FBI Investigating a Fifth Plane That Didn’t Get Hijacked on 9-11

Hamara / shutterstock.com
Hamara / shutterstock.com

This September will mark 22 years since the 9-11 attacks. Al Qaida jihadis crashed four airplanes into both of the towers at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania when passengers tried to fight back. The FBI has just confirmed—in July of 2023—that it has an active, ongoing investigation into a fifth plane that “four weird young Arab guys sitting in first class” may have intended to hijack.

United Airlines Flight 23 was scheduled to take off on the morning of 9-11. The plane is a wide-bodied Boeing 767, just like the ones that crashed into the Twin Towers. It was going to fly from New York’s JFK to Los Angeles with 160 passengers and eight crew members on board. UAL Flight 23 is never mentioned in the 9-11 Commission Report, although there are prodigious notes about what happened on the plane in the commission’s notes.

Captain Tom Mannello was the pilot of Flight 23 that day, and his co-pilot was a woman named Carol Timmons. Ms. Timmons passed away in 2020, but Mannello spoke to reporters at the Florida Bulldog about what happened on Flight 23. He also explained that the FBI questioned all of the flight’s staff on September 12, 2001—the day after the attacks.

The Florida Bulldog issued a FOIA request to the FBI asking for the release of documents into UAL Flight 23. This was the FBI’s response:

“There is a pending or prospective law enforcement proceeding relevant to these responsive records, and the release of the information could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings. Therefore, your request is being administratively closed.”

Once again, that’s what the FBI is saying today. This is an active and ongoing investigation in 2023.

Manello says that at 9:20 a.m. that morning—36 minutes after the first plane hit the World Trade Center, he had Flight 23 on the runway and lined up behind ten other planes waiting to take off. That’s when a message went out over United’s Aircraft Communications and Response system saying, “Beware any cockpit intrusion…two aircraft in NY hit Trade Center Blds….”

Captain Manello immediately picked up the plane’s crash axe as the co-pilot Timmons wedged their luggage between the door and a metal bulkhead. They contacted the flight attendants and told them what was going on and warned them not to try to open the cockpit. An attendant immediately replied, “We’ve got these four weird young Arab guys sitting in first class. It’s unusual.”

The four weird young Arab guys were two men, a teenager, and a man disguised as a woman in a head-to-toe burqa.

Ground controllers at JFK then sent out a message to everyone in the airport and on every plane, stating, “Ladies and gentlemen, the airport is now officially closed. We’ve been ordered to evacuate this facility. You are on your own.”

Manello taxied back to the gate, and then everyone, including the four weird Arabs, deplaned. A flight attendant was the last person to leave the plane after a final check to see whether anyone had left any packages or luggage on board. At the last moment, she stepped back onto the empty plane to grab a bottle of water.

At the back of the plane, she says two men who had been stowed away in a food and beverage cart were standing there. They weren’t passengers. They appeared out of nowhere after they thought the plane was empty. She fled. In the flight attendants’ area in the back of the plane, a hatchway that was hidden beneath the carpeting was found open, indicating that the two stowaways had escaped that way.

The “pending or prospective law enforcement proceeding” that the FBI says it’s working on indicates there may still be some arrests forthcoming related to 9-11.