that their actions may be mistaken for accidents, terrorists often
take pains to establish connection by attacking more than one
target at a time. There are many examples. On a September Sunday
in 1970, four planes were simultaneously hijacked over European
countries and flown to airports in Jordan and Egypt (a fifth attempt
was foiled). In an alleged action by Sikh separatists, the only
way that the explosion of an Air India plane off the Irish coast
could be connected to the terrorists was by the fact that another
Air India plane had been blown up in Japan an hour earlier. The
“double strike” by otherwise anonymous terrorists was used in
the bombing of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Tanzania in 1998.
Just last August, Indian authorities announced that Osama bin
Laden and others had been indicted for attempting dual bombings
of U.S. embassies in Delhi and Dhaka.
Terrorists have learned to plan news coverage
of their acts. It seems certain that the September 11 perpetrators
recognized that. By sending in the first plane 18 minutes ahead
of the second, they guaranteed that cameras would be rolling for
their morbid “television spectacular.” The third plane striking
the Pentagon underlined the message, as would the fourth, had
its attempt not been foiled by the passengers. A different technique
of “news management” was used by Ted Kaczynski in his demand that
newspapers print the “Unabomber” manifesto in return for ending
his violence. In both cases the terrorists figured out how to
send their message out via media to which they would otherwise
be denied access. McVeigh paid similar attention to media coverage.
He told his biographers that the Murrah building stood out by
itself in such a way as to make for a good picture. He dressed
for the media by wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a famous Thomas
Jefferson quotation: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from
time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Because
McVeigh wasn’t arrested in front of the cameras, his T-shirt message
was not reported to the general public, until it was entered into
evidence at his trial nine months later.
Unfortunately, the higher the death toll,
the greater the attention given to the terrorists. The attacks
on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the Murrah building
were all timed during the workday to ensure high body counts.
Timing also guaranteed that the largest audience possible would
spend the day transfixed to the intended messages. With news providers
on 24/7 schedules, the shock waves from the attacks spread around
the world continuously and commercial-free via TV, radio, web
site, and print, as well as by informal means via the Internet,
cell phones, and other hand-held communications devices. It’s
important that we recognize the high degree to which terrorists
understand the communications process. They are creating 21st-century
propaganda intended to terrify mass audiences into submission.
Deppa, a professor of newspaper and visual and interactive communications
in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, is principal
author of The Media and Disasters: Pan Am 103.
primary responsibility as licensed architects and engineers
is the protection of life. Collapse of the World Trade Center
(WTC) due to prolonged extreme heat might have been delayed,
but not prevented. The destruction was a result of predictable
sequential structural failure. Understanding this phenomenon
is critical for rebuilding our cities.
The process of building the WTC involved
orchestration of zoning, financiers, the Port Authority,
and planning boards. Although built to minimum code and
safety standards, the idea was to maximize rentable space
under zoning law (10 million square feet). Each tower had
only three fire stairs, narrow by today’s standards. Floor
assemblies had 3-hour minimum fire ratings. Initial failure,
here, occurred within 1.5 hours.
How then can safe evacuation design
While code required a minimum of 4-hour
fire protection at columns and 3 hours between floors, the
minimum at fire stairs was 2 hours. Fire egress systems,
stair widths, and fire-rated assemblies must be increased,
providing adequate evacuation time. Independent of these,
emergency entry systems must be installed. We must eliminate
the “grandfather” clause in tall buildings, because compliance
is essential for safety. Future city planning will be based
on what becomes law today. Buildings must optimize environmental
quality and life safety egress.
M. Ceraldi, professor and
coordinator of technology,
School of Architecture
The collapse of the World Trade Center towers will change
the way we build our landmarks, which unfortunately may
become potential targets for terrorist attacks. The jet-fuel
fire brought the Twin Towers down. Engineers will have to
adopt stricter fireproof requirements. Fire exit design
and emergency evacuation policies need to be re-evaluated,
too. Sadly, we might be entering an era where blast resistance
may have to be considered in design of highly occupied civil
S. Aboutaha, professor, Department of Civil and Environmental
Engineering, L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer
The destruction of the World Trade Center will affect architectural
and structural design. The spans created to allow for flexible
space utilization compromised the structure’s safety. It
was fire—not the aircraft impact—that threatened the structure.
Steel buildings are designed to resist fire for a limited
time. Fortunately, new composite materials are emerging.
Risk management and the vulnerability of buildings to random
loads must be included in the design process. Codes should
reconsider fire protection and the height of buildings.
Our students should be made aware of these new challenges
to prevent future disasters.
Markov, professor, School of Architecture