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The 9/11 terror attacks were years in the making, meticulously planned by Osama Bin Laden and other al-Qaeda members. The attacks devastated the world two decades ago, with this week’s 20th anniversary providing a time for sober reflection. Some 2,997 people lost their lives that day, alongside a further 19 al-Qaeda terrorists. Around 25,000 people were injured, with millions more affected mentally by the trauma of that unforgettable day.
An ITV documentary, which airs tonight, features never-before-seen footage captured by those on the ground that day.
‘9/11: Life Under Attack’ is told without interview, commentary or narration, and airs tonight at 9pm.
Despite concerns from FBI agent John O’Neill that al-Qaeda had established a foothold in the United States, his superiors did not share his beliefs.
Osama Bin Laden, founder of al-Qaeda, was not even listed on the FBI’s most wanted list until June 1999.
An Amazon Prime documentary revealed the agent’s concerns, and the meticulous planning that went into the World Trade Center attacks.
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Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.
An Amazon Prime documentary revealed an al-Qaeda planning trip years before the attacks.
‘Alone Against al-Qaeda: Could 9/11 Have Been Prevented?’ was released in 2015 and spoke to various experts and intelligence personnel.
The documentary recalled the authorities of the International Secret Services in Paris commissioning a private terror investigator, Jean-Charles Brisard.
He owned a large collection of data on the al-Qaeda network and was one of very few to know details of Bin Laden’s plans.
He told the documentary: “This plan was a long term plan beginning in 1994 or 1995, when people from various cells, even here in Europe, helped select targets in various countries including the United States.”
The documentary’s narrator explained: “Brisard knows al-Qaeda is a global terror network, and the Spanish al-Qaeda cell is already at work in New York.”
Jean-Charles Brisard was commissioned by the International Secret Services.
Osama Bin Laden was the founder of terrorist group al-Qaeda.
A video is played, seemingly from a basic camcorder, of a family of four in New York looking at various buildings.
The narrator continued: “This is a reconnaissance trip covered up as a family holiday.
“They’re here to scout potential targets for an attack including the World Trade Center.”
The video then pans up to show the Twin Towers, before more footage is shown from inside the buildings.
“They film extensively inside the building, and this apparent holiday video is later couriered to the al-Qaeda headquarters in Afghanistan.”
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A reconnaissance trip was disguised as a family holiday.
The video panned up to the twin towers, which was being considered as a target for al-Qaeda.
Mr Brisard noted a chilling message can be heard in the video.
He said: “It probably helps the terrorists to know about their target, know about the structure of their target, the security around the target.
“In the filming, one of the two guys would say to the other, ‘One day you will see they fall out’, speaking about the towers.”
Bin Laden built training camps filled with hundreds of men training to be terrorists, united by a hatred of the US.
The documentary explains they were struggling to work out how they could pull off what was described as “the planes operation”, but did not have the personnel to do so.
They filmed extensively inside the World Trade Center.
The horrific attacks were meticulously planned by al-Qaeda.
Lawrence Wright, an al-Qaeda expert, said: “The people they were trying to train didn’t speak English, they had never lived in the West, they were never going to succeed.
“They were beginning to give up on this plan when in walks Mohamed Atta and three other guys from Hamburg who had lived in the West, whose language abilities were really good, they had technical capacity.
“It was like a dream, an answered prayer, that these guys suddenly walked in.”
Atta and the other members of the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell Marwan al-Shehhi, Ramzi bin al-Shibh and Ziad Jarrah, were told they had been selected for the martyr mission and began their preparations for the deadly attacks.
Approximately 18 months later, after learning how to pilot planes and much research on “surveillance” flights, Atta and the other cell members carried out the attacks.
Atta took control of American Airlines Flight 11 and crashed it into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8.46 am.
Al-Shehhi hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 which he crashed into the South Tower.
Jarrah hijacked United Airlines Flight 93, and was believed to be heading to the Capitol or the White House, but crashed into a field when passengers started a revolt.
Al-Shibh failed to obtain a US visa, and is held as an enemy combatant detainee at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
‘9/11: Life Under Attack’ airs tonight on ITV at 9pm.