By Harriet Alexander For Dailymail.com 23:58 Mar 17, 2023, updated 06:50 Mar 18, 2023
The captain of a United Airlines flight scheduled to take off from New York’s JFK airport on the morning of September 11 said he believed his plane was intended to serve as the fifth plane in the terrorist plot.
Tom Mannello was sitting on the tarmac in the cockpit of United Flight 23 at 9 a.m. awaiting takeoff as air traffic control ordered all flights back to their gates.
Mannello later learned that box cutters were found on a plane parked at the neighboring gate and believes a ground crew helping the terrorists caught the wrong plane and foiled any attempted attack.
“There’s a good chance someone was planning to use our plane as a weapon of mass destruction,” he said on TMZ INVESTIGATES: 9/11: THE FIFTH PLANE, which airs Monday at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.
United 23 did not appear in the official 9/11 Commission report, and there have never been confirmed arrests of anyone on board. US officials have not commented on years of speculation that the flight is a possible fifth plane planned for an attack.
Tom Mannello was the captain aboard United Flight 23 waiting on the JFK tarmac for takeoff when the second plane struck the twin towers. All aircraft were then ordered to return to their gates. The spiers of the World Trade Center are seen engulfed in smoke on September 11, 2001 after the second plane struck at 9:03 am
September 11, 2001 remains the deadliest terrorist attack in American history, killing 2,977 people in four separate attacks.
The five airplanes of 9/11?
American Airlines Flight 11 takes off from Boston for Los Angeles with five hijackers on board.
At 8:46 a.m., the North Tower of the World Trade Center crashed.
United Airlines Flight 175 takes off from Boston with five hijackers on board and also heads for Los Angeles.
At 9:03 a.m. it crashes into the south tower of the WTC.
American Airlines Flight 77 takes off from Dulles outside Washington, DC bound for Los Angeles with five hijackers on board.
At 9:37 a.m. it crashes into the Pentagon.
United Flight 93 takes off after a delay due to normal traffic in Newark, New Jersey. It was bound for San Francisco and has four hijackers on board.
At 10:02 a.m., it plows into an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania after passengers staged a riot and brought it down. The intended target is believed to be the White House or the Capitol.
United Flight 23 stood on the tarmac at JFK waiting in line to depart for Los Angeles.
At 9:08 am, New York Air Traffic Control announced there would be no takeoffs from the airport, so Flight 23 returned to the gate.
Four planes crashed that morning.
American Airlines Flight 11 departed Boston bound for LA and crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 am.
United Airlines Flight 175 also departed from Boston bound for LA 15 minutes after the AA flight: it crashed into the South Tower of the WTC at 9:03 am.
At this point, United 23 were on the tarmac and told to return to goal.
At 9:37 am, American Airlines Flight 77, which had departed from Washington DC, crashed into the Pentagon.
And finally, at 10:02 am, United Flight 93, departing from Newark for San Francisco, was shot down in a Pennsylvania field. Analysts now believe the hijackers were targeting the White House or the Capitol.
Sandy Thorngren, a flight attendant for United 23, told the documentary, “I definitely think Flight 23 was the fifth plane.”
Thorngren said that after the passengers returned to the gate, they disembarked and the crew were questioned by the FBI.
“They wanted to take us to see a bunch of people at the Port Authority,” she said in a preview clip of the documentary, made available to DailyMail.com.
‘They put us all in a van, a windowless van. I felt like we were being smuggled into that van. And drove over to the Port Authority offices, where all – I mean, gates were locked and guarded by armored military men using machine guns or whatever rifles they used.
“We were escorted to this one room with these double windows that you could see in but not out.
“And they asked us if we could identify the people behind that window.”
The documentary said four passengers traveling first class behaved suspiciously, but no one was ever arrested.
Mannello said he later learned box cutters were found in the plane parked next to him and he suspects a hijack team had help on the ground – but they caught the wrong plane.
“The chief pilot reported to me that they found two cardboard cutters in the seat pockets in the first class of the plane next to them that had a number one next to them,” Mannello told the documentary.
Sandy Thorngren, a flight attendant on the plane, said she was convinced the plane was going to be hijacked on 9/11. John McCain holds up a copy of the 9/11 Commission Report. The report makes no mention of United 23
“If anyone was on the ground working with them, they just made a mistake and put the box cutters on the wrong plane.
“You have people who clean the plane, people who load groceries on the plane, who have access to the plane.
“If someone worked with the group, they could have been put there. It wouldn’t be the hardest thing in the world to get on a plane like that.
“That’s the only thing that makes me think there’s a good chance someone plans to use our plane as a weapon of mass destruction.”
Nineteen hijackers were on board the four aircraft and died in the attacks.
People run away as the North Tower of the World Trade Center collapses September 11 Smoke billows from the Pentagon after one of the four planes crashed into it on September 11th. Firefighters and rescue workers survey the crash site of United Flight 93 after the jet was hijacked During the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, passengers brought it down near Shanksville, Pennsylvania
Within two months of the attacks, law enforcement had arrested more than 1,200 people, at least for questioning.
The Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba was converted into a prison to house those arrested in George W. Bush’s “war on terror”: at its peak, the camp housed 780 men, today it is only 32.
They include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind behind the attacks, whose trial has been scheduled for decades.
Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden said he was behind the attacks, and on May 2, 2011, on orders from Barack Obama, a special force raided the Pakistani compound where he lived and killed him.
The attacks led to George W. Bush’s October 2001 bombing of Afghanistan, where the Taliban regime supported al-Qaeda.
The Taliban were overthrown within a month and bin Laden fled.
Bush then sent US troops into Iraq in March 2003, ostensibly to destroy Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and end Saddam Hussein’s dictatorial rule.
There was little evidence of a connection between al-Qaeda and Iraq, and no weapons of mass destruction were ever found.