114 audio recordings over attacks released ahead of 9/11 anniversary

Washington, Sept 9: The US has released 114 audio recordings, projecting the confusion that prevailed among air traffic controllers, pilots and the military during the terrifying chaos of the 9/11 hijackings, ahead of the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks.

The two-hour-long recordings capture the desperate efforts of those involved to understand and deal with the unfolding atrocity, The Telegraph reports.

Reports suggest that although parts of the audio recordings have been aired before, others had not been heard and were kept in the National Archives, But now, they have been published in an unprecedented blow-by-blow recreation of events.

The recordings begin at 8.13 a.m. (local time) when air traffic controllers in Boston lose touch with American Airlines Flight 11. Six minutes later flight attendant Betty Ong, tells the ground: "Somebody's stabbed in business class, and I think there is Mace that we can't breathe. I don't know, I think we're getting hijacked!" the paper said.

At 8.24 a.m. the voice of hijacker Mohamed Atta can be heard saying the plane is returning to the airport, adding: "Nobody move, everything will be OK. If you try to make any moves, you will injure yourself and the aeroplane. Just stay quiet."

The tapes also show how ground controllers desperately tried to keep up with events. Sixteen minutes after the first hijacked plane hit the World Trade Centre, a radio transmission was received at the New York air traffic control radar centre telling them to look out of their window at a low flying aircraft.

Before the radar control manager had time to identify it, the plane hit the second tower. He was heard saying: "The whole building just came apart." After one plane had already hit, and with the second moments from impact, an air traffic control manager in New York called the Federal Aviation Administration headquarters in Herndon, Virginia, to ask if military jets were being scrambled. The reply from Virginia came: "Why, what's going on?"

Items still not public include a 30-page summary of an interview the commission conducted with President George W Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in April 2004.

President Barack Obama said al-Qaeda had tried to "terrorise" Americans through the attacks, but was "no match for our resilience," adding that al-Qaeda was "on the path to defeat."

Copyright Asian News International/DailyIndia.com