The Claim and Our Verdict
The claim: Two videos circulating online claim to show that no planes hit any buildings in the 9/11 incident.
- The two viral videos have been altered and the planes in the original footages have been digitally removed.
- According to the live broadcast of CNN and the videos taken by witnesses of the incident, it can be seen from different angles that there were planes hitting the World Trade Center.
- Media reports, related books and memorial websites have recorded testimonials of many witnesses.
Our verdict: The viral videos have been altered. The planes that crashed into the building shown in the original footages of 9/11 have been digitally removed.
Two videos (video 1 and video 2) were shared Sept. 12, 2022 on Facebook. They appear to be live videos of the 9/11 incident. In both videos, the buildings suddenly exploded with thick smoke billowing into the air, however, no planes can be seen. The caption, written in traditional Chinese, translates as, “It’s hard to accept the fact that there was not even a single plane, and we have been cheated for many years.”
The 9/11 attacks were a series of terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Terrorists hijacked four civil aircrafts, two of which crashed into the north and south towers of the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York. It is the deadliest terrorist attack in human history—a total of 2,996 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks, .
As of the publication of this report, video 1 had been shared 55 times, and had received 10 comments as well as 15 likes or reactions, while video 2 had been shared 44 times, and had received 14 comments as well as 41 likes or reactions.
A reverse image search found a YouTube video published Nov. 9, 2018. According to the description of the video, it shows the second plane approaching and hitting the south tower of WTC at 9:02:59 a.m.
The one-minute-and-51-second mark of the YouTube video shows the same scene as in video 1. Moreover, the same flock of birds can be seen flying by at the one-minute-and-57-second mark of the YouTube video and at the six-second mark of video 1. Therefore, both videos show the same incident. The YouTube video shows a building exploding with thick smoke coming out after a plane crash. However, in video 1, there was not even a single plane. The building suddenly exploded and turned into thick black smoke in video 1.
A similar claim has been debunked as hoax video by Agence France-Presse (AFP) in 2021. Keith Lopez, the person who recorded the original footage, told AFP that he was shocked that it had been misused. He also condemned the act of making such a hoax video: “While it’s an impressive editing job, to be able to blatantly lie for no apparent reason than to get more likes or more followers is fantastically low on the human scale of dignity.” Therefore, video 1 is an edited version of the original footage shot by Lopez. The plane in video 1 has been digitally removed.
PIX11, an online media organization affiliated with the New York local television station WPIX, published a YouTube video on Sept. 10, 2021. The description states that Lopez was a photojournalist for PIX11 in 2001. He was covering the Democratic mayoral primary in Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001. He recorded the footage of a plane crashing into the south tower of the WTC. In the video, Lopez has recounted many of the details of the plane crash.
Further reverse image search found a video published Sept. 11, 2001 on the Getty Image’s stock website. The description states that the video shows a low angle shot of the second plane crashing into the WTC south tower on Sept. 11, 2001.
The Getty Images video shows the same scene as in video 2. The nine-second mark of the Getty Images video shows that a plane flew towards a building and then crashed into it. It caused explosions and thick smoke around the area. However, in video 2, there was not even a single plane—the building suddenly exploded, and smoke came out. Therefore, video 2 has also been edited to remove the plane in the original footage.
In order to find out whether a plane hit the south tower of the WTC on Sept. 11, 2001, HKBU Fact Check searched for relevant media reports, live videos and witness testimonials. From the live video released by CNN and the YouTube video showing 50 views of the 9/11 incident, it can be seen from different angles that a plane hit the south tower of the World Trade Center.
According to an article published Sept. 8, 2011 by The New York Times, a witness named Audrey J. Marcus shared the experience of seeing the plane hitting the South Tower. The official website of the National 9/11 Memorial Museum and the book “The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11” have also published a collection of testimonials of many witnesses.
The 9/11 Commission Report released by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States detailed the flight routes of the planes that crashed in the 9/11 attacks. According to the report, United Airlines flight 175 hit the south tower of the WTC at 9:03:11 on Sept. 11, 2001.
To sum up, the two viral videos have been edited. According to CNN’s live broadcast footage and videos taken by the witnesses, it can be seen from different angles that planes hit the World Trade Center. Media reports, related books, and memorial websites have recorded testimonials of many witnesses.
The viral videos have been altered. The planes that crashed into the building shown in the original footages of 9/11 have been digitally removed.
- Facebook, post, Sept. 12, 2022.
- Facebook, post, Sept. 12, 2022.
- BBC, “20th anniversary of 9/11: What happened every second of the morning that changed the history,” Sept. 10, 2021.
- YouTube, “Keith Lopez’ WTC 9/11 Video (Enhanced Video/Audio & Doubled FPS),” Nov. 9, 2018.
- YouTube, “20 Years Later: PIX11 Remembers 9/11: Told by Keith Lopez,” Sept. 10, 2021.
- AFP Fact Check, “Hoax video falsely purports to show no planes hit Twin Towers on 9/11,” Sept. 17, 2021.
- Getty Images, “September 11, 2001 low angle medium shot second plane crashing into WTC South Tower / NYC / AUDIO,” Sept. 11, 2001.
- YouTube, “9/11: Second plane hits South Tower,” Sept. 9, 2011.
- YouTube, “50 Views of Plane Impact in South Tower | 9/11 World Trade Center (2001),” March 3, 2022.
- The New York Times, “Witness to Apocalypse,” March 3, 2022.
- 9/11 Memorial Museum, Oral Histories.
- Amazon, “The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11,” Sept. 10, 2019.
- GovInfo | U.S. Government Publishing Office, “The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Report),” July 22, 2004.
- The New York Times, “11 Years Later, Debris From Plane Is Found Near Ground Zero,” April 26, 2013.
- YouTube, “9 11 PLANE DEBRIS REMOVAL IN NYC,” July 21, 2016.