Unanswered Questions

A Grieving Mother Wonders What Really Happened on 9/11

by Marion Kminek, mother of Mari-Rae Sopper, who was killed on American Airlines Flight 77 on September 11, 2001.

On September 11, 2001, our daughter had her life cut short at the age of 35. After practicing law in the Navy JAG Corps and then with a corporate law firm in Washington, D.C., she accepted her dream job to become the head women’s gymnastics coach at UCSB. Her condo was up for sale, the movers had picked up her furniture, her car had been shipped, and then she boarded American Airlines Flight 77 to begin her new life.

As we approach the fifth anniversary of her death, more and more unanswered questions have surfaced regarding the events of 9/11. Here are just a few of the questions that bother me most: When President Bush learned of the second plane hitting the South Tower, he seemed puzzled, but not particularly upset or surprised. He continued reading to the children. The Secret Service is trained to act quickly and decisively to protect the president — why did they let him remain in a public place for more than seven minutes when our country was under attack?

According to radar data, American Airlines (AA) 77 was flying at 400 mph at 9:35 a.m. and passed over the Pentagon at 7,000 feet. The plane then made a very difficult high-speed descending turn in a downward spiral, dropping 7,000 feet in two-and-a-half minutes. How could the terrorists have done this difficult turn when their flight instructors have stated they were incompetent as pilots of even a small plane?

Pictures of the Pentagon after the impact show an entry hole much too small for a 757 to have crashed into the building. How can that be? A C-130 military cargo plane that “happened” to be flying near the Pentagon was asked by air traffic control if he could see AA 77 and report its position. The same pilot later also “happened” to be in the same area as United Airlines Flight 93, and was asked to give 93’s position. Isn’t this a strange coincidence?

On September 13, 2001, in violation of a domestic flight ban, three Saudi royal family members flew to Kentucky in a private Lear jet from a private Raytheon hangar in Tampa, Florida. This flight took place several hours after a private meeting between President Bush and Prince Bandar, Saudi ambassador to the U.S. Tampa International Airport officials, former secretary of state Colin Powell, and former White House anti-terror adviser Richard Clarke all confirmed this information. Between September 14 and 19, about 140 Saudis —including 24 members of the bin Laden family — were evacuated to Saudi Arabia. For two years, this violation of the domestic flight ban was denied by the Federal Aviation Administration, FBI, and White House. Those evacuated include: the son of the Saudi defense minister, the latter of whom allegedly contributed at least $6 million since 1994 to four charities that financed Al Qaeda; Khalil bin Laden, who has been investigated by the Brazilian government for possible terrorist connections; Abdullah bin Laden, the U.S. director of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, a Muslim charity accused of funding terrorism; and Akberali Moawalla, who owned a joint bank account with Osama bin Laden from which there was a transfer of more than $250 million in 2000. MSNBC has reported that members of the Saudi royal family met frequently with Osama bin Laden both before and after 9/11. Why were these people allowed to leave our country after 9/11?

Just prior to 9/11, there was unusual stock activity related to short-selling and put options, which are both high-risk bets that a stock’s value will depreciate. Early in September 2001, there was a 40 percent increase in short-selling of American and United Airlines stock on the New York Stock Exchange. On September 10, trading ratios on United Airlines were 25 times greater than normal on the Pacific Exchange. The firm used to buy many of the put options on United Airlines stock between September 6 and 10 was headed until 1998 by A.B.“Buzzy” Krongard, who was the CIA executive director on 9/11. During the same period of time, the Chicago Board Options Exchange saw suspicious trading on Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, two of the largest World Trade Center (WTC) tenants. Who were these investors and how did they know to make these particular investments?

In the 100-year history of steel high-rises, there was never one that collapsed due to fires until 9/11, when three collapsed: WTC 1, 2, and 7. Particularly mysterious was building 7, which was not struck by an aircraft, but rather by debris from the nearby Twin Towers. According to video evidence, the towers collapsed in approximately 8-10 seconds. In other words, in about the same amount of time it would take a brick thrown from the top of the building to hit the ground, these buildings collapsed one floor after another without any resistance from any of the floors. It was as if they were being demolished by explosives. Were they?

On September 10, 2001, Pentagon officials suddenly canceled travel plans for 9/11, apparently because of security concerns. Barely six weeks prior to 9/11, then-attorney general John Ashcroft decided not to travel on commercial airlines, due to “a threat assessment by the FBI.” This threat assessment was apparently communicated to members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, as confirmed by an interview with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Why did Ashcroft not similarly warn the American public? What did Pentagon officials and Ashcroft know?

If it seems too crazy to believe that anyone in our country could have been involved in the 9/11 attacks, please consider Operation Northwoods. On May 1, 2001, ABC News reported the following: “In the early 1960s, America’s top military leaders reportedly drafted plans to kill innocent people and commit acts of terrorism in U.S. cities to create public support for a war against Cuba. Code-named Operation Northwoods, the plans reportedly included the possible assassination of Cuban émigrés, sinking boats of Cuban refugees on the high seas, hijacking planes, blowing up a U.S. ship, and even orchestrating violent terrorism in U.S. cities. The plans were developed as ways to trick the American public and the international community into supporting a war to oust Cuba’s then new leader, communist Fidel Castro. … The plans had the written approval of all of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and were presented to President Kennedy’s defense secretary, Robert McNamara, in March 1962. But they were apparently rejected by the civilian leadership and have gone undisclosed for nearly 40 years.”

Why did we invade Iraq again? In addition to the nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, 9/11 was used as a justification. Was this a replay of Operation Northwoods? How long do the American public and families of 9/11 victims have to wait before these questions and many more are answered? Will we ever know the real truth? Remember: in the U.S.A., it is our right to question the government.

4•1•1 For more detailed explanations of these unanswered questions and others, check out,, and For more on Mari-Rae Sopper, visit

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