The US government on Tuesday released video clips for the first time showing how a hijacked airliner struck the Pentagon and exploded into a ball of fire on Sept. 11, 2001.
The videos, released by the government in conjunction with a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Judicial Watch legal activist group, was a longer, more complete version of still-frame images that were leaked to the news media in 2002.
Two security cameras at a Pentagon parking lot caught the moment that American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the south west side of the military headquarters.
Although the two video clips last about two minutes, the nose of the jet is seen for only a fraction of a second in one film before the explosion. The front of the hijacked Boeing 757 can be seen entering one video frame, with a massive explosion and orange fireball erupting upon impact with the Pentagon, followed by a plume of smoke.
US authorities have said five al-Qaeda hijackers seized control of the plane, on a flight from Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia bound for Los Angeles, and flew it into the Pentagon.
Killed in the crash were 125 people inside the Pentagon, 59 passengers and crew members and the five hijackers.
It was one of four commercial planes hijacked that day. Others crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City and in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. About 3,000 people were killed in the 2001 attacks.
Judicial Watch said the government previously had refused to release the video because it was "part of an ongoing investigation" involving Moussaoui, sentenced this month to life in prison for conspiracy in the Sept. 11 attacks.
"We fought hard to obtain this video because we felt that it was very important to complete the public record with respect to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11," Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said in a statement. "Finally, we hope that this video will put to rest the conspiracy theories involving American Airlines Flight 77."
The lack of film evidence of the Pentagon attack had fueled conspiracy theories suggesting that it had been faked by the Pentagon.
The images are online at defenselink.mil/pubs/foi/index.html.