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Context of '9:00 a.m. September 11, 2001: Passenger on Flight 175 Tells Mother of Planned Fight Back against Hijackers'

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James Sayer.James Sayer. [Source: Boston Globe]Amy Sweeney, a flight attendant on Flight 11, reaches the American Airlines flight services office at Logan International Airport in Boston for the second time, and describes the trouble on her plane to an employee there. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001, pp. 7-8; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 6; US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, 7/31/2006] Sweeney called the flight services office at 8:25 a.m. and told Evelyn Nunez, a passenger service agent, about the trouble on Flight 11, but the call was cut off after less than two minutes (see 8:25 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001, pp. 57-58; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 10; US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, 7/31/2006] Sweeney now calls the flight services office again. Nunez is busy making a phone call, so Sweeney’s call is answered by James Sayer, a staff assistant.
Sweeney Describes Stabbings on Flight 11 - Sayer takes notes while he is talking to Sweeney. He will later describe to the FBI what she tells him. Sweeney apparently does not give her name during the call. Sayer will recall that “[o]n the telephone was [a] female flight attendant on… Flight 11, calling from the air, who stated that two flight attendants were stabbed and a man in business class had been stabbed in the throat.” [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001, pp. 7-8] Sweeney would be referring to flight attendants Barbara Arestegui and Karen Martin, and passenger Daniel Lewin (see (8:20 a.m.) September 11, 2001), who were attacked by the hijackers. [ABC News, 7/18/2002; Ha'aretz, 7/22/2004] Sweeney says that a “doctor and nurse on board the plane [are] caring for the injured man,” Sayer will recall. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001, pp. 7-8] Michael Woodward, a manager in the flight services office who talks with Sweeney in a subsequent call (see (8:32 a.m.-8:44 a.m.) September 11, 2001), will also tell the FBI that Sweeney says a doctor and nurse are caring for a passenger who has been stabbed. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001, pp. 5-6] However, Betty Ong, another flight attendant on Flight 11, is currently talking over the phone to employees at the American Airlines Southeastern Reservations Office in North Carolina (see 8:19 a.m. September 11, 2001 and 8:21 a.m. September 11, 2001), and she will say there are no doctors on the plane (see 8:36 a.m.-8:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). [American Airlines, 9/11/2001, pp. 7-19; 9/11 Commission, 1/27/2004 pdf file]
Hijackers Have a Bomb and Are in the Cockpit - Sweeney tells Sayer that the individuals who took over her plane “had Mace and pepper spray,” and she can “detect an odor in the cabin.” She says that “two people had gone in the cockpit and they said they had a bomb.” Apparently describing the bomb, Sweeney says she “observed two boxes connected with red and yellow wire.”
Sweeney Gives Incorrect Information about Plane's Location and Hijackers' Seat Numbers - Sweeney says Flight 11 is currently in the air over New York City, Sayer will recall. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001, pp. 7-8] However, Flight 11 recently turned south over Albany, which is about 150 miles north of New York (see (8:26 a.m.-8:29 a.m.) September 11, 2001), and so is still a long way from the city. [Federal Aviation Administration, 9/17/2001 pdf file; National Transportation Safety Board, 2/19/2002 pdf file] Sweeney also indicates that she thinks there are only three hijackers on Flight 11, telling Sayer that the hijackers were in seats 9C, 9G, and 10B. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001, pp. 7-8] However, apart from seat 10B, these seat numbers are different to those registered in the hijackers’ names. The five hijackers on Flight 11 had been in seats 2A, 2B, 8D, 8G, and 10B, according to the 9/11 Commission Report. [BBC, 9/21/2001; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 2]
Call Is Disconnected, but Sweeney Phones Again - Sweeney’s call is cut off after 43 seconds. [US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, 7/31/2006] Sayer will answer the phone when Sweeney contacts the flight services office again at 8:32 a.m., but he will pass the call on to Woodward. It is unclear whether all the information that Sayer describes to the FBI, about the problems on Flight 11, is given to him by Sweeney in the current call, or if she provides some of it to him in the 8:32 a.m. call. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001, pp. 7-8; 9/11 Commission, 1/25/2004 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 11]

Entity Tags: Madeline (“Amy”) Sweeney, American Airlines, James W. Sayer

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Brian Sweeney.
Brian Sweeney. [Source: Family photo]Brian Sweeney, a 38-year-old business consultant on Flight 175, attempts to call his wife, Julie Sweeney, at their home in Barnstable, Massachusetts, but she is not there, so he leaves a message on the answering machine telling her his plane has been hijacked. [Cape Cod Times, 9/12/2001; Washington Post, 9/16/2001; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 22]
Sweeney Calmly Reports Hijacking - In the 27-second message, Sweeney says: “Jules, this is Brian. Listen, I’m on an airplane that’s been hijacked. If things don’t go well, and it’s not looking good, I just want you to know I absolutely love you. I want you to feel good, go have some good times. Same to my parents and everybody. And I just totally love you and I’ll see you when you get here. Bye, Babe. Hope I call you.” [9/11 Commission, 5/13/2004 pdf file; American RadioWorks, 9/2006; 9/11 Memorial, 2/2011] Sweeney’s voice sounds calm and he is not crying, his wife will later describe. [Cape Cod Times, 9/12/2001] He does not provide any specific information about the plane’s hijackers. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001] Immediately after attempting to call his wife, Sweeney will call his mother (see 9:00 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 8] Julie Sweeney, a teacher, will leave the school where she works after she learns of the terrorist attacks and her mother-in-law, Louise Sweeney, calls her to say she has just talked over the phone with Brian, who called her from his plane. After arriving home, she will discover the message her husband has left on the answering machine.
Differing Accounts of What Type of Phone Sweeney Uses - When interviewed by the FBI later in the day, Julie Sweeney will say her husband called her on his cell phone. The following day, she will tell the Cape Cod Times that she is “not sure if her husband was on his cell phone when he called.” [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001; Cape Cod Times, 9/12/2001] But according to evidence prepared for the 2006 trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, Sweeney’s call is made using an Airfone, not a cell phone. Although Sweeney was originally assigned to seat 15A of the plane, he makes the call from row 31AB. [9/11 Commission, 5/13/2004 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 90; US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, 7/31/2006]

Entity Tags: Julie Sweeney, Louise Sweeney, Brian Sweeney

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Brian Sweeney, a passenger on Flight 175, calls his parents in Spencer, Massachusetts, and tells his mother that his flight has been hijacked and that the passengers are considering storming the cockpit to gain control of the plane. [MetroWest Daily News, 9/12/2001; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 22] Sweeney has just attempted to call his wife, Julie Sweeney, but she was not at home, so he left a message on the answering machine (see 8:59 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Los Angeles Times, 9/17/2001; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 8]
Sweeney Says He Is on a Hijacked Plane - He now speaks with his mother, Louise Sweeney, saying: “Mom, it’s Brian. I’m on a hijacked plane and it doesn’t look good. I called to say I love you and I love my family.” [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 3/24/2004 pdf file] The call is mostly personal in nature, but Sweeney says of the hijackers, “I don’t know who they are.” [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001] Sweeney’s wife will later tell the New York Daily News that he does, however, tell his mother that the hijackers are Middle Eastern. [New York Daily News, 3/9/2004]
Passengers Thinking of Fighting Back - Sweeney also says that passengers on Flight 175 are considering fighting back against the hijackers. [USA Today, 7/22/2004; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 8] He says they are thinking of storming the plane’s cockpit. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001] According to Sweeney’s wife, Sweeney tells his mother, “I might have to hang up quickly, we’re going to try to do something about this,” to which his mother replies: “Okay. Do what you have to do.” Sweeney flew an F-14 fighter jet in the 1991 Gulf War and was a US Navy flight instructor in Miramar, California, but he is now working as an aeronautics consultant for Brandes Associates, a Defense Department contractor. [New York Daily News, 3/9/2004; CNN, 3/10/2004] He is 6-foot-2 and weighs 225 pounds. [Washington Post, 9/16/2001] His wife will say he “could literally kill somebody with a twist of the neck. We could see him trying to do something about [the hijacking].” [New York Daily News, 3/9/2004]
Sweeney Refers to Psychic Television Show - Louise Sweeney asks her son where he is, and he says he believes his plane is flying somewhere over Ohio. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 3/24/2004 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 22] Sweeney says that “they [presumably the hijackers] are coming back.” [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001] He concludes the call by telling his mother: “Remember Crossing Over. Don’t forget Crossing Over.” Louise Sweeney will explain to the FBI that her son is “a very spiritual person who always believed that there was a life after death.” He is much interested in the television show Crossing Over with John Edward, in which the host supposedly communicates with the dead. Louise Sweeney believes her son is trying to comfort her with these words, letting her know he believes they will meet again in the next life.
Sweeney Speaks Quietly and Calmly - According to Louise Sweeney, her son’s voice sounds different to how it normally does. Whereas his usual tone is “effervescent,” during the call it is quiet and very calm, and she will later reflect that he sounds “p_ssed off.” She can hear no loud noises or commotion in the background. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 3/24/2004 pdf file] The call lasts 60 seconds. [9/11 Commission, 5/13/2004 pdf file] Immediately after it ends, Louise Sweeney turns on her television and sees Flight 175 crashing into the World Trade Center (see 9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 22]
Conflicting Accounts of What Type of Phone Sweeney Uses - When Sweeney’s mother and his brother, John Sweeney, talk to the FBI over the phone later this morning, they will say Brian Sweeney made the call “from his cell phone.” [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001] Louise Sweeney will tell the FBI later in the day that her son called her “possibly from his cell phone.” [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001] But according to evidence prepared for the 2006 trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, the call is made using an Airfone, not a cell phone. Although Sweeney was originally assigned to seat 15A of the plane, he makes the call from row 31AB. [9/11 Commission, 5/13/2004 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 90; US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, 7/31/2006]

Entity Tags: Julie Sweeney, John P. Sweeney, Brian Sweeney, Louise Sweeney

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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