CANBERRA, Australia (AP) - Australia’s Prime
Minister John Howard said Sunday the government has the
responsibility to shoot down hijacked airliners that threaten
targets on the ground, as the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11
‘’I hope it remains completely hypothetical, but
in the end, one has to do that,’’ Howard told Nine Network
Television about giving the air force the shoot-down order.
‘’But let us hope and pray that that doesn’t
ever arise,’’ he said.
Terrorists hijacked four airliners in the United
States on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. They crashed two into
the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in New York, one into the
Pentagon, and one into a field in Pennsylvania, killing nearly
None of the four planes were intercepted by
fighter jets or shot down, according to the official Sept. 11
Howard was in Washington D.C. when the Pentagon
was attacked, after having his first official meeting with U.S.
President George W. Bush the previous day.
‘’We didn’t talk about terrorism,’’ said Howard,
recalling his conversation with Bush. ‘’We didn’t know it was
coming, and that made it all the more horrific.’’
Australia, a staunch ally of the United States
in its war on terror, has never experienced a major terrorist
attack on its shores.