Entries in Terrorist Attacks (6)


9/11, Remembrance and Renewal: The New Ground Zero

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Ten years after it became known as Ground Zero, the 16-acre World Trade Center site shows signs of life instead of death.

“There are oak trees, swamp white oak trees,” describes Lynn Rasic, the senior vice president of the 9/11 Memorial.

Hundreds of them, in fact, including one known as the "Survivor Tree," which, Rasic says, "was located on the World Trade Center on 9/11."  The tree stands as a symbol of hope and renewal at the center of the new 9/11 Memorial.

The site also features two waterfalls, positioned around the original footprints of the Twin Towers, that flow into pools around which are etched the names of the nearly 3,000 people who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

“They are based off of groupings, largely determined by where people worked, when they died and who they were with,” Rasic says, explaining how the victims' names are categorized. 

She says the waterfalls also can also capture rainbows as the sun shines through them.

The 9/11 Memorial will open on the 10th anniversary of the attacks, while the main skyscraper -- One World Trade Center -- nears completion. 

“The building was so laden with emotion, but in the end there is sort of no right way to remember what happened, but we have an obligation to remember,” Rasic says.

One World Trade Center is expected to be completed in 2013.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sept. 11 Anniversary Report Card: Not a Lot of A's, and Some Explosive F's

James Hardy/PhotoAlto Agency RF Collections/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Ten years after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, the 9/11 Commission report card on making this country safer from terrorist attacks revealed that U.S. security scored very few A's, lots of C's and incompletes, and at least two significant F's.

Despite billions of dollars spent on aviation security, the report found the U.S. still cannot reliably detect explosives that could bring down a plane.

"We are still highly vulnerable to aviation security threats," said the report, released Wednesday by the Bipartisan Policy Center.

The failure to detect explosives is one of nine unfinished recommendations the 9/11 Commission cited in the report card.

"We really have not gotten it right yet," said Gov. Tom Kean, the co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission which was organized to recommend ways to prevent another terror attack. "Some of these recommendations, no question you get an F."

The Transportation Security Administration acknowledged there is no silver bullet or perfect technology.  The agency's former administrator, Kip Hawley, said that by inspecting passengers' shoes and restricting the amount of liquid brought on board, the size of any potential bomb would not be big enough to bring down a plane.

"Yes, you don't want a bomb going off and injuring people on a plane, but you do not want to let them bring on a bomb that will catastrophically destroy the plane," Hawley said.

In response to the report, the TSA said that explosives detection technology was a "key part of a layered approach to aviation security" that has made American travelers safer since the deadly attacks.

"As we approach the tenth anniversary of 9/11, there is no question that America's transportation systems are stronger and more secure than they were a decade ago," TSA spokesperson Greg Soule told ABC News.

Also cited in the commission report card is the failure to remedy the communications breakdown that occurred on Sept. 11 when emergency police and fire units in New York were on different radio frequencies and could not talk to each other.

"People died because of that," said Kean, who now co-chairs the Bipartisan Policy Center's National Security Preparedness Group.

Kean said that Congress was to blame for that shortcoming for failing to allocate new broadcast frequencies for common use by all first responders.

"That should have been done yesterday, and everyday it's not done the American people are less safe," he said.

The report card does praise the work of the FBI and the CIA for finally working together, which it says led to the disruption of many plots and the capture or killing of terrorist operatives.

While security experts said a terror plot precisely similar to the Sept. 11 hijacking plot is highly unlikely, the threat has evolved and there still remain huge vulnerabilities ten years later.

Soule said the TSA stands ready "to confront evolving threats."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


9/11 -- Remembrance and Renewal: Thousands Still Coping with PTSD

CHANG W. LEE/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A decade after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, thousands are still feeling the emotional impact.

After 9/11, a unified spirit helped Americans cope.

"There was a real sense of solidarity in the community which I think probably limited the [emotional] damage," says Dr. John Markowitz at the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

But there are nearly 4,000 people who are still suffering with 9/11-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

"Everyone was in a certain amount of shock.  For most people that subsided, but for a lot of people that's really persisted," Markowitz says.

He adds, "Every time there's another catastrophe in Japan or in Norway, wherever, it reawakens this for people."

Markowitz is spending the next two years studying PTSD and the best way to treat it.

He explains that some people try to seal off this event and avoid thinking about it, but certain things can trigger it.  One such example could be the 10-year commemoration of the 9/11 attacks.  While it may help some cope, it may resurface painful memories for others.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


9/11, Remembrance and Renewal: Unidentified Victims Remain

U.S. Navy Photo by Jim Watson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A decade after the attacks of Sept. 11, the recovery work is still not over.  Some of the nearly 3,000 people killed in New York City have yet to be identified.

For months after 9/11, forensic teams scoured Ground Zero and recovered more than 20,000 human remains.  Ten years later, forensic biologist Mechthild Prinz says, the city medical examiner's office is still identifying victims.

"It's really very complex," Prinz says.  "There was a lot of destructive energy and the victims, some of them got very very fragmented but out of fragments you've been able to make identifications."

A team of five scientists works full-time trying to make new identifications.  So far, 59 percent of World Trade Center victims have been identified.

"Yes, we will get a few more but we will not get all of them," says Prinz.

The unidentified remains of the victims are stored on East 30th Street in a white tent. Some of these remains will be retested and hopefully identified as DNA-matching technology continues to advance. The rest will be interred back at Ground Zero at the 9/11 Memorial.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US 'Stronger and More Resilient than Ever Before' in Fighting Terrorism

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Nearly 10 years after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the U.S. government in a new report obtained by ABC News says the nation “is stronger and more resilient than ever before” when it comes to fighting terrorism.

The Department of Homeland Security report does acknowledge that “challenges remain,” but praises the information sharing now taking place between various federal agencies, law enforcement and international partners.

The report also cites improved aviation screening and cyber network protection efforts in the country’s fight against terrorism.  The report does, however, state that the nation needs to be vigilant because threats “persist and continue to evolve.”

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano told ABC News Radio that today's information sharing, which didn’t exist on 9/11, is key because it offers “layered protection” for the American people in a sense that if one agency or law enforcement group fails to pick up a terrorist threat, other Department of Homeland Security partners are there to spot it.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Homeland Security Recommends Replacing Color-Coded Warnings

Photo Courtesy - Department of Homeland Security(WASHINGTON) -- The Department of Homeland Security is recommending that the current color-coded system used to warn Americans of imminent threats and attacks be replaced, ABC News has learned.

The government agency wants President Obama to scrap the Homeland Security Advisory System, "a color-coded terrorism risk advisory scale," in favor of warnings that are more specific.  The agency would instead put out warnings with clearer language so Americans could understand what kind of threat exists.

The color-coded scale was implented in 2002.  The current overall threat level is yellow, or "elevated," marking a significant risk of terrorist attacks.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio