Hijackers of flight77 set off metal detectors
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Hijackers set off detectors on 9/11
By Alan Levin, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — Three of the five hijackers who flew a jet into the Pentagon set off metal detectors on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, as they passed through security at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, a videotape shown Wednesday reveals.
The hijackers acted casually as security workers checked their bags and put them through additional screening, the surveillance tape shows. Later that morning, the men stormed the cockpit of American Airlines Flight 77 and slammed the jet into the Pentagon. All 64 people aboard the flight and 125 at the Pentagon were killed. (Related video:Hijackers pulled aside at Washington Dulles Airport)
Nothing in the video suggests that the security guards violated screening procedures. The commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks concluded in January that the hijackers on all four flights likely carried knives with blades shorter than 4 inches, which at the time were permitted on flights.
But the video and the details surrounding Flight 77 have highlighted a concern raised by the commission: missed opportunities that might have thwarted one or more of the hijackings.
The CIA had identified two of the five hijackers in the video, Khalid Al-Midhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, as potential terrorists because they had participated in a suspected al-Qaeda meeting in Malaysia in 2000. But before 9/11, few names of terrorists were provided to the Federal Aviation Administration, which kept a list of people who were prohibited from flying for security reasons. Their names had also not been provided to Customs officials who allowed them to enter the country.
Both Al-Midhar and Alhazmi set off metal detectors twice and were checked for weapons with hand-held metal detectors, according to the commission's report on the video released in January. Alhazmi's bag was also swabbed for traces of explosives.
Hijacker Majed Moqed also set off a metal detector, the commission said. He walked through a detector a second time and, after it did not signal an alarm, was allowed to proceed. Hani Hanjour, who investigators suspect was the pilot of the hijacked flight, and Alhazmi's brother Salem did not receive additional security.
Initial reports after the attacks suggested the hijackers may have used box cutters in the attacks, but passengers at the time were prohibited from carrying box cutters aboard flights. The commission concluded it was more likely the hijackers used small knives.
Contributing: Mimi Hall and Kevin Johnson