Anomalies of the September 11th Attack, Its Run-Up, and Response

Accepting the official story of the 9/11/01 attack requires one to accept a long series of anomalies -- extremely improbable events, amazing coincidences, and contradictions. This page lists many such anomalies. This page focuses on the more salient ones. The anomalies described on this page are organized into the following topics:

Run-Up to the Attack

Numerous incidents preceding the attack indicate many people had advance knowledge of the attack.

  • Put Options
    Stock trades bet on the fall in share values for the two airlines whose planes were used in the attack.

    • Put options purchases on United Airlines and American Airlines stock rose to four and 25 times normal levels in the days preceding the attack. 1   2  

  • Avoidance of the Airlines, the WTC, and the Pentagon
    Government officials and executives avoided the targets of the attack.

    • Pentagon officials canceled travel plans on September 10th. 3  

    • San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown received a warning not to fly on September 10th. 4  

    • Scotland Yard prohibited Salman Rushdie from flying on September 11th. 5  

    • Two employees of Odigo, the instant messaging service, received e-mail warnings of the attack two hours before the first assault on the WTC. 6  

    • Business executives, some of whom worked in the WTC, were in Nebraska to attend a meeting at Offutt Air Force Base hosted by billionaire Warren Buffett on the morning of September 11th. The same base would be visited later that day by George W. Bush7  

    • Attorney General Ashcroft stopped flying on commercial airlines in the summer of 2001. 8  


Hijacking Scenario

The attack scenario was irrational on the part of the alleged hijackers, and its execution is incomprehensible in light of their behavior. There is little or no credible evidence that Arab hijackers were involved in the September 11th attack, except in the takeover of Flight 93.

  • Attack Plan
    By flying from remote airports and going far out of their way, the attack planners exposed their plan to almost certain ruin, had the air defense system operated normally.

    • The originating airport for Flights 11 and 175 was Boston Logan instead of any of several airports near New York City. This created about 40 minutes of exposure to interception for each flight.

    • Flight 77 flew to the Midwest before turning around to return to Washington D.C.. It was airborne an hour and 23 minutes before allegedly attacking the Pentagon. That would provide ample opportunity for interception even if the air defense system were mostly disabled.

    • Flight 93 flew to the Midwest before turning around to fly toward Washington D.C. Had it reached the capital, it would have been airborne for more than an hour and a half. The odds of escaping interception with that plan would be infinitesimal under standard operating procedures.

  • Behavior of Villains
    The behavior of the alleged hijackers preceding the attack is inconsistent with skill and discipline needed to have a hope of pulling off such an attack.

    • Mohammed Atta allegedly barely caught Flight 11, a key flight in the event that he was supposedly planning for years.

    • The alleged hijackers partied at topless bars and drank alcohol, despite being portrayed as fundamentalist Muslims, for whom such behavior would be surprising, to say the least. 9  

  • Evidence Void
    There is no hard evidence that any of the alleged hijackers were on any of the doomed flights, and substantial evidence that some weren't involved.

    • No video of any of the 19 hijackers at any of the three originating airports of the four flights has been made public, except for a video allegedly showing hijackers of Flight 77.

    • At least six of the alleged hijackers have turned up alive since the attack.

    • None of the four flight crews radioed Air Traffic Control about hijackings in progress.

    • None of the four flight crews punched in the four-digit hijacking code. 10  

    • No public evidence indicates that the remains of any of the hijackers was identified at any of the crash sites.

    • None of the contents of any of the black boxes were made public for more than four years.

    • The only 4-1/2 minutes of the phone call from Flight 11 Attendant Betty Ong made public describes a stabbing but does not provide any details indicating that Arab hijackers were on board.

  • Phenomenal Success
    The success with which hijackers allegedly took over four jets with knives and then piloted the jets to small targets is simply miraculous.

    • None of the four flight crews were able to stop the alleged hijackers, in spite of several of the pilots being Vietnam veterans.

    • None of the alleged hijackers were good pilots, yet the three buildings were hit with phenomenal precision.


(Lack of) Military Response

Despite normal intercept times of between 10 and 20 minutes for errant domestic flights, the airliners commandeered on 9/11/01 roamed the skies for over an hour without interference.

  • Failures to Report
    According to NORAD's timeline the FAA reported errant airliners after inexplicable delays.

    • The FAA took 18 minutes to report Flight 11's loss of communication and deviation from its flight plan.

    • The FAA took 39 minutes to report Flight 77's deviation from its flight plan.

  • Failures to Scramble
    Interceptors were only scrambled from distant bases after long delays.

    • Despite the fact that Flights 11 and 175 were headed for New York City, no interceptors were scrambled from nearby La Guardia, or from Langley, Virginia.

    • Despite NORAD's having received formal notification of the first hijacking at 8:38, no interceptors were scrambled from Andrews to protect the nearby Pentagon until after it was hit at 9:37.

  • Failures to Intercept
    Once in the air, interceptors flew at only small fractions of their top speeds, assuring they would fail to intercept the airliners.

    • The two F-15s scrambled from Otis AFB to chase Flight 11 flew at an average of 447 mph, about 23.8% of their top speed of 1875 mph.

    • The two F-16s scrambled from Langley to protect the capital flew at an average of 410.5 mph, about 27.4% of their top speed of 1500 mph.

  • Failures to Redeploy
    Nearby fighters on routine patrol duty were not redeployed to intercept the airliners, nor were fighters that belatedly reached Manhattan sent to defend the capital.

    • Two F-15s flying off the coast of Long Island were not redeployed to Manhattan until after the second Tower was hit.

    • The two F-15s scrambled from Otis AFB to protect Manhattan could have reached the capital in 9.6 minutes once they arrived over New York City. That was still 34 minutes before the Pentagon was hit.


World Trade Center Destruction

On 9/11/01 three skyscrapers were totally destroyed, with structural collapse primarily due to fires given as the explanation. Fires and bombings have never before or since caused steel-frame buildings to collapse.

  • Building 7
    Building 7 imploded late on 9/11/01. It was not hit by an aircraft.

    • Building 7 experienced total collapse, allegedly because of fires, when no steel-frame building before or since has ever collapsed, totally or even partially, due to fires. Building 7 was an over-engineered 47-story steel-frame skyscraper, standing over 350 feet from the nearest of the Twin Towers. Public evidence documents only small fires in it on September 11th.

    • Building 7 collapsed in a nearly perfectly vertical fall, producing only minor damage in the Verizon and Post Office buildings only 60 feet on either side of it.

    • Building 7 collapsed into a remarkably small rubble pile of mostly pulverized remains, when no steel building falling for any reason has ever pulverized itself.

    • Building 7 contained a 15-million-dollar emergency command center, but instead of using it for its ostensible purpose, then-Mayor Giuliani evacuated his team to a makeshift command center as soon as the September 11th attack started. 11   12  

    • The emergency command center was destroyed along with the rest of the building, even though it was constructed as a bomb-hardened shelter.

    • The remains of Building 7 were rapidly removed and the steel recycled, evidently without any on-site and only extremely limited off-site examination. The rapid disposal operation proceeded despite the fact that no one was believed buried in the rubble, and the tidy rubble pile was not blocking adjacent roads.

  • Twin Towers
    The Twin Towers exploded into dust and shattered steel, a behavior inconsistent with the known behavior of steel structures outside of explosive demolition.

    • The South Tower was struck 17 minutes after the North Tower, and in a less damaging manner, and it had less severe fires, yet it collapsed 29 minutes before the North Tower.

    • The South Tower's core structure was largely undamaged by the off-centered jet impact, unlike the North Tower, yet it collapsed sooner.

    • The South Tower had much less severe fires than the North Tower, and yet collapsed sooner.

    • Smoke from the fires in the South Tower became progressively darker up to the time of its collapse.

    • A stream of glowing molten material flowed from the South Tower minutes before its collapse.

    • Firefighters reached the crash zone of the South Tower and described controllable fires.

    • Both Towers started to disintegrate at regions above and below the crash zones in the first seconds of their falls.

    • Both Towers fell straight down, through themselves, following the path of maximum resistance, a behavior never before observed in spontaneous collapses of any type of vertical structure.

    • The collapses of both Towers exhibited features never otherwise seen except in controlled demolitions: sudden onset accompanied by thunderous bangs, visible explosions ringing their perimeters, energetic ejections of dust at regular intervals, and copious production of dust.

    • Both Towers exploded outward and were shredded and pulverized -- a pattern of destruction much more destructive than normal controlled demolitions, yet this result was supposedly produced without the added energy of explosives.

    • So thorough and consistent was the destruction of the Twin Towers, that no remains of the distinctive web trusses are clearly recognizable in hundreds of photographs of the rubble in various stages of excavation.

    • Intense heat persisted in the rubble completely unlike anything produced by known structure collapses and/or fires.

    • Settled dust from the Twin Towers was shown to contain residues of aluminothermic reactions, and active thermitic pyrotechnics.


Pentagon Attack

The Pentagon attack defies expectations that this prime terrorist target would have been defended, and that a terrorist would have hit the front side in a simple maneuver, rather than the back side in an extreme precision aerobatic maneuver.

  • Wide-Open Target
    The Pentagon -- the heart of the military establishment of the world's greatest super-power -- was hit after ample warning without being protected by any defensive action.

    • The 9:37 strike was well over an hour after the first signs of a hijacking and 34 minutes after the South Tower strike confirmed that an attack was underway.

    • The Pentagon is within 11 miles of Andrews Air Force Base, which apparently had two combat-ready fighter wings on 9/11/01.

    • The attack plane was monitored on radar as it approached the capital.

  • Unlikely Super-pilot
    Alleged Flight 77 pilot Hani Hanjour was not up to the task.

    • The spiral dive approach to the Pentagon was such an extreme maneuver that experienced air traffic controllers thought it was military jet. 13   The tree-top final approach skimmed objects in the yard and crashed the plane into the first floor of the building. Experienced pilots have wondered if any human pilot could have executed the maneuver.

    • Hani Hanjour was considered incompetent by his flight school instructors, and was denied rental of a single-engine plane. 14  

  • Evidence Vacuum
    Authorities systematically confiscated or destroyed the evidence.

    • Video recordings from adjacent businesses were seized by the FBI shortly after the attack and have never been seen since.

    • Only two video segments have been released by the Pentagon from all the security cameras that monitor its periphery. Neither clearly shows the attack aircraft.

    • Investigators were not allowed access to the crash site until well into October.

  • More Than Just a Crash
    Was the crash engineered?


Death Toll

The death toll of the attack, though horrific, was much lower than it would have been if not for numerous aspects of target selection and timing.

  • Flights
    All four flights were unusually empty.

    • Flights 11, 175, 77, and 93 were only at 51%, 31%, 20%, and 16% occupancy, respectively.

  • World Trade Center
    The Towers were attacked before most people had arrived, and were hit high enough to allow most people to escape.

    • When Flight 11 hit the North Tower at 8:46 AM, the World Trade Center buildings were at less than half the occupancy of a typical mid-day.

    • The first Tower to be attacked was hit just 15 stories below the top, and trapped people mostly between the 95th and 110th floors.

    • The second Tower to be attacked was hit only 30 stories below the top, and the plane missed the core, allowing people to evacuate from above the impact zone. The 17 minutes that elapsed since the first hit allowed many people to escape the second Tower while the elevators were still working.

  • Pentagon
    125 people were killed in a building with 20,000 people.

    • The portion of the Pentagon that was attacked, the West Block, was in the process of being renovated, and so was at low occupancy.

    • No high-level Pentagon officials were killed in the attack.


Coincidences in Service of Incompetence

Many decisions and events in the days and months preceding the attack helped to make the incompetence theory more plausible.

  • War Games
    Several war game exercises were being conducted on 9/11/01.

    • Operation Northern Vigilance redeployed northeast sector air defense resources to northern Canada and Alaska. 15  

    • Operations Vigilant Warrior and Vigilant Guardian, which simulated hijackings and involved live radar "injects," may have confused military and civilian personnel monitoring aircraft. 16  

    • The National Reconnaissance Office, which monitors satellites and airborne objects, was evacuated while the attack unfolded because it was conducting a plane-into-tower crash drill. 17  

    • The Tripod II biowarfare exercise, scheduled for 9/12/01, resulted in the deployment of FEMA to Manhattan before the attack. 18  

  • Rules Changes
    Procedural changes would limit the ability of pilots and military commanders to respond to hijackings.

  • Out to Lunch
    Top officials were not available until after the attack was over.

    • President George W. Bush remained at the publicized location of Booker Elementary School until about a half-hour after the news of the attack went on TV worldwide, first reading My Pet Goat to second-graders, and then holding a press conference.

    • The Acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff allegedly remained in a meeting with Senator Max Cleland until nearly the time the Pentagon was hit.

    • Brigadier General Montague Winfield had Navy Captain Charles J. Leidig, Jr. -- a rookie -- assume his watch as Deputy Director for Operations for the National Military Command Center (NMCC) at 8:30 am on 9/11/01, and relieved him after the attack was over. 19  


Government Response

Despite the worst failure in history of the military to protect American civilians, and the worst alleged engineering failures in history, there were no consequences for the responsible authorities, and no honest investigations.

  • Air Defense Failures
    No one was held to account for the numerous unprecedented failures in air defense.

    • General Richard Myers, Acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on September 11th, was confirmed as Chairman on September 13th in spite of being unable to provide any meaningful answers to questions regarding the air defense failures.

    • General Richard Eberhart, commander of NORAD on September 11th, was promoted to head the newly created NORTHCOM. 20  

    • NORAD's press release contradicted early statements by high-ranking officials that no interceptors had been scrambled on 9/11/01.

    • NORAD's vague timeline raises far more questions than it answers, yet officials have never been required to give a full account.

    • The 9/11 Commission advanced a new timeline which contradicts NORAD's earlier timeline and the testimony of military officials to the Commission itself.

  • Building Collapse Inquiry
    The total collapses of WTC 1, 2, and 7 were the three largest engineering failures in history (based on the official story). How were they investigated?

    • FEMA was given the sole authority to investigate the collapses even though it is not an investigative agency.

    • The investigative team assembled by FEMA consisted of unpaid volunteers.

    • The investigators were not allowed access to Ground Zero.

    • The investigators were not provided with the blueprints of the buildings.

    • FEMA's report states the causes of the collapse "remain unknown at this time". (By the time the report was released the steel had been entirely disposed of.) The fact that Building 7 (supposedly) failed in a way that contradicts 100 years of engineering experience makes it the largest and least understood structural failure in history.

    • The 9/11 Commission Report failed to even mention the destruction of Building 7.

    • The 9/11 Commission Report denied the existence of the Twin Towers' core structures.

    • NIST's report on the collapse of the Twin Towers purports to provide a "probable collapse sequence" for each Tower but truncates its timelines before the collapses even begin.

    • NIST avoided even mentioning the earlier findings of sulfidated and evaporated steel, then described by the New York Times "the deepest mystery uncovered in the investigation".

    • NIST's Final Report on the collapse of Building 7 abandons the earlier official claims of severe structural damage and diesel-fueled fires, and blames the swift straight-down collapse on a house-of-cards chain reaction triggered by a single beam breaking loose from its connections due to thermal expansion -- a completely novel failure mechanism with no supporting evidence.

    • NIST proffered disingenuous arguments for failing to test for explosive residues, which it continued to repeat even after responding directly to public comments and correspondence pointing out the fallacies of those arguments.


Means, Motive, and Precedent

The preceding list is far from complete. It does not include consideration of facts pertaining to the means, motive, and precedent for the crime. The official account's blaming one organization, while ignoring others with much more to gain and possessing tools and access better suited to the commission of the crime, is arguably a vast anomaly. This subject is addressed by

NOTE: For more complete sources, visit the pages linked to.References

1. Profiting From Disaster?,, 9/19/01
2. Prices, Probabilities and Predictions, OR/MS Today,
3. Bush: We're at War, Newsweek, 9/24/01
4. Willie Brown got low-key early warning about air travel,, 9/12/01
5. , London Times, 9/27/01
6. Odigo says workers were warned of attack,,
7. Franklin unit rebuilds after 9/11 tragedy, San Francisco Business Times, 2/1/02
8. Ashcroft Flying High, CBS News, 7/26/01
9. Manager: Men spewed anti-American sentiments, AP, 9/14/01
10. The Day the FAA Stopped the World,, 9/14/01
11. Giuliani Improvises After Command Center Gets Hit, Washington Technology, 10/08/01
12. Terrorism and Anti-Terrorism, Gotham Gazette, 9/12/01
13. 'Get These Planes on the Ground',, 11/24/01
14. A Trainee Noted for Incompetence, New York Times, 5/4/02, page 10
15. The scene at NORAD on Sept. 11: Playing Russian war games ... and then someone shouted to look at the monitor, Toronto Star, 12/9/01
16. Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror, 2004
17. Agency planned exercise on Sept. 11 built around a plane crashing into a building, AP, 8/21/02
18. Tripod II and FEMA: Lack of NORAD Response on 9/11 Explained,, 2004
19. Statement of Capt Charles J. Leidig, Jr.,, 6/17/04
20. Eberhart To Head NORTHCOM,, 8/02 [cached]