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PostWatch: An irregular correction to the Washington Post

Brought to you by Christopher Rake


Friday, September 13, 2002
10:17 AM

Advance knowledge in the New York Muslim community of 9-11? Via NRO, this Insight Magazine story claims that a boy in a New York school predicted an attack on the Twin Towers.

"What are you looking at?" asked the schoolteacher as she approached one of her freshman students. The boy, a young Palestinian, seemed captivated as he stared out the window across Brooklyn toward the lower downtown area of Manhattan.

"Do you see those two buildings?" he asked while pointing toward the World Trade Center. "They won't be standing there next week." It was noon, Sept. 6, 2001.

Antoinette DiLorenzo didn't take her student's comment all too seriously. Of course the twin towers would be there next week, she assured him. The student shook his head and reiterated his prediction until his 15-year old brother, a sophomore, elbowed him and told him to be quiet. "He's just kidding," the older boy said politely.

Five days later at 8:45 a.m., DiLorenzo heard a loud explosion from the north. Thunderstruck, she turned to the window and eventually watched both towers collapse into shattered glass and crumbled steel.

Many people believed this story was nothing more than an urban legend when they first heard it. Everyone has heard similar stories in the wake of such a disaster. Despite the almost unbelievable circumstances of the story, I was able to confirm it last October while working as a crime reporter for the Journal News, a New York-based Gannett newspaper. Catie Marshall, a spokeswoman for the New York City Board of Education, confirmed that school officials reported the incident to police and that the matter had since been taken over by the FBI Joint Terrorist Task Force (FBI-JTTF).

My point in reprinting this is not to inflame hatred against all Muslims, because regardless of whatever resentments they have (rational or otherwise) I believe very few are filled with the hate required for terrorism. But I've always thought it was unlikely that these plots were completely, hermetically sealed--some people in certain ethnic and religious communities must have known or suspected or heard of something. What we need from the Muslim-American community is Zero Equivocation; they must help protect their fellow Americans, whether citizens or mere residents. And what we must give them in return is a guarantee that they will be welcomed into the American community without reservation if they do so.

The story details other strange activities, including similar statements from other boys and a warning on Sept. 11 from one to avoid public transportation, as suggested by his mosque. It is very carefully written and does not sound like a rant, and as the writer points out, some of this was broadcast very early on by major media. There is one odd coda:

I don't have the resources to continue an ongoing investigation into who had prior knowledge of the attacks — but I am sure someone out there does. Many things have happened since I broke my first story. On Nov. 9, 2001, my sources informed me that the same boy who predicted the attacks told school officials there would be a plane crash on Nov. 12. I decided to inform an FBI agent I knew who told me that without specific information, there was little they could do.

Once again, the boy's prophecy came true.

Three minutes after American Airlines Flight 587 took off from JFK International Airport to the Dominican Republic, both its engines fell from its wings, dooming the plane to crash in Belle Harbor, located in the Rockaway section of Queens. Of the 260 people aboard, there were no survivors. To date, authorities suspect the crash was an accident. I'm not so sure.

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