NGC US examines the events of 9/11

MUMBAI: Since 9/11 four years ago Americans have been barraged with information, creatinga cloud of confusion for many. Details continue to come to light and patterns continue to emerge even after the 9/11 Commission released its report.

Now, the National Geographic Channel (NGC) in the US will present Inside 9/11. This is a four-hour mini-series event that goes beyond what's been widely reported to reveal a clearer picture of events.

With attention to detail and firsthand storytelling, this series presents a perspective on that day. Currently in production Inside 9/11 will premiere in August.

The miniseries follows the footsteps of the terrorists as they formulated their plans, infiltrated the US and executed their suicide missions. Tracing the timeline that led up to the deadly attacks, the mini-series deconstructs the events of that fateful day, tracking the movements of all four terrorist teams and patching together the ad hoc response of government.

It draws from a wide range of sources, including newly declassified documents from the 9/11 Commission investigation; over 60 original interviews with experts, whistleblowers, investigators and survivors -- some speaking out for the first time; eyewitness materials including footage culled from a rarely seen 400-hour archive; and chilling audio recordings from on board the doomed planes and inside air traffic control.

Inside 9/11 also paints a picture of fear and bravery, recounted in the first person. Heartbreaking interviews include that of Richard Picciotti, a battalion chief for the New York City Fire Department who was buried under the rubble for four hours and eventually rescued; Stanley Praimnath, who was in the South Tower when the plane hit, the wing smashing right into his office; and the widows of the fallen heroes of United Airlines Flight 93, who share their final conversations with the passengers right before they attempted to overtake the hijackers.

The show spans decades and circles the globe to lay bare the roots of Al Qaeda, beginning with the 1978 Soviet-Afghan War and the transformation of Osama bin Laden from fundraiser to terrorist mastermind. Viewers will delve into the inner workings of al Qaeda and come to know the architects of the plot as they plan and execute the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania and the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole.

Inside 9/11 also tackles the difficult questions about American intelligence efforts and their failure to protect American citizens despite early warning signs that pointed to al Qaeda terrorists living in Tucson, Detroit, Chicago, Kansas City, Atlanta and Brooklyn as early as 1988. Expert analysis comes from inside the intelligence community, including Michael Scheuer, former CIA senior intelligence analyst and bin Laden expert, who says in the mini-series, "America has never had an enemy who has been more precise in warning us what we're in for."

The show also includes testimony pinpointing missed opportunities, such as that of former senator and chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Bob Graham. He laments that "early on there was an FBI agent who had suspicions about flight centers in Arizona. None of those recommendations was followed."

Investigative journalist and terrorism expert Steve Emerson adds, "9/11 occurred with 19 guys living here under their own names, registering their own driver's licenses, and yet able to outmaneuver a 30 billion dollar law enforcement intelligence agency network." Why did the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) suppress information on security lapses identified by its own investigators and not take action after receiving 52 warnings that specifically mentioned attacks intended by bin Laden?

Inside 9/11 includes the first-person recollections of an FAA whistleblower, whose testimony to the 9/11 Commission was omitted from the final report. He testified that, "although we breached security with ridiculous ease up to 90 per cent of the time, the FAA suppressed these warnings. Instead we were ordered not to write up our findings (in some cases) and not to re-test airports where we found particularly egregious vulnerabilities to see if the problems had been fixed."

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