County gripped by terrorist attack

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Staff Writer

Two commerical airliners served as guided missiles, destroying the World Trade Center and spurring action across the nation and right here in Pike County.

Terrorists crashed two aircraft into the 110-story twin towers around 9 a.m. E.S.T., another into the Pentagon and a fourth plane went down about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, Pa. In all, the four airliners carried a total of 266 on board.

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The terrorist attacks on the United States resulted in shutting down airports nationwide. Troy Municipal Airport officials said the local runways were "closed until further notice." The National Transportation Safety Board has indicated air travel can continue as early as noon.

Close to home, officials at Lockheed Martin Pike County Operations and Sikorsky Support Services Inc. have taken action to secure their facilities.

"We’ve gone onto our highest level of security," said Randy Stevenson, manager of the Pike County plant. "We realize we’re on a target list."

Stevenson said he has been in contact with the Pike County Sheriff’s Department, Pike County Emergency Management Agency Director Larry Davis, state officials and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

He said Lockheed Martin had been on alert since the weekend because of talk in the media regarding activity in the Middle East.

Tony Scott said Sikorsky property is on "lock down," which means heightened security measures, such as refusal of visitors and deliveries.

"This is a terrible, terrible day for America; it’s a wake-up call," said U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., who is vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

"Everybody’s deeply concerned about what’s happened. This is war. It’s a different type of war."

President George W. Bush declared action would be taken against those responsible for the attacks.

In the West Bank city of Nablus, Palestinians celebrated the attacks on America by handing out candy and and chanting "God is great."

Afghanistan’s hardline Taliban rulers condemned the attacks and rejected suggestions bin Laden, who has been granted asylum in Afghanistan, was involved.

A bin Laden associate was scheduled to be sentenced today for the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania that killed 213. That sentencing was set for the federal courthouse near the World Trade Center.

Terrorist bombers struck the World Trade Center in February 1993, killing six and injuring more than 1,000 people.

"Freedom itself was attacked this morning," Bush said during a televised press conference.

Bush was in Florida when he received word of the attacks. There was no information as to when Bush would return to the nation’s Capital.

Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman was en route to Washington, D.C. to attend a meeting to voice his concerns about incineration of chemical weapons in Anniston when his plane was forced to land in South Carolina, but he has been in constant contact with state agency heads and staff.

"I have ordered that the Alabama National Guard be placed on alert and have activated the State Emergency Operating Center," Siegelman said in a released statement.

Security was heightened at the Capitol complex and the Alabama Statehouse with all visitors going through metal detectors.

"The perpetrators of this senseless, horrible attack should be fully punished," Siegelman said. "There has never been a more horrible attack on the American people.

"I ask the people of Alabama to say a special prayer for the victims of this cowardly act."

The number of injured and killed has not been tallied. About 50,000 work at the World Trade Center and tens of thousands visit the twin towers each day.

U.S. Financial Markets were also closed on Tuesday.