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After 9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001: Head of the FBI’s New York Office Calls FBI Director Mueller and Requests Fighters

Barry Mawn, director of the FBI’s New York office, calls FBI Director Robert Mueller sometime after seeing Flight 175 crashing into the World Trade Center and says fighter jets are needed. Mawn was in his office at 26 Federal Plaza in Lower Manhattan when Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower and, in response to the incident, he promptly made his way to the WTC site (see Shortly After 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001). He was with other officials there when Flight 175 hit the South Tower, at 9:03 a.m. (see 9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001). While he supposedly thought the first crash was accidental, he realizes now that this is terrorism. [Kessler, 2002, pp. 1-2] “At that moment, I think we all knew we were under attack—these are no accidents—that potentially we’re at war here,” he will later comment. [CNN, 2/18/2002] Furthermore, he determines that al-Qaeda is to blame. “At that point I knew it was al-Qaeda,” he will recall. [Wicked Local, 9/15/2011; Treasure Coast Newspapers, 2/18/2013] This conclusion is presumably based on the expertise in terrorism he has acquired in his three decades with the FBI, during which he has been involved in several high-profile terrorism cases. [Washington Post, 10/20/2001; CNN, 2/18/2002] In the 18 months he has spent at the FBI’s New York office, he will say, he and his colleagues have “told everyone… that the biggest threat to the US was al-Qaeda and [Osama] bin Laden.” [Wicked Local, 9/15/2011] Following the second attack, hundreds of FBI agents converge on the WTC site and Mawn instructs some of them to set up a command post. He also tries calling Mueller, who is at the FBI’s headquarters in Washington, DC (see Shortly After 8:48 a.m. September 11, 2001), using his cell phone. His initial attempts are unsuccessful, but he eventually gets through. He tells the FBI director that “the phones [are] down and they needed Air Force jets,” according to journalist and author Ronald Kessler. [Kessler, 2002, pp. 2] It is unclear whether Mueller takes any action in response to this request. Fighters will arrive over Manhattan at 9:25 a.m., according to the 9/11 Commission Report (see 9:25 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 24] However, numerous witnesses on the ground will recall only noticing fighters overhead after 10:00 a.m. (see (9:45 a.m.-10:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001).

Entity Tags: Barry Mawn, Robert S. Mueller III, Federal Bureau of Investigation

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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