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America Under Attack: Justice Department Identifies 18 Hijackers

Aired September 13, 2001 - 16:19   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: In the investigation of the attack, the Justice Department now says that at least 18 hijackers were aboard the four planes that were involved in the strike on Tuesday morning.

CNN's justice correspondent Kelli Arena joining us now.

Kelli, bring us up-to-date on what the investigators are focusing on?

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, as you said, they have identified 18. This isn't a guesstimate. They have 18 solid names, information on those people that are believed to be the hijackers. They say there were five on two planes, four on the other two planes. It is being deliberated right now as to whether or not they will release those names to the public. If they do, of course, we'll get that to you as quickly as possible.

Much of the investigation has focused on aviation schools here in the United States. We are told by justice officials that many of the people looking that they're looking at, and including several of these 18 identified, were indeed pilots. They had pilots' licenses and they had trained here in the United States. So investigators are really focusing their efforts there to find out, not only where those people lived, but their associates.

And that really is the key here, Judy. I mean, obviously, these 18 are dead. So the key is finding the associates' family, friends, anybody who can lead them to pulling all the pieces together to really figuring out exactly what this organization was, if it was indeed an organization of terrorists, and where they got their financial backing, where their terrorist cells may have been located, how many of those cells there may be that are active and possibly plotting anything more here in the United States.

And Judy, I will tell you the FBI has upped this investigation, which already is the most massive in U.S. history. Yesterday we were told that more than 8,000 FBI personnel were involved. That number has yet increased. And we are told now that 20 officers overseas are directly involved in this investigation. They have added, obviously, reinforcements from all of the Departments of Justice.

You have INS. You have customs. You have the DEA and the ATF, everybody adding to this massive man-force to find out exactly what happened. Following up on what Bob Franken said, none of the black boxes have been found. And that is something that a justice remains hopeful about, but that could provide a great deal of information moving forward.

We are told that you are hearing signals from the black box at the Pentagon, it is also very likely that they'll be able to recover the black box from the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, since that seems to be, for lack of a better word, the cleanest crime scene that they can deal with. They can really get at the equipment and really go for finding that box. So it most likely that they may turn that one up first, Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Kelli Arena, our justice correspondent. Kelli working with -- talking to justice officials, talking to intelligence officials over these last three days.

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