Geronimo : What if Osama Bin Laden was killed prior to 9/11?

Who will win the Republican Nomination?

  • Dick Cheney

    Votes: 16 24.6%
  • John McCain

    Votes: 34 52.3%
  • Jon Huntsman

    Votes: 8 12.3%
  • Rick Santorum

    Votes: 7 10.8%

  • Total voters
Agreed. It’s worth remembering that Edwards only met Rielle Hunter due to the context of his 2008 campaign, and a million butterflies could have prevented that meeting. Edwards did not at all have a reputation for philandering or even being a bit of a Bubba-esque glad-handing charmer before that, contra his smooth Southern presentation
I agree, but the only thing is that his marriage to Elizabeth was far rockier during her cancer battle than is often remembered. He theoretically might have found “comfort” in another woman during that time if not Rielle Hunter.
I agree, but the only thing is that his marriage to Elizabeth was far rockier during her cancer battle than is often remembered. He theoretically might have found “comfort” in another woman during that time if not Rielle Hunter.
Fair point. The circumstances were certainly there (spouse’s cancer plus the pressure of a potentially grueling re-election campaign) that make it easy to “slip,” so to speak

Would be interesting to see how a First Lady with a very public cancer battle goes in the court of public opinion - something I’m curious if @Iwanh will explore, provided Edwards wins. Fertile ground for something not always covered at length in an ATL
In the OTL didn't director James Cameron have plans for a sequel to his 1994 hit "True Lies"?
There were talks of a sequel but that was just about it.

Managed to find this online:

I'm just amazed how True Lies (1994) had an Arab terrorist, one of the few 90s movies to feature this alongside Executive Decision, well before it became a stereotype in the post-9/11 world. Usually, the villains of the 90s are either rogue Russian generals who are still bitter about the fall of the USSR or renegade Chinese generals who want China to dominate world affairs by the 21st century.


Regarding architecture

Will Richard Meer's original design for the Scottish Parliament be built over Enrique Miralles' model?

In addition to the Shimizu Pyramid in Japan and the Dubai Opera House, which was designed by Zaha Hadid

With the weaker crisis of 2008, I think that Dubai will continue to develop and prosper and may become a city much larger than OTL

The Abdali project in the Jordanian capital, Amman, may continue to build and expand with the 2008 crisis getting weaker

The Crystal Tower in Moscow designed by Norman Foster may be built


I have a question

Will Vladimir Ortyunyan's attempt to kill Bush and Saakashvili continue to happen?

Or will it continue to happen, but Saakashvili without Bush?

Is it more successful?
Have the Chinese won? Although I don't want to go into current politics, China is still a long way to go to push the U.S. out of the superpower stage.
Yeah lets not, I was just joking that those villains today would be like "oh geez that went better than I expected!"
He'd hardly be the first president to have a mistress and not actually have any negative blowback.
Harder to pull off post-Clinton, and cheating on your cancer-stricken wife is (or at least should be) a career ender. Newt never really amounted to much other than a talking head after pulling something similar and it helping blunt the GOP in 1998
Harder to pull off post-Clinton, and cheating on your cancer-stricken wife is (or at least should be) a career ender. Newt never really amounted to much other than a talking head after pulling something similar and it helping blunt the GOP in 1998
True but a lot of the publicity around the Clinton thing was how silly it was to take him to task over it given that it was assumed everyone DC did it.
Harder to pull off post-Clinton, and cheating on your cancer-stricken wife is (or at least should be) a career ender. Newt never really amounted to much other than a talking head after pulling something similar and it helping blunt the GOP in 1998

True but a lot of the publicity around the Clinton thing was how silly it was to take him to task over it given that it was assumed everyone DC did it.
Very true indeed. It's probably going to be harder for John Edwards to hide his affair. If it still happens and is revealed in the timeline, it's probably not going to end well for Edwards when or if he ends up actually defeats Bush in the 2004 US presidential election.
Part 38: September 4th, 2004


September 4th, 2004

A horrible tragedy happened in our land. Today, each one of us suffered immensely, all the people of Moscow and all their suffering, runs in our hearts. – Vladimir Putin

This barbaric attack has sickened the world, America grieves with the people of Russia we pray for the innocent victims and their families – George Bush

We are all traumatized by this terrible tragedy. We do not know yet how many people have been killed or injured, but inevitably the number will be high. – Kofi Annan

To avenge the children of Chechnya, we will kill yours – Shamil Basayev

The weather in Moscow was quite comfortable, with cold due to begin the following week, the sky was slightly overcast but there were no signs of rain, the Federal Air Transport Agency should have had a typical day ahead, it was anything but.

Air Controllers at the Moscow Domodedovo airport noticed something odd 34 minutes into the flight, Siberia flight 8335 was headed off course. Minutes later that concern turned to alarm, then shock, as the flight suddenly disappeared from their dashboards. “It was a normal weekend in Moscow” recalls air traffic manager Konstantin Kavlev, “we received warning of a possible hijacking” estimates are the incident occurred at 12:34 “the plane was totally unresponsive and behaving erratically then it came through on our radar that the plane was returning I immediately went out to the air traffic control room floor, but we still couldn’t confirm with Siberia Airlines that it was an actual hijacking, or simply a malfunction”.

Kavlev went to the air traffic control floor and tracked Siberia Airlines 8335 northbound across the city. “I asked the airport controllers to look up for 8335, to see if he could see its approach from the tower, thinking the plane may attempt to land back at the airport, that perhaps there was an emergency. That it may be partially disabled? but they kept telling me he couldn’t see it”. Air Crash Investigations, Siberia Flight 8335

I had a meeting in the ministry that day, on behalf of the European Union, concerning Russia’s part in the upcoming Israel-Palestine talks. It was quite last minute; we were supposed to meet on Thursday but it was pushed to the 4th, to Saturday. I went there early, there were some security guards apparently there had been protests at other ministries that week. I got into the lobby of the building for this meeting, and I went to the sixth floor, then just before the meeting, I went to the bathroom to make sure I was prepared. Rodrick Lyne British Ambassador to the Russian Federation

I was staying in the Golden Ring hotel, directly across the road from the foreign ministry, right on the main square. I was standing by the window looking at the view, you could see the whole city, you could see everything. Then I heard a plane approaching. It seemed normal but it was getting very close, and then there was this roar, and then a massive explosion. I didn’t know what was happening at first, but I am sure that that plane, and whoever was flying it put it at full speed, it sounded just like it was supposed to be taking off. I looked out the window and I saw the enormity of the disaster, a huge fire right in the centre of the building, and a big black hole. Pamela Brown Canadian Tourist, BBC Panorama, Surviving Moscow

We were doing equipment tests near the Philippine embassy, not far from the ministry. I had only been in the command position one or two times, usually, I managed the truck. We were testing the hydrants when I saw the plane, I saw how close it was coming to the ground and then a few seconds later I heard the crash, I couldn’t see where yet but I clearly heard it crash. We blared sirens, went down the road toward the square, and then I saw the building. I gave the first report on the radio, and transmitted a second alarm, for a plane crash, then a third alarm for a direct strike on the ministry, I could see the smoke from the south side … as we pulled up to the front of the building we could see there were several people burned in the lobby, apparently, jet fuel had shot through many parts of the building killing and burning many people … it was horrifying. - Lev Borovinsky Moscow Firefighter, One Day in Russia


The south Face of the Moscow Foreign Ministry after being struck by Siberia Flight 8335

We were flooded with calls, some from people on the upper levels of the central building, they were trapped by smoke or fire, some were too afraid to move, and some couldn’t Yuri, an aid to a deputy minister called a friend Peter, who was in the building at the time

Yuri: “Peter are you okay, let me know if you are ok”
Peter: “There is a lot of smoke”
Yuri: “Where are you, are you getting out, is someone getting you out?”
Peter: “No, it is a mess”
Yuri: “Is there anyone there? Are you still there?”
Peter: “Yes, we can't move, it’s very hot and is getting smoky”
Yuri: “You can’t get out?”
Peter: “No, we can’t, we are stuck”

- Moscow's haunting final calls

People were running around, panicking you could smell fuel, like petrol, filling the building it was only later I found out that the meeting room was hit, destroyed in a second. On instinct I left, I fled down the first staircase I saw, down to the lobby and right onto the street. I didn’t know what was happening, people were looking up stunned, and one woman was clutching her head, but I had no idea what was going on. As I got closer, I could see she was badly burned and was still physically smoking, so I brought her to the wall, she said she couldn’t see, her eyes were burned shut and she kept repeating “don’t let me die, do not let me die” - Rodrick Lyne British Ambassador to the Russian Federation

It was a lot of building to cover, it took me back to my service in the army, the marching, hundreds of rooms and offices, each had to be checked and there were so many. It took me right back to Chechnya and I told myself the same thing, to just keep putting one foot in front of the other, we could see it on the faces of everyone, most were completely blank, and no one knew what was happening, not knowing which of us would survive but we knew we had to keep going. - Alex Satarov Moscow Firefighter, One Day in Russia

At 12:54 Moscow 92, a local radio station was the first to report the disaster interrupting a weather report to detail that “We have something, something that has happened at the Foreign Ministry, there are flames, lots of flame and smoke from the central tower, we are not sure what has happened but we will keep you posted”. From the first report, it didn’t take long in the age of 24-hour news and the internet for the story to quickly break globally, with Reuters and the Associated Press quickly sending out wires to international outlets. The first tv station to have eyes on the scene was REN TV, providing the first detailed pictures and reporting on the scene, scenes that were soon replicated by Russia's other domestic channels, and internationally, running with differing headlines like FOREIGN MINISTERY FIRE, then corrected to PLANE CRASH AT FOREIGN MINISTRY Moscow Burns: an oral history of Russia’s greatest disaster


First Responders and media coverage at the Foreign Ministry

I was going through the freezer at the time, and when I came out all the staff had gone, but I could see what I thought was dirty water dripping through the ceiling, through a black crack. But I couldn’t find anyone, so I started to leave and I got some of the water on me and I released that it was blood. I kept going out of the building and I still couldn’t find anyone, but there were scattered papers and pieces of luggage on the floor for some reason. Nothing made any sense, I saw a corridor filled with pieces of people … hands, and heads everywhere Gennadi Ondar, Kitchen Worker, Surviving Moscow

Aeroflot 8606: “Aeroflot 8606, Moscow … We have been unable to reach SBI 8335, it sounds like someone switched off their microphone”
Moscow Centre: “We are looking … negative contact” ... “Do you see him? 5 kilometres?”
Aeroflot 8606: “Negative no sign, we will keep our eyes open”

Within minutes the next chapter of the unending horror unfolded when Aeroflot flight 8606 took an errant turn off its scheduled destination to Volgograd and began making its own U-turn. The same controllers frantically struggling to find Siberia 8335 were given a second task. “There was no noise, no communication just like 8335”. Just like before repeated calls for flight 8606 were met with empty silence. The first reports of 8335’s crash at the ministry were arriving at the same time as the controllers came to the conclusion that “It must be another one, we could have another catastrophe” - Moscow Attacks: In Real Time, NBC

At 13:02 in the Vostochny District, a man named Vadim Kuzmin received a call from his brother Pyotr, a passenger on Aeroflot 8606. His brother told him, “ There is some kind of attack happening on the plane, some guys have taken over the front of the plane, I think they killed some people, they say they have a bomb they say they are taking us to Afghanistan, they’re flying the plane strangely, I think you should call someone the airline or the government” Vadim, then called the police but failed to reach the airline.

6 minutes later, Vadim received a second call from his brother. “Things are really bad, some people are dead, I think it might be the pilots, they keep saying they’ll blow us up, but the plane keeps turning and people are getting sick, someone’s bleeding badly, I don’t think they know how to fly, we might be about to crash, oh my god, oh my god, tell mom that I love her, oh my god.” The phone call then ended, Vadim said he could hear the screams of other passengers before the phone call ended. With the phone in his hand, Vadim turned on the television and only a few minutes later witnessed Aeroflot 8606 strike into the east wing of the Moscow State University. -Russian Parliamentary Commission, final report


South Face of the Moscow State University before and immediately after being struck by Aeroflot 8606

Ren TV and BBC World Service were covering the crash at the Moscow foreign ministry from its northern face where the state university could be seen in the background of the coverage. Ren TV was the first news source to specifically report a plane crash into the complex (other news sources took several minutes to identify the plane crash.)

Olga Romanova: Oh my, Was that another crash, oh my god
Elena Slav: What was that?
Olga Romanova: This seems to be some kind of attack
Elena Slav: Was that a plane?
Olga Romanova: I believe a plane, a second plane that was flying low, very low has crashed into the University, the Moscow University
Elena Slav: Dear God
Olga Romanova: A second plane flying very low has crashed, probably deliberately though we don’t know, into the State University, The damage at this time is unknown, but it appears that two planes have crashed in the capital, one after another, this is a disaster.

- Moscow Burns: an oral history of Russia’s greatest disaster

Our problems had gotten a lot worse; we were on our way to the first crash. We were crossing the river when we saw the plane, we could all see it was crashing, it was moving faster than anything I had ever seen. It passed by us and, then we heard the explosion. We called the station to report it and we turned right around and followed the smoke to the university, right away we went into the building, a giant building, and hundreds of people were running around. Some of the guys were totally shaken they couldn’t speak so I took the time to give them all a good look and pat them on the back … some didn’t come back. -Sergey Svishchev Moscow Firefighter, One Day in Russia

President Putin was not in Moscow at the time of the attack, he was in his residence in Sochi on the black sea, returning from visiting a local judo hall ‘Talking to a class about the importance of sport and physical fitness', when a report of an explosion at the foreign ministry reached him. The President then spoke with several ministers and officials including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who was in Egypt meeting President Mubarak at the time, Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu and the government’s Chief of Staff Dmitry Kozak. When news of the second strike was briefed to the President and the news coverage caught up, President Putin made further calls to Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov, Transport Minister Igor Levitin, and heads of domestic and foreign intelligence Nikolai Patrushev and Sergey Lebedev. The President's movements have never been detailed, but it is likely that the President was moved to a complex near the vacation home, rather than make a risky a return to Moscow.

The Transport Ministry and the Federal Transport Agency began to issue orders, rerouting flights for Domodedovo airport and banning all departures, but this was quickly expanded to encompass all Moscow airports and rerouting all flights bound to or through the Moscow airspace, only a few minutes later the ban was expanded to all Russian airspace effectively grounding all civilian aircraft regardless of destination. - European Court of Human Rights examination of the Russian authority’s response to the Moscow September 4th attacks


President Putin meeting with European Leaders on September 2nd and visiting a Judo Hall early on the 4th

“It was absolute madness, hundreds of us trying to get out of the building while firemen tried to get in, you could hardly breathe there was so much smoke. I was lucky I was close to the ground, but I saw directly above me many people shouting, saying they were trapped and waiting for the firemen to come. It sticks with me every day, I could see them students and staff waiting and some, some, took the decision to jump, rather than burn, I couldn’t even imagine.” – Galina Mikhailova Moscow University Student, One Day in Russia

It has come to light through subsequent investigation that some fault for the day’s events lies with airlines who failed to report security risks to the adequate authorities, making it harder to distinguish threatening or hijacked aircraft from legitimate flights. The escalating series of events and threats led to dozens of erroneous reports regarding hijacked flights due to technical faults. And several Russian airlines neglected to inform their flights of the current and expanding threat.

At 13:12, Aeroflot Flight 800, silently deviated from its flight plan with a slight turn eastward, before minutes later disappearing from Belgorod’s radar centre. The controller said he when saw the projected flight path shift he attempted to radio the aircraft, then the airline, only to hear nothing from either. With no knowledge of the ongoing incident in Moscow, he believed the issue on flight 800 was a serious mechanical failure or an electrical failure, possibly breaking up in the air.

Belgorod radar centre began to notify other stations of 800’s disappearance and contacted local authorities to see if they had any reports of downed aircraft. After 12 minutes, contact was made with the central aviation authorities to inform them of the craft's disappearance, this was passed to The Transport Agency and Transport Ministry another 10 minutes later. By now, Belgorod airport was fully aware of the possibility of further hijackings and was in full compliance with the order to ground flights including Kolavia flight 962. - Russian Parliamentary Commission, final report

There was not even the grace of instant death. Instead, there was time to call from the sky over Moscow, fingers pumping cell phones, terrified passengers talking to loved ones for one final time.

Forced to stay in their seats by hijackers claiming to be armed with explosives, the passengers and crew members of Aeroflot flight 800 were instructed to call their families and the authorities to relay their captor's demands. Two victims were Americans, Thomas and Nicola Wilson on a vacation travelling Europe.

About an hour after take-off from Belgorod International Airport in the south of Russia, flight 800, bound for Moscow with 108 people on board suddenly became another giant missile aimed at the centre of the Russian government, the Kremlin … - 2 Americans killed in crashed flight, The Washington Post

13:44 “Take you seats, take your seats, we need you to remain calm, we have a bomb so sit, call the authorities and tell them, tell them to listen to our demands” – extract of on conversation overheard by passengers - Moscow Attacks: In Real Time, NBC

13:46 “We have another aircraft coming at you” A FATA supervisor relays to the agency “It’s not talking to us”. There remained a clear struggle throughout the day for aviation authorities to relay information to the government, evacuation orders for senior government officials were slow and partial. The Russian parliament and the Kremlin remained busy for hours. One security official explained the difficulty relaying orders “We kept pushing the alert buttons, but no one was moving, they were either stunned or just thought it was over, apparently someone had to pick up the Prime Minister to get him to leave, physically pick him up and put him in his car” Surviving Moscow, BBC

Several controllers across Moscow reported signs of 800 approaching Moscow and any attempts to reach the aircraft were met with silence “Observed target moving northbound extremely fast” notified a Zhukovsky airport controller. But he failed to identify the identity or type of aircraft, the same controller reported several other unidentified aircraft attributed to rerouted or military flights.

Russian Space Forces, the branch of the military dedicated to aerospace threats, were still unable to adequately respond and were not informed of new threats as they appeared, air defenders continued to search for flight 8606 and processed reports for the plane that no longer existed and mixed up 8606 for 800 leading to further confusion.

FATA: Military, this is Moscow we have a report from you that AFT 8606 is still in the air. And it's moving toward Moscow centre.
RSF: 8606 is still in the air?
FATA: No, that was another, evidently another aircraft has hit the university, that is the last report
RSF: Okay?
FATA: We have another ID for you, somewhere close to the centre moving northbound ... possibly further south
RSF: So 8606 is not a hijack
FATA: No he’s a hijack
RSF: So .. 8606 is a hijack then?
RSF: Heading for Moscow Centre?
FATA: Yes, this is a third aircraft.
- European Court of Human Rights examination of the Russian authority’s response to the Moscow September 4th attacks

Unlike 8606, flight 800’s crash was not filmed by television cameras, but there are hundreds of witnesses to its rapid descent. Many civilians harried out of red square make the same solemn reclamation, a plane screeching out of the sky, barrelling forward at an unrelenting speed, in a controlled descent “It happened all at once, it dropped out of the sky, you heard it, looked up and saw it veer to the left” Moscow Burns: an oral history of Russia’s greatest disaster

At approximately 13:59, 12 Aeroflot Flight 800, a 737 travelling at approximately 800km/h crashed into Ostankino tower, all on board, along with an unknown number of people in the tower, were killed instantly. Wikipedia Article, Aeroflot flight 800

The 540-meter (1,771-foot) Ostankino Tower, which was erected in 1967 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution, has been one of Moscow's most prominent landmarks and a showpiece of Soviet technological power. – Visit Moscow, Ostankino Tower


(Left) Ostankion Tower following its completion its completed construction in 1967 making it the tallest tower in the world
(Right) Ostankino Tower immediately after being struck by Aeroflot 800 in 2004 then the 2nd tallest tower in the world

The tower was undergoing renovations at the time of the collision two of its three elevators were non-functioning due to an electrical fire that occurred 4 years earlier. The single staircase had no natural light, and many stairs were uneven. The reconstruction effort meant that the observation deck and the restaurant were not open. Upon impact, a fuel fireball erupted on impact and shot down the staircase severing the stairwell at 153 metres up. Quickly a fire began, and thick smoke filled the tower, hundreds of visitors and staff trapped above the impact zone were unable to descend, and several were trapped in the remaining working elevator.

It is unclear if an evacuation order for the tower was ever given prior to the strike, but it seems unlikely due to the number of people in the tower at the time. Efforts by the tower's dedicated fire service were not enough and the fire director for the building said he believed a collapse of the tower was imminent within minutes, warning firefighters not to ascend the building. – September 4th: Tragedy over Moscow

The collision and the fire at the tower left the Russian capital without TV broadcasts, and millions of Muscovites pinned to their televisions watching the catastrophes were now suddenly without information. Only the privately run NTV was unaffected at the moment of collision. And the studios’ live reaction could be heard at the moment of the plane crash. “We are hearing another explosion, nearby … to us, close to TV .. Ostankino centre … it seems there is some kind of explosion here at the television tower, there is a fire” Moscow TV centre was in the debris field and the building started to evacuate. NTV stayed running throughout the day and viewers witnessed first-hand the devastation and destruction live. - Moscow Attacks: In Real Time, NBC

At 14:03 Ostankino tower collapsed in 15 seconds, killing all civilian and emergency personnel inside, as well as many individuals staff and civilians in the concourse. The building collapsed northward. Both the partially constructed Telecentre metro station and the Ostankino technical centre suffered significant damage as a result of the collapse of the tower and the aircraft debris. - Wikipedia Article, 2004 Russian Plane Attacks


The collapse of Ostankino Tower, and footage of emergency workers

As the third plane struck the Ostankino tower, Russian Space forces and the Federal Aviation Agency proceeded to effectively shut down all Russian airspace, ordering all aircraft to land at the nearest airport as soon as practical. Over 1000 flights were in the air at the time and any on the ground were told to suspend flights and return to their respective terminal as soon as possible. Air traffic controllers worked quickly to ground flights and at approximately 13:41 the delayed flight Kolavia flight 962 informed its passengers that their flight would not be taking off.

At 13:43, as the plane taxied to the terminal, two men armed with knives stood out of their seats and stormed the cockpit, two other men also stood up and stated that they were Chechen rebels demanding the plane be flown to Afghanistan, unveiling what they claimed were explosives wrapped around their waists. One passenger reported a scuffle in the cockpit presumably between the pilots and the attackers “There were screams and we heard the sound of punches and kicks”. The pilots had already been forewarned over their radio only minutes earlier to “Beware of cockpit intrusions, severe risk of hijackings”. The plane still moving on the ground proceeded to drift across the airport runway for 11 minutes. Air traffic controllers could hear the demands of the would-be hijackers over the radio, they demanded the pilots take the plane up into the air immediately. The other attackers forced passengers out of their seats and to the back of the plane. One passenger Isai Petrov was slashed by a blade at 13:50. Several phone calls were made to Belgorod airport to inform them of the attempted hijack in progress, the airport then called the police and other government agencies and told them about the crisis unfolding at the airport. Flight 962 came to a collision with an airport hangar, the violent struggle on the plane continued as several passengers escaped through the emergency exit, before the attackers regained control of the damaged aircraft and their hostages. - Russian Parliamentary Commission, final report

There is no historical record as to when President Putin authorized the shootdown of civilian aircraft, or even if the decision was ultimately made by him or someone else in the chain of command, communications between the President sequestered in Sochi and Moscow were frayed. The government was scattered due to the parliamentary evacuation. Still, it seems that if the President did authorize shootdowns he did in the minutes between the crash of flight 800 and the collapse of Ostankino, as FATA and the RSF continued to deal with signs of potential hijackings, including phantom aircraft, false sightings, and electrical errors, FSB head Patrushev later claimed that Chechens were responsible for sabotaging Russian communications. However, no proof of this claim has been found. - September 4th: Tragedy over Moscow

Vulnerabilities in the design of the Foreign Ministry are likely to have contributed to the near-total collapse of its central tower according to Donald Munich, a structural engineer investigating the disaster. “This was a strong building, but it had far too many vulnerabilities,” Munich said at a meeting at an engineering centre.

“What Moscow endured on September fourth was more like a natural disaster,” he told the audience. “The loss of life is often far lower in an earthquake or tornado across the entire breadth of the city, than what happened in Moscow”

Munich noted that the fires in the ministry and the university burned very rapidly long after the plane crashes, and despite the heroic efforts of firefighters they were unequipped for such a swift and powerful blaze “Moscow is a fairly flat city, there are only a few skyscrapers, unlike say New York or Chicago where first responders are equipped with helicopters and a trained for fires in high rise buildings".

Donald also points to failures in the initial construction “Basic modern construction techniques were not in place, and the top was far too heavy for the building … sprinklers were faulty, electrics were damaged, fire doors were not implemented all these things helped the fire and broke the structures, it looked strong but in the end, it is only steel and steel like all things melt at intense temperature”

Munich says that when the roof began to collapse at 3:30 it had the effect of dropping a five-story building straight down on top of the rest, causing the entire central tower to partially collapse in a landslide. Munich also discussed the University and why it didn’t collapse …
- Structural engineer describes what went wrong inside the Moscow Foreign Ministry, Harvard News Service


The collapse of the Russian Foreign Ministries central tower

Belgorod, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 4 – The siege of Kolavia flight 962 continued for hours, as all the world looked at the terror unfolding in the nation’s capital in southern Russia, a fresh panic continued to grip the Belgorod airport. Men armed with knives and explosives believed to be attempted hijackers took control of an aeroplane while it was still on the ground, flight 962 , and took over a hundred people hostage. Police, military, ambulances, and fire brigades rushed to the scene as the standoff held for two hours. The hijackers released their demands through a released hostage, demands that the plane be flown to Afghanistan and that Russian forces withdraw from Chechnya.

Security forces sealed off the runway and appeared ready for battle to prevent a take-off and stop another major disaster. It became clear that the President of Russia, Vladimir V. Putin had ordered troops to take the plane back, as Russian forces surrounded the plane audible panic broke out, followed by an eruption of gunfire. “Taking advantage of the panic, several more hostages began to escape” Lev Dazasohov, a spokesman for the regional government said. “The terrorists started killing hostages, and the special forces on our side needed to fire back, this was most unfortunate”.

It is unclear what sparked the explosion that destroyed the aircraft whether the hijackers detonated their explosives on purpose or by mistake, but the burning wreckage left over 60 killed in the blast and many more needed to be immediately transported via ambulance to the hospital. The battle at the airport is still not fully explained, if the assailants were hijackers what was their target? the Russian Government, The Kremlin, St Basils Cathedral? the scene at the airport was just one of many that spanned a dark day in Russian history. - Russians Storm Hijacked Plane, ABC News


(left) Russian Forces at Belgorod Airport, (right) the aftermath of the explosion aboard Kolavia Flight 962

On September 4th air traffic controllers were working to the bone, in the process of saving lives; bringing planes safely to the ground. Hundreds of people, who showed up to a normal day of work, received anything but.

When Russian Airspace was closed by President Putin, all flights in Russian airspace including international flights from across the globe needed to land. Putin personally called several neighbouring countries to essentially tell them he would need to land planes at their airports because there weren’t enough airports in Russia to contain all of them. All flights were asked to return from where they took off, except those that didn’t have enough fuel to do so, those planes were given emergency landing points in Russia or neighbouring Kazakhstan, Finland, Ukraine and Belarus.

One such plane was Japan Airlines Flight 285, a scheduled commercial flight, a Boeing 747 from Tokyo, Japan en route to St Petersburg, Pulkovo Airport with a planned stopover in Moscow.

Flight 285 departed Tokyo on September 4th, and when the first plane hit the first building in Moscow, 285 was out of radio contact, as the plane passed over into Russian Airspace through China there were indications that something might be wrong on board. The Russian Aviation agency was reviewing messages between the flight and Japan Airways, on the 4th they were scanning all flights for potential warnings indicating a hijacking and noticed several erratic messages from flight 285 including the phrase ‘HKJ’ which the agency took as a possible coded message for a hijacking. The FATA took the message very seriously “we suffered several attacks from multiple aircraft from multiple airports, it seems logical that a similar attack could have been emerging from the far east”

Officials were playing catch up that day, the technology simply isn’t where it is today, and people were on the highest of high alerts. This was an unprecedented situation and some of this technology was experimental, to put it simply those in charge were acting very reactively.

By 3 PM, flight 285 stayed on course, broadcasting the seemingly ordinary message, ‘This is 285, good afternoon' the message appears to be delivered normally without any distress, but Russian Space Forces were taking no chances, Russian airspace was closed and there would be no landing in Moscow possible. Russian Space Forces authorized the Domna air force base to scramble fighter jets. They were ordered to trail the plane at a discreet distance to prevent any potential hijackers from engaging in a deadly manoeuvre and crashing the plane.

Contact between the plane and air traffic controllers was strained at times, down to differing dialects and language barriers but there was no definite sign of a hijacking, the flight seemed in compliance with air traffic controllers, but then something went wrong, the aircraft took an unexplained left turn and the radio went momentarily silent. Controllers believed that a violent incident had broken out in the cockpit possibly between hijackers and the pilots, but it is also possible that the flight was spooked by one of the fighter jets or any other reason. The radio came back on and the pilot tried to reassure air traffic controllers that everything was fine and continued to comply with orders. At the same time in Russia, the hostage crisis on flight 962 ended when the failed hijackers detonated explosives that destroyed the plane on the tarmac.

Controllers asked flight 285 to send the sign ‘7500’ the international symbol for a hijacking, we can't know for sure what the reasoning was but it is possible that controllers theorised that if the plane complied as requested it confirmed a hijacking. When asked to verify the code, the plane was reluctant. Perhaps the controllers were in a different world witnessing 3 plane crashes in one day, or the 285 pilots were confused receiving these strange requests from the controllers, we don’t know, no one was acting clearly here, so air controllers issued a second request to the flight crew to send the code ‘7500’. The plane responded ‘7500’... - Japan Airlines Flight 285, Mid Air Incidents Podcast

The last cockpit voice recorder entry occurred at 14:49:37 while in this phase of the descent. At 14:50 UTC, the aircraft was reported turning to the north ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) analysis concluded that the flight crew "retained very limited control" of the aircraft. However, this only lasted for two minutes. The crew then lost all control. The aircraft began to descend rapidly in spirals over mountain ranges in the Kemerovo Oblast for 2.6 miles (4.2 km). The aircraft then broke apart in mid-air and crashed into the ground, close to the heavenly tooth mountain range. All 102 people on board were killed. – Japan Air Flight 285, Wikipedia article


(Left) Russian MiG-29s in flight, (Right) wreckage of Japan Air 285

Sept. 4 – The following is a transcript of President Vladimir V. Putin's televised remarks at the Kremlin on Saturday night, as translated by The New York Times:

I am addressing today those who lost the dearest in their life, their children, their kin, their closest. I want you to remember all those who died at the hands of terrorists in the last few days. We were confronted today not just by murderers, but those who used the most destructive weapons against defenceless people.

As I have said on many occasions, we have faced crises, rebellions and terrorist acts many times. But what has happened now -- the unprecedented crime committed by terrorists, inhuman in its cruelty -- is not a challenge to the president, the Parliament or the government. This is a challenge to all of Russia, to all our people. This is an attack against all of us.

Terrorists think that they are stronger, that they will be able to intimidate us, to paralyze our will, to erode our society. It seems that we have a choice: to resist or to cave in and agree with their claims; to give up and allow them to destroy and to take Russia apart, in hope that eventually they would leave us alone.

We cannot but see what is evident: we are dealing not with separate acts of intimidation, not with individual forays of terrorists. We are dealing with the direct intervention of international terror aided by enemies of Russia, with a total and full-scale war, which is taking away the lives of our compatriots.

All of Russia’s history shows that such wars do not end quickly. In these conditions, we simply cannot, we should not, live as carelessly as before. Just as we bow our heads to the memory of all those who fought and died in the Great Patriotic War, we bow our heads to the memory of the martyrs who burned alive and our firefighters who died on the first day of this righteous battle.

Some want to tear apart our country. Others help them to do it. They help because they think that Russia, as one of the greatest nuclear powers in the world, is still a threat, and this threat has to be eliminated. And terrorism is only an instrument to achieve these goals.

It is impossible to reconcile the pain of the losses. The trial has brought us even closer together, Tomorrow we will take action. Today, we have to be together. Only then shall we defeat the enemy.
- Putin Tells Russians: 'We Shall Defeat Terror', New York Times


(Left) The Russian Flag lowered to half-mast over the Kremlin, (Centre) an audience watch President Putin's speech, (Right) Russians place roses at a ceremony for the victims
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A rather dark chapter. I wonder how the Russians will do their own "War on Terror" against AQ here. I could the Chechens and the Dagestanis suffer from repraisals as a result of the attacks.
A rather dark chapter. I wonder how the Russians will do their own "War on Terror" against AQ here. I could the Chechens and the Dagestanis suffer from repraisals as a result of the attacks.
Well the Russians will find it much easier to enact punishment upon the Chenchens and Dagestanis for this attack given the border and probably will see quite a bit of leeway for a while until they do something so horrific that the international community condemns them.
Quite the chapter. Given that this was somehow quite a bit messier than 9/11, I wonder how the world will respond. Sympathy I'm sure, but possibly with some criticism regarding the Japanese/Korean(?) flight. I can imagine that sparking a lot of conspiracy theories. Also Putin's speech seems to imply that this was potentially a state sponsored attack, which has lots of implications.
Well that was powerful @Iwanh - this is going to shake up the world.

Russia is going to roll tanks into wherever they feel responsible for this.

I can see airport security being tightened at every major hub in the world as a result of this similar to OTL events.

Note: Japan Airlines Flight 285 is identifed as Korean Air Flight 285, Wikipedia article in the snippet below it.