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Archive for Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Widow says passengers tried to stop WTC hijackers

March 10, 2004

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— The widow of a Gulf War veteran aboard doomed United Airline Flight 175 has revealed for the first time that passengers tried to stop hijackers from crashing the plane into one of the Trade Center towers.

"I might have to hang up quickly, we're going to try to do something about this," Brian Sweeney reportedly said in a cell phone call to his mother.

"OK," Louise Sweeney said. "Do what you have to do."

The account was related to the New York Daily News by Sweeney's widow, Julie, and has never before appeared in print.

Until now, the only known rebellion against Osama bin Laden's hijackers was on United Airlines Flight 93, where passengers forced the hijackers to crash the Washington-bound plane in a Pennsylvania field.

"There was no time for 'Let's roll,'" said the widow, referring to the Flight 93 battle cry. "He called me at 8:58. ... The plane crashed a few minutes later."

Al Felzenberg, a spokesman for the federal Sept. 11, 2001, commission, said Sweeney's story was being evaluated.

A former Navy lieutenant, Brian Sweeney, 38, was an aeronautics consultant headed west for business on Sept. 11 when the hijackers took over the plane. By the time Sweeney and the other passengers realized what was happening, American Airlines Flight 11 already had struck the North Tower and the other plane was on a collision course with death.

On the phone with his mother, "She asked who they were and he said not specifically but said they were Middle Eastern," Julie Sweeney said. "He could literally kill somebody with a twist of the neck. We could see him trying to do something about it."

But there just wasn't time.

"He always stated that family came first and in the face of death he called me, he called his mother and the next priority was trying to save everyone around him," his widow said. "I believe he and other people on the plane were trying to do something, but I believe it was just too late."

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