How many laws were broken by the 9/11 terrorists?

Inspired by my own posts in this thread, I’ve got to wondering: How many laws were broken? There’s the obvious counts of murder, attempted murder, hijacking, terroristic threats, etc. and not-so-obvious like littering, tresspassing, vandalism, etc.

Google hasn’t been much help here.

Beyond “just” hijacking…

Interferring with/assaulting an aircrew is a felony.

Interferring with, altering, or delibrately using an aircraft in such a manner as to cause a fatal crash is a felony.



Transporting stolen property across state lines.

And, oh my, those are just the Federal offenses, I’m sure there are plenty of state-level felonies invovled.

Probably a bunch o’ other stuff.

They probably tampered with the smoke detectors in the bathroom.

However, the number of petty crimes they committed dwarfs in comparison to the magnitude of the big ones.

There were assaults with deadly weapons, credit card fraud (the terrorists probably didn’t buy the tickets with good credit cards), etc. , etc.

I wonder if any of them smoked a cigarette on the airplane? That would against the law as well.

<PTerrry>A number of incidents of assault by means of a blunt instrument, to whit, a plane</PTerry>

Is suicide illegal in NYC?

Mangeorge beat me to it.

Suicide is illegal, but is at the root of the problem. It would be easy to count the number of laws broken, but hard to ‘press’ them. I wonder if anyone could count all of the laws, before they give up and cite that it is not worth it. Also, given the nature of the events, (from inside the planes at least) above and beyond recorded media (Black Boxes) witness testimony would be hard, if not impossible to to get.

Side note Annie, Thanks for not um uh -hi-jacking my thread. :wink:

The question of what laws were broken may not be moot, because there is another class of crimes that have not been mentioned: conspiracy to various illegal things, e.g. conspiracy to murder, conspiracy to hijack aircraft. We can assume that the 19 hijackers on the 4 aircraft were conspiring together, but it would seem likely that there were others not on the aircraft who were also involved in the conspiracy in various ways. Those others could still be prosecuted (under New York State, Virginia, Pennsylvania or Federal law) for conspiracy to murder, etc., if identified (and if adequate proof linking them to the cnspiracy were available).

I thought of mentioning the “hijacking” of your thread, Meeko, but then though better of it–it would be in bad taste in a thread of already questionable taste.

I think torture could be added to the list.

If the survivors and the victim’s families got together and could file a civil suit against someone for “pain and suffering” the amount of money in the suit would be frigtening.

I assumed that the OP was only talking about criminal laws being broken. If you bring in torts, then the damages that could be payable to the owners and insurers of the World Trade Center for the destruction of that Center would be considerable. And co-conspirators (including corporations and foreign governments, if they could be linked to the action) could be sued for those damages.

You can get some idea of the federal crimes by looking at Zacarias Moussaoui’s federal indictment. He was indicted on six counts:

Four of those conspiracy counts (conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries, conspiracy to commit aircraft piracy, conspiracy to destroy aircraft and conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction) carry the death penalty. The hijackers who actually flew on the planes would also be guilty of the completed crimes in addition to conspiracy to commit those crimes, so at least 12 federal crimes. To that add in 3000+ state murder charges, possibly in several different states, property charges, etc. etc.

There’s also flying an aircraft without a license, failure to file a flight plan, many counts of child endangerment…and we can probably count violations of the Geneva Conventions since their actions are considered to be an act of war against the United States. Apparently, even guerilla forces are expected to abide by the Conventions.

I think it would take a really bored lawyer the better part of a day to come up with every single offense those bastards committed.

Lots of state crimes in addition to the federal crimes:

Grand theft
Assault and Battery (many, many counts)
Reckless Endangerment (many, many counts)
Criminal negligence
RICO (organized crime)

etc., etc.

I would say that no laws were broken because it was a act of war, not a police matter. Now if you want to include war crimes, then 1, they were a spy operating w/i the US states in civilian cloths.

Yeah, I’m going to quibble - they actually DID have pilot licenses. They weren’t rated for that type of airplane and that is a violation of FAA regulations but it’s not a violation of law if you want to get technical. The worst you could get, I think, is a revoked pilot’s license and a hefty fine. Well, maybe it is a law violation of sorts, but it’s considered a regulatory offense and not a state or federal offense.

Also, if they were flying under visual flight rules they are not, in fact, required to have a flight plan, even when flying a big jet. On 9/11/01 flight plans were only required for instrument flight and crossing international borders. To this has now been added flight plan requirements for flying in close proximity to Washington, DC, but that was not in effect at the time. Assuming the hijackers were navigating by eyeball rather than requesting assistance from the air traffic control system there were not, in fact, violating any flight plan regulation.

Isn’t there a law, or a rule of law, that says you can’t “stack” charges like that? What I mean is, if one charge encompasses another, you have to pick one. Murder and ADW come to mind.
Too much Judge Judy? :wink:

It was my understanding that none of the hijackers had bothered to finish flight training - they had no interest in taking off or landing, just in controlling an aircraft in flight. Did they, in fact, receive their licenses?

Also, and as a non-pilot I could be wrong, but would the pilot of a heavy multi-engine jet aircraft really not be required to file a flight plan? Even if this is the case (which boggles my mind - I can understand for a small aircraft, but a heavy?) they deviated from an existing flight plan. That may not be a crime, but it’ll get you in some trouble…

Oh, we forgot, at least a few of them were in the country on expired visas.

Yeah. You don’t earn a license in a big airplane, you earn it in a little one, and while not all of the 19 had a pilot’s license at least one in each group did. I think Mohammed Atta actually had a commerical pilot’s license and had spent some time renting small planes and flying around the country - and scoping out the New York City skyline.

What they didn’t finish was the type rating to allow them to fly heavy jets, it’s an add-on you get after you finish your primary training. It is somewhat like having a regular driver’s license, then applying for some sort of specialized commercial driving license, like for driving a semi-trailer. Even if you don’t finish learning to drive 18-wheelers you’re still licensed to drive a car.

It would be pretty unusual circumstances, but yes, it is allowed.

The airlines are required to fly on instrument flight plans when carrying passengers, and probably company policy dictates they do so at all times. Likewise, corporate-owned jets usually have similar rules imposed by their owners. But if a private citizen owned a large jet (such a John Travolta owning a Boeing 707 - which he does) he could, at least in theory, fly even a large airplane like that under visual flight rules, meaning no flight plan required. However, there are few privately owned big jets in the world. Jets are also most efficient at high altitudes. If you’re over 18,000 feet above sea level you do need to file for instrument flight - no matter what size you are.* If Mr. Travolta (as a hypothetical example) wants to fly his 707 from Florida to California he most like will do so above 20,000 feet, and will file an instrument flight plan. But if he wanted to I’m pretty sure he could fly at 16,500 (just to pick a random qualifying altitude) the whole way without a flight plan. He’d burn a crapload more of fuel, and it may not be the smartest thing to do, but he could. In theory.

So… on 9/11/01 the hijackers were flying well under the 18,000 foot ceiling, and they certainly weren’t airline employees, and it was VFR (visual flight rules) conditions so… yeah, that wasn’t illegal. HIJACKING was illegal, but not flying the jets low and without flight plan.

  • To further confuse the situation, you can apply for waiver to the rule for a specific flight - to set an altitude record, for instance. The truth about being a pilot is that making the aircraft go where you want it to is actually the easy part - the tough bits are things like negotiating the maze of regulations

Oh, dear… I’m expecting Berkut to show up any minute and start in about the difference between a flight plan and a clearance…

Um… trying to keep this simple… yeah, deviating from what air traffic control has told you to do without asking first is a no-no and can carry substantial penalties. Unless it’s an emergency - in an emergency, to avoid an accident or other potential bad hazard, a pilot can alter course without asking permission first. But that exception doesn’t apply to what these guys were doing. But deviating from your clearance (the technical term for "not doing what ATC tells you to do) isn’t breaking a law in the same sense that murder is. Are the FAA regulations law? Hmm… if so, yes, they broke the law by deviating from ATC instructions. But not because their subsequent flight required filing a flight plan, because it didn’t.

Well, can we at least still agree that they were a bunch of murdering bastards? (Bastard, of course, being used in the colloquial sense, as I have no firm evidence of the legitimacy of their parentage…)

Have any members of the Bin Laden family been named as defendents in the lawsuits filed by the families of the 9/11 victims?