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9/11 group troubled by gun report 9/11 group troubled by gun report
Thu Feb 28, 6:02 AM ET

Blake Morrison USA TODAY

A group that represents families of victims killed Sept. 11 called Wednesday for a congressional investigation into a Federal Aviation Administration (news - web sites) memo that says a terrorist used a gun aboard a jet that crashed into the World Trade Center.

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Officials with the FAA, FBI (news - web sites) and American Airlines flatly insist that the information in the memo, prepared the evening of the attacks, later proved erroneous. ''A gun has never come into play in any shape or form'' related to the suicide hijackings, a senior federal official said Wednesday.

An FAA spokeswoman said Wednesday that the memo ''was corrected that very evening'' and that officials in the ''highest levels of the security organization'' within the FAA attributed the gun report to ''miscommunication.''

But an officer with Families of September 11, which represents the families of hundreds of victims, says only a congressional investigation will allay concerns that the FAA might be covering up the possibility that a terrorist smuggled a gun aboard.

The group's call for an inquiry comes days after a whistleblower, FAA Special Agent Bogdan Dzakovic, told USA TODAY that agency officials ignored security problems and manipulated tests at the nation's airports before the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

The memo, titled ''Executive Summary, September 11, 2001,'' and obtained by USA TODAY, is detailed in its account of what happened aboard American Airlines Flight 11.

Prepared by workers in the agency's command center shortly before 6 p.m. on Sept. 11, the memo says the FAA was notified by an American official that ''a passenger located in seat 10B shot and killed a passenger.''

It names the passenger and the hijacker it says shot him; both names match those on manifests released by the airline. ''One bullet was reported to have been fired,'' the memo states.

''I've called three separate people at the FAA. . . . I have not received a single return phone call,'' said Stephen Push, treasurer of the group and husband of Lisa Raines, a passenger on American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon (news - web sites). ''We'd like to know: Was or was there not a gun on that flight, and if there wasn't, how did this . . . memo come into existence?''

Push said the group hasn't contacted the family of the alleged shooting victim because it did not want to traumatize the family if the report proved false.

Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the House aviation subcommittee, said he asked staff members Wednesday to look into the matter. ''I don't know if there is any validity to it,'' he said. ''But we will . . . see what is there.''

The memo cites American Airlines' manager of corporate security, Suzanne Clark, as the source of the report. But Clark told USA TODAY she never heard such reports. ''I don't know where that came from,'' she said. ''There was never a mention of any gun, ever.''

Information about what happened aboard Flight 11 apparently came from calls made by two flight attendants minutes after the hijackings. The jet later crashed into the World Trade Center. All 92 people aboard died.

American spokesman John Hotard said he isn't certain ''where the FAA got a gun story.'' He said one of the calls from the jet, from flight attendant Betty Ong, was taped and lasted ''three to four minutes. . . . It did not mention a shooting,'' he said.

The other call, from flight attendant Madeline Amy Sweeney, wasn't taped, Hotard said. Instead, Sweeney's supervisor, Michael Woodward, took notes, but those notes did not mention a gun or a shooting either, he said. The notes and the transcript from the first call were given to the FBI. Woodward couldn't be reached.

''This is like the grassy knoll theory,'' Hotard said. ''They may never find out where it came from.''

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