FBI agents recount work to find evidence following 9/11 attack

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Albany FBI Bureau played an integral role in the days and months following September 11 by collecting evidence and fielding potential leads to the terror attacks.

For five former and current local agents, the attacks on the Twin Towers forever changed not only their personal lives, but their careers.  

“I was working bank robberies, extortions and kidnappings prior to September 11. And that day we all started working terrorism and never stopped,” said Retired FBI Special Agent Gary Hoover.  

“I was a criminal agent, and right now I work weapons of mass destruction, which I never would have worked,” said FBI Special Agent Tom Stewart.  

Each agent played a role in the days and months following 9/11. Some fielded thousands of potential tips.  

“The leads ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous,” said Retired Special Agent Joanne Sills.  

Agent Hoover interviewed a family member of a person who was able to call their loved one from one of the flights before the planes crashed into the towers.   

“I will say this was one of the most emotional and impactful interviews that I had ever done in my career,” Hoover said. 

That phone call gave bits of information to the puzzle of how the attacks could have happened and who was behind the plot.  

“I felt somewhat overwhelmed,” said Retired FBI Agent Joe Fiorino.

Fiorino was a member of Albany FBI’s Evidence Response Team which gathered items from the Fresh Kills, where rubble from Ground Zero was moved to. A prayer booklet from a stranger helped Fiorino get through those dark days.  

Items collected from the days that followed September 11, which are no longer evidence, were donated to the New York State Museum by the FBI. As people remember the 20th year since the terror attacks, Friday was the first time many of the agents were able to see the items.  

“It all comes back to me. I feel a flood of emotions just seeing the exhibits here,” Sills said.  

Agent Stewart said it’s still everyone’s duty to keep this country safe.  

“We’re all in this together. We’re all Americans and it’s everyone’s duty to help protect our nation,” Stewarts said. 

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