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Context of '(8:46 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Janitor Hears Explosion from WTC Basement'

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Mohand Alshehri.Mohand Alshehri. [Source: FBI]Janitor William Rodriguez, who has worked at the World Trade Center for 20 years, believes he sees 9/11 hijacker Mohand Alshehri in one of the towers. Rodriguez is cleaning washrooms on the Trade Center’s concourse level one weekend, when a person he later believes to have been Alshehri approaches him and asks, “[H]ow many public bathrooms are in this area?” Rodriguez says he finds this “very strange.” After 9/11, he will recognize the man from newspaper photos as having been the suspected hijacker. He will say he is “very certain, I’ll give it 90 percent” that the man he’d seen was Alshehri. He will tell the FBI of this encounter, but will never hear back from them. FBI officials later say they have never heard of Rodriguez, but they do not discount his story. [Daily Telegraph, 6/15/2004; MSNBC, 6/15/2004; New York Daily News, 6/15/2004] According to FBI and 9/11 Commission accounts, Alshehri has only recently entered the US, on May 28, 2001 (see April 23-June 29, 2001), though other reports suggest he was in the country several months earlier (see January or July 28, 2001). [US Congress, 9/26/2002; 9/11 Commission, 8/21/2004, pp. 23 pdf file]

Entity Tags: William Rodriguez, Mohand Alshehri

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

William RodriguezWilliam Rodriguez [Source: Publicity photo]According to a WTC janitor, there is an explosion in the basement of the North Tower just before the plane hits up above. William Rodriguez has worked at the World Trade Center for 20 years, including the time of the 1993 bombing, and is responsible for cleaning three stairwells in the North Tower. He is talking to his supervisor in an office in the B-1 level in the basement when, he says, “I heard this massive explosion below, on level B-2 or 3.” He says, “The floor vibrated. We were all thrown upwards, then everyone in the office started screaming.” Then, “seconds later, there was another explosion way above, which made the building sway from side to side. And this, we later discovered, was the first plane hitting the North Tower on the 90th floor.” A man then runs into the office, shouting, “Explosion! Explosion!” The man, Felipe David, had been standing in front of a nearby lift when a fireball had burst from the lift shaft, severely burning him. Rodriguez will later question, “Now you tell me how an explosion from a jet liner could have burnt a man 90 floors down within seconds of impact?” The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will suggest that the basement explosion Rodriguez heard might have been caused by a fireball traveling from the aircraft down the central lift shaft. However, some time after hearing it, Rodriguez rescues two people trapped in a lift. He will therefore doubt NIST’s claim, saying that if it were true, “Why were the two people [I] rescued from the lift not burnt to death?” [New York Magazine, 3/20/2006; Western Morning News, 12/2/2006; Herald (Glasgow), 2/16/2007; Argus (Brighton), 2/26/2007] Rodriguez also claims to have witnessed alleged hijacker Mohand Alshehri in the World Trade Center in June 2001 (see June 2001).

Entity Tags: William Rodriguez, World Trade Center

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

After firefighters arrive at the North Tower, janitor William Rodriguez leads some of them up its stairs. Being one of only five people possessing a master key, he opens emergency exit doors as he goes up, allowing people to escape from the building. But between the tower’s 20th and 30th floors he hears a series of explosions. The source of these is unknown. Then, when he reaches the 33rd floor he hears what sounds like heavy equipment being dragged across the floor of the level above. He finds this puzzling, he later says, because the 34th floor is supposed to be empty and has been off limits for weeks due to a construction project. After he reaches the 39th floor, Rodriguez is ordered to turn back by the firefighters with him. He then hears the sound of the second plane hitting the WTC, at 9:03 a.m. Rodriguez also claims he heard an explosion from the North Tower’s basement just seconds before it was hit at 8:46 a.m. (see (8:46 a.m.) September 11, 2001). He will later be credited with saving many lives on 9/11, and be treated as a hero. [Christian Science Monitor, 3/25/2004; Western Morning News, 12/2/2006; Herald (Glasgow), 2/16/2007; Argus (Brighton), 2/26/2007]

Entity Tags: William Rodriguez, World Trade Center

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

May 30, 2002: WTC Recovery Efforts End

Recovery efforts end at the World Trade Center site. [Associated Press, 5/31/2002]

Timeline Tags: Environmental Impact of 9/11

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