By Ameen Izzadeen
This article originally appeared in the Daily Mirror of September 10, 2010
Another 9/11 anniversary is marked tomorrow with solemn prayers. Millions of Americans will participate in religious services in remembrance of more than 3,000 people who died when 19 terrorists hijacked four civilian planes and rammed three of them into US economic and military targets on September 11, 2001. Two of them rammed into New York’s World Trade Centre Towers, one hit the Pentagon and the fourth was shot down by the US Air Force over Pennsylvania.
In 2004, I was in the United States on a State Department International Visitors’ Programme and participated in a multi-religious commemoration service on September 11 that year at the Baptist Church of US civil rights leader Martin Luther King in Atlanta. The service began with Bible reading, followed by the reading of the Quran and scriptures of other religions. There was accommodation. There was little evidence that Islamophobia had gripped the largely Christian congregation. They spoke of the need to promote inter-faith dialogue and how hatred could be overcome by mercy as preached by all religions. The scene was quite in contrast to what may take place tomorrow in Florida. A little known pastor of a small group called a church is unfortunately getting worldwide publicity now for an obviously cheap stunt. He is planning to burn copies of the Quran, the holy scripture of Islam, which he has branded as the religion of the devil. Pastor Terry Jones – the name brings back memories of the infamous Jim Jones who led hundreds into committing suicide on the basis that the world was ending — is adamant and is not listening to the appeals from the US government, the Vatican and hundreds of others. Even pleas by former Republican Vice Presidential Candidate and rightwing Tea Party firebrand Sarah Palin have fallen on deaf ears.
Pastor Jones, leader of a tiny Protestant church in Gainesville, Florida, says the action of burning copies of the Quran is to call attention that something is wrong. Speaking the language that George W. Bush spoke in justifying war, the so-called pastor said: “We need to stand up and confront terrorism.”
His plan seeks to crucify the religion of the one fourth of the world’s population for the sins of 19 terrorists who happened to profess Islam.
Little does the pastor acknowledge that the 9/11 attacks were condemned by a vast majority of the Muslims worldwide. He refuses to see that his action will serve the cause of al-Qaeda and further radicalise the under-educated and poverty-stricken Muslim youths. He fails to realise that the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks had hijacked Islam and given it a warped interpretation to justify their actions — just as George W. Bush and his clique misinterpreted and misused Christianity to promote their war and their capitalist agenda.
It appears that Pastor Jones is looking at the speck in the Muslim world’s eye. He is not seeing the log in the eye of the United State, whose criminality is writ large.
Nine years after the attacks, doubts persist even today as to what really happened on that day. Hundreds of experts doubt the official version, especially the plane that hit the Pentagon. They are not convinced by the release of video footage that shows murky images of an object like an airplane crashing on to the Pentagon building. Those who refuse to believe the official version – among them scientists and structural engineers — say the official version does not tally with stark evidence on the ground.
Their doubts gather further muscle when the authorities fail to come up with answers to hundreds of questions regarding the 9/11 attacks. The main question that bugs the intellect was why did not the US administration take the warnings about an impending attack seriously?
Foreign intelligence services, including those of France, Germany, Britain, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and Russia warned of the impending attacks. Some reports were specific. They warned of a terrorist plan to hijack civilian aircraft and use them as missiles against US targets.
This was what the Chicago Sun-Times said following the attacks: “The FBI had advance indications of plans to hijack US airliners and use them as weapons, but neither acted on them nor distributed the intelligence to local police agencies. From the moment of the September 11 attacks, high-ranking federal officials insisted that the terrorists’ method of operation surprised them. Many stick to that story. Actually, elements of the hijacking plan were known to the FBI as early as 1995 and, if coupled with current information, might have uncovered the plot.”
A USA Today article (April 18, 2004) by Steven Komarow and Tom Squitieri said that two years before the 9/11 attacks, the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) even had drills to counter a terrorist attack using civilian aircraft. The report said: “In the two years before the September 11 attacks, the North American Aerospace Defence Command conducted exercises simulating what the White House says was unimaginable at the time: hijacked airliners used as weapons to crash into targets and cause mass casualties. One of the imagined targets was the World Trade Center. In another exercise, jets performed a mock shoot-down over the Atlantic Ocean of a jet supposedly laden with chemical poisons headed toward a target in the United States. In a third scenario, the target was the Pentagon – but that drill was not run after Defence officials said it was unrealistic.”
Here is the URL for the USA Today article: http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2004-04-18-norad_x.htm.
One cannot dismiss the NORAD drill as a mere coincidence. It indicates that US intelligence or a section of it knew the nature of the impending attack. Yet, Condoleezza Rice, the then White House National Security Advisor, insisted in her statement to the 9/11 commission that the warnings were not specific — meaning they did not say when and where. If she was expecting the foreign intelligence groups to give those exact details also, one wonders what the CIA and scores of other US agencies tasked with the country’s security were doing. Apparently her evidence pointed to an attempt to cover up the then US administration’s alleged criminality – whether it was its sheer negligence or passive participation in the attacks, one never knows.
In 2005, a top US army intelligence officer alleged that there was a cover-up in the 9/11 investigations. In interviews with the New York Times and the rightwing Fox News, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, insisted that he told the 9/11 commission that months before the attacks he had informed the FBI and US Defence Department about the existence of a secret al-Qaeda plan which his intelligence unit codenamed Able Danger. He claimed that in his report to the Defence Department, he had identified Mohammed Atta and three other hijackers. Later he was interviewed by the 9/11 commission while he was serving in Afghanistan. But to his horror and dismay, the 9/11 commission report flatly declared that no US intelligence agency had identified Atta before September 11. Lt. Colonel Shaffer rebutted this claim, telling the media that he personally provided information about Able Danger, including the identification of Atta, at an October 2003 meeting in Afghanistan. For an account of Shaffer’s story, visit http://www.wsws.org/articles/2005/aug2005/able-a19.shtml.
It is also timely to remind the Americans about the statements made by Richard Clarke, President George W.Bush’s counter-terrorism chief. In statements to the 9/11 commission, in interviews to the media and in his book “Against All Enemies”, Clarke claimed that the Bush administration ignored his continuous warnings about an impending al-Qaeda attack. He said when he raised the issue of the al-Qaeda attack, the president was pre-occupied with a plan to attack Iraq. Clarke’s claims were corroborated by award-winning journalist Bob Woodward in his book Plan of Attack. Woodward says President Bush had plans to invade Iraq from his day one in the Oval Office.
There are many more questions that point to connivance or culpability on the part of the Bush administration in the 9/11 attacks. A theory that I would buy is that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al-Qaeda militants but they did not know that they were executing a script written by the neocons, together with the Israeli intelligence. As the Americans commemorate the terror attacks, how many of them will remember how the Bush administration appealed to their emotions and whipped up support for imperial wars backed by Big Oil and Big Business. At the end of the day, it was Big Oil and Big Business that made big bucks from the 9/11 attacks.