The series includes recordings of transmissions from the hijacked planes.
KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS
Those who love to complain that TV never lives up to its potential to illuminate or educate would do well to steer clear of the cable spectrum tonight.
Ditto those who want a good night's sleep.
In an extraordinary series with limited commercial interruptions, National Geographic presents a crystalline blueprint of the united front of terror against the west, tracing its leadership to the Soviet incursion into Afghanistan in the 1980s.
In its four hours over two nights, "Inside 9/11" explains the vast web of muscle and money dedicated to pulverizing America.
Those who think the events of Sept. 11 were a one-time breach will think again after seeing the common threads of terrorism that lead from the 1993 bombing at the World Trade Center, through the 1988 U.S. embassy bombings, the attack on the USS Cole, 9-11 and into the London transit bombings.
Osama bin Laden is described as the Ford Foundation of terror, a dispenser of grants to those with ambitious plans to wreak havoc.
A close look
It is a complicated tale told well, using rare footage of bin Laden and interviews with former intelligence officers who admit the shortcomings of the U.S. mindset against terrorism.
In Part 2 Monday night, the events of Sept. 11 unfold in minute-by-minute detail. We see grainy video of the hijackers getting frisked at airport security, hear the voices of firefighters battling their way to the upper stories of the skyscraper.
Recordings of transmissions from the hijacked airliners -- including tapes of the hijackers who apparently thought they were speaking to the passengers but were instead on the air traffic control frequency -- are aired, creating a chilling authenticity.
Most chilling of all the messages delivered in "War on America" is the one that bin Laden relayed to a Pakistani journalist in November 2001:
"We love death. The U.S. loves life. That is the big difference between us."
X"Inside 9/11: War on America," 7 p.m. today, National Geographic Channel; "Inside 9/11: Zero Hour," 9 p.m. Monday, National Geographic Channel.