WASHINGTON – American Airlines security officials never told the Federal Aviation Administration about an alleged shooting aboard hijacked Flight 11 on Sept. 11, an airline spokesman insisted in a phone interview today.
The account of a hijacker killing a passenger with a gun aboard the first plane that hit the World Trade Center appears in an internal FAA memo written at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 11. The FAA says the executive summary, a copy of which was obtained by WorldNetDaily.com, was a mistaken first draft.
“We don’t know where that came from,” American Airlines spokesman John Hotard told WorldNetDaily.com.
But an FAA spokeswoman says the gun account developed from conversations with American Airlines employees that tragic day.
“It was a miscommunication between American Airlines dispatch people and our people,” FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown told WorldNetDaily.com.
The memo says that Suzanne Clark, head of corporate security for American Airlines, told the airline’s FAA principal security inspector, or PSI, that a flight attendant aboard the doomed flight out of Boston called the airline’s security operations center in Fort Worth and said that hijacker Satam al-Suqami had shot and killed passenger Daniel Lewin, a 31-year-old executive from Brookline, Mass., who was seated in the next row in business class.
Hotard, who says he has not read the memo, insists Clark said no such thing. He also says that the FAA PSI, Janet Riffe, did not relay any information about a gun being used in the hijacking to FAA headquarters here.
What’s more, Hotard says that Betty Ong, the flight attendant who called Fort Worth from the plane, never mentioned a gun or a shooting.
“This just doesn’t fit with what she said,” he said. “And I listened to her phone recording.”
Another Flight 11 crew member, Madeline Amy Sweeney, also had the presence of mind to phone from the plane. She reported to American flight services manager Michael Woodward, on the ground at Boston’s Logan International Airport, that two fellow flight attendants had been stabbed, as WorldNetDaily first reported the evening of Sept. 11.
That phone conversation was not recorded, Hotard says, but Woodward took notes in shorthand and later wrote them out in longhand for FBI agents.
The FBI, in turn, summarized his account in an investigative document that was later leaked to the Los Angeles Times.
In the Sept. 20 Times article, Sweeney is quoted as saying: “A hijacker also cut the throat of a business-class passenger, and he appears to be dead.”
It’s not clear if she was referring to Lewin.
Brown says the memo, a summary of events prepared for top FAA officials, was a first draft and riddled with mistakes, including inaccurate times and passenger names in the summaries of the other three hijacked flights that day.
As mistakes go, though, the Flight 11 gun account was unusually detailed and dramatic by comparison.
Two of the three other flight summaries mention knives, while none mentions guns.
In the account of the United Airlines Flight 93 hijacking, the FAA memo reported that hijackers had knives and “made a bomb threat.” On United Airlines Flight 175, it said that “one flight attendant was stabbed and two crew members were killed.”