Part found near WTC from type of jet hijacked 9/11

This Friday, April 26, 2013, photo provided by the New York City Police Department shows a piece oflanding gear that authorities believe belongs to one of the airliners that crashed into the WorldTrade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, that was found wedged between a mosque and another building, in New York. Police say the medical examiner's office will complete a health and safety evaluation to determine whether to sift the soil around the buildings for possible human remains. (AP Photo/New York City Police Department) AP Photo/New York City Police Department

NEW YORK The New York Police Department said Saturday that what appears to be a part of plane's landing gear wedged behind a building in Lower Manhattan belongs to a Boeing 767, the type of plane that crashed into the Twin Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

But Boeing has not determined from which plane the part originated, whether American Flight 11, which struck the North Tower, or United Flight 175, which struck the South Tower, Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne told CBS News.

Responding to a question why, in one NYPD photo, is there a rope around the plane part, if it just blew off the plane or out of the collapsed towers? Browne said, the NYPD has not determined the significance of the rope entwined in the gear or how that happened.

"It raises the possibility that it may have been in the process of being removed from the roof when it ended up in its current location, but that's just speculation at this point," Browne said.

Since 2002, the New York State Museum in Albany has had in its collection a large landing gear piece that went through the roof to the basement at the same location.

Boeing, while assisting the investigation, is directing queries to NYPD or the National Transportation Safety Board, and declined to identify the part based on the serial number stamped on it.

The NYPD plans to have the area taped off at least until mid-week to allow the city medical examiner to check for any human remains.

"Once all health and safety protocols are complete, we will start moving in equipment and setting up for the sifting operation," the ME's office said in a statement Saturday. "The sifting will begin Tuesday morning. On Monday, we will be finishing testing, setting equipment."

The airplane part was found behind 51 Park Place in Lower Manhattan, two blocks north and one block east of the World Trade Center site, 11 years and eight months after Islamic extremists affiliated with al Qaeda crashed two hijacked Boeing 767 passenger jets into the 110-story Twin Towers that stood there, resulting in the deaths of 2,753 people.

The building and one adjoining it became a magnet of public protest in 2010 when its owner, Sharif El-Gamal, announced a plan for an Islamic Cultural Center on the block, but the original plan to raze the two buildings at 45-51 Park Place and erect a 12 to 13 floor center is not going forward right now, according to someone familiar with the evolving plans.

"It's unclear right now what the size and scope of Park 51 might be," the person told CBS NEWS.

The building has included an Islamic prayer space since 2009, and about 600 people attend Friday prayers there.

Gamal's company, Soho Properties, obtained a third adjacent building, 43 Park Place, in December, for $8 million. It was surveyors working for the owner who discovered the plane part wedged between buildings and called 911.

The owner, who recently obtained his federal designation as a nonprofit and retains unlimited air rights over the properties, is also considering commercial development opportunities, such as condominiums.

An attorney for the owner, Adam Leitman Bailey, told CBS News, "No plans have been decided yet. Not condos or anything else."

  • Phil Hirschkorn

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