what was the World Trade Center till September 11,  when two hijacked planes slammed into the twin tower structure,  reducing it to dust and twisted steel.

An estimated 9,000 people gathered near the ruins of the WTC Sunday afternoon to pray and mourn the thousands of victims still buried beneath the still-smouldering fires in the rubble.  

Only 454 bodies have been recovered and identified from the collapsed towers, leaving 4,167 people  listed as missing, according to latest figures. The remains of most victims are never expected to be found.


Relatives, many of them holding up pictures of their missing loved ones, emergency workers and elected leaders, including Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Governor George Pataki and Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer,  attended the prayer service.

The hour-long ceremony was similar to a prayer service held at Yankee Stadium last month, but many families wanted to go to the site itself, now blessed as a burial ground,  the NY1 news channel reported.

Church leaders and representatives of the Jewish community suggested that God has heard and seen the suffering of people "who have no tears left," to cry.


Cardinal Edward Egan, who delivered the opening prayer,  stressed that everyone comes to our "Father in heaven," with hurting souls. "We come before you this afternoon as your children who are hurting. We have lost parents, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, beloved relatives and friends, "he said.

The Cardinal added that the victims "were innocent and they were brutally, viciously and unjustly taken from us."  NYPD Chaplain Imam Izak-El Mu’eed Pasha urged everyone "not let our faiths be used by wrongdoers, by wicked people."

He suggested that the memorial service in New York showed that the terrorists "cannot use our faiths and do these terrible things. Let us as religious leaders stand firm together and not let the differences split us apart."


Among the musical performances, Andrea Bocelli sang "Ave Maria" and an orchestra performed a piece specially composed by Andrew Llyod Webber.

The round-the-clock search and recovery effort paused for nearly 24 hours for the service and the setup for the first time since last month’s attacks.

Ater the service, family members were invited to Pier 94 to receive an urn filled with ashes from ruins as personal memorial. They were also presented with an American flag.


People gathered for prayer as new revelations emerged about the circumstances surrounding the attacks.  On Sunday,  October 28, the New York Times reported that the FBI had intercepted "congratulatory" phone calls between suspected sympathizers of suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network, soon after the attacks against the WTC.

The newspaper quoted intelligence officials as saying that the phone investigation has already led to the arrest of several people who are now being held as material witnesses in the case. None of  them has been charged with crimes related to the terror attacks and it is unclear whether any of them were involved in the plotting, the NY1 news channel reported.


As family relatives tried to live through another day of sorrow, Church leaders made clear that they will also mourn the victims of terrorism in Israel. New York civil rights leader,  Reverend Al Sharpton,  was expected to arrive Monday,  October 29,  in Israel, which declared a National Day of Mourning shortly after the WTC attacks.

Reverend Al Sharpton said he wanted to appeal for peace and show solidarity with terror victims. He scheduled to meet with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres Monday,  October 29. In addition the Reverend was expected to sit down for a meal with Jewish religious leaders and visit class-mates of victims of a June suicide bomber attack at a Tel Aviv disco,  the NY1 news channel said.

A spokeswoman was quoted as saying that Sharpton is focusing on Israeli victims during his three-day trip but that Palestinians could also be included. On Tuesday,  October 30, Sharpton was scheduled to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Jerusalem and the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.


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