Saturday, May 26, 2012

Thomas Crosbie Breaking News Wire 9/11-9/12

Conflicting reports over those responsible for plane crashes
3:05:34 PM [10:05:34 a.m. EST]

Abu Dhabi television reported it had received a call from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine claiming responsibility for crashing two planes into the WTC buildings.

But a DFLP spokesman denied it carried out the acts.

Terrorists on suicide missions crashed two hijacked jet airliners into the 110 storey World Trade Centre in New York within minutes of each other today, killing at least six people and injuring 1,000.

Then an aircraft crashed into the Pentagon, the US Defence Department’s HQ in Washington, and the White House was evacuated after the Security Service received a "credible threat" against the president’s official home.

The State Department was also evacuated.

All airports in the US were closed and Wall Street shut down.

One of the planes that crashed into the Trade Centre was an American Airlines Boeing 767 that was hijacked after taking off from Boston.

President George Bush, in Florida, said: "We have had a national tragedy. Two aeroplanes have crashed into the World Trade Centre in an apparent terrorist attack on our country."

Witnesses were just describing the horror of the first impact when, 18 minutes later, another passenger plane crashed into one of the twin towers that dominate the New York business quarter’s skyline.

CNN had video footage of the second crash.

The towers were struck by bombers in February 1993.

"The plane was coming in low and it looked like it hit at a slight angle," said Sean Murtagh, a CNN vice president.

Large holes were visible in sides of the 110 storey buildings, landmark twin towers.

The tops of the twin towers were obscured by the smoke.

Thousands of pieces of what appeared to be office paper came drifting over Brooklyn, about three miles from the tower, one witness said.

An eyewitness said the first plane appeared to hit one of the skyscraper’s twin towers about 20 floors from the top.

He said he thought the plane was still embedded in the smashed and burning building.

Another he said it appeared that the first plane lined up on the tower before crashing.

Jeanne Yurman, told CNN she was watching TV when she heard what she thought was a sonic boom. "I thought it was Concorde," she said.

The centre bombing in February 1993, killing six people and injured more than 1,000 others.

In 1945, an Army Air Corps B-25, a twin-engine bomber, crashed into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building in dense fog.

Both planes, twin engined small jet liners, remained embedded in one of the twin towers with smoke and flames pouring out of the gaping holes.

TV reported that at least six people were killed---CNBC television said there were at least a thousand injured.

President Bush was in Sarasota, Florida, reading to children in a classroom full of children, when his chief of staff, Andrew Card, whispered into his ear.

The president briefly turned sombre before he resumed reading.

Before flying back to Washington for an emergency meeting of the National Security Council he ordered all resources go to help the victims and "hunt down and find those folks who committed this act.

Terrorism against this nation will not stand."

Speculation Osama Bin-Laden responsible for attack
3:45:19 PM[10:45:19 a.m. EST]

The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine has claimed responsibility for the attacks on the World Trade Center, according to the BBC and Abu Dhabi television.

However, DFLP sources have denied any involvement.

It is unclear who is responsible for today's apparent terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York, but it is unlikely that Palestinian groups are involved, said an expert on international terrorism.

"They have a lot to lose because America would react very harshly against the Palestinians, however it is not impossible that a radical group was involved," said Eli Carmon, of the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center's counter-terrorism department.

Carmon noted that the World Trade Center has been targeted once before in 1993, when a bombing killed six people and injured more than 1,000.

Carmon said that there have been threats by unidentified Islamic groups to target the World Trade Center again if Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, the militant Egyptian cleric, who is serving a life sentence in the US after his conviction in a plot to bomb the United Nations and New York landmarks, was not released.

He added that it is possible that terrorist mastermind Osama Bin-Laden is also involved.

Carmon said that the alleged terrorist attack amounts to a "declaration of war" on the US, and that the US will have to "react in an extremely harsh manner."

UK and Israel evacuate prominent buildings
3:56:10 PM [10:56:10 a.m. EST]

The London stock exchange has now been evacuated in response to terrorist attacks in the US.

Israel has also evacuated its entire diplomatic staff from Israeli premises all across the United States.

The Sears Tower in Chicago, one of America’s tallest buildings, has also been evacuated, although there have so far been no attacks on that city.

Palestinian Leader condemns US terrorist attacks
4:10:13 PM [11:10:13 a.m. EST]

Yasser Arafat, leader of the Palestinian Fatah movement, today condemned the attack on the US, saying the Palestinian people were outraged by what had happened.

"I send my condolences to American President Bush and his government and to the American people for this terrible act” he told reporters in Gaza.

Earlier, Palestinian terrorists were accused of carrying out the carnage, which they have since vigorously denied.

Thousands feared dead in US terror strikes
4:11:15 PM [11:11:15 a.m. EST]

Thousands were feared dead today after terrorists launched an astonishing and brutal attack on the American nation, demolishing the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Centre and striking at the heart of the US military machine.

Suicide bombers seized three airliners and crashed them into the WTC and the Pentagon in Washington, a car bomb blew up outside the State Department in the US capital.

There were reports that a fourth plane had also been hijacked.

The first strike was against the WTC. A jet smashed high up into one of 110 storey towers where tens of thousands of people work every day.

As horrified witnesses described the terrifying scenes, a second jet was filmed by CNN slamming into the second tower lower down, bursting into flames and leaving another gash in the landmark building.

Smoked poured from the two towers. Eye-witnesses reported seeing bodies plunging from the buildings as the flames spread out of control.

Within hours, both towers had collapsed, sending clouds of dust billowing down the streets of Manhattan and across the harbour, altering the most famous skyline in the world forever.

A stunned US president George Bush promised a "full-scale investigation to hunt down and find those folks who committed this act.

"Terrorism against our nation will not stand," he said.

The scenes of unbelievable destruction, beamed live around the world on TV, were thought to have been caused by Middle Eastern terrorists.

Abu Dhabi television reported it had received a call from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine claiming responsibility for crashing two planes into the twin WTC towers, which were the target of Islamic extremist bombers in February 1993. The claim was later denied.

The West Wing of White House was evacuated after the attack on the Pentagon in Washington.

President Bush was in Sarasota, Florida, reading to a classroom full of children when his chief-of-staff Andrew Card whispered into his ear.

The president briefly turned sombre before he resumed reading.

He then flew back to Washington for an emergency meeting of the National Security Council

CNN reported that one of the planes was an American Airlines Boeing 767 that took off from Boston. The plane can carry up to 300 passengers.

Joe Trachtenberg told CNN that he was watching the scene from a high point on his building when the second crash took place about 18 minutes later.

"The first tower was smoking hard. Then there was another plane, and before we knew, it just kamikaze went straight into the other tower. There was a mass explosion and windows flying. It was horrible."

A senior government official said the FBI is pursuing reports that all of the planes were hijacked and that the crashes were the result of suicide missions.

An eyewitness said the first plane appeared to hit one of the skyscraper's twin towers about 20 floors from the top.

Another he said it appeared that the first plane lined up on the tower before crashing.

Jeanne Yurman, told CNN she was watching TV when she heard what she thought was a sonic boom. "I thought it was Concorde," she said.

James Winter, 30, a British worker living in an apartment close to the centre, said he had been woken by a huge bang at around 8.50am local time.

"I was in bed and there was a huge explosion. The whole building rattled and shook.

"I ran to the window and there was smoke billowing from the south side of one of the towers. Everyone in my building was panicking and running around."

Mr Winter, from Darlington, Co Durham, who works in one of the towers, added that shortly afterwards there was a second explosion which also shook his building.

"Everybody is saying that this a terrorist attack and everyone around here is panicking.

"It will have been really busy with people arriving for work in the financial district. It is just unbelievable that this is happening. Both towers have been taken out. I just can’t believe this is happening."

British Prime Minister Tony Blair described the attacks as "the most terrible shocking event".

Mr Blair offered his "deepest condolences" to President Bush and the American people and said the attacks were acts of "fanatics who are utterly indifferent to the sanctity of life".

World travel was thrown into chaos. Many US-bound flights had already left the UK when American officials decided to close all US airports.

Officials at other America-serving UK airports, including Heathrow and Gatwick, were trying to cope with the travel backlog.

These airports, too, would have had passengers already in the air and heading for America, with hundreds of others due to travel later today.

The US has been the target of several terrorist attacks in recent years.

In August 1998, two of its embassies in Tanzania and Kenya were bombed, killing 224 people.

The US blamed the attack on Osama Bin Laden, the son of a Saudi oil baron who has a £3 million price on his head.

As a teenager, he fought in Afghanistan's "holy war" against the Soviet army.

Ironically, it was America's CIA who provided him with missiles and arms.

But he then turned his anger on America, and in recent years he has been linked to the 1993 bomb attack on the World Trade Centre.

In desperation at the embassy attacks, America fired missiles into suspected Bin Laden camps in Afghanistan. But Osama still appeared at the wedding of his son Mohamed, one of his 13 children.

Middle East extremists were also blamed for a suicide attack in October 2000 on a US warship in the Yemen port of Aden, which killed 17 US servicemen.

In 1996, at a US barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, 19 Americans were left dead and 500 people were injured in another bombing.

Some of Bin Laden’s cohorts were jailed for the 1993 WTC attack.

General Richard Myers, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that prior to the crash into the Pentagon, military officials had been notified that another hijacked plane had been heading from the New York area to Washington.

He said he assumed that hijacked plane was the one that hit the Pentagon, though he could not be sure.

A woman eyewitness told CNN of the plane crashing into the Pentagon: "A commercial plane came in. It was coming too fast, too low and then I saw the fire that came up after that."

Palestinians celebrate in the streets
4:55:14 PM [11:55:14 a.m. EST]

It has been reported that Palestinians are celebrating in the streets.

Thousands of Palestinians celebrated the terror attacks in the United States, chanting "God is Great" and distributing candy to passers-by, even as their leader, Yasser Arafat, said he was horrified.

The U.S. government has become increasingly unpopular in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the past year of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, with many Palestinians accusing Washington of siding with Israel.

In the West Bank town of Nablus, about 3,000 people poured into the street shortly after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and government targets in Washington.

Demonstrators distributed candy in a traditional gesture of celebration.

Several Palestinian gunmen shot in the air, while other marchers carried Palestinian flags.

Nawal Abdel Fatah, 48, wearing a long, black dress, threw sweets in the air, saying she was happy because "America is the head of the snake, America always stands by Israel in its war against us."

Her daughter Maysoon, 22, said she hoped the next attack would be launched against Tel Aviv.

In traditionally Arab east Jerusalem, there was a smaller gathering of about two dozen people, many of them young children led in chants by adults. Some drivers passing the scene honked their horns and flashed victory signs from their windows.

Arafat and his top advisers huddled at his seaside office in Gaza City, watching the events unfold on television. Arafat later emerged to speak to reporters.

"We are completely shocked. It's unbelievable," he said. "We completely condemn this very dangerous attack, and I convey my condolences to the American people, to the American president and to the American administration, not only in my name but on behalf of the Palestinian people."

In the West Bank, meanwhile, the leader the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine denied his group was involved in the attacks.

Qais Abdel Rahim was reacting to reports that two Arab satellite stations in the Gulf had received anonymous claims of responsibility on behalf of the DFLP, a radical PLO faction. Abdel Rahim said his group condemned the attacks.

This is the first attack in history on the Pentagon.

Islamic Jihad may be responsible
4:43:26 PM [11:43:26 a.m. EST]

There are unconfirmed reports that a spokesman of the radical Islamic Jihad movement said that the "attacks were a consequence of US policy in the Middle East."

It has been reported that the plane which crashed in Pennsylvania was headed to Camp David.

The Anniversary of Camp David Accord, the Middle East settlement brokered by the US, is Sept 5-17, 1978.

Taliban ambassador sympathises
5:35:03 PM [1:35:03 p.m. EST]

Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, said in reaction to the news of the terror attacks that "we want to tell the American children that Afghanistan feels your pain and we hope that the courts find justice."

In New York, more than 10,000 rescue personnel rushed to the scene. The entire downtown area of Manhattan was evacuated as far north as Rockefeller Center, according to an official at an emergency command post.

Philadelphia landmarks were also evacuated.

NATO sent home all non-essential personnel from its Brussels, Belgium, headquarters.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service has put the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada on highest state of alert.

Los Angeles International Airport has been evacuated.

All Disney parks in Orlando, Florida, and Disneyland in Anaheim, California have been closed.

President Bush in the air and is not returning to Washington. The media has not been told where he will land.

Bin Laden warned three weeks ago of attacks
5:49:11 PM [12:49:11 a.m. EST]

Followers of Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden warned three weeks ago that they would carry out a "huge and unprecedented attack" on US interests, a London-based Arab journalist said today.

Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor of the Al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper, said he received a warning from Islamic fundamentalists close to bin Laden, but did not take the threat seriously.

"They said it would be a huge and unprecedented attack but they did not specify," Atwan said.

"We usually receive this kind of thing. At the time we did not take the warnings seriously as they had happened several times in the past and nothing happened.

"This time it seems his people were accurate and meant every word they said."

Atwan, who interviewed renegade Saudi millionaire bin Laden in 1996 and has since maintained contacts with his followers, said he believed the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York was the work of "an Islamic fundamentalist group" very close to bin Laden.

The United States accuses the Saudi dissident of operating a terrorist network from his bases in Afghanistan and of blowing up two US embassies in East Africa in 1998. The Taliban, who have refused to hand him over, deny the charge.

Atwan said he was surprised by the scale of the attack, but said it was merely a continuation of bin Laden’s Fatwa religious edict against America. He said anti-American sentiment was running high in the Middle East because of perceived US support for Israel.

Tensions had increased further after the United States and Israel pulled out of the racism conference in Durban, South Africa due to anti-Israel language in the final declaration, he said.

"People really are frustrated that here is a super power siding with the Israelis," he said. "They made the hatred more by pulling out of the Durban conference."

Taliban rulers condemn attacks on US
6:46:49 PM [1:46:49 p.m. EST]

Afghanistan's hardline Taliban rulers condemned the devastating terrorist attacks in New York and Washington on Tuesday and rejected suggestions that Osama bin Laden could be behind them.

"We never support terrorism. We too are targets of terrorism," Abdul Hai Muttmain, the Taliban's spokesman in the southern city of Kandahar, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

After the attacks, a London-based Arab journalist said followers of bin Laden warned three weeks ago that they would carry out a "huge and unprecedented attack" on U.S. interests.

Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor of the Al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper, said he received a warning from Islamic fundamentalists close to bin Laden, but did not take the threat seriously.

"They said it would be a huge and unprecedented attack but they did not specify," Atwan said in a telephone interview in London.

"We usually receive this kind of thing. At the time we did not take the warnings seriously as they had happened several times in the past and nothing happened. "This time it seems his people were accurate and meant every word they said."

Atwan, who interviewed bin Laden in 1996 and has since maintained contacts with his followers, said he believed the attack on the World Trade Center in New York was the work of "an Islamic fundamentalist group" close to bin Laden.

But Muttmain, who is the spokesman for the Taliban's reclusive leader Mullah Mohammed Omar and one of the most senior Taliban officials, dismissed allegations that bin Laden could be behind the attacks in the United States.

"Such a big conspiracy, to have infiltrated in such a major way is impossible for Osama," said Muttmain. He said bin Laden does not have the facilities to orchestrate such a major assault within the United States.

Afghanistan's Taliban rulers, who espouse a harsh brand of Islamic law, have resisted U.S. demands to hand over bin Laden, indicted in the United States on charges of masterminding the bombings of two U.S. Embassies in East Africa in 1998 that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.

After the attacks in East Africa, Washington retaliated with a blistering missile attack in August 1998, sending more than 70 Tomahawk cruise missiles into eastern Afghanistan apparently targeting training camps operated by bin Laden.

The attacks killed about 20 followers of bin Laden's but the exiled Saudi millionaire escaped unhurt. Since then he has been forced by the Taliban rulers to stop giving interviews and making statements.

Taliban protests bin Laden's innocence
8:15:42 PM [3:15:42 p.m. EST]

Afghanistan's Taliban rulers have rejected claims that bin Laden was behind today's attacks on New York and Washington.

They say bin Laden did not have the means to carry out such well-orchestrated attacks.

Bin Laden has been given asylum in Afghanistan. Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor of the al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper, said he received a warning from Islamic fundamentalists close to Bin Laden, but did not take the threat seriously.

"They said it would be a huge and unprecedented attack but they did not specify," he said today in London.

Muslims worry about backlash
10:00:17 PM [5:00:17 p.m. EST]

Muslims worried about a possible backlash against them after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, while clergy from other denominations urged their congregations to pray for the dead.

Khankan, a Muslim leader, said he has been here before, sitting in his home watching TV images of a building turned to dust---the federal building in Oklahoma City.

He recalled the attacks against his fellow Muslims after that 1995 bombing by disgruntled Army veteran Timothy McVeigh.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations says more than 200 Arab- and Muslim-Americans were victimized.

"Please do not start speculating and pointing the finger at us," said Khankan, a New York leader of the council.

The Islamic Association of Raleigh, N.C., and other groups representing Muslim- and Arab-Americans in that city, shut down a mosque and closed an Islamic school after receiving anonymous threats, said Wael Masri, an association member.

"There's a sense of fear, of panic," Masri said.

Arshad Majid, a member of the Islamic Center of Long Island, said Islam---like Christianity and Judaism---condemns both suicide and hurting civilians.

"We're concerned that the actions of a small number of extremists is likely to paint with a very broad brush the large population of God-fearing, peace-loving Muslims in America," he said.

Between 6 million and 7 million Americans consider themselves Muslim, according to a study released in April by professor Ihsan Bagby of Shaw University in Raleigh.

Several Muslims have been convicted in high-profile terrorist acts in the United States, such as the previous bombing of the World Trade Center and a shooting spree outside the CIA offices in Virginia, both in 1993.

Too many Americans equate those acts by individuals with Islam, said Sheik T.J. Al-Awani, president of the School of Islamic and Social Sciences in Leesburg, Va.

"Muslims in this country would think this is unacceptable," Al-Awani said. "I can't accept anything against any American citizen. I'm Muslim. I'm also American. I love America."

Clergy from other denominations joined Muslims in condemning the attack, and organized special prayer services nationwide.

Bishop Kenneth Angell of Vermont urged Roman Catholic parishes in his state to pray for the dead. In Washington, Catholic bishops held a Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

David Harris, executive director of American Jewish Committee, said staff at his New York office left to donate blood, went to hospitals to volunteer and searched for relatives who remained missing.

Archbishop Edward O'Brien, who leads the Roman Catholic Archdiocese for the military, was in an annual retreat in Washington with 50 armed services chaplains when word of the attacks reached them.

"We had one priest at Fort Meyer, who was told, 'Come back. The bodies are coming in,"' O'Brien said.

Sharon offers condolences
10:11:08 PM [5:11:08 p.m. EST]

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has offered his country's condolences to the United States.

"This has been a threat to freedom. It a turning point in the war against terrorism," he said.

Israel will observe a day of mourning tomorrow in sympathy with the US.

Explosions rock Kabul » NEWSFLASH
10:41:53 PM [5:41:53 p.m. EST]

Explosions have gone off in the Afghanistan city of Kabul.

Eyewitnesses said there had been about six explosions.

"The detonations sound very similar to those caused by large mortars. There are also sounds of anti-aircraft fire," he said.

It is not known whether this is a retaliatory attack by the United States.

Explosions in Kabul not US strike
11:26:32 PM [6:26:32 p.m. EST]

It has been reported that the explosions in Kabul, Afghanistan, were not part of an United States retaliation.

The explosions have rocked Kabul for the last hour.

Reports say the attacks in Kabul are a part of on-going civil war in Afghanistan.

Northern Alliance responsible for Kabul attack
11:58:00 PM [6:58:00 p.m. EST]

The Northern Alliance have claimed responsibility for the attacks on Kabul, Afghanistan.

They also said they will continue to attack the ruling Afghan Taliban.

Terrorist attacks: chronology of terror
1:09:21 AM [8:09:21 p.m. EST]

This is the how the terrorism disaster has unfolded so far today.. All times are local US times, five hours behind Irish time.

8:45 a.m.: A large plane, possibly a hijacked airliner, crashes into one of the World Trade Center towers, tearing a gaping hole in the building and setting it afire.

9:03 a.m.: A second plane, apparently a passenger jet, crashes into the second World Trade Center tower and explodes. Both buildings are burning.

9:17 a.m.: The FAA shuts down all New York City area airports.

9:21 a.m.: New York City Port Authority orders all bridges and tunnels in the New York City area closed

9:30 a.m.: Bush, speaking in Florida, says the country has suffered an "apparent terrorist attack."

9:40 a.m.: The FAA halts all flight operations at U.S. airports, the first time in U.S. history that air traffic nationwide has been halted.

9:43 a.m.: An aircraft crashes into the Pentagon, sending up a huge plume of smoke. Evacuation begins immediately.

9:43 a.m.: An aircraft crashes into the Pentagon, sending up a huge plume of smoke. Evacuation begins immediately.

9:45 a.m.: The White House evacuates.

9:57 a.m.: Bush departs from Florida.

10:05 a.m.: The south tower of the World Trade Center collapses, plummeting into the streets below. A massive cloud of dust and debris forms and slowly drifts away from the building.

10:08 a.m.: Secret Service agents armed with automatic rifles are deployed into Lafayette Park across from the White House.

10:10 a.m.: A portion of the Pentagon collapses.

10:13 a.m.: The United Nations building evacuates, including 4,700 people from the headquarters building and 7,000 total from UNICEF and U.N. development programs.

10:22 a.m.: In Washington, the State and Justice departments are evacuated, along with the World Bank.

10:24 a.m.: The FAA reports that all inbound transatlantic aircraft flying into the United States are being diverted to Canada.

10:28 a.m.: The World Trade Center's north tower collapses from the top down as if it were being peeled apart, releasing a tremendous cloud of debris and smoke

10:45 a.m.: All federal office buildings in Washington are evacuated.

10.46 a.m.: U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell cuts short his trip to Latin America to return to the United States.

10.48 a.m.: Police confirm the crash of a large plane in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

10:53 a.m.: New York's primary elections scheduled for today are postponed.

10:54 a.m.: Israel evacuates all diplomatic missions.

10:57 a.m.: New York Gov. George Pataki says all state government offices are closed.

11:02 a.m.: New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani urges citizens to stay at home and orders an evacuation of the area south of Canal Street.

11:16 a.m.: CNN reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is preparing bioterrorism teams to respond to the incidents in a precautionary move. The preparation is not based on any known bioterrorism threat.

11:18 a.m.: American Airlines reports it has lost two aircraft. American Flight 11, a Boeing 767 flying from Boston to Los Angeles, had 81 passengers and 11 crew aboard. Flight 77, a Boeing 757 en route from Dulles Airport near Washington to Los Angeles, had 58 passengers and six crew members aboard. Flight 11 is believed to be one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center.

11:26 a.m.: United Airlines reports that United Flight 93, en route from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco, has crashed in Pennsylvania, southeast of Pittsburgh. The airline also says that it is "deeply concerned" about United Flight 175.

11:59 a.m.: United Airlines confirms that Flight 175, from Boston to Los Angeles, has crashed with 56 passengers and nine crew members aboard. Emergency personnel at the scene say there are no survivors.

12:04 p.m.: Los Angeles International Airport, the destination of two of the hijacked American Airlines flights, is evacuated.

12:15 p.m: San Francisco International Airport is evacuated and shut down. The airport was the destination of American Airlines Flight 77, which was one of the aircraft to strike the World Trade Center.

12:15 p.m.: The Immigration and Naturalization Service says U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico are on the highest state of alert, but no decision has been made about closing borders.

12:30 p.m.: The FAA says 50 flights are in U.S. airspace, but none are reporting any problems.

1:04 p.m.: President Bush, speaking from an undisclosed location, says that all appropriate security measures are being taken, including putting the U.S. military on high alert worldwide. He asks for prayers for those killed or wounded in the attacks and says: "Make no mistake, the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts."

7:00 p.m.: 200 rescue workers missing, presumed dead.

7:22 p.m.: 78 members of the NYPD reported missing.

8:00 p.m.: US senate says it will back President Bush in whatever decision he takes.

Bin Laden top of suspect list
1:43:25 AM [9:43:25 p.m. EST]

US officials investigating the series of attacks Tuesday in New York and Washington are setting their sights on Osama bin Laden, the millionaire Saudi fugitive who has been blamed for past terrorist attacks against American targets.

"There are good indications that persons linked to Osama bin Laden may be responsible for these attacks," an intelligence official said.

Intelligence sources said they based their assessment on new information they had gathered Tuesday afternoon, hours after airplanes slammed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. They did not rule out the possibility that other groups may have been involved.

Terrorism experts, after reviewing the magnitude of the attacks, said few groups in the world would have the resources to carry out such a highly coordinated sequence of destruction. One of those organizations, they said, would be the Al Quaida group headed by bin Laden, who also is the suspected mastermind of the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.

U.S. officials said they had received no credible claim of responsibility in the aftermath of Tuesday's events, but said their "working assumption" laid responsibility for the attacks on "overseas terrorism."

Senior FBI officials said they suspect the four jets involved in the chilling sequence of crashes had been hijacked. Two of the jets plunged into the World Trade Center's twin towers, leading to their collapse a short while later. Another struck a wall at the Pentagon, and a fourth crashed in Pennsylvania.

FBI personnel were dispatched to airports and crash sites immediately afterward to try to determine responsibility for the disaster. U.S. intelligence officials said they would be contacting all their sources and going through intelligence intercepts in an intense search for evidence.

Investigators will be combing passenger lists, airport videotapes and cockpit voice recorders to piece together the events leading up to the attacks. They also will review lists of suspected terrorists known to be able to fly commercial aircraft, sources said.

"We are looking for any shred of information that could help," one official said

Officials say they had no intelligence beforehand that a massive terrorist plot was under way, though at least one lawmaker says intelligence analysts suspected lesser attacks had been planned during the summer.

Several Palestinian groups have already denied responsibility for the attacks, as well as bin Laden's Al Quaida group. Officials of the Taliban government in Afghanistan also issued denials, saying bin Laden, believed to be in hiding in that country, was not involved and had not launched any attacks from Afghan territory.

One U.S. intelligence official received the Taliban statement with a sneer. "Lies, lies, lies," the official said.

Some members of Congress also blamed bin Laden.

"This looks like the signature of Osama bin Laden," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who had been briefed by high-level government officials on the attacks. "We're going to find out who did this and we're going after the bastards."

Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, agreed."I have no doubt in my mind it's Osama bin Laden," he told CNN. "It's very much in keeping with the threats he has made."

A number of attempted attacks, or plans for attacks, have been "thwarted" this summer, said Kerry. CIA Director George Tenet briefed him on the failed efforts a few weeks ago, he said.

Al Quaida deny responsibility
1:45:43 AM [8:45:43 p.m. EST]

Members Of Bin Laden's Al Quaida have denied any involvement in yesterday's terrorist attacks.

Bin Laden has topped a US suspect list.

Bin Laden lives in Afghanistan.

Early reports say 10,000 dead
1:48:00 AM [8:48:00 p.m. EST]

Rescue workers digging trough the rubble of the World Trade Centre have said that early indications of casualties may be over 10,000.

On an average day 115, 000 people pass through the World Trade Centre.

Official figures will not be available for some days.

Israel declare Wednesday 'day of mourning'
3:16:53 AM [10:16:53 p.m. EST]

Israel has declared Wednesday a national day of mourning.

The Israeli Government has made the move to show it's respect for the US and to extend it's sympathy over the terrorist attacks.

Afghan officials to conduct investigation
3:53:22 AM [10:53:22 p.m. EST]

Afghan officials say they will conduct their own investigation into the attacks on the US.

The move comes after Bin Laden topped a suspect list.

Bin Laden lives in Afghanistan.

US embassies in Middle East close
4:11:24 AM [11:11:24 p.m. EST]

Several US embassies in the Middle East have closed, indefinitely.

No specific reason was given but reports say security at the Embassies could not be completely guaranteed.

US officials have stepped up security measures following the attack on the US yesterday.

Three arrested with van full of explosives
4:27:11 AM [11:11:24 p.m. EST]

Reports from New York are saying three people have been arrested with a van of explosives.

The van was stopped along the New Jersey turn-pike near the George Washington Bridge.

It was not clear why police stopped the van but when they did they found it was laden down with tonnes of explosives.

Police confirm arrests but deny explosives find
4:34:43 AM [11:34:43 p.m. EST]

NYPD officers have confirmed the arrest of three men on the New Jersey turn-pike.

However officials denied any explosives were found in the van.

Officials declined to say why exactly the men had been arrested.

Date a sign of things to come
7:23:54 AM [2:23:54 a.m. EST]

Many Americans today saw the horrific terrorist attacks on their country as a signal that Armageddon was to come, with the crisis falling on a significant date.

September 11, written in the American style, is 9/11 - the US equivalent of 999.

Aaron Lightman said he believed the end of the world was near after it was feared tens of thousands of people were killed and injured in four plane crashes across the United States.

Mr Lightman, of East Windsor, New Jersey, said: "This is the beginning of Armageddon.

"It is very frightening because if whoever did this does not seem to care for the lives of innocent people, anything could happen next.

"Today's date is 911 - the emergency number we call when anything terrible happens.

"So many of my friends travel about 60 miles to work in New York every day and I feel that over the next few days I will hear that terrible things could have happened to them.

How could such devastation happen?
7:24:30 AM [2:24:30 a.m. EST]

In the blood-stained history of terrorism there has never been a day as horrifying as September 11, 2001.

As anger began to replace disbelief across the world, there were inevitably more questions raised by yesterday’s devastating suicide attacks on New York and Washington than answers.

Here are the main questions raised:

Why did US security forces have no intelligence about the attacks?

One Arab journalist claims he was warned by followers of Osama bin Laden of a "huge and unprecedented attack" on US interests three weeks ago but did not take the threats seriously.

Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor of the Al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper, said he received a warning from Islamic fundamentalists close to Bin Laden, but dismissed it.

"They said it would be a huge and unprecedented attack but they did not specify," Atwan said.

"We usually receive this kind of thing. At the time we did not take the warnings seriously as they had happened several times in the past and nothing happened. This time it seems his people were accurate and meant every word they said."

But in America, officials were already blaming a lack of intelligence for yesterday’s tragedy.

"In my view, this has been an intelligence failure," said Senator Pat Roberts, adding that the Senate Intelligence Committee had no indication the attacks were coming.

How were the hijackers able to breach security in such a spectacular manner?

Speculation is already rife as to how no fewer than four planes could have been simultaneously hijacked and, one by one, diverted on a devastating path of destruction.

Among the suggestions were that the terrorists responsible for crashing the two jets into the World Trade Centre were trained pilots.

"People might have infiltrated into aviation systems years ago and then merely waited to ensure that all the attacks worked," said Kieran Daly, editor of the Air Transport Intelligence Internet news service.

But other experts suggested that the planes’ pilots had already been murdered and their seats taken by highly-trained renegades before the tragedies.

Gene Poteat, president of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, said: "They flew the planes themselves. No pilot, even with a gun to his head, is going to fly into the World towers."

A British expert in Internal Relations said that no fewer than 30 highly-trained renegades would have been involved in the extraordinarily well-synchronised series of deadly attacks.

Professor Peter Lawler, a senior lecturer at Manchester University, said: "Certain individuals clearly can finance and organise terrorist activities on a scale that is simply unprecedented. They have access to enormous intelligence that normally only nations have access to.

But their task may have been facilitated by domestic flight security, which is weaker in the United States than it is in Europe, where countries are criss-crossed by international flights, an expert said today.

Furthermore, the fear of hijacking had receded since the 1970s and early 1980s when it was a favourite tactic of terrorists, said Phil Butterworth-Hayes, civil aviation editor with the Janes information group.

The two factors combined helped the suicide hijackers who carried out the US attacks to execute their deadly missions.

At what point did the authorities in America realise that the planes had been hijacked?

Although the details of what American authorities knew and when will not be known for some time, nobody could have predicted that two jets were to be redirected into the twin towers of one of Manhattan’s most famous buildings.

The four planes were all hijacked shortly after take-off and their flights had been monitored, including the dramatic changes in their routes.

It has emerged that the Justice Department’s control centre was also alerted about the hijacking of the plane which then crashed into the Pentagon.

The husband of a passenger on American Airlines flight 77 received a call from his wife and immediately contacted the Justice Department, but nothing could be done to save his wife and her fellow passengers. They were all killed upon impact with the Pentagon.

American Airlines has since only confirmed that its planes were Flight 11, a Boeing 767 en route from Boston to Los Angeles, carrying 81 passengers, nine flight attendants and two pilots.

The second plane was Flight 77, which was a Boeing 757, operating from Washington Dulles to Los Angeles, with 58 passengers, four flight attendants and two pilots on board.

What was done to intervene and try to prevent the string of atrocities which later unfolded?

Although the flights of the four planes were monitored, no apparent move was made to intercept them.

But there was also speculation that pilots - perhaps flying at gunpoint - realised the full horror of what was going to happen and tried to do something to stop it.

This might explain why the United Airlines plane from Newark crashed into a wood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, rather than a city landmark or - 85 miles away the President’s mountain retreat at Camp David.

Meanwhile, airports were closed, flights were grounded, borders were sealed and jet fighters were scrambled above major cities.

Explosions shake Afghanistan capital
7:28:16 AM [2:28:16 a.m. EST]

Helicopter gunships belonging to opposition troops fired rockets in the vicinity of the Kabul airport early today, hours after the devastating terrorist attacks in the United States, according to Taliban soldiers and eyewitnesses.

The United States quickly denied any involvement in the violence in Afghanistan, which has been shielding Osama bin Laden, a suspected terrorism mastermind linked by some US officials to yesterday’s attacks in New York and Washington.

Kabul shuddered with the first explosions at around 2.30am. (10.30pm UK time Tuesday). They came in rapid succession, seconds apart. Smoke billowed skyward. An acrid smell of smoke lingered near the airport, where Taliban soldiers erected a barricade.

Less than a mile from the combined military and civilian airport, sullen Taliban soldiers with Kalashnikov rifles blocked the road, turning cars away.

They grunted their orders, refused to speak and waved their rifles, ordering vehicles to turn back.

"It was the airport that was attacked. A helicopter came in and dropped its rockets," said Abdul Jabbar, an elderly man walking along the dusty road near the airport.

"At first, we were worrying that it was an attack by America. But then I thought it is stupid to worry, our life is so bad what difference does it make," said Jabbar, a day labourer, who leaves his home each morning before sunrise to look for work.

The attack occurred during the nighttime curfew in effect in Kabul, and there were conflicting reports of whether it involved one or two helicopters.

Taliban’s spokesman in southern Kandahar, its headquarters, said there was no attack. He said the explosions were the result of a fire at an ammunition dump in the northern suburb of Khair Khana and that the sound of aircraft were Taliban pilots moving fighter aircraft to safety. The Taliban operate helicopter gunships and fighter jets.

"There was an explosion in an ammunition depot, and our aircraft were flown to a safe place, creating a misunderstanding that there had been an attack. We deny that there was any attack on Kabul," he said.

However, Taliban soldiers stopped reporters going toward Khair Khana neighbourhood, saying there was no explosion. It was unclear from Muttmain’s statement why it was necessary to move the aircraft to safety.

In Washington, White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said the explosions reported in Kabul were not retaliatory attacks by the United States.

"The United States is not responsible," she said.

Her comments were echoed by US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld during a Pentagon briefing in Washington. "I've seen those reports," he said of the Kabul explosions. "In no way is the United States government connected to those explosions."

Another US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the fighting in Kabul appeared to be rocket attacks by Afghan rebels opposing the ruling Taliban in response to the attack on a rebel general over the weekend.

Afghanistan's hardline Taliban rulers condemned the US attacks and rejected suggestions that Osama bin Laden, who is being protected by the Afghanistan government, could be behind them.

The Taliban's frontline with opposition soldiers is barely 30 miles north of the capital. There, Taliban soldiers are lined up against opposition forces. Fighting in that area has increased in recent days, but this would be the first major assault by opposition forces so close to the capital.

Uncertainty also persisted Wednesday over whether rebel General Ahmed Shah Massood, the leader of the opposition to the Taliban’s hard-line Islamic rule, survived a suicide bombing attack on Sunday.

The bombing in northern Afghanistan killed Massood's aide as well as the bombers, two men posing as television journalists.

The Russian news agency ITAR-Tass reported that Massood had also died. But an opposition spokesman and Massood’s brother in London have said he was gravely injured in the attack, not killed.

The president of Afghanistan's government-in-exile, Burhanuddin Rabbani, issued a statement saying Massood was injured, but alive and that he had spoken to him.

Massood, 48, has led a fractured collection of groups who fought each other when they ruled much of Afghanistan for four years until the Taliban took control in 1996.

The opposition blamed Sunday’s bombing on the Taliban and neighbouring Pakistan, which they say supports the Islamic militia. The Taliban and Pakistan denied any role in the attack.

Cowen in EU emergency meeting
7:35:31 AM [2:35:31 a.m. EST]

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen, will join his EU counterparts in Brussels this morning for an emergency meeting to discuss the atrocities in the United States.

The hastily convened meeting is designed to show EU solidarity with the US and to explore how Europeans can help Americans to deal with the disaster.

Minister Cowen cut short his trip to the Middle East after hearing of yesterday’s attacks.

EU Governments consult on how to stand by America
10:42:14 AM [5:42:14 a.m. EST]

The European Union held emergency talks today to see how it can stand by the United States and assess the political, financial and economic impact of the terrorist atrocities in New York and Washington.

European Central Bank President Wim Duisenberg said the ECB was ready "to support the normal functioning of markets."

Separately, the European Commission met in a special session and the EU foreign ministers were called to a special session, starting at 1300 BST, by Belgium, which now holds the EU presidency.

Across Brussels, ambassadors from the United States and the other 18 Nato nations met at Alliance headquarters to debate immediate steps to increase security. More high-level meetings were scheduled for later in the day.

At the EU and Nato complexes, flags flew at half-staff. Nato told nonessential staff not to report for work at the alliance’s sprawling headquarters on Brussels’ eastern outskirts.

Only hours after the New York and Washington attacks, America’s Nato allies pledged moral support for Washington and help in hunting down those responsible for the atrocities.

"The United States can rely on its 18 allies in North America and Europe for assistance and support," Nato Secretary-general Lord Robertson said after a brief emergency session of the Nato ambassadors on Tuesday evening.

Appearing before the European Parliament's economic and financial committee, Duisenberg said the ECB would help lessen the impact of the terrorist attacks on the world economy.

"I would like to emphasize the ECB and the national central banks are standing ready to support the normal functioning of markets and relevant operation systems if the need arises," Duisenberg said.

The EU foreign ministers were to debate immediate assistance measures and how to contribute to increasing the fight against terrorism.

"We are ready to cooperate with the United States in the battle against terrorism," Javier Solana, the EU’s security and foreign affairs chief said ahead of the meeting.

In London, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said he expected the Europeans to express their solidarity with the Americans.

"We are part of the same community," he said.

"We will be looking at ways in which we can move our expressions of moral support and outrage for what has happened into tangible methods of support.

"The horror of the events that happened yesterday is one which I believe is shared as powerfully and strongly in the Islamic world as it is everywhere else...We can only defeat this kind of terrorism by much firmer, coordinated international action."

Department of HHS asks citizens for blood
12:22:37 AM [7:22:37 a.m. EST]

The US department of Human Health services has sent extra emergency response teams to both New York and Washington.

The response teams include four Disaster Mortuary response teams.

The Department of HHS has called for US citizens to give blood.

Six Irish may have died in attacks » NEWSFLASH
2:57:13 PM [9:57:13 a.m. EST]

Up to six Irish people are feared dead after the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon yesterday.

The death toll among the Irish community in America is expected to rise.

"We can only at this stage confirm that two Irish people died. We have no information on more deaths at this stage," a Department of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman said.

Hijackers killed stewardesses to access cockpits
8:40:39 AM [3:40:39 a.m. EST]

The US plane hijackers murdered stewardesses with knives to draw pilots from their cockpits, it emerged today as investigators began to piece together the full horror of the worst terror attack in history.

First details of the amazingly low-tech operation by the extremists came from passengers on board the doomed jetliners who managed to make harrowing mobile phone calls before they crashed.

They reported how men armed with small craft-style knives were stabbing stewardesses, apparently in an attempt to force crew on the flight deck to unlock the doors to the cockpits.

Businessman Peter Hanson, who was with his wife and young son on board the United Airlines flight that plunged into the World Trade Centre, called his father in Connecticut and managed to say a stewardess had been stabbed, before being cut off.

Alice Hoglan in San Francisco said her 31-year-old son Mark Bingham phoned her from aboard the Pennsylvania crash flight to say: "We've been taken over. There are three men that say they have a bomb."

Terrorism experts said the hijackers could have armed themselves with nothing more than pocket knives.

"The reason that knives have been chosen is because it would have reduced their security risks," said Mike Yardley, a former British army officer.

"Remember, they are trying to pull this off four times - if they had risked firearms, if one person had been seized, the whole operation could have been compromised."

He added: "Unfortunately, terrorism is easy, once you cross the boundary of deciding to do it."

It is even possible the hijackers marched on board with their weapons without even bothering to smuggle them.

Passengers on US domestic flights would not have had a pocket knife taken off them if it was small enough, said Mr Yardley. Yet it would have been all the terrorists needed to take control of the aircraft.

Reports from those on board two of the planes suggested each was taken by a team of three hijackers.

In each case, at least one of them is likely to have been a trained pilot who took over the controls to steer the planes on their lethal flight paths.

In Boston, from where two of the doomed aircraft took off, five Arab men have apparently already been identified as suspects in the terror outrage.

It is reported police seized a rented car containing Arabic-language flight training manuals at Logan International Airport.

Two of the men were brothers whose passports were traced to the United Arab Emirates, and one of the men was a trained pilot.

Investigators are believed to suspect the two brothers were aboard hijacked United Airlines flight 175, the plane that crashed into the second World Trade Centre tower.

Clinton anxious to return to New York
10:37:50 AM [5:37:50 a.m. EST]

Former President Bill Clinton was locked away in a resort in Australia's tropical northeast today awaiting a chance to return home .

Clinton had been taking a short break in Port Douglas, Queensland, after speaking engagements in Sydney and Melbourne.

Clinton arrived in the resort town early yesterday morning and spent the day snorkelling on a nearby reef and mixing with locals.

But he was kept out of sight today as the hotel turned media away and federal and state police joined Clinton’s minders in throwing a security cordon around him.

Clinton had been scheduled to travel to Taiwan but postponed his trip.

"He'll obviously want to return to the US as soon as possible," Queensland Premier Peter Beattie said. The former president is now based in New York.

Clinton, who led the United States through the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, urged Americans to rally behind President Bush in the aftermath of today’s attacks.

"We should not be second-guessing. We should be supporting him," Clinton said.

"The main thing is, we must send a clear and unambiguous message to the world that the people of America are completely 100% united and we're going to follow our leaders and support whatever action Bush takes," he added.

UN pulls out of Afghanistan
11:13:00 AM [06:13:00 a.m. EST]

The United Nations has announced that it is withdrawing all its staff from Afghanistan as a precaution against the possibility of retaliatory attacks by the US military.

Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers are harbouring Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in yesterday's attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.

Dozens of Afghan citizens were killed in 1998 when the US military bombed the country in retaliation for the bombings of the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in an attack that was also blamed on bin Laden.

Bin Laden congratulates US bombers
11:34:56 AM [06:34:56 a.m. EST]

Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden has congratulated those who carried out yesterday's attacks on the United States, but denied that he played any role in the incidents.

A Palestinian journalist in Islamabad, Pakistan, said: "Osama bin Laden thanked almighty Allah and bowed before him when he heard this news."

The journalist said one of bin Laden’s aides called him early today from a secret hide-out in Afghanistan. The aide apparently said that bin Laden considers the attacks "a punishment from Allah" because of the Unites States' attempts at global domination.

New fire at World Financial Centre
1:26:02 PM [08:26:02 a.m. EST]

More than 24 hours after the first attack on New York, fires are continuing. It is now reported that the World Financial Centre is ablaze.

The building is situated directly across the street from the World Trade Centre. It houses the Dow Jones, Wall Street Journal, American Express offices as well as several banks.

The centre, built in 1980, contains four towers and is surrounded by residential buildings.

Final calls made from ill-fated hijacked flights
2:47:31 PM [09:47:31 a.m. EST]

Some passengers aboard the ill-fated hijacked planes yesterday made final calls to their loved ones and emergency services.

A female passenger aboard the Boeing 767 which crashed near Pittsburgh reported that the passengers, crew and pilot were forced to the back of the plane while the hijackers took over.

A male passenger on the same flight, who had locked himself into a toilet, said he could see white smoke coming from one side of the plane.

A passenger aboard another plane, believed to be that which slammed into the World Trade Centre, told how men wielding knives had taken over the aircraft and had stabbed a stewardess.

WTC's largest tenant worries for staff
3:36:24 PM [10:36:24 a.m. EST]

The World Trade Center's largest tenant Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. said it had "limited information" as to the fate of its employees there after the devastating attack by two hijacked commercial airplanes.

"We have limited information about the Trade Center disaster beyond what has been reported in the news. Our key focus and concern are for the well-being and safety of Morgan Stanley employees," the company said on its website. (

Morgan Stanley said it had about 3,500 workers stationed in the landmark complex.

The Wall Street Journal said on its website late Tuesday that Morgan Stanley told employees in a memo on Tuesday its personnel working in the building had survived the attack.

Morgan Stanley spokesman Ray O'Rourke, however, told Reuters he denied any confirmation of the safety of the company's employees stationed at the World Trade Center, who were mainly back-office, support and marketing staff.

"We are continuing to account for employees," O'Rourke said.

An internal memo distributed to Morgan Stanley workers in other cities said senior management staff had been at the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan when the attacks occurred, The Wall Street Journal said in its report.

The New York-based brokerage leased space on about 25 floors of the 110-story twin towers, which were reduced to rubble early Tuesday morning after the two planes smashed into the buildings.

Morgan Stanley also said on its Web site that a call center has been established for employee-related safety concerns at 1-888-883-4391

Three to five hijackers per plane
4:43:24 PM [11:43:24 a.m. EST]

US investigators believe that three to five hijackers were aboard each of the four airliners used in yesterday’s attack.

They believe the hijackers were trained pilots and had been carrying small penknives, which were used to stab and kill crew in order to access the cockpit.

Experts say passengers could easily pass through airport security carrying a knife if it were small enough. Investigators are following all possible leads as to who carried out the attacks.

Bin Laden still chief suspect
5:01:50 PM [12:01:50 p.m. EST]

Investigators say that significant evidence of involvement in yesterday’s attacks points to Osama Bin Laden, the Saudi terrorist and millionaire currently in exile in Afghanistan.

A flight manifest from one of the crashed flights included the name of a suspected Bin Laden supporter, it was confirmed today.

US intelligence also said that they intercepted mobile communications between bin Laden supporters discussing the attacks in detail.

Bin Laden and Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers have denied his involvement. However, Bin Laden is reported to have congratulated the kamikaze pilots who killed thousands of office and rescue workers yesterday.

Saddam Hussein is also reported to have said that America deserved the attacks, which he called "the fruit of their crimes against humanity."

Arafat donates blood to American victims
6:52:07 PM [01:52:07 p.m. EST]

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat today donated blood for the victims of the US terror attacks and condemned "this horrible attack."

"We are donating our humble abilities to President Bush and to the American people," Arafat said at Shifa hospital in Gaza City.

Arafat, one of hundreds of Palestinians who participated in the blood drive, smiled as doctors drew blood from his right arm.

As he came out of the hospital, about 200 Palestinians started chanting, "We are ready to give our soul and blood for you."

Asked if he had a message for the American people, Arafat said, "God bless you, God Bless you, God bless you."

Taliban may consider extraditions based on valid evidence
6:57:07 PM [01:57:07 p.m. EST]

The Taliban regime in Afghanistan has said it will consider extraditions, should they arise, based on legitimate evidence.

Earlier international assumption that the Taliban would not extradite anyone based in Afghanistan has been altered, with news that the Taliban will agree to consider each application for extradition on its own merit.

Known terrorist and millionaire Osama Bin Laden, who is now the chief suspect for yesterday's attacks, lives in exile in Afghanistan.

The US has not attempted to apprehend Bin Laden, nor has it given any indication that it may do so.

The Taliban has denied Bin Laden's involvement in the atrocities.

Hussein says US deserved attacks
7:49:05 PM [02:49:05 p.m. EST]

Saddam Hussein has stated that America deserved yesterday's spate of atrocities.

The Iraqi leader said the US is "reaping the thorns of its foreign policy".

Hussein has long been an enemy of the US, in particular since the 1991 Gulf War in Iraq.

Hijackers 'may have trained at Florida school,'
7:59:49 PM [02:59:49 p.m. EST]

Two of the suspects under investigation for the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon trained at Huffman Aviation in Venice, Florida, ABC News reported.

The two men had flight training at the school with single- engine planes and small multiengine planes from last July to November. They received their licenses for those types of planes, ABC said, citing Huffman owner Rudy Dekkers. They then went to a different school for jet training.

The school has turned over documents concerning the two men and its other international students to the FBI, Dekkers told ABC News. One of the men was from Afghanistan, he told ABC News.

Priest is among Irish dead
8:24:12 PM [03:24:12 p.m. EST]

Irish priest Fr Michael Judge is among the Irish people believed to have died in the aftermath of the blasts at the World Trade Centre.

Fr Judge was ministering to the injured when he died, according to reports.

There are unconfirmed reports that a crew of Irish construction workers are missing.

Meanwhile, two cousins of Sligo-Leitrim TD Gerry Reynolds are also missing.

Passengers voted to overpower hijackers
9:34:19 PM [04:34:19 p.m. EST]

Passengers on United Airlines flight 93 had voted to overpower hijackers after realising that the plane was to crash into the White House.

Jeremy Glick, a passenger on the plane which crashed in Pittsburgh, had been in contact with his wife by phone.

He said that the men on the plane had taken the vote after they had heard about the World Trade Centre crashes.

His two-month-old daughter, Emerson, was with him on the plane.

Moments later the plane crashed in Somerset County, Pittsburgh.

US declares war - and begins hunt for killers
9:58:27 PM [04:58:27 p.m. EST]

A stunned and grieving America was at war tonight - with the hunt for those responsible for the attacks on New York and Washington beginning in earnest.

Police in America were searching for two men they believe were involved in the twin terror attacks launched yesterday.

One, Mohamed Atta, and the other, known only as Marwan, have been named by the FBI.

Investigations by the FBI suggest five Arab men, one a trained pilot, were involved in the attacks after an Arabic flight training manual and a copy of the Koran were discovered in a rented car at Boston's Logan Airport.

With the finger of suspicion increasingly pointing to terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, a heavily-armed raid of a Boston hotel was staged by the FBI but no one was detained.

Meanwhile in Florida an unknown number of people were taken into custody.

Elsewhere three men were detained for questioning by state police, CNN reported, after an inter-city train from Boston was stopped and searched in Providence, Rhode Island.

Tonight it emerged that the American Government believed there was a "credible threat" that the White House and Air Force One, the presidential jet, were targets for the terrorists.

A White House spokesman said: "The plane that hit the Pentagon may have been headed for the White House."

The spokesman said President George Bush landed in Louisiana and then went to Nebraska because his security in the air or in Washington could not be guaranteed.

The terrorists may have had plans to ram the Boeing 747 with one of their hijacked airliners, an extraordinary suicide attack, or fly it into the White House.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell, who led allied troops in the Gulf conflict, described the attacks today as "a war not just against the United States" but "a war against civilisation".

His comments were later backed up by Washington’s Nato allies who declared that the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington could be considered an attack on the whole alliance if it turns out they were directed from abroad.

The Secretary of State spoke as rescuers fought a battle of their own in the rubble of lower Manhattan to save the lives of those still buried alive after the destruction of the 110-storey twin towers of the World Trade Centre.

After speaking to foreign ministers and prime ministers worldwide, including Britain's Jack Straw, General Powell said: "We are building a strong coalition to go after these perpetrators but more broadly to go after terrorism wherever it is found in the world."

America would go after terrorism "root and branch" and attack both it and its "sources", he added.

General Powell had earlier said of the American people: "We are at war and they want a comprehensive response. They want us to act as if we are at war and we're going to do that - diplomatically and militarily."

His comments were echoed by President George Bush who vowed to "bring to justice" the masterminds of the attacks.

And he warned that America would make "no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harboured them".

The day after the attacks, the US was gripped by mounting anger and disbelief at the scale of atrocity wrought upon its shores.

Millions around the world watched endless re-runs of new video footage showing the final seconds of the two airliners which plunged into the trade centre’s towers.

In the UK, Prime Minister Tony Blair’s spokesman said ‘‘hundreds’’ of Britons were now expected to have died.

Mr Blair said he was recalling Parliament for an emergency session on Friday to discuss the crisis.

Across the globe there were fears of further attacks, of the damage that could be done to the world economy, and of the many long-term implications of a new and terrifying form of terrorism for which the US was defenceless.

But for thousands of families there was the terrible dread for loved ones who went to work or boarded planes yesterday and have not been heard of since.

Irishman Ronnie Clifford counted himself lucky when he escaped from the World Trade Centre, only to discover that his sister Ruth Clifford McCourt, 45, and her four-year-old daughter Juliana were on board the second jet to strike the towers.

Chilling accounts emerged of passengers on the hijacked jets making final calls to their loved ones just second before they died - and evidence that some facing death went down fighting.

Moments before one of the planes went down, businessman Thomas Burnett of San Ramon, California, phoned his wife, telling her he feared the flight was doomed but he and two other passengers planned to do something about it.

One woman told her husband that the hijackers were armed with knives and there were reports of frantic struggles with stewardesses being stabbed.

The hijackers overpowered flight crews and seized control of the four jets in what was clearly a meticulously planned operation.

Rescue workers fought all night to reach people trapped in the wreckage amid reports that trapped survivors were using mobile phones to plead for help.

One police officer trapped in a void in the courtyard between the two giant towers was found waist deep in rubble, but was pulled to safety.

Establishing the death toll could take weeks. The four airliners alone had 266 people aboard and there were no survivors. Officials put the number of dead and wounded at the Pentagon at about 100 or more.

"The number of casualties will be more than most of us can bear," said Rudolph Giuliani, Mayor of New York.

Co Sligo man is confirmed missing
10:04:13 PM [05:04:13 p.m. EST]

The family of a county Sligo man have confirmed that the man is missing following the World Trade Centre attacks.

It is believed 35-year-old Kieran Gorman from Lava, Co Sligo, was working on the top floor of one of the towers when the attack happened.

20 Irish people feared trapped
10:24:34 PM [05:24:34 p.m. EST]

The Irish Consulate in New York has said that it fears for the safety of 20 Irish people thought trapped in the rubble of the World Trade Centre.

An Irish passport was found in the debris.

Rescue operation hampered by collapse fears
11:28:55 PM [06:28:55 p.m. EST]

The rescue effort in the wreckage of the World Trade Centre was temporarily called off tonight as fears mounted that another building may collapse.

One Liberty Plaza, a 743-foot tall, 54-storey building, was under threat of toppling after a partial collapse of the building, rescue officials confirmed.

An immediate evacuation of rescue workers and people close to the scene was put in place because of the risk.

Windows and parts of the outside of the building could be seen peeling away, but no failure in the building was obvious to the naked eye.

The building was beside the destroyed twin towers but had apparently survived the initial destruction.

The evacuation came as fears had also mounted for the safety of Number Five World Trade Centre, a smaller office block which was part of the complex.

It had suffered a partial collapse when the twin towers fell and rescue officials were risking their lives by working on top of it to gain access to the scene of devastation.

CNN reporter Gary Schulmann said he had been at the very centre of the rescue effort when he saw the building tilt and windows begin to break.

"People on the scene are very frightened," he said.

"They saw the building start to tilt and they saw some windows beginning to break."

The building had been set up as a triage centre for people pulled from the wreckage but had barely been used because of the tiny numbers being rescued.

And fears were also growing over the stump of pillars from World Trade Centre Number Two which had remained standing.

"Those pillars from that tower look very precarious and they were very concerned about that," said Mr Schulmann.

Nothing heard since son phoned from skyscraper
11:37:07 PM [06:37:07 p.m. EST]

A banker from Scotland is among the thousands of people missing after the terrorist attack on New York, his distraught mother revealed tonight.

Derek Sword was working on the 89th floor inside the north tower of the World Trade Centre when the first plane entered the skyscraper yesterday.

The Scot telephoned his parents as soon as he realised what had happened to reassure them that he was alive and well, it emerged tonight.

His terrified parents, David and Irene, of Dundee, said they are still hopeful their son, who got engaged to an American just 10 days ago, is still alive.

Speaking from her home, Mrs Sword said: "The first we knew was when Derek rang to say he was fine and told us not to worry. That must have been seconds after the plane went in.

"That was really it and we have not heard anything else since. We have been watching the television and checking with the Foreign Office but there is no news of him yet."

Derek had worked for a finance firm in New York for the past six years, his mother revealed.

She added: "It is so, so difficult for us. We feel helpless and are just hoping that he is safe and well.

"His fiancee has told us that there are hundreds of unidentified people in hospitals over there and we are praying that our son is among them.

"Until we hear otherwise, we will go on believing he is OK. But this is just the most harrowing thing and is truly awful."

The Sword family said they feared they might have to wait days before they have confirmation about what has happened to their son.

Mrs Sword added: ‘‘This is just something you never, ever imagine that you would have to go through.

"This waiting about just about destroys you. But you have to be positive and that is what we are all trying to do.

"The fact Derek phoned us has given us hope and for his sake we will not give that up for anything.

"We also hope that his fiancee over there will be able to get information quicker than we can over here."

No comments: