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Possible 9/11 plane landing gear part found in NYC

  • This Friday, April 26, 2013, photo provided by the New York City Police Department shows a piece of landing gear that authorities believe belongs to one of the airliners that crashed into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, that was found wedged between a mosque and another building, in New York. Police say the medical examiner's office will complete a health and safety evaluation to determine whether to sift the soil around the buildings for possible human remains. (AP Photo/New York City Police Department)

    This Friday, April 26, 2013, photo provided by the New York City Police Department shows a piece of landing gear that authorities believe belongs to one of the airliners that crashed into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, that was found wedged between a mosque and another building, in New York. Police say the medical examiner's office will complete a health and safety evaluation to determine whether to sift the soil around the buildings for possible human remains. (AP Photo/New York City Police Department)

  • In this Friday, April 26, 2013, photo provided by the New York City Police Department, police investigate the space between a mosque and another building in New York where authorities believe a piece of landing gear belonging to one of the airliners that crashed into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001 was found. Police say the medical examiner's office will complete a health and safety evaluation to determine whether to sift the soil around the buildings for possible human remains. (AP Photo/New York City Police Department)

    In this Friday, April 26, 2013, photo provided by the New York City Police Department, police investigate the space between a mosque and another building in New York where authorities believe a piece of landing gear belonging to one of the airliners that crashed into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001 was found. Police say the medical examiner's office will complete a health and safety evaluation to determine whether to sift the soil around the buildings for possible human remains. (AP Photo/New York City Police Department)

  • A police officer guards the entrance of 51 Park Place, Friday, April 26, 2013, in New York. A part of a landing gear, apparently from one of the commercial airliners destroyed on September 11, 2001, has been discovered wedged between the rear of 51 Park Place and the rear of the building behind it, 50 Murray Street, in lower Manhattan.(AP Photo/Louis Lanzano)

    A police officer guards the entrance of 51 Park Place, Friday, April 26, 2013, in New York. A part of a landing gear, apparently from one of the commercial airliners destroyed on September 11, 2001, has been discovered wedged between the rear of 51 Park Place and the rear of the building behind it, 50 Murray Street, in lower Manhattan.(AP Photo/Louis Lanzano)

  • This Friday, April 26, 2013, photo provided by the New York City Police Department shows a piece of landing gear that authorities believe belongs to one of the airliners that crashed into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, that was found wedged between a mosque and another building, in New York. Police say the medical examiner's office will complete a health and safety evaluation to determine whether to sift the soil around the buildings for possible human remains. (AP Photo/New York City Police Department)
  • In this Friday, April 26, 2013, photo provided by the New York City Police Department, police investigate the space between a mosque and another building in New York where authorities believe a piece of landing gear belonging to one of the airliners that crashed into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001 was found. Police say the medical examiner's office will complete a health and safety evaluation to determine whether to sift the soil around the buildings for possible human remains. (AP Photo/New York City Police Department)
  • A police officer guards the entrance of 51 Park Place, Friday, April 26, 2013, in New York. A part of a landing gear, apparently from one of the commercial airliners destroyed on September 11, 2001, has been discovered wedged between the rear of 51 Park Place and the rear of the building behind it, 50 Murray Street, in lower Manhattan.(AP Photo/Louis Lanzano)

A rusted 5-foot-tall piece of landing gear believed to be from one of the hijacked planes destroyed in the Sept. 11 attacks has been discovered near the World Trade Center, wedged between a luxury apartment building and a mosque site that once prompted virulent national debate about Islam and free speech.

The twisted metal part, jammed in an 18-inch-wide sliver of open space between the buildings, has cables and levers on it and is about 17 inches wide and 4 feet long, New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly said yesterday.

“It’s a manifestation of a horrific terrorist act a block and a half away from where we stand,” he said. “So, sure, it brings back terrible memories to anyone who was here or who was involved in that event.”

Kelly edged down the narrow passageway to look at the object last night, noting there is also a piece of rope intertwined with the part in what looks like a broken pulley that may have come down from the roof of the site of the planned Islamic community center at 51 Park Place. The piece of equipment was discovered Wednesday by surveyors inspecting the lower Manhattan site of a planned Islamic community center on behalf of the building’s owner, the police said.

An inspector was on the roof and noticed the debris and then called 911. The police secured the scene, documenting it with photos.

It includes a clearly visible Boeing Co. identification number, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said.

“The odds of this being wedged between there is amazing,” Browne said, adding it was not surprising that it went undiscovered for more than a decade given the location. “It had to have fallen just the right way to make it into that space.”

Other World Trade Center wreckage had been discovered at the buildings and around the area in years past.

Police detectives and National Transportation Safety Board investigators will
determine whether the equipment is from the American Airlines plane or the
United Airlines plane that slammed into the twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001.

When plans for the Islamic center, about three blocks from ground zero, were made public in 2010, opponents said they didn’t want a mosque so close to where Islamic extremists attacked. They argued the site was “sacred” because landing gear from one of the hijacked Boeing 767 jets had punctured the roof of the building Sept. 11.

The building includes a Muslim prayer space that has been open for three years.

After protests died down, the center hosted its first exhibit last year. The space remains under renovation.

Donna Marsh O’Connor, who lost her daughter Vanessa Lang Langer in the attacks, called the landing gear discovery “bizarre.”

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