Previous posts in this series:
By September 13, 2001, the nation’s news media were reporting that the terrorist attacks were the work of Osama bin Laden. David Johnston and James Risen wrote for The New York Times:
The hijackers who commandeered commercial jets that attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were followers of Osama bin Laden, the Islamic militant who has been blamed for some of the bloodiest attacks against Americans, federal authorities said today.
The authorities said they had also identified accomplices in several cities who had helped plan and execute Tuesday’s attacks. Officials said they knew who these people were and important biographical details about many of them but declined to provide their names or nationalities.
Acting swiftly today, investigators obtained warrants and searched businesses and homes in New Jersey, Massachusetts and Florida. They made no arrests but interrogated several people, compiling an outline of the terror group’s structure. They prepared biographies of each identified member of the hijack teams and began tracing the recent movements of the men.”
Here’s an interesting tidbit:
Separately, officials said a group of about five men were now under investigation in Union City, suspected of assisting the hijackers. In addition, the officials said the men had apparently set up cameras near the Hudson River and fixed them on the World Trade Center. They photographed the attacks and were said to have congratulated each other afterward, officials said.
Subsequent news stories about the five men, or maybe three men, were arrested while driving a white Chevy van on Route 3 in East Rutherford. The arrests were based on based tips from witnesses who saw them “cheering” and “jumping up and down” in Liberty State Park. In the van were box cutters and maps of New York City with “certain places” highlighted.
The men would eventually be identified as Israeli nationals who worked for a moving company.
According to Human Rights Watch:
On the morning of September 13, 2001, Issa Qandeel, a Palestinian Muslim and an Arab, was leaving the Idriss Mosque in Seattle, Washington when he smelled gas near his jeep and saw a man, subsequently identified as Patrick Cunningham, come out from behind his jeep. Cunningham was carrying a can of gasoline and a gun. When Qandeel asked Cunningham what he was doing behind the jeep, Cunningham walked away.
When Qandeel tried to stop him, Cunningham shot at Qandeel three times, although his gun did not discharge any bullets. Cunningham then started running away and Qandeel chased him. Cunningham shot at Qandeel again and this time a bullet did discharge, although it missed Qandeel. Cunningham was apprehended when he crashed his car trying to get away. Police later discovered that Cunningham planned to burn cars in the mosque driveway because of anger at the September 11 attacks. Federal authorities prosecuted Cunningham for attacking Qandeel and attempting to deface a house of worship. He pled guilty on May 9, 2002 and was scheduled to be sentenced on October 18, 2002. He faces a minimum of five years of incarceration.
On September 13, 2001, Raymond Isais Jr. allegedly assaulted Kulwinder Singh, a turbaned Sikh taxi worker, in SeaTac, Washington. After getting into the back seat of Singh’s taxi, Isais told Singh, “You have no right to attack our country!” He then started choking Singh. After both men then got out of the taxi, Isais started punching Singh, pulled out tufts of his beard and knocked off his turban. Isais called Singh a terrorist during the assault. Local police were able to apprehend Isais Jr. the same day using a description provided by Singh. He was charged with a hate crime by local country prosecutors.
THE PRESIDENT: … You’ve extended me a kind invitation to come to New York City. I accept; I’ll be there tomorrow afternoon, after the prayer service at the National Cathedral. I look forward to joining with both of you in thanking the police and fire, the construction trade workers, the restaurant owners, the volunteers — all of whom have really made a huge display for the world to see of the compassion of America, and the bravery of America and the strength of America.
Every world leader I’ve talked to in recent days has been impressed by what they have seen about our nation, and the fabric of our nation. And I want to thank everybody when I come; so thank you for your hospitality.
GOVERNOR PATAKI: Well, Mr. President, thank you for coming to New York. I’m sure it’s going to be a great inspiration to all of us and, particularly, those thousands of men and women still downtown trying to help us with the rescue efforts.
I also want to thank you for all the help we’ve gotten from the federal government, it’s been tremendous; and for your words.
I have no idea what “help” New York had received from the federal government at this point. I remember reading that a Navy hospital ship anchored in the Hudson about this time, but it was New York City firemen and policemen combing the rubble for survivors. At this point all Bush had offered were promises.
You are right, our nation is united as never before and we will triumph over this evil with your leadership and your inspiration. And I also have to congratulate the Mayor for the tremendous effort he has made.
Mr. President, you would be proud of the leadership and the cooperation we’ve seen here. The city has taken the lead. Your people have been enormously supportive and we’re very grateful.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thanks, George, and Rudy; thank you all. I know you’ve put in a request, and I’ve directed the Attorney General to expedite any payments of benefits for those fallen public safety officers to their families, any benefits to their families. And the Attorney General, as I understand it, will be making a formal announcement of your request today.
I told Allbaugh, anything — anything it takes to help New York. I have been in touch with the Congress, they are expediting a supplemental. We’ve worked in great cooperation with members of the Congress in both political parties. So just keep in touch — I know you will. This isn’t the first time we’ve talked, and I really appreciate the fact that you all are in charge and I know the citizens of New York and the tri-state area, people of New Jersey and Connecticut are appreciative, as well.
MAYOR GIULIANI: Mr. President, the uniformed officers, the police, the fire, the emergency services officers, their families will really appreciate this. We’re going to sustain a tremendous loss of our bravest and our best people. And the relief that you’re now making available to the families is going to mean a lot to them. They’re going to be able to think about the fact that their children are going to be taken care of, that they’re going to be able to go to college, that they’re going to be able to carry on.
So I can’t express to you how appreciative we are of your acting so swiftly. And, also, on that terrible day when our city was being attacked, you were in immediate communication with us, Mr. President, and helped to secure the city. And the work you’ve done for us, we all eternally appreciate. You’ve been a terrific leader and we’re taking direction from you, and we’re following your example. You’ve done a terrific job, Mr. President.
But he hadn’t done anything.