James Woods & 9/11

On a flight to Los Angeles several weeks before the attacks on September 11th, 2001, James Woods grew suspicious of four of his fellow-passengers: well-dressed men who appeared to be of Middle Eastern extraction.

"I watch people like a moviemaker," Woods later explained. "As in that scene in 'Annie Hall' [in which Woody Allen and Diane Keaton sit on a bench in Central Park and comment on passers-by]. I thought these guys were either terrorists or FBI guys. The guys were in synch -- dressed alike. They didn't have a drink and were not talking to the stewardess. None of them had a carry-on or a newspaper. Nothing.

"Imagine you're at a live-music event at a small night club and you're standing behind the singer. Everybody is clapping, going along, enjoying the show -- and there's four guys paying no attention. What are they doing here?"

Woods became so convinced that the men were "casing" the plane that he kept his cutlery after lunch and shared his suspicions with a flight attendant. "I said, 'I think this plane is going to be hijacked.' I told her, 'I know how serious it is to say this,' and asked to speak to the captain. The first officer promptly assured Woods that the cockpit door would be kept locked and the plane landed safely.

Some time later Woods's agent asked him how the flight had gone. "Aside from the terrorists and the turbulence," he drily replied, "it was fine."

[On the evening of September 11th, Woods told the FBI in Los Angeles about the encounter. At six-forty-five the next morning he was roused by a telephone call from an FBI agent. "I said, 'I'll get ready and I'll come down to the federal building,'" Woods recalled. "He said, 'That's O.K. We're outside your house.'" When he was shown photographs, Woods thought he recognized two of the hijackers -- Hamza Alghamdi, who was on United Airlines Flight 175 (which struck the south tower of the World Trade Center) and Khalid Almihdhar, who was on American Airlines Flight 77 (which struck the Pentagon).]

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