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Was there a “fifth plane” on 9/11?

Long Shadow

Long Lead & PRX & The Trace & Campside Media

Narrative, 9-11, History, Terrorism, Anniversary, America

4.81.8K Ratings

🗓️ 1 September 2021

⏱️ 34 minutes

🧾️ Download transcript


After the first two hijackings, the nation’s air traffic controllers quickly and efficiently grounded thousands of planes flying to and over the continental United States. Their quick thinking is said to have potentially saved countless lives.

But what if another plane was meant to be hijacked that day, and never made it off the ground? What if there was a fifth plane on 9/11?

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A warning for listeners. Throughout this podcast, we have original audio from various terrorist attacks, plus other recreations of them.


We feel it's important to hear, but it can also be disturbing.


In 1984, terrorists with the Irish Republican Army tried to assassinate British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.


They failed, but they released a statement after that has become a truism in the world of security.


You have to be lucky all the time. We only have to be lucky once.


We forget now, but Al-Qaeda failed at as many attacks as it succeeded.


It liked coordinated, multi-pronged, complex attacks, even if they didn't quite work at first.


The group had succeeded at the complex task of near simultaneous bombings at the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.


But it had this chosen the date, so the US Embassy in Dara Salam Tanzania was closed because of a national holiday.


More than 200 people were killed in Nairobi, just 11 in Dara Salam. None of them, American.


Very angry, it's human, it's evil, it's the speakable. This thing is completely alien to our history, alien to our political culture.


And we will continue, we will continue.


The next year, in 1999, just before New Year's, Al-Qaeda had perhaps as many as a half dozen plots underway across the world.


All of them were foiled.


In alert customs agents stopped one Al-Qaeda operative trying to cross the US-Canada border in Washington state, apparently on his way to bomb LAX.


On the other side of the world, Jordanian intelligence intercepted a plot to attack multiple tourist attractions.


And on January 3rd, 2000, Al-Qaeda tried to attack the Navy ship USS The Sullivan's in Aiden Harbor in Yemen, but they overloaded their explosive skiff and its sank.


Ten months later, in October 2000, two suicide bombers, again in Aiden Harbor, killed 17 sailors on the USS Colt.


We are working to identify the remains and to contact the next of kin of those individuals.


Even then, it didn't quite go according to plan. The man who was supposed to film the suicide bombing and record a massive propaganda victory, he overslept that morning.


But even as FBI and NCIS agents picked through the wreckage of the Colt and Navy sailors wrestled to keep it afloat, an even bigger plot was already underway.


I'm Garrett Graff, a journalist, historian, and author of the New York Times best-selling book, The Only Plane in the Sky, an oral history of 9-11.


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