“I don’t think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon, that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile.”
–Condoleezza Rice, May 16, 2002
Late 1980s, throughout the 1990s:
- The idea of using hijacked planes as weapons against buildings becomes common. There are attempted kamikaze attacks involving hijacked planes in Israel (1986), Turkey (1993) and France (1994). A suicide Cessna pilot hits the White House on Sept. 12, 1994. Tom Clancy publishes a novel in which the villain crashes an airliner into the Capitol (1994). Pentagon scenario planners bring up the possibility of a kamikaze-hijacking in a variety of reports (twice in 1993; 1999; 2000).
- News reports and trial cases reveal that Ramzi Yussef (convicted mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing) devised “Project Bojinka,” a plot including the idea of crashing hijacked airliners into American targets. Foreign and U.S. intelligence and defense agencies issue warnings and devise defense scenarios relating to the possibility that something like “Project Bojinka” can be attempted anywhere, at any time.
- The Department of Defense responds competently to these developments, by rehearsing a MASCAL (mass casualty) exercise based on the scenario of a plane crashing into the Pentagon. The live exercise of Oct. 24, 2000 involves rescue crews directed from a command center. A paper plane is set aflame within a scale model of the building.…