Former Maine airline ticket agent remembers encounter with 9/11 terrorists

2021-09-10 01:29:26

THEM IN THAT DAY IN A STY OR YOU’LL SEE ONLY ON 8. (VO 1: ME AND MIKE WALK…ATTA & AL- OMARI CHECKING IN PHOT) OS FORMER U.S. AIRWAYS TICK ET AGENT MIKE TOUHEY WAS ON DUTY WHEN TERRORIST PLOT LEADER MOHAMMED ATTA AND FELLOW HIJACKER ABDUL AZIZ AL-OMARI, ARRIVED LESS THAN 30-MINUTES FORE BE FLIGHT 5930 TO BOSTON WAS SCHEDULED TO TAKE OFF. (SOT MIKE, 3:03) “IT WAS A FLIGHT AT SIX O’CLOCK, A COMMUR TE AIRCRAFT. IT ONLY HELD 19 PEOPLE.” (VO 2: ATTA & – ALOMARI HEAD SHOTS SPLIT SCRE) EN ATTA, AN EGYPTIAN, A ND OMARI, A SAUDI, HAD $2,4 00 FIRST CLASS TICKETS, FROM PORTLAND TO BOSTON TO LOS ANGELES. (SOT MIKE 5:51) “THESE GUYS LOOK LEDIKE THEY MIGHT HAVE ENBE ON BUSINESS TRAVEL.” (VO 3: ATTA DRIVER’S LICENSE) WHEN TUOHEY ASKED FOR ID, ATTA SHOD WEHIS FLORIDA DRIVER’S LICENSE. SO DID OMARI. (SOT MIKE, 21:) 48 “THEY DIDN’T DO ANYTHINGO T RAISE ANY REAL SUSPICIONS. THEY HAD PROBABLY PRACTICED THIS COUNTLESS TIMES AT DIFFERENT AIRPORTS.” (VO 4: US AIRWAYS COUNTER, WMTW 2001 VIDEO) DUE TO THEIR TARDINESS, TUOHEY AUTOMICATALLY FLAGGED THEIR LUGGAGE FOR “POSITIVE BAG MATCHUP,” SO THE BAGS WOULDN’T BE LOADED UNTIL THE PASSENGERS H AD BOARDED, A PRE- 9/11, BOMB- PREVENTING SECURITY MEASURE. (SOT MIKE, 16:08) “THE BAG CHECK TE WAS IM 5:43, IT SAID ON THE BAG TAG.” (VO 5: US AIR COUNTER) TOUHEY ROUTINELY IUIRED NQ IF ANY UNKNOWN PERSON HAD ASKED THEM TO CARRY ANYTHING? (SOT MIKE, 7:1 0) “SO, ATTA SAID, ‘NAH.’UT B HE DOESN’T LOOK AT YOU. // HIS HEAD IS TILTED OFF TO THE SIDE. HE’S ‘GOT SMIRK ON HIS FACE, AND HE KIND OF LOOKED AT YOU SIDEWAYS, AND HSAE ID ‘NO.’ AND THE OTHER GUY IS JUST SHAKING HIS HEAD, YOU KNOW, LIKE THIS. I DON’T THINK HE UNDERSTOOD A WORD I SAID .” (VO 6: ATTA AND OMARI HEAD OTSHS) TOUHEY DECLINED TO ISSUE THE LAST MINUTE STRANGERS THEIR BOSTON BOARDING PASSES FOR AMERICAN AIRLINES FLIGHT 11. ATTA WAS UNHAPPY. (SOT MIKE, 12:) 37 “HE LOOKS AT HIS ENVELOP E, AND HE LOOKS AT ME AND SAYS, ‘THEY TOLD ME ONE- SP TE CHECK-IN!’ I SAID TO MYSELF, ‘UH OH, THIS GUY KNOWS I HAVE HIS BOARDG IN CARDS HERE, AND I’M NOT GIVING THEM TO HIM.’ I (VO 7: WTC 1 ON FIRE) ATTA, BACKED BY OMARI AND THREE OTHER MUSC LE HIAJCKERS, PILOTED THE IR BOSTON-TO-LA FLIGHT INTO WORLD TRADE CENTER TOWER ONE. TUOHEY STRUGGLED WI TH GUILT. (SOT MIKE, 21:29) “THAT WAS THE TORTUOUS QUESTION THAT RAN THROUGH MY MIND FOR YEARS, THAT I WENT TO COUNSELINGOR: F WHAT DID I MISS? WHY DIDN’T I SEE THIS?” (TAPED STANDUP) 20 YEARS ON, TUOHEY DOEST N’ BLAME HIMSELF FOR FAILING TO STOP ATTA. HIS BRUSH WITH HISTORY REMAINED UNKNOWN TO THE PUBLIC UNTIL THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT, IN 2004, MENTIONED HIS NAME

Former Maine airline ticket agent remembers encounter with 9/11 terrorists

Mike Tuohey was working the ticket counter on the Jetport on Sept. 11, 2001

Twenty years after the September 11, 2001, terrorist assaults on America, former U.S. Airways ticket agent Mike Tuohey doesn’t blame himself for failing to cease plot ringleader Mohammed Atta.Tuohey was on responsibility early that day on the Portland Worldwide Jetport when Atta, together with fellow al Qaeda terrorist Abdul Aziz al Omari, arrived lower than half-hour earlier than Flight 5930 to Boston was scheduled to take off.”It was a flight at 6 o’clock, a commuter plane; it solely held 19 folks,” Tuohey recalled in an interview at his house on Wednesday, three days earlier than the twentieth anniversary of 9/11.The flight was half full, and Atta and Omari had been the final passengers to reach.Atta, an Egyptian, and Omari, a Saudi, held $2,400 first-class tickets to fly from Portland to Boston to Los Angeles.”These guys seemed like they could have been on enterprise journey,” Tuohey stated. “They did not do something to lift any actual suspicions. They’d most likely practiced this numerous occasions at completely different airports.”Tuohey requested what — even again then — had been normal safety questions. He recalled saying to Atta and Omari: “Has an unknown particular person requested you to hold an merchandise on board an plane? ‘No.’ They’re presupposed to say ‘no.’ And have your baggage been out of your sight because you packed them? They must say ‘no’ to that.” So, Atta stated, ‘Nah.’ However he doesn’t take a look at you. That is what I first seen. His head is tilted off to the facet. He’s received a smirk on his face, and he form of checked out you sideways and stated, ‘No.’ “The opposite man is simply shaking his head,” Tuohey continued. “I don’t assume he understood a phrase I stated.”When Tuohey requested for identification, Atta and Omari confirmed their Florida driver’s licenses.“Now, Atta, nonetheless smirking, he throws it up on the desk,” Tuohey stated. “I had this thought, actual thought in my thoughts – ‘If this man would not appear to be an Arab terrorist, no one does.’ Alright, as a result of he simply appeared so depressing, and I gave myself a slap, a psychological slap, and stated, ‘That’s not proper, you shouldn’t be doing that.’”Every terrorist introduced one bag to verify, however as a result of their late arrival, their baggage had been flagged robotically for a optimistic bag matchup – to not be loaded till after the passengers had boarded, a regular pre-9/11 safety measure meant to cease baggage bombs just like the one which blew up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988.”The bag verify time was 5:43, it stated on the bag tag,” Tuohey stated. “Don’t put that bag on except you realize these folks really made the flight.”Tuohey declined to problem the last-minute strangers their Boston boarding passes for American Airways Flight 11, a 7:45 a.m. departure. Atta was sad.Tuohey stated, “He seems at his envelope, and he seems at me and says, ‘They informed me one-step check-in.’ I stated to myself, ‘Uh, oh, this man is aware of I’ve his boarding playing cards right here, and I am not giving them to him.’ I hope he would not give me a tough time.”Tuohey assured them, as first-class passengers, they’d be high precedence to board in Boston, however Atta pushed again.“They informed me one-step check-in!” Tuohey recalled Atta saying.”I stated, Mr. Atta, if you do not get upstairs in a short time, you are going to miss your flight altogether,” Tuohey stated. Sadly, they didn’t miss their connection.At 8:46 a.m., with Atta within the pilot’s chair, Atta, Omari, and three different muscle hijackers crashed their Boston-to-LA flight into the north tower of the World Commerce Middle, the primary of the day’s 4 airliners commandeered into weapons of mass destruction, ensuing within the quick deaths of practically 3,000 folks in New York, on the Pentagon, in northern Virginia, and in a area in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.Afterward, Tuohey struggled with guilt.He stated, “That was the tortuous query that ran by my thoughts for years, that I went to counseling for: What did I miss? Why did not I see this?”Tuohey, 75, retired a decade-and-a-half in the past after 38 years within the airline business.On 9/11, FBI brokers questioned him about his encounter with evil, asking him to positively establish Atta and Omari from a photograph array, which he did.However his brush with historical past remained unknown to the general public till the 9/11 Fee report, in 2004, talked about his title in a footnote in regards to the Jetport connection.Tuohey stated, “Till that report, nobody knew who I used to be.”

Twenty years after the September 11, 2001, terrorist assaults on America, former U.S. Airways ticket agent Mike Tuohey doesn’t blame himself for failing to cease plot ringleader Mohammed Atta.

Tuohey was on responsibility early that day on the Portland Worldwide Jetport when Atta, together with fellow al Qaeda terrorist Abdul Aziz al Omari, arrived lower than half-hour earlier than Flight 5930 to Boston was scheduled to take off.

“It was a flight at 6 o’clock, a commuter plane; it solely held 19 folks,” Tuohey recalled in an interview at his house on Wednesday, three days earlier than the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

The flight was half full, and Atta and Omari had been the final passengers to reach.

Atta, an Egyptian, and Omari, a Saudi, held $2,400 first-class tickets to fly from Portland to Boston to Los Angeles.

“These guys seemed like they could have been on enterprise journey,” Tuohey stated. “They did not do something to lift any actual suspicions. They’d most likely practiced this numerous occasions at completely different airports.”

Tuohey requested what — even again then — had been normal safety questions.

He recalled saying to Atta and Omari: “Has an unknown particular person requested you to hold an merchandise on board an plane? ‘No.’ They’re presupposed to say ‘no.’ And have your baggage been out of your sight because you packed them? They must say ‘no’ to that.” So, Atta stated, ‘Nah.’ However he doesn’t take a look at you. That is what I first seen. His head is tilted off to the facet. He’s received a smirk on his face, and he form of checked out you sideways and stated, ‘No.’

“The opposite man is simply shaking his head,” Tuohey continued. “I don’t assume he understood a phrase I stated.”

When Tuohey requested for identification, Atta and Omari confirmed their Florida driver’s licenses.

“Now, Atta, nonetheless smirking, he throws it up on the desk,” Tuohey stated. “I had this thought, actual thought in my thoughts – ‘If this man would not appear to be an Arab terrorist, no one does.’ Alright, as a result of he simply appeared so depressing, and I gave myself a slap, a psychological slap, and stated, ‘That’s not proper, you shouldn’t be doing that.’”

Every terrorist introduced one bag to verify, however as a result of their late arrival, their baggage had been flagged robotically for a optimistic bag matchup – to not be loaded till after the passengers had boarded, a regular pre-9/11 safety measure meant to cease baggage bombs just like the one which blew up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988.

“The bag verify time was 5:43, it stated on the bag tag,” Tuohey stated. “Don’t put that bag on except you realize these folks really made the flight.”

Tuohey declined to problem the last-minute strangers their Boston boarding passes for American Airways Flight 11, a 7:45 a.m. departure. Atta was sad.

Tuohey stated, “He seems at his envelope, and he seems at me and says, ‘They informed me one-step check-in.’ I stated to myself, ‘Uh, oh, this man is aware of I’ve his boarding playing cards right here, and I am not giving them to him.’ I hope he would not give me a tough time.”

Tuohey assured them, as first-class passengers, they’d be high precedence to board in Boston, however Atta pushed again.

“They informed me one-step check-in!” Tuohey recalled Atta saying.

“I stated, Mr. Atta, if you do not get upstairs in a short time, you are going to miss your flight altogether,” Tuohey stated.

Sadly, they didn’t miss their connection.

At 8:46 a.m., with Atta within the pilot’s chair, Atta, Omari, and three different muscle hijackers crashed their Boston-to-LA flight into the north tower of the World Commerce Middle, the primary of the day’s 4 airliners commandeered into weapons of mass destruction, ensuing within the quick deaths of practically 3,000 folks in New York, on the Pentagon, in northern Virginia, and in a area in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Afterward, Tuohey struggled with guilt.

He stated, “That was the tortuous query that ran by my thoughts for years, that I went to counseling for: What did I miss? Why did not I see this?”

Tuohey, 75, retired a decade-and-a-half in the past after 38 years within the airline business.

On 9/11, FBI brokers questioned him about his encounter with evil, asking him to positively establish Atta and Omari from a photograph array, which he did.

However his brush with historical past remained unknown to the general public till the 9/11 Fee report, in 2004, talked about his title in a footnote in regards to the Jetport connection.

Tuohey stated, “Till that report, nobody knew who I used to be.”

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