Smoke pours from the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center after they were hit by two hijacked airliners in a terrorist attack in New York City, Sept. 11, 2001.
Robert Giroux | Getty Images
Two victims who perished in the World Trade Center have been identified more than two decades after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, New York City’s chief medical examiner said Friday.
The names of the victims, a man and a woman, are being withheld at the request of their families, officials said. They are the 1,648th and 1,649th victims whose remains have been identified since 2001.
The remains of 1,104 victims, or 40% of those who died in the attacks, still have not been found nearly 22 years after al-Qaida terrorists hijacked commercial airlines and crashed them into the Twin Towers in lower Manhattan.
The towers were destroyed in the attacks, leaving more than 2,700 people dead.
Dr. Jason Graham, New York City’s chief medical examiner, described the painstaking effort to identify the victims’ remains as “the largest and most complex forensic investigation” in U.S. history.
Investigators have spent decades using DNA testing to identify tens of thousands of remains recovered from the Ground Zero disaster site. More than 30% of the remains recovered are still unidentified, according to the medical examiner’s office.
Graham said in a statement Friday that the medical examiner’s office has made a “solemn pledge” to return the remains of those who perished to their loved ones.
The identification of the man was confirmed through DNA testing of remains recovered in 2001. The woman was identified through the testing of remains recovered in 2001, 2006 and 2013.
The announcement that two victims were identified comes three days before the anniversary of the attacks. The man and the woman are the first new identifications since September 2021.
Less than an hour after the attacks on the Twin Towers, al-Qaida terrorists crashed a third commercial airliner into the Pentagon, killing 184 people.
Passengers in a fourth hijacked airliner heading for the nation’s capital fought for control of the plane. United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in a field outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing all 40 people on board.
In the wake of the attacks, the U.S. went to war in Afghanistan, where the leader of al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden, was sheltered by the Taliban. The Bush administration subsequently invaded Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein, who had no connection to the attacks.
More than 6,700 U.S. troops died in those wars.
Bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces during a raid in Pakistan in 2011. The Biden administration withdrew the U.S. military from Afghanistan in 2021 and the Taliban returned to power after the collapse of the U.S.-backed government in Kabul.