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America Under Attack: Additional Arrests in New York

Aired September 14, 2001 - 00:04   ET


JIM CLANCY, CNN ANCHOR: And now, just a few miles from that scene, more arrests. At least eight people detained at New York airports, amid concerns about another attempted hijack.

COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN ANCHOR: Right. Sources say that four people were seen at one of the airports the day of the attacks, but fled the ticket counter when challenged. Another man was carrying fake pilot identification.

We go now to Mike Boettcher for more on this investigation -- Mike.

MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Colleen, indeed that is true. The airports opened today, but the police were closely watching. One of those people arrested was at Kennedy Airport. He was carrying a fake pilot's ID. He was arrested and taken away for questioning.

Also at Kennedy Airport, there were another four or five people who had either false documentation, or were in the country illegally, who were also arrested and taken away for questioning.


(voice-over): At New York's La Guardia Airport, police detained at least two other men for questioning.

After the state of arrest and detentions, all New York area airports were closed again. A few other airports in the U.S. have also shut down once more, because of security concerns.

Attorney General John Ashcroft said FBI Agents are making progress in their investigation, adding that they have identified the hijackers aboard all four ill-fated jets.

JOHN ASHCROFT, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: The total number of hijackers, to our best estimate and our best knowledge, given the information at this time, on the four planes that crashed, was at least 18. And unless contradicted by evidence, which we wouldn't anticipate, two planes had five hijackers and two other planes had four hijackers each.

BOETTCHER: Mohamed Atta, shown in this photograph, and Marwan Alshehhi, are two of the men on that list of 18, according to federal investigator sources. Both held United Arab Emirate's passports, but it's not clear if they are actually citizens of that country. The lives the two men led are the objects of an extensive international investigation, stretching from Florida to Germany.

In Hamburg, Germany, federal police launched an extensive search of an apartment, shared by Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi, last February. During an additional search of another Hamburg apartment, a woman was taken away for questioning. She clutched a baby in her arms, as German Police tried to hide her with a sheet. During the night, a total of eight apartments were searched in the Hamburg area.

Back in the U.S., at Pompano Beach, Florida, FBI Agents converged on a small rental car company, called Warrick's. Records show that Atta rented two automobiles at that location.

BRAD WARRICK, WARRICK RENTAL CAR: The first contract he only put on 200 miles -- 254 miles, which is very small, that's exceptionally small. The next contract was the two-week rental, and he drove 1,915 miles, which he had told me he'd been over on the west coast -- he called me from over on the west coast.


BOETTCHER (on camera): Four thousand FBI Agents have fanned out across the country, knocking on hundreds of doors. But, before this is open -- closed, rather -- and over, they're going to have to knock to tens of thousands more doors -- Colleen.

CLANCEY: All right. Jim Clancy. Mike, I want to just make it very clear here. What has gone on at the airports? Were these people actually trying to board airplanes, using pilots' identification? What were they trying to do?

BOETTCHER: Well, the one person had the pilot's identification. It's not completely clear right now. He was in the airport. We're not sure if he was trying to get on a plane. We do know the other seven people, who were arrested for having false documentation, for example, or not being in the country legally. They were trying to get on those aircraft, to make flights, and what raised red flags was the fact that they had open-ended tickets -- no set return date. And they were challenged, and we're told some of them tried to get away, but all were arrested.

We don't know, however, not all of them tried to get away. But, we do not know, however, if they are connected at all with this current terrorist plot, being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

CLANCEY: All right. Mike Boettcher, thanks to you for bringing us up to date on the investigation. Colleen.

MCEDWARDS: All right, Jim, thanks. Well, the rescue and recovery operation, in New York City, still remains very dangerous. The Mayor is urging people to be patient, because the process is so painstaking. And, Garrick Utley joins us right now from the scene -- and, Garrick. GARRICK UTLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning Colleen, here from midtown Manhattan. The news today, part of is just what you just heard, though. Mike Boettcher was reporting the airports been closed down because of those arrests of suspects.

Behind me is that, by now, very familiar and sad scene: The plume of smoke and dust rising in Lower Manhattan, under the arc lights, where the rescue work is continuing. And the news, also sadly, is that today no new survivors have been discovered -- have been unearthed there. The missing now is estimated officially, as you may have heard, at more than 4,000 -- 4,760 -- the last estimate, and that's only an estimate. That's through a census that was taken by companies with offices in the building.

Also, this has been a day of bomb scares. By noon today there had been 90 -- that's 9 0 false alarms and bomb scares in stores, and schools and office buildings. The police had to come -- people had to leave for an hour or so -- adults -- children -- in a number of schools. That was now perhaps to be expected, as a terrorism of its own, if you might call it that.

And tomorrow, of course, President George Bush will be coming to Manhattan. What's interesting this time, is that when a President comes, his agenda, his plan is carefully laid out, but not this time, for obvious security reasons. The White House isn't saying where he's going to go, although he's expected to visit the site of the tragedy -- or how long he's going to stay here. But, President Bush will be here tomorrow afternoon, in Manhattan.

Let's go now downtown, near the site, to get some extraordinary closeup looks as to the damage that was caused here by the explosions on Tuesday. Our Gary Tuchman is on the scene. Gary?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Garrick. It's now been 63 hours since terrorists flew two passenger planes into the World Trade Center Towers. Small fires still burn, and the smoke is still intense. Hundreds of emergency officials are on the scene 24 hours a day, feverishly looking for survivors. But, as you said, the bad news is no survivors were found today.

There was some potentially exciting new earlier today. According to officials at the police, and at hospitals, five firefighters were pulled out of the wreckage -- firefighters who were believed to have been there since this terrorist event on Tuesday. But, there was some confusion. Rescue workers thought that's what they say, so they said it to the police and the hospital officials. It turned out these firemen fell into the wreckage today, while they worked being rescuers. They were trapped for several hours. It's good news that they were pulled out, but they were not survivors of this terrorist incident.

You hear, many times, it's like a war zone out there -- the rubble -- you see it right there. It's just incredible -- tons and tons of wreckage on the ground. It looks like a war zone, you hear, but it really, literally, is a war zone. We have debris a 10-block, by 10-block area. There's a chapel nearby, called St. Paul's Chapel. It's the oldest church in New York City. It's about 250 years old, and there is debris and rubble all over the yard of the church. There is a cemetery next to the church. The cemetery is tombstones from the 18th century, and some of those tombstones have been toppled over, because of what happened at the World Trade Center on Tuesday.

One of the concerns at the site there, is there are three buildings surrounding the World Trade Center complex, which are said to be structurally unsound, because of the explosions. There has been great concern that those buildings could potentially collapse, and that's the only time we don't have officials on the scene 24 hours a day. There have been some times when they've had to evacuate, because there's been creeping of the buildings -- there's been windows popping out -- and that's the only time the rescuers have left.

Yesterday, the first time they heard a warning about one of these buildings, everyone ran out of there. It was a very sad, dramatic picture, watching these people who've been working so hard running away. But, they are back on the scene as we speak.

One other potential problem is the weather is deteriorating right now. Ever since Tuesday the weather has been nice for these types of operations, but right now it's getting very windy -- it's very cloudy. They're expecting a lot of rain tonight, and that could be a big problem, as they continue to try to look for survivors. Garrick, back to you.

UTLEY: Thank you very much, Gary Tuchman, there in Lower Manhattan. What Gary was showing us, and what we've seen in these last couple of days -- those scenes of the devastation and the death there in Lower Manhattan.



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