Attorney General John Ashcroft said thousands of FBI agents from around the country are being assigned to investigate the attacks and will be focusing on New York, Washington, Pittsburgh, Boston and Newark, N.J. Ashcroft also pledged that those responsible would be brought to justice.
"The determination of the terrorists will not deter the determination of the American people," said Ashcroft. "We will find the people responsible for this terrible act and justice will be done."
According to the FBI, the planes involved in the World Trade Center crashes were American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767 en route from Boston to Los Angeles carrying 81 passengers, nine flight attendants and two pilots, and United Airlines Flight 175, a Boeing 767 also headed from Boston to Los Angeles. Officials said the plane was carrying 56 passengers, two pilots and seven flight attendants.
FBI officials have begun interviewing airline officials at Dulles and Boston's Logan airports in an attempt to get a sense of who was on the airplanes. The FBI has also set up a Web site at www.fccfbi.gov for those who have any information about the terrorist attacks.
Tonight, the FBI issued several search warrants on people who live within the United States based on preliminary information on how two of the planes were hijacked. They said a flight attendant called authorities from the airborne American Airlines Flight 11, reporting that two flight attendants had been stabbed and that intruders had broken into the cockpit. The Christian Science Monitor reported that air traffic controllers could hear the hijackers of Flight 11 instructing the pilots in English.
On the United flight that crashed outside Pittsburgh, a passenger called authorities from the plane on his cell phone, saying the plane had been hijacked. A senior FBI official also told ABCNEWS that investigators have received reports that other passengers were able to use their cell phones to call 911 or relatives and describe horrific scenes in which terrorists were slashing people's throats.
The chaos began at about 8:50 a.m. ET when a hijacked American Airlines passenger plane smashed into the 110-story One World Trade Center, the northern tower. Then, at about 9 a.m., another jet crashed into the southern tower, Two World Trade Center.
At about 10 a.m., the southern tower collapsed, enveloping lower Manhattan in a cloud of dust, ash and debris. A half-hour later, the northern tower also fell in on itself and the New York City skyline was indelibly changed.
"Lots of smoke and then the next thing I heard was an explosion in the building from the top, the south building just crumbled, just completely went down, I saw it," said witness Joan Fleischer. "It's hard to see all the pieces, but you could see it tipping over and just crashing to the ground."
Shortly after the crashes at the World Trade Center, at about 9:40 a.m., FBI officials say American Airlines Flight 77, a Boeing 757 en route from Washington Dulles Airport to Los Angeles crashed into the Pentagon. The plane was carrying 58 passengers, four flight attendants and two pilots.
Then, at about 10:40 a.m., reports came that United Airlines Flight 93, a Boeing 757, en route from Newark to San Francisco, crashed in western Pennsylvania, about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. The plane was carrying 38 passengers, two pilots and five flight attendants.