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News Briefs

Mayor Closes Door on Hopes Of Finding More Survivors

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- NEW YORK

Gently closing the door on hopes of finding any more survivors, New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani on Monday announced that the city would begin assisting the families of World Trade Center victims with the necessary court paperwork to have their loved ones declared dead. In making the announcement, Giuliani acknowledged for the first time since the September 11 terrorist attacks that chances are virtually nil that any of the 6,543 people listed as missing are still alive in the rubble.

“I believe it is certainly time to say the chances of finding anyone would now involve a miracle,” Giuliani said at his daily news briefing. “Miracles have happened, but it would be unfair to offer any broad hope to people.”

Meanwhile, New York Gov. George Pataki on Monday signed an executive order streamlining court procedures for victims’ families to get death certificates, as well as payouts from life insurance policies and government benefits.

The moves in New York and Albany mark a major psychological turn in the rescue efforts at the World Trade Center site, where recovery has been painstakingly slow. So far, only 276 people have been confirmed dead, 206 of whom have been identified.

Many Hijackers Were Saudis Dedicated to Islamic Causes

THE WASHINGTON POST

As many as a dozen of the 19 suicide hijackers who inflicted America's worst terrorist attack were young Saudis dedicated to fighting for Islamic causes, the majority of them with roots in a remote, southwestern region of their country that has been a center of religious dissent, according to a U.S. government official and experts on Saudi Arabia.

Six of the men, mostly in their twenties, left their homes in the past two years, telling their families they were going to fight with Muslim rebels in the breakaway Russian province of Chechnya, according to Saudi newspaper reports.

Many of the hijackers appear to have come from the isolated, poverty-stricken provinces of Asir and Baha, a stronghold of traditional beliefs and distrust of the central Saudi government. In several instances, family members reported that they had grown increasingly pious before leaving home.

Since the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a good deal has become known about how the hijackers blended into American society, studied at flight schools and moved around the United States. In a few cases, the trail has led back to Germany and Egypt.