Prelude 9/11 morning Flight 11 hijacked Flight 175 hijacked WTC 1 hit Flight 77 hijacked WTC 2 hit Flight 93 hijacked Pentagon hit WTC 2 collapses Flight 93 crashes WTC 1 collapses WTC 7 collapses Epilogue

Claim

One of the passengers, Tom Burnett, said that he saw a gun on board Flight 930.

Background

The claim indicates that the official account is false since that states that the terrorists used box cutters. The official account should thus seek to conceal that it wasn’t untrained al Qaeda terrorists but instead trained people who were hijacking the plane.

Facts

Tom Burnett was a business man who was a passenger on board Flight 93. When the plane was hijacked, he made several phone calls to his wife, Deena, telling her about the hijacking. Burnett died, together with the rest of the passengers and crew when the plane crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The first call was made at 9:29 ET:

Deena: Hello
Tom: Deena
Deena: Tom, are you O.K.?
Tom: No, I’m not. I’m on an airplane that has been hijacked.
Deena: Hijacked?
Tom: Yes, they just knifed a guy.
Deena: A passenger?
Tom: Yes.
Deena: Where are you? Are you in the air?
Tom: Yes, yes, just listen. Our airplane has been hijacked. It’s United Flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco. We are in the air. The hijackers have already knifed a guy, one of them has a gun, they are telling us there is a bomb on board, please call the authorities.1

Burnett does not actually say that he has seen a gun but that the terrorists have a gun. We cannot know for sure if that means that the terrorists have said that they have a gun, or that some of the other passengers say the terrorists have a gun, or that Burnett has actually seen it himself. Several possibilities exist.

However, a lot indicate that the information about the gun is something the passengers have been told by the hijackers in order to frighten the passengers from attacking the hijackers. The third call, at 9:45 ET:

Tom: Deena
Deena: Tom, you’re O.K. (I thought at this point he had just survived the Pentagon plane crash).
Tom: No, I’m not.
Deena: They just hit the Pentagon.
Tom: (tells people sitting around him “They just hit the Pentagon.”)
Tom: O.K… O.K. What else can you tell me?
Deena: They think five airplanes have been hijacked. One is still on the ground. They believe all of them are commercial planes. I haven’t heard them say which airline, but all of them have originated on the east coast.
Tom: Do you know who is involved?
Deena: No.
Tom: What is the probability of their having a bomb on board? I don’t think they have one. I think they’re just telling us that for crowd control.1

No other witnesses have seen a gun and there was no bomb on board.

Uncertainty regarding the calls

There is some uncertainty regarding the calls:

  • According to Deena Burnett, the number of calls is said to be four, and between three and five1 2.
  • It is unknown if Tom Burnett used his cell phone and/or he called from one of the onboard phones1 2.

It follows that there must also be some uncertainty with regards to what was actually said. We can only rely on the memory of Deena Burnett and she was under extreme pressure: She had just been told that her husband was on board a hijacked plane that would most likely be flown into a target. The few discrepancies are understandable and cannot be considered evidence of a conspiracy.

Logic

The claim leads straight to several contradictions:

  • If it is accepted that there were hijackers on board, the plane cannot at the same time not be hijacked.
  • If it is accepted that Tom Burnett could call his wife, the phones on board the plane cannot be said not to work (see related articles below).
  • If the content of the conversation is in question, as well as how it was conducted, there is no reason to take the claim that Burnett saw a gun seriously.

Conclusion

The claim is therefore:

  • Misleading
  • Without independent witnesses
  • Self-contradicting

Sources

  1. 9/11, The New Evidence, Ian Henshall, 2007, ISBN 978-1-84529-514-1

    “…sitting in the middle of events in first class, Burnett calmly says that the hijackers have just stabbed a passenger; he reports seeing a gun that was officially determined not to be present.”

  2. Telefonopkald fra Tom Burnett til sin kone, Tom Burnett Foundation
  3. FBI afhøring af Deena Burnett

Q & A