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Most of us are reliving, remembering, and honoring the memories and people of that tragic day 20 years ago. We remember the anger and resolve, along with the sadness of losing friends and family. And the weather here, today, just four miles from the Pentagon in Arlington, VA, is eerily reminiscent of that fateful day.
We know that four commercial aircraft were hijacked and deliberately crashed into three buildings, the fourth into a field near Shanksville, PA, about 80 miles from Pittsburgh. Three of the aircraft each had five hijackers; United Flight 93, the one that crashed near Shanksville, only had four.
Many believe that the absence of a fifth hijacker helped the 44 passengers, including Todd Beamer, overwhelm the attackers and prevent the plane from reaching its likely target – the US Capitol building.
Jose Melendez-Perez is likely responsible for keeping Saudi national Mohammed al-Qhatani from his appointment that day with Mohammed Atta at Orlando’s International Airport. Atta was one of the other hijackers. Qhatani, now residing at Naval Base Guantanamo in Cuba since his capture in Afghanistan some three months later at the Battle of Tora Bora, was to be the 20th hijacker.