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Who was the 20th hijacker?

Long Shadow

Long Lead & PRX & The Trace & Campside Media

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

4.81.8K Ratings

🗓️ 8 September 2021

⏱️ 39 minutes

🧾️ Download transcript


Immediately after 9/11, investigators began piecing together the plot. In the flight manifests, they discovered a pattern: A team of five terrorists hijacked every plane that day, except for one. United Airlines Flight 93 had only four hijackers. Investigators believed one person was missing from that group.

Who was the 20th hijacker — if there even was one? And is there a 9/11 hijacker still on the loose?

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A heads up to listeners. This podcast features harsh language and some descriptions of torture.


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


Looking back, the US government panicked after 9-11. There's almost no other way to describe


the sheer top-to-bottom alarm and fear that drove its decision-making.


Matt Waxman worked in the White House. He served on the staff of the National Security Council.


The sense within the White House, within the government after 9-11,


that another big attack was probably coming and that it might involve weapons of mass destruction,


especially a biological or radiological weapon. This fear was very real. Some people accuse


the Bush administration of over-hyping the threat. I think at sometimes, though it probably


understated the fears and threats that were being discussed internally and felt in a very real way.


The night of September 11th was a surreal one in New York City.


Emergency responders were now joined by hundreds of volunteers at Ground Zero. They sifted through


what remained of the Twin Towers. There are survivors trapped in that rubble made


or Giuliani confirmed it less than an hour ago. How many we do not know.


But only now hours later onto the harsh lights of rescue vehicles is the true, horrifying


breath of the terror becoming clear. But what they're doing is they're crawling through the


craters and crevices of what's left. FBI Special Agent Mary Galligan was in Oklahoma City,


where she had watched the tower's fall on television. It was the day that evil came to most people's


lives. They didn't think it existed and it came and it existed and it was in our backyard.


She had helped lead the New York Field Office's investigation of Al Qaeda and its bombing of


the USS Cole. And now she was worried about her colleagues in New York, blocks away from the


World Trade Center. She was worried too about friends like John O'Neal who had just left the


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