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Profile: George Tabeek

George Tabeek was a participant or observer in the following events:

George Tabeek.George Tabeek. [Source: Fairleigh Dickinson University]George Tabeek, a security manager with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, expresses his concerns about an aircraft crashing into the World Trade Center, perhaps in a terrorist attack. [CBS News, 2/11/2009; New Jersey Star-Ledger, 9/6/2011] The Port Authority was, until late July, responsible for the management and operation of the WTC (see July 24, 2001), and most Port Authority World Trade Department employees are still working in the WTC. [Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, 7/24/2001; IREIzine, 7/26/2001; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 281]
Possibility of Plane Hitting WTC Discussed - Tabeek, the Port Authority’s security manager for the WTC since 1999, will later say that, following the 1993 bombing of the WTC (see February 26, 1993), the Port Authority “put thousands and thousands of hours into safety construction and safety procedures.” Over $100 million has been spent on improving security and fire safety. Therefore, according to Tabeek, “the World Trade Center was safer on 9/11 than 99 percent of the buildings in America.” Tabeek will say: “We were already looking into bio-chem. We were talking about weapons of mass destruction.” He will add that, just two weeks before 9/11, “[W]e talked about ever getting hit by a plane, but it was never in our wildest dreams a commercial airliner.” [FDU Magazine, 6/2008; CBS News, 2/11/2009]
Possibility of Attack Using Plane Discussed with New Head of Security - Tabeek discusses the possibility of a plane hitting the WTC again on September 6, the Thursday before 9/11. That evening, John O’Neill, the new head of security at the WTC (see August 23, 2001), calls him to a conference room in the South Tower, to discuss security and “threat assessment.” During the meeting, Tabeek describes the improved security at the WTC, telling O’Neill: “We’re 99 percent locked down. You’re not going to get in here with a bomb that’s going to do substantial damage within the building, because we minimized that.” According to Tabeek, O’Neill asks: “Okay, you say to me we’re 99 percent locked down. What’s the other 1 percent?” Tabeek replies, “A plane.” O’Neill says, “Come on, you’re grabbing at straws.” But Tabeek tells him, “No, in ‘93 we’re an American economic bad cop… and now we’re an American-Israeli economic bad cop, more of a threat today than we ever were.” He adds that the plane involved would be “a corporate jet slamming into the building,” with “minimal loss of life, minimal economic loss.” Tabeek will later comment, “I never expected something bigger.” [New Jersey Star-Ledger, 9/6/2011] An analysis carried out on behalf of the Port Authority after the 1993 WTC bombing identified the scenario of terrorists deliberately crashing a plane into the Twin Towers as one of a number of possible threats (see After February 26, 1993). [Jenkins and Edwards-Winslow, 9/2003, pp. 11] Tabeek will tell one magazine, “We had planned for the possibility of a small airplane—a corporate jet, maybe—crashing into one of the [WTC] buildings by accident.” [FDU Magazine, 6/2008]

Entity Tags: John O’Neill, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, World Trade Center, George Tabeek

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

A World Trade Center security manager receives no warnings from the Secret Service or the US Customs Service about possible terrorist threats to the WTC in the period just before 9/11. George Tabeek, the New York Port Authority’s security manager for the WTC since 1999, will later recall that, before 9/11, he is “regularly in contact with the Secret Service and US Customs about possible threats to the World Trade Center by terrorists and others.” But in the weeks just before September 11, Tabeek will say, “I never heard anything, not even a whisper.” [New Jersey Star-Ledger, 9/6/2011] Yet, according to some security personnel at the WTC, the Twin Towers are on a heightened security alert in the two weeks before 9/11, “because of numerous phone threats” (see Late August-September 10, 2001). [Newsday, 9/12/2001]

Entity Tags: US Secret Service, US Customs Service, World Trade Center, George Tabeek

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Douglas Karpiloff.Douglas Karpiloff. [Source: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey]A command center for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, located in the North Tower of the World Trade Center, is upgraded to make it more secure, and the improvements will reportedly save the lives of people in the command center when the nearby South Tower collapses on September 11. [Newsday, 9/12/2001; Civil Air Patrol News, 1/2002; Newsday, 1/23/2002] The Port Authority’s Security Command Center (SCC) is on the 22nd floor of the North Tower. [9/11 Commission, 5/18/2004 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 294] Newsday will report, on the day after 9/11, that officials had “recently” increased security at the WTC “by installing bulletproof windows and fireproof doors in the 22nd-floor computer command center.” [Newsday, 9/12/2001] According to George Tabeek, the Port Authority’s security manager for the WTC, by September 11, the WTC in fact has “bulletproof window glass in most areas.” [FDU Magazine, 6/2008] The installation of the bulletproof windows—and presumably, also, the fireproof doors—in the SCC is made at the request of Douglas Karpiloff, the Port Authority’s director of security and life safety for the WTC. [Newsday, 1/23/2002]
Upgrades Intended to Protect against 'Aerial Attacks' - According to Hermina Jones, a security guard at the WTC, the upgrades to the SCC are intended “to secure the towers against aerial attacks.” [Newsday, 9/12/2001] Tabeek will later recall, “We had planned for the possibility of a small airplane—a corporate jet, maybe—crashing into one of the [WTC] buildings by accident,” although it is unclear if this comment is made in reference to the installation of bulletproof windows at the WTC. [FDU Magazine, 6/2008]
Security Improvements Save Lives on September 11 - Some people will credit the upgrades to the SCC with saving their lives on September 11. Tabeek will be in the SCC that day when the first of the Twin Towers—the South Tower—collapses (see 9:59 a.m. September 11, 2001). When that happens, according to Tabeek, the “impact of the explosion peeled off the outer skin of [the North Tower], shattering the thick double-paned windows [of the SCC] in the process.” Tabeek will say, however, that the “inner layer of laminated bulletproof glass put in months earlier… withstood the blast and undoubtedly saved his life and those of the others with him.” Victor Guarnera, the chief technical adviser and manager of security systems for the World Trade Department, who is also in the SCC at that time, will describe what happens when the collapse occurs, saying, “The outer windows [of the SCC] exploded, either from impact [of debris from the South Tower] or differential pressure, but the inner window wall of high-tempered bomb and bullet-resistant glass we had installed a few months before held fast.” Guarnera will comment that the bulletproof windows “were responsible for our survival up to that point.” [Civil Air Patrol News, 1/2002; Newsday, 1/23/2002]

Entity Tags: Douglas G. Karpiloff, World Trade Center, George Tabeek, Hermina Jones, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

George Tabeek, a security manager with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, decides to have an announcement made in the South Tower of the World Trade Center, instructing workers to stay in, or return to, their offices, instead of evacuating. [New Jersey Star-Ledger, 9/6/2011; ABC News, 9/10/2011] After Flight 11 hits the North Tower at 8:46 a.m. (see 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001), many people in the South Tower, who are unclear about what has happened, decide to leave their building. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 287]
Security Manager Passes on Decision to Fire Command Desk - However, around the same time, Tabeek, the Port Authority’s security manager for the WTC, decides not to evacuate the South Tower and to issue instructions advising workers to go back to their offices. [ABC News, 9/10/2011] Tabeek will later recall that he contacts his “fire safety command” and tells the person he talks with “to evacuate the North Tower, but keep people inside the South Tower.” [New Jersey Star-Ledger, 9/6/2011] Presumably Tabeek means that he contacts the fire command desk in the lobby of the South Tower, which is currently manned by Philip Hayes, a deputy fire safety director. A button at the desk allows fire safety directors to deliver announcements over the tower’s public address system. [Dwyer and Flynn, 2005, pp. 26]
Security Manager's Instruction Leads to Announcement - Shortly after Tabeek gives his instruction to the fire command desk, an announcement, later believed to have been made by Hayes, will go out over the public address system, telling workers in the South Tower that their building is safe and advising them to stay in, or return to, their offices (see (8:50 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 287-288; Dwyer and Flynn, 2005, pp. 72] That announcement “may have led to the deaths of hundreds of people,” USA Today will suggest. [USA Today, 9/2/2002] Some security officials in the South Tower will instruct workers, in person, to return upstairs, rather than evacuate (see (8:47 a.m.-9:02 a.m.) September 11, 2001). It is unclear if those officials are, like Hayes, acting on instructions issued by Tabeek. [Observer, 9/16/2001; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 289]
Instruction Is Inconsistent with Protocol - Tabeek’s instruction reportedly goes against protocol. The 9/11 Commission Report will state: “When a notable event occurred [at the WTC], it was standard procedure for the on-duty deputy fire safety director to make an ‘advisory’ announcement to tenants who were affected by or might be aware of the incident, in order to acknowledge the incident and to direct tenants to stand by for further instructions. The purpose of advisory announcements, as opposed to ‘emergency’ announcements (such as to evacuate), was to reduce panic.” Therefore, according to the 9/11 Commission Report, “A statement from the deputy fire safety director informing tenants that the incident had occurred in the other building” would be “consistent with protocol.” However, “the expanded advice” that Tabeek asks to be given—for workers to stay in, or return to, their offices—“did not correspond to any existing written protocol.” [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 288, 544]
Security Manager Thinks Evacuation Would Put Workers in Danger - Tabeek will explain why he decided to instruct workers to stay in the South Tower, telling ABC News he was “worried about the debris raining down from the crippled North Tower onto the plaza below,” and he was therefore “afraid that if he evacuated people who he thought were safe in the South Tower… they’d be in grave danger from the falling debris.” He will tell the New Jersey Star-Ledger, “If these people’s lives in [the South Tower] are not in danger, if I put them outside, their life is in danger.” Tabeek will also explain his decision by saying, “We never took into consideration a dual attack.” In response to criticism of his decision, he will say, “I can’t go back on the orders I gave, because at the time it was the right thing to do.” [New Jersey Star-Ledger, 9/6/2011; ABC News, 9/10/2011]

Entity Tags: George Tabeek, Philip T. Hayes

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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