a former Hill staffer serving at the Capitol on 9/11, I know that Americans deserve the truth,” Christine Pelosi, an American Democratic Party political strategist and daughter of Nancy Pelosi, tweeted after the announcement.
Meanwhile other sources close to the attacks have shared never-before-seen photos and memories prior to the current release.
FBI Special Agent “PM.”, who was in charge of site security at the crime scene near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, recalled walking over to the “crater” where United Flight 93 crashed.
“There was an NTSB official that was standing next to me that was in charge of their group,” he said in a recent FBI podcast.
“And I looked at him and I said, ‘Where’s the airplane?’
“And he said, ‘It’s in that hole’.
“And I said, ‘No, that’s impossible’.
“And he said, ‘No, it’s not. It’s physics’.
Over at the White House, in a piece for The Conversation, Anita McBride, who was special assistant to the president for management and administration, described how the Secret Service directed West Wing staff into a “windowless Mess” — thought to be the safest area to shelter at the time.
“But then, the agents, weapons drawn, ordered everyone to ‘get out now’, sending staffers racing through the iron gates that had been opened at both ends of West Executive Avenue outside the West Wing,” she wrote.
“Women were advised to kick off their heels and run for their lives. Tourists at the White House ran from the building, leaving strollers on the lawn.”
The Secret Service had reportedly been told: “There is an aircraft coming at you” and “What I am telling you, buddy, is that if you’ve got people, you better get them out of there. And I mean right goddamned now.”
The former press secretary to George W. Bush also recorded a detailed public account inside the government’s response in the events leading up to, during and after 9/11.
Revealing never-before-told details into the conversations and survival tactics of then President George Bush, Ari Fleischer shared his version of events in 2014, including insider information regarding details of a reported sniper targeting Air Force One, and an unidentified plane “descending” toward the President’s plane.
He shared images of the president moments after his appearance at the Booker Elementary School in Florida when then-chief of staff to Bush, Andrew Card, famously broke the news to the US president by whispering in his ear.
“It changed the world,” he told the BBC in 2020.
“It changed forever the responsibilities president Bush would be known for during his tenure as President.
“It changed my life, it changed the President’s life, it changed America’s life and quite frankly, it changed the world.”
For the 2021 anniversary, the White House has confirmed Biden has scheduled visits to Ground Zero in New York, Shanksville, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon on the September 11 schedule as the trial of five men accused in the September 11 attacks restarted on Tuesday just days before the 20th anniversary but quickly ground to a halt on technical issues, underscoring that victims of the Al-Qaeda plot could wait much longer for justice.
Accused September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others appeared in the military commissions court at the US naval base in Guantanamo, Cuba for the first time in more than 18 months after the death-penalty case emerged from a coronavirus-forced pause.
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