Editor’s Note: This article was first published on June 18, 2018, on the blog site Shoestring 9/11. It is being re-published here with the author’s permission in order to further disseminate well-sourced, relevant information on the logistical aspects of how the World Trade Center Twin Towers and Building 7 may have been prepared for demolition.
At least three notable anomalous events occurred at the World Trade Center in the weeks and months leading up to September 11, 2001, which may have related to the imminent terrorist attacks but could not have been caused by al-Qaeda, the group supposedly responsible for 9/11.
There was an increase in security at the Trade Center in the two weeks before 9/11, for reasons that are unclear, which only ended the day before the attacks. Also, the fire alarm system in World Trade Center Building 7 was placed on "test condition" every morning in the seven days before the attacks and on the day of 9/11. While it was in this mode, any alarms would be ignored. WTC 7 was a massive skyscraper located just north of the Twin Towers, which mysteriously collapsed late in the afternoon of September 11. And some of the elevators in the Twin Towers were out of service in the months before the attacks, supposedly due to maintenance work or modernization.
It seems odd that these events happened at the World Trade Center just before the Twin Towers were the target of a terrorist attack and three of the Trade Center buildings collapsed. It would have been notable if just one of them occurred in the period leading up to 9/11. The fact that all three did is remarkable.
Osama bin Laden—the man who supposedly ordered the 9/11 attacks—and his al-Qaeda terrorist organization would surely have been unable to bring about these events. Therefore, if the official account of 9/11 is true and they were responsible for the attacks, then it must have been just a coincidence that these events occurred before September 11. But if the events were related to preparations for the attacks on the World Trade Center, this would cast serious doubt on the official narrative of 9/11.
A new investigation of the attacks would be necessary to determine if the unusual events at the World Trade Center in the period leading up to 9/11 were significant and, if they were, what their purposes were. All the same, we can at least consider possible reasons for them.
It is possible, for example, that they related to efforts to secretly prepare the Twin Towers and WTC 7 to be brought down with explosives as part of the 9/11 attacks. Perhaps the heightened security at the World Trade Center and the supposed maintenance work on the elevators were intended to create cover stories for the men who were planting the explosives. If a person inquired about mysterious workers they had seen at the Trade Center, they could be falsely told these men were there to repair the elevators or help out in response to the heightened security. Or if someone asked about unusual work they had noticed being carried out in the buildings, they could be told this work related to repairs on the elevators, even though it in fact related to the preparations for demolishing the buildings.
Security At The World Trade Center Was Increased Just Before 9/11
It is striking, in light of the fact that the World Trade Center was about to become the scene of a massive terrorist attack, that security at the Trade Center was suddenly increased around the end of August 2001.
Security at the checkpoint leading to the garage under the Trade Center complex, through which "deliveries and everything" had to pass, was "markedly increased about two weeks before" September 11, firefighter Timothy Brown, a supervisor at New York City's Office of Emergency Management, has recalled. Extra measures included "a lot more Port Authority police officers" at the checkpoint, and "[bomb-sniffing] dogs running around and checking all the trucks." 1 At the same time, security personnel at the Trade Center had to work extra-long shifts due to the heightened security. 2
And Ben Fountain, who worked for a company on the 47th floor of the South Tower, recalled that in the "few weeks" before September 11, he and his colleagues were evacuated from the building "a number of times." It is unclear whether this was because of the heightened security. All the same, the amount of evacuations was "unusual," Fountain commented. 3 Brown similarly said the increased security measures were "unusual." "We had wondered if something was up," he remarked. 4 "I think they had an inkling something was going on," Fountain said. 5
The additional security measures were withdrawn in the days before 9/11. Bomb-sniffing dogs were "abruptly removed" on September 6 and September 11 was "the first day there was not the extra security," Daria Coard, a guard in the North Tower, said.
No clear reason was provided for the increase in security. While Coard said it occurred in response to "numerous phone threats," the London Independent reported that "no explanation has been given" for it. 6 And when Brown and his colleagues asked people "in the intelligence area" if something was going on, they were told, "No." 7
Fire Alarm System Was On 'Test Condition' In The Week Before 9/11
While these extra security measures were being implemented, another anomalous event occurred at WTC 7, a 47-story office building located 370 feet north of the North Tower. Specifically, every morning for the seven days before September 11, the building's fire alarm system was placed on "test condition." On September 11, it was again put on test condition, at 6:47 a.m., and only returned to normal monitoring, automatically, eight hours later, at 2:47 p.m.
Test condition was usually requested when maintenance or testing was being carried out on the alarm system. Perhaps significantly, when the system was in this mode, any alarms that were received would be considered the result of the maintenance or testing and were therefore ignored. Additionally, any alarm signals would not appear on the operator's display, although they were still recorded in the system's history file. 8
Anything unusual that took place at WTC 7 deserves scrutiny since this building collapsed completely at 5:20 p.m. on September 11, even though no plane hit it, after being set on fire by debris when the Twin Towers came down and then burning throughout the day. The New York Times called its collapse "a mystery that under normal circumstances would probably have captured the attention of the city and the world," and noted that WTC 7 was "the first skyscraper in modern times to collapse primarily as a result of a fire." 9
Official explanations have ruled out or ignored the use of explosives as a possible cause of its collapse. 10 Many people, though, have commented that its collapse resembled a typical controlled demolition and suggested that explosives were indeed used to bring it down. 11
Elevators Were Out Of Operation Before 9/11
The third unusual event at the World Trade Center was that some of the elevators in the Twin Towers were out of service in the months before September 11. This anomaly could be particularly significant in light of the possibility that the Twin Towers were brought down with explosives, since it has been indicated that the availability of unused elevator shafts would have made it easier for demolition workers to plant explosives throughout the buildings.
At least one elevator that went all the way up the North Tower was out of operation before 9/11. Each of the Twin Towers had two passenger elevators that went from the base to the top of the building. 12 Referring to one of these elevators in the North Tower, journalists Kevin Flynn and Jim Dwyer wrote that the "elevator that ran directly from the ground" up to Windows on the World, the restaurant on the top floors of the building, "was out of service" on September 11. 13 Apparently referring to the same elevator, ABC News correspondent Don Dahler reported on the morning of September 11 that "a major elevator that went all the way to the top ... has been malfunctioning for at least a month." "They've been having a lot of trouble with that," he added. 14
In fact, according to a report by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), both of the elevators that went from the base to the top of the North Tower were out of operation on September 11. "Elevators 6A and 7A were out of service for modernization," the report stated. 15
Some people who worked in the North Tower have recalled problems with the building's elevators just before 9/11, but it is unclear whether they were referring to these two elevators or to other ones.
Susan Frederick, who worked on the 80th floor, said two elevators "had been out of service for more than six months" before September 11, "as renovations were taking place." 16 Nancy Cass, who worked on the 44th floor, stated that the "passenger elevators on the west side of the building had been out of order for the past five or six weeks" before September 11 "and the elevator company had a crew of men working on the scene." 17 And Monica Goldstein, who worked on the 101st floor, told her sister that in the weeks just before 9/11, "elevators skipped floors and went out of service." 18
At least two elevators in the South Tower were out of operation just before 9/11. Each of the Twin Towers had 10 elevators that went up from the concourse to the 78th floor sky lobby. 19 Judy Wein, who worked on the 103rd floor of the South Tower, recalled that two of these in her building "had been out of service for months" before September 11. 20 And someone who was on the 78th floor of the South Tower when the plane crashed into the building on September 11 mentioned "elevators that were being repaired" there at that time. 21
Did The Unusual Events Relate To Preparations For 9/11?
It is certainly curious that at least three anomalous events occurred at the World Trade Center just before September 11, when the Twin Towers were the targets of a massive terrorist attack and these two buildings, along with WTC 7, unexpectedly collapsed. It is at least plausible that it was a coincidence that these events all took place just before 9/11. However, while it would have been notable if even one of them occurred, for all three to happen at that time due to chance would have been extraordinary.
It seems quite likely, therefore, that there were more sinister reasons for these events. If, as some people have suggested, the Twin Towers and WTC 7 were brought down with explosives, the events may have related to work carried out to prepare the three buildings to be demolished on September 11. It is consequently worth considering what purposes each event could have served if this was the case.
Security Alert Could Have Provided A Cover Story For Operatives Preparing The Attacks
It is unclear what the heightened security at the World Trade Center in the two weeks before 9/11 might have achieved. Perhaps there were a large number of people at the Trade Center at that time, helping to prepare for the attacks on September 11. This could have meant there was a danger that security guards or others who worked there would get suspicious if they noticed all these unknown people around the place. The heightened security could have been implemented so if anyone questioned what these people were doing, it could be claimed they were there to help deal with this.
Another possibility is that the security alert was intended to create a pretext for bringing to the Trade Center operatives who would make sure the explosives planted there weren't discovered at the last minute. Men disguised as security guards could have been brought there under the cover story that they were helping to implement extra security measures. Their actual role, however, would have been to guard areas where explosives were planted or work was being carried out to prepare the buildings to be demolished.
'Test Condition' Could Have Prevented Fire Alarms Drawing Attention To Preparations For 9/11
The purpose of placing the fire alarm system in WTC 7 on test condition in the week before 9/11 could have been to prevent any last-minute work preparing the building for demolition from setting off the alarm. Had the alarm gone off, it could have drawn attention to this work and perhaps led to the sinister plan for September 11 being uncovered.
Even if the work had caused the fire alarm to go off, the fact that the system was on test condition should have meant the alarm would have been disregarded and therefore not draw attention to the work preparing WTC 7 to be demolished. As NIST pointed out, when the fire alarm system was on test condition, "any alarms received from the system were considered the result of ... maintenance or testing and were ignored."
Perhaps work was being carried out that involved drilling or other activities that created a lot of dust, which could have got into the smoke detectors and set off the fire alarm. NIST, in one of the reports it produced on the collapse of WTC 7, confirmed that dust could set off the fire alarm. Specifically, it suggested that the presence of a large amount of dust from the collapse of the South Tower could have been the cause of the alarm system in WTC 7 registering a "fire condition." Referring to an alarm at 10:00 a.m. on September 11, NIST stated that it "could not determine whether this fire alarm was triggered by smoke from a fire or by dust entering smoke detectors." 22
It is harder to come up with possible reasons why the alarm system was on test condition on the day of 9/11, since any work preparing the building for demolition presumably would have been completed by then. Perhaps the system was on test condition that day so investigators would subsequently have less information with which to determine the sequence of events that led up to the collapse of WTC 7.
The amount of information available to investigators would in fact already have been limited due to the way information from the fire alarm system was recorded. The fire alarm system in WTC 7 recorded information at the fire command station in the building's third-floor lobby. It was also monitored away from the World Trade Center site by AFA Protective Services, a New York-based company that designs, installs, and services fire alarm systems. 23 However, NIST noted, "specific fire information beyond the fact that a fire condition has been detected is rarely sent to the monitoring site."
For example, the record in the system's history file, of the alarm in WTC 7 that occurred at 10:00 a.m. on September 11, showed that the fire condition existed in "AREA 1." However, AREA 1 was not a specific location within WTC 7, but instead referred to the entire building.
While the fire alarm equipment in WTC 7 could have provided "a much greater amount of information" than the history file recorded at the monitoring site, NIST stated, "None of that information was recovered from the building systems, which were destroyed in the collapse." 24
Elevators Could Have Been Out Of Use So Explosives Could Be Planted In The Shafts
It is perhaps easiest to think of possible reasons why rogue individuals who planned to bring the Twin Towers down with explosives as part of the 9/11 attacks would have arranged to have elevators in the towers out of service in the months before September 11.
The group Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth pointed out, "The architectural drawings of the WTC North Tower ... indicate that most of the [building's] core columns would be easily accessed from the elevator shafts in order to plant explosives." 25 And Tom Sullivan, an explosives technician, commented: "Looking at the [World Trade Center] building, [demolishing] it wouldn't be a problem once you gained access to the elevator shafts. Then a team of loading experts would have access to all the core columns and beams." 26
We can see, therefore, that a reason for having elevators in the Twin Towers out of operation before 9/11 could have been to enable demolition workers to plant explosives in the unused elevator shafts or make it easier for them to access areas where they needed to plant explosives.
In light of this possibility, it is notable that one or two of the elevators in the North Tower that were out of operation went all the way up the building. Therefore, if demolition workers wanted to plant explosives in the elevator shafts or in areas accessible from the elevator shafts, having these particular elevators out of use would presumably have enabled them to rig the entire building, from the bottom to the top, with explosives.
Similarly, the fact that two elevators in the South Tower that were out of service went from the base of the tower to the 78th floor presumably would have meant demolition workers were able to plant explosives on over two-thirds of the building's floors.
An additional reason for having elevators out of service could have been to create a cover story for the demolition workers who were planting explosives in the Twin Towers. If anyone got suspicious and inquired about what these men were doing, they could have been falsely told the men were maintenance workers, there to work on elevators that were supposedly malfunctioning or being modernized.
Elevator Mechanics Were Away From The Twin Towers When They Collapsed
In light of the possibility that demolition workers planted explosives in the elevator shafts in the Twin Towers or used the elevator shafts to access the areas where they were planting explosives, it is curious that elevator mechanics at the World Trade Center appear to have been particularly fortunate on September 11, such that none of them died in the attacks.
ACE Elevator, the company responsible for servicing and modernizing the elevators at the World Trade Center, had 83 employees working at the Trade Center on September 11. Remarkably, these elevator mechanics "left the buildings after the second jet struck, nearly an hour before the first building collapsed," according to USA Today, even though, at the time, "dozens of people were trapped in stuck elevators." The mechanics were consequently about a block and a half away from the towers when the first collapse occurred. "Our people miraculously left when the second plane hit and it saved our lives," Ron Baamonde, ACE Elevator's president, commented.
The departure of elevator mechanics from a disaster site is unusual, according to USA Today. "Nobody knows the insides of a high-rise like an elevator mechanic," Robert Caporale, editor of Elevator World magazine, told the newspaper.
Baamonde said the mechanics left the towers "on their own [initiative] because they were in danger." James O'Neill, ACE Elevator's supervisor of maintenance, said they left to "assess the damage and come back in as needed." Their plan, he said, had been "to return to the building later in the day to help with rescues." 27
However, according to elevator history expert Patrick Carrajat, no clear reason has been provided as to why ACE Elevator personnel were away from the towers when they collapsed. "We have heard several versions of why ACE personnel were not at the Trade [Center]," he wrote, and "most revolve around a labor management dispute." 28
Furthermore, if the elevator mechanics left the World Trade Center on their own initiative after the second crash, their actions apparently violated protocol. The New York Port Authority, which owned the Trade Center, said its "emergency plan called for mechanics to stay and help with rescues." Port Authority spokesman Allen Morrison said, "There was no situation in which the mechanics were advised or instructed to leave on their own." 29
Considering the conflicting explanations that have been offered as to why the elevator mechanics were away from the Twin Towers when they collapsed and the fact that the mechanics' actions appear to have gone against standard procedures, it is surely possible that there was a more sinister reason for the mechanics' apparent good fortune on September 11.
Perhaps someone at ACE Elevator, due to the company's involvement with maintaining the elevators at the World Trade Center, knew demolition workers had been planting explosives in the elevator shafts in the Twin Towers or using the elevator shafts to access areas where they were planting explosives. If so, this person may have consequently taken actions that ensured the company's workers were out of harm's way when the towers came down on September 11.
The Unusual Events At The Trade Center Before 9/11 Are Suspicious And Need To Be Investigated
It seems reasonable to assume that the occurrence of at least three anomalous events at the World Trade Center just before September 11, when the Trade Center was the scene of a massive terrorist attack, is significant. These events therefore ought to be looked into as part of a new investigation of the 9/11 attacks.
There are many questions that need to be addressed. To begin with, were these events indeed connected to the attacks that subsequently occurred at the Trade Center? If so, what were their purposes? Did they relate to preparations for bringing down the Twin Towers and WTC 7 with explosives? Who was responsible for bringing them about?
It ought to be fairly straightforward to find out who arranged to have the fire alarm system in WTC 7 put on test condition in the days up to and including September 11. Currently, the identity of this person is unclear. AFA Protective Systems, the company that monitored the alarm system, usually placed the system on test condition in response to a request from the building manager, according to NIST. 30 And Mike Catalano, chief engineer for Salomon Smith Barney at WTC 7, said the building manager was a man called Ed Campbell. 31 However, the monitoring station history tape record for the alarm system on September 11 stated that the system was placed on test condition that day at the request of a person with the surname, "Williams." 32
Also, was it usual to have the alarm system in WTC 7 on test condition every day for a week? Surely this was quite a drastic and risky action. If there had been a fire in WTC 7 during the week before 9/11, while the system was in this mode, would the alarm have failed to go off or, if it did go off, would it have been ignored because people assumed this was due to testing? Would those in the building therefore have stayed where they were instead of evacuating, thereby potentially putting themselves in danger? And would it have taken longer for the Fire Department to be alerted, such that the fire grew more and caused more damage before firefighters were able to bring it under control?
It has been claimed that elevators in the Twin Towers were out of service before September 11 for reasons such as "renovations," "modernization," or because they were "malfunctioning" or "being repaired." And according to people who worked in the Twin Towers, some elevators were out of use for months. But why would it take months for an elevator to be repaired or modernized? Was it usual for such work to take this long? If not, were any suspicions raised at the time about the elevators being out of operation and, if they were, what explanations were given?
Since it is plausible that the increased security at the World Trade Center, the placing of the fire alarm system in WTC 7 on test condition, and having some of the elevators in the Twin Towers out of service were connected to preparations for bringing down the Twin Towers and WTC 7 with explosives on September 11, it is surely important that these events be investigated thoroughly. Closer examination of them could help determine how the 9/11 attacks were carried out and who was responsible for them.
1 Tim Brown, interview by Jim Whitaker. Project Rebirth, June 30, 2002.
2 Curtis L. Taylor and Sean Gardiner, "Heightened Security Alert Had Just Been Lifted." Newsday, September 12, 2001.
3 "Hell on Earth." People, September 24, 2001.
4 Tim Brown, interview by Jim Whitaker.
6 Curtis L. Taylor and Sean Gardiner, "Heightened Security Alert Had Just Been Lifted".
Andrew Gumbel, "Bush Did Not Heed Several Warnings of Attacks." The Independent, September 17, 2001.
7 Tim Brown, interview by Jim Whitaker.
8 Therese P. McAllister et al., Structural Fire Response and Probable Collapse Sequence of World Trade Center Building 7. Gaithersburg, MD: National Institute of Standards and Technology, 2008, pp. 68-69.
9 James Glanz, "Engineers Have a Culprit in the Strange Collapse of 7 World Trade Center: Diesel Fuel." New York Times, November 29, 2001.
James Glanz and Eric Lipton, "Burning Diesel is Cited in Fall of 3rd Tower." New York Times, March 2, 2002.
Eric Lipton, "Fire, Not Explosives, Felled 3rd Tower on 9/11, Report Says." New York Times, August 21, 2008.
10 Therese McAllister (Editor), World Trade Center Building Performance Study: Data Collection, Preliminary Observations, and Recommendations. Washington, DC: Federal Emergency Management Agency, 2002, pp. 5-1 - 5-32.
Final Report on the Collapse of World Trade Center Building 7. Gaithersburg, MD: National Institute of Standards and Technology, 2008, pp. 26-28.
11 Ted Walter, Beyond Misinformation: What Science Says About the Destruction of World Trade Center Buildings 1, 2, and 7. Berkeley, CA: Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, 2015, p. 2.
For a short video that compares the collapse of WTC 7 with the known controlled demolitions of some high-rise buildings, see "WTC 7: Side-by-Side Comparison to Controlled Demolition." Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, February 4, 2013.
12 Dennis Cauchon and Martha T. Moore, "Elevators Were Disaster Within Disaster." USA Today, September 4, 2002.
Jason D. Averill et al.,Occupant Behavior, Egress, and Emergency Communications. Gaithersburg, MD: National Institute of Standards and Technology, 2005, p. 34.
13 Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn, 102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers. New York: Times Books, 2005, p. 151.
14 "ABC Sept. 11, 2001, 11:18 a.m.-11:59 a.m." ABC 7, September 11, 2001.
15 J. Randall Lawson and Robert L. Vettori, The Emergency Response Operations. Gaithersburg, MD: National Institute of Standards and Technology, 2005, p. 43.
16 Susan A. Frederick, "9/11 Survivor's Tale: 'It Was Not my Time,' Holyoke Native Susan Frederick Says." The Republican, September 18, 2001.
17 Damon DiMarco, Tower Stories: An Oral History of 9/11. Santa Monica, CA: Santa Monica Press, 2007, p. 59.
18 "Lives Remembered, by the Families and Friends Who Shared Them." New York Times, September 25, 2001.
19 H. S. Lew, Richard W. Bukowski, and Nicholas J. Carino, Design, Construction, and Maintenance of Structural and Life Safety Systems. Gaithersburg, MD: National Institute of Standards and Technology, 2005, p. 169.
20 "Interview With Judy Wein, AON, 3/24/04, Hollis Hills, Queens." 9/11 Commission, March 24, 2004.
"Memorandum for the Record: Interview of Judy Wein." 9/11 Commission, March 24, 2004.
21 Jason D. Averill et al., Occupant Behavior, Egress, and Emergency Communications, p. 102.
22 Therese P. McAllister et al., Structural Fire Response and Probable Collapse Sequence of World Trade Center Building 7, pp. 68-70.
23 June 2004 Progress Report on the Federal Building and Fire Safety Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster. Gaithersburg, MD: National Institute of Standards and Technology, 2004, p. 93.
"Federal Building and Fire Safety Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster, Part IV: Life Safety." National Institute of Standards and Technology, April 5, 2005.
24 Therese P. McAllister et al., Structural Fire Response and Probable Collapse Sequence of World Trade Center Building 7, pp. 69-70.
25 "The Twin Towers: Gallery of Evidence." Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, n.d.
26 "Tom Sullivan: Explosives Technician, Loader." Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, March 19, 2011.
"Explosives Technician Blows Away Official WTC Conspiracy Theory." Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, June 15, 2011.
27 Dennis Cauchon, "Mechanics Left Towers Before Buildings Collapsed." USA Today, December 19, 2001.
Dennis Cauchon and Martha T. Moore, "Elevators Were Disaster Within Disaster".
Robert Jones, "The Elevator Man's Tale." Times Herald-Record, September 8, 2002.
28 Patrick A. Carrajat, The Past as Prologue: The History of the Elevator Industry in America, 1850-2001. Privately printed, 2005, p. 162.
29 Dennis Cauchon and Martha T. Moore, "Elevators Were Disaster Within Disaster."
30 Therese P. McAllister et al., Structural Fire Response and Probable Collapse Sequence of World Trade Center Building 7, p. 69.
31 Responding to Horror: Operating Engineers in Action at the World Trade Center Disaster. Washington, DC: International Union of Operating Engineers, 2003, p. 27.
"Memorandum for the Record: Meeting With Mike Catalano, Former Head of Salomon Smith Barney Security, Building 7 WTC." 9/11 Commission, January 16, 2004.
32 Therese P. McAllister et al., Structural Fire Response and Probable Collapse Sequence of World Trade Center Building 7, p. 69.