New York: A rusted 1.5-meter-tall piece of landing gear believed to be from one of the hijacked planes destroyed in the September 11, 2001 attacks has been discovered near the World Trade Center wedged between a luxury apartment building and a mosque site that once prompted virulent national debate about Islam and free speech.
The twisted metal part, jammed in an 18-inch-wide sliver of open space between the buildings, has cables and levers on it and is about 17 inches wide and 1.2 meters long, New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly said on Friday. "It's a manifestation of a horrific terrorist act a block and a half away from where we stand," he said. "So, sure, it brings back terrible memories to anyone who was here or who was involved in that event."
Kelly edged down the narrow passageway to look at the object last evening, noting there is also a piece of rope intertwined with the part in what looks like a broken pulley that may have come down from the roof of the site of the planned Islamic community center, at 51 Park Place.
The piece of equipment was discovered on Wednesday by surveyors inspecting the lower Manhattan site of a planned Islamic community center on behalf of the building's owner, police said. An inspector was on the roof and noticed the debris and then called police, who secured the scene, documenting it with photos.
It includes a clearly visible Boeing Company identification number, New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said. "The odds of this being wedged between there is amazing. It had to have fallen just the right way to make it into that space," Browne said, adding it was not surprising that it went undiscovered for more than a decade given the location.
Other World Trade Center wreckage had been discovered at the buildings and around the area in years past. Police detectives and National Transportation Safety Board investigators will determine whether the equipment is from the American Airlines plane or the United Airlines plane that slammed into the twin towers on September 11, 2001, destroying the towers and killing nearly 3,000 people.
When plans for the Islamic center, about three blocks from ground zero, were made public in 2010, opponents said they didn't want a mosque so close to where Islamic extremists attacked. They argued the site was "sacred" because landing gear from one of the hijacked Boeing 767 jets had punctured the roof of the building on September 11.