Hunter S. Thompson's 9/11 Essay Is Still Chillingly Accurate 16 Years Later

David Moye

When terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, no one knew exactly what the future would hold.

However, writer Hunter S. Thompson turned out to be amazingly prescient.

Shortly after the tragedy, the famed gonzo journalist wrote an essay for ESPN.com where he laid out his thoughts on what could happen in this new era.

Sixteen years later, his remarks are still chillingly accurate:

“Boom! Boom! Just like that. The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country.

“Make no mistake about it: We are At War now ― with somebody ― and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives. It will be a Religious War, a sort of Christian Jihad, fueled by religious hatred and led by merciless fanatics on both sides. It will be guerilla warfare on a global scale, with no front lines and no identifiable enemy.”

Writer Hunter S. Thompson predicted "guerilla warfare on a global scale, with no front lines and no identifiable enemy" after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. (Photo: Ho New/Reuters)
Writer Hunter S. Thompson predicted "guerilla warfare on a global scale, with no front lines and no identifiable enemy" after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. (Photo: Ho New/Reuters)

Thompson wrote that the United States is “going to punish somebody for this attack, but just who or what will be blown to smithereens for it is hard to say.”

He continued:

“Maybe Afghanistan, maybe Pakistan or Iraq, or possibly all three at once. Who knows? Not even the Generals in what remains of the Pentagon or the New York papers calling for WAR seem to know who did it or where to look for them.”

Thompson, who died in 2005 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, also laid out how then-President George W. Bush would react to the attack and how his decisions would affect the lives of everyday Americans.

“This is going to be a very expensive war, and Victory is not guaranteed ― for anyone, and certainly not for anyone as baffled as George W. Bush. All he knows is that his father started the war a long time ago, and that he, the goofy child-President, has been chosen by Fate and the global Oil industry to finish it Now.

He will declare a National Security Emergency and clamp down Hard on Everybody, no matter where they live or why. If the guilty won’t hold up their hands and confess, he and the Generals will ferret them out by force. Good luck. He is in for a profoundly difficult job ― armed as he is with no credible Military Intelligence, no witnesses and only the ghost of Bin Laden to blame for the tragedy.”

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7:59 a.m.

<p>The four airplanes that were hijacked on 9/11 <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/10/idUS221159963020110810" target="_hplink">began</a> taking off at 7:59 a.m. The first to depart was American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767 that left Boston's Logan International Airport for Los Angles with 92 people on board. At 8:14 a.m., United Airlines Flight 175 -- a Boeing 767 with 65 passengers on board -- also left Logan for Los Angeles. American Airlines Flight 77 left Washington Dulles International Airport at 8:20 a.m. The plane, a Boeing 757 with 64 people on board, was bound for Los Angeles. Finally, at 8:42 a.m., United Airlines Flight 93 departed from Newark International Airport. The Boeing 757, which had 44 passengers that morning, was bound for San Francisco.</p> <p> </p> <p><em>This file photo shows an American Airlines Boeing B-767 in Miami in 2001. The plane pictured was not used in the attack.</em></p>

The four airplanes that were hijacked on 9/11 began taking off at 7:59 a.m. The first to depart was American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767 that left Boston's Logan International Airport for Los Angles with 92 people on board. At 8:14 a.m., United Airlines Flight 175 -- a Boeing 767 with 65 passengers on board -- also left Logan for Los Angeles. American Airlines Flight 77 left Washington Dulles International Airport at 8:20 a.m. The plane, a Boeing 757 with 64 people on board, was bound for Los Angeles. Finally, at 8:42 a.m., United Airlines Flight 93 departed from Newark International Airport. The Boeing 757, which had 44 passengers that morning, was bound for San Francisco.

 

This file photo shows an American Airlines Boeing B-767 in Miami in 2001. The plane pictured was not used in the attack.

8:46 a.m.

The first crash <a href="http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/wtc_timeline/zoomify.html" target="_hplink">occurred</a> at 8:46 a.m. when Flight 11 hit the north tower of New York's World Trade Center.  According to the <a href="http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/index.htm" target="_hplink">9/11 Commission Report</a>, two flight attendants contacted American Airlines as the plane was being hijacked to provide details of the emergency. They reported the use of Mace or a similar spray, several stabbings and a bomb threat.  The last known communication from the plane came when flight attendant Madeline "Amy" Sweeney, on the phone with American Flight Services manager Michael Woodward, said, "Oh my God we are way too low."
The first crash occurred at 8:46 a.m. when Flight 11 hit the north tower of New York's World Trade Center. According to the 9/11 Commission Report, two flight attendants contacted American Airlines as the plane was being hijacked to provide details of the emergency. They reported the use of Mace or a similar spray, several stabbings and a bomb threat. The last known communication from the plane came when flight attendant Madeline "Amy" Sweeney, on the phone with American Flight Services manager Michael Woodward, said, "Oh my God we are way too low."

9:03 a.m.

The second crash happened at 9:03 a.m., when Flight 175 hit the south tower of the World Trade Center.  The last communication made with air traffic control was made at 8:42 a.m., but passengers were able to provide details of the flight by contacting their families by phone.  <a href="http://timeline.national911memorial.org#/Explore/2/Entry/533" target="_hplink">Brian Sweeney</a> called his wife, Julie, to tell her the plane had been hijacked, and Peter Hansen <a href="http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/index.htm" target="_hplink">told</a> his father, Lee, "I think they intend to go to Chicago or someplace and fly into a building."
The second crash happened at 9:03 a.m., when Flight 175 hit the south tower of the World Trade Center. The last communication made with air traffic control was made at 8:42 a.m., but passengers were able to provide details of the flight by contacting their families by phone. Brian Sweeney called his wife, Julie, to tell her the plane had been hijacked, and Peter Hansen told his father, Lee, "I think they intend to go to Chicago or someplace and fly into a building."

9:05 a.m.

President George W. Bush <a href="http://timeline.national911memorial.org/#/Explore/2" target="_hplink">learned</a> of the attacks at 9:05 a.m. while sitting in a second grade classroom at an elementary school in Sarasota, Florida. White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card informed him of the attacks, whispering into his ear during the students' reading lesson.  Bush recently <a href="http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/community/blogs/ngc/_george-w-bush-911-interview" target="_hplink">shared</a> his memories of that day with <i>National Geographic</i>. When he received news of the first plane crash at 8:50 a.m. -- just before entering the classroom -- he thought it was "a light aircraft, and my reaction was, man, the weather was bad or something extraordinary happened to the pilot."  It wasn't until Card informed him of the second plane that Bush knew America was under attack.
President George W. Bush learned of the attacks at 9:05 a.m. while sitting in a second grade classroom at an elementary school in Sarasota, Florida. White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card informed him of the attacks, whispering into his ear during the students' reading lesson. Bush recently shared his memories of that day with National Geographic. When he received news of the first plane crash at 8:50 a.m. -- just before entering the classroom -- he thought it was "a light aircraft, and my reaction was, man, the weather was bad or something extraordinary happened to the pilot." It wasn't until Card informed him of the second plane that Bush knew America was under attack.

9:31 a.m.

In an <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QP1K84iRZPo" target="_hplink">address</a> from Emma Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, President Bush called the attacks "a national tragedy" and "an apparent terrorist attack on our country."  "I have spoken to the vice president, to the governor of New York, to the director of the FBI, and have ordered that the full resources of the federal government go to help the victims and their families, and to conduct a full-scale investigation to hunt down and to find those folks who committed this act," Bush said.  "Terrorism against our nation will not stand."
In an address from Emma Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, President Bush called the attacks "a national tragedy" and "an apparent terrorist attack on our country." "I have spoken to the vice president, to the governor of New York, to the director of the FBI, and have ordered that the full resources of the federal government go to help the victims and their families, and to conduct a full-scale investigation to hunt down and to find those folks who committed this act," Bush said. "Terrorism against our nation will not stand."

9:36 a.m.

At 9:36 a.m., Secret Service agents <a href="http://timeline.national911memorial.org/#/Explore/2" target="_hplink">evacuated</a> Vice President Dick Cheney and his aides from his office to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, a Cold War-era bunker beneath the White House.
At 9:36 a.m., Secret Service agents evacuated Vice President Dick Cheney and his aides from his office to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, a Cold War-era bunker beneath the White House.

9:37 a.m.

Flight 77 crashed into Pentagon at 9:37 a.m.  The 9/11 Commission Report tells how passenger Barbara Olson <a href="http://www.gpoaccess.gov/911/index.html" target="_hplink">called</a> her husband Ted -- the solicitor general of the United States -- to inform him of the attacks. She reported that the flight had been taken over and that the aircraft was "flying low over houses."  A few minutes later, air traffic controllers at Dulles International Airport observed plane on their radar traveling at "a high rate of speed." Officials from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport warned the Secret Service of the aircraft shortly before Flight 77 hit the Pentagon.
Flight 77 crashed into Pentagon at 9:37 a.m. The 9/11 Commission Report tells how passenger Barbara Olson called her husband Ted -- the solicitor general of the United States -- to inform him of the attacks. She reported that the flight had been taken over and that the aircraft was "flying low over houses." A few minutes later, air traffic controllers at Dulles International Airport observed plane on their radar traveling at "a high rate of speed." Officials from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport warned the Secret Service of the aircraft shortly before Flight 77 hit the Pentagon.

9:45 a.m.

At 9:45 a.m. -- minutes after Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon -- the White House and U.S. Capitol were <a href="http://timeline.national911memorial.org/#/Explore/2" target="_hplink">evacuated</a>.
At 9:45 a.m. -- minutes after Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon -- the White House and U.S. Capitol were evacuated.

9:59 a.m.

After burning for 56 minutes, the south tower of the World Trade Center <a href="http://timeline.national911memorial.org/#/Explore/2" target="_hplink">collapsed</a> at 9:59 a.m. The fall, which killed approximately 600 workers and first responders, lasted 10 seconds.
After burning for 56 minutes, the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed at 9:59 a.m. The fall, which killed approximately 600 workers and first responders, lasted 10 seconds.

10:03 a.m.

The fourth hijacked plane crashed at 10:03 a.m. in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  The 9/11 Commission Report <a href="http://www.gpoaccess.gov/911/pdf/sec1.pdf" target="_hplink">says</a> several passengers made calls from the plane and received word of the other hijackings. Upon hearing the news that major cities were being targeted, the passengers decided to revolt:  <blockquote>Five calls described the intent of passengers and surviving crew mem­bers to revolt against the hijackers. According to one call, they voted on whether to rush the terrorists in an attempt to retake the plane. They decided, and acted.<br><br>At 9:57, the passenger assault began. Several passengers had terminated phone calls with loved ones in order to join the revolt. One of the callers ended her message as follows:"Everyone's running up to first class. I've got to go. Bye."</blockquote>  <a href="http://timeline.national911memorial.org/#/Explore/2" target="_hplink">According</a> to the 9/11 Memorial, the hijackers deliberately crashed in a field to prevent passengers from retaking the airplane. The crash site in Shanksville is approximately 20 minutes flying time from Washington, D.C.
The fourth hijacked plane crashed at 10:03 a.m. in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The 9/11 Commission Report says several passengers made calls from the plane and received word of the other hijackings. Upon hearing the news that major cities were being targeted, the passengers decided to revolt:
Five calls described the intent of passengers and surviving crew mem­bers to revolt against the hijackers. According to one call, they voted on whether to rush the terrorists in an attempt to retake the plane. They decided, and acted.

At 9:57, the passenger assault began. Several passengers had terminated phone calls with loved ones in order to join the revolt. One of the callers ended her message as follows:"Everyone's running up to first class. I've got to go. Bye."
According to the 9/11 Memorial, the hijackers deliberately crashed in a field to prevent passengers from retaking the airplane. The crash site in Shanksville is approximately 20 minutes flying time from Washington, D.C.

10:28 a.m.

At 10:28 a.m., after burning for 102 minutes, the north tower of New York's World Trade Center <a href="http://timeline.national911memorial.org/#/Explore/2" target="_hplink">collapsed</a>, killing approximately 1,400 people.
At 10:28 a.m., after burning for 102 minutes, the north tower of New York's World Trade Center collapsed, killing approximately 1,400 people.

11:02 a.m.

New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani <a href="http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/wtc_timeline/zoomify.html" target="_hplink">ordered</a> an evacuation of lower Manhattan at 11:02 a.m., alerting everyone south of Canal Street to get out.
New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani ordered an evacuation of lower Manhattan at 11:02 a.m., alerting everyone south of Canal Street to get out.

1:04 p.m.

At 1:04 p.m., after all American air space had been cleared, President Bush <a href="http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/wtc_timeline/zoomify.html" target="_hplink">addressed </a>the nation from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, informing citizens that the U.S. military "at home and around the world is on high alert status."  "Make no mistake, the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts," Bush <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwgqmaeV7o0" target="_hplink">said</a>.
At 1:04 p.m., after all American air space had been cleared, President Bush addressed the nation from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, informing citizens that the U.S. military "at home and around the world is on high alert status." "Make no mistake, the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts," Bush said.

5:20 p.m.

Hours after the attacks that morning, the 47-story 7 World Trade Center building <a href="http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/wtc_timeline/zoomify.html" target="_hplink">collapsed</a> from ancillary damage. No one was in the building at the time.
Hours after the attacks that morning, the 47-story 7 World Trade Center building collapsed from ancillary damage. No one was in the building at the time.

8:30 p.m.

President Bush gave his final <a href="http://articles.cnn.com/2001-09-11/us/bush.speech.text_1_attacks-deadly-terrorist-acts-despicable-acts?_s=PM:US" target="_hplink">address</a> of the day from the White House at 8:30 p.m.  From the Oval Office, the president informed Americans that he had implemented federal emergency response plans, noting emergency teams and the military were already at work:  <blockquote>Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts.<br><br>The victims were in airplanes or in their offices -- secretaries, businessmen and women, military and federal workers. Moms and dads. Friends and neighbors.<br><br>Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror.<br><br>The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness and a quiet, unyielding anger.<br><br>These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong. A great people has been moved to defend a great nation.</blockquote>
President Bush gave his final address of the day from the White House at 8:30 p.m. From the Oval Office, the president informed Americans that he had implemented federal emergency response plans, noting emergency teams and the military were already at work:
Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts.

The victims were in airplanes or in their offices -- secretaries, businessmen and women, military and federal workers. Moms and dads. Friends and neighbors.

Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror.

The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness and a quiet, unyielding anger.

These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong. A great people has been moved to defend a great nation.

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost.