What an official September 11 photographer filmed and why he says it cost him his freedom

News.com.au | 1 July 2016

HOURS after planes flew into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, Kurt Sonnenfeld was given unrestricted access to ground zero.

 

Sonnenfeld was working for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, an organisation tied to the US Department of Homeland Security and charged with co-ordinating first response to disasters.

Armed with camera gear, the 39-year-old was asked to film everything he saw. His documented evidence was supposed to form part of a report about what happened, but he never handed back the footage.

His life began to unravel spectacularly in the following months and years, culminating in the death of his wife.

She was found dead on a couch in the Denver home the pair shared with a bullet wound to the back of the head.

Fifteen years later, the now-54-year-old is on the run in Argentina. The US government wants him back in the country. Officially, they say he’s wanted over the murder of his wife, but he believes it’s something far more sinister.

He says they want to silence him over what he saw beneath World Trade Center 6, evidence he is convinced paints the Bush Administration as big players in the deadliest attack on American soil.

Kurt Sonnenfeld, right, holds a camera at ground zero in September 2001. Picture: Michael Rieger/AP

Kurt Sonnenfeld, right, holds a camera at ground zero in September 2001. Picture: Michael 

‘I CAN’T BELIEVE SHE SHOT HERSELF’

As police descended on Sonnenfeld’s doorstep, they heard him utter the words “I can’t believe she shot herself”.

When they gained access to the couple’s home on New Year’s Eve in 2002, it was obvious that Sonnenfeld had been drinking.

He had blood on his hands and alcohol on his breath, police told GQ. They said in an upstairs room they found Nancy in red underwear, still breathing, but barely.

They rushed her to hospital with part of the bullet still protruding from the back of her skull. She died, aged 36, the following morning.

A cryptic note was discovered in the couple’s bedroom. It appeared to be a suicide note. On it, Nancy had written: “What indeed is finally beautiful except death and love. Kurt, please get help.” The word love had been crossed out.

Nancy’s fingerprints were on the gun but Sonnenfeld was taken in for questioning. He was charged with murder and was due to appear in court in June 2002, but the charges were dropped.

He fled because of a feeling it wouldn’t be the last time police came asking questions. His instincts were spot on. In 2003, a year and a half after his charges were dropped, a judge signed a new warrant for his arrest. When police went looking, they realised he was gone.

Sonnenfeld met and married a woman in Argentina shortly after arriving. The pair have two girls.

The US Government has tried to extradite the former FEMA staffer unsuccessfully. Part of the reason for that is Argentina’s strict opposition to the death penalty. Sonnenfeld could face execution in the state of Colorado if found guilty of Nancy’s murder.

The south tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Picture: Gulnara Samoilova/AP

The south tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

WHAT DID SONNENFELD SEE?

Sporting bleached blond hair, Sonnenfeld wove his way through the rubble of Manhattan’s downtown financial district.

He shot hours of footage but never handed it in. Of particular interest was what he found beneath World Trade Center 6. He says inside the building he came across a vault that had been cleared of its contents before the planes struck.

In a documentary filmed in Argentina, Sonnenfeld said the discovery is proof that America knew the attacks were coming, at the very least.

“One thing I’m certain of is that agencies of intelligence of the United States of America knew what was going to happen and at least let it happen,” he said.

“Not only did they know it was going to happen, but they in fact collaborated.”

The theory is popular among truthers. It is given weight by a similar discovery on a basement door below World Trade Center 4.

According to a New York Times article, the door to a vault was still in tact but it appeared as if somebody had tried to gain entry. Behind the vault door were nearly a thousand tonnes of silver and gold.

Sonnenfeld is a conspiracy theorist and not only because of what he saw. He says he has the most trouble understanding how World Trade Center 7 collapsed despite suffering no damage.

“To me, the most suspicious thing of all is what happened to building seven at the World Trade Center,” he said.

“This building was not hit by a plane. It didn’t have any structural damage … but, amazingly enough, building seven fell in a perfect textbook type implosion, taking only 6.5 seconds for a 47-storey building to fall completely into its own footprint.

“This to me indicates there was absolutely no resistance between the floors when the building collapsed.”

The Sonnenfeld home where Nancy Sonnenfeld’s body was found. Picture: Denver District Attorney's Office

The Sonnenfeld home where Nancy Sonnenfeld’s body was found. 

‘HE ADMITTED TO KILLING HIS WIFE’

Robert Dreyer and Damian Whitehead shared a jail cell with Kurt Sonnenfeld in the days after Nancy’s death.

They said the Denver man initially denied charges against him but later admitted to killing his wife.

In his only interview with US media since moving to Argentina, Sonnenfeld told GQ he could not be certain if he ever met the pair in jail.

“Could’ve met ‘em. I certainly didn’t make any friends,” he said.

Their testimony doesn’t help Sonnenfeld’s case. Other evidence collected at the scene also works against him.

Police say when they attended to a 911 call, they found Sonnenfeld with blood on his hands and blood spatter on his face. His defence team argued an official line that he embraced his wife after hearing the gun go off and she “coughed and sneezed” in his face.

The problem with that is Sonnenfeld told GQ it didn’t happen that way. He said he put his hands on his face moments after tending to his wife and the “spatter” was simply dried blood.

The questions will continue to come but, as long as he is in Argentina, he will never have to answer them officially.

In the documentary, he says he is ready for the harassment to stop.

“At least four times has my case been looked at by a judge and been decided in my favour yet the US government continues and continues,” Sonnenfeld said.

“What we want now is for the US government to cease what they’re doing. My wife and I now have two beautiful daughters born here in Argentina. I now consider myself Argentinian.

“Of course I miss my (family) very much. I miss the mountains of Colorado. But to me, if I had a chance to go back to the United States, I don’t believe I would.

“I prefer it here.”

9/11 Explosive Evidence: Experts Speak Out

Presentation of the viewpoints of architects and engineers who believe that evidence points to the explosive controlled demolition of the World Trade Center.

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