Fifteen Years Later: “In a New York Minute, Everything Can Change”

Written by on September 1, 2016 in Bulgaria, Politics, World - 1 Comment

As a U.S. correspondent for radio stations in Germany and Switzerland, I was in Washington D.C., when the unimaginable horror hit. That day, I got up at 5 a.m., in order to shoot pictures with a fellow hobby photographer from Germany. The Washington Monument at sunrise and that kind of thing. We were satisfied with the outcome, when we walked back to the cars. Then, one of my radio stations called. I raced home, passing by the Pentagon, about 7 minutes before flight 77 crashed into that building. Even before I got home, to Burke/Virginia, they interviewed me live, twice, after I had extracted some information from the news radio station WTOP. I mentioned Al Qaida during the first live interview with my Berlin radio station, since I had reported about their terror plans extensively, and therefore had become some kind of a specialist in that field, long before September 11, 2001.

The F.B.I. had obtained documents during the years leading up to the new millennium, in which the Islamist terror organization had spelled out plans to use American passenger aircraft as weapons. It was crystal clear. The question had not been whether, but rather when it would happen. Bill Clinton’s Republican Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, had said so, some months before. And he had high-level security briefings every day.

Simply put, September 11, 2001, happened due to stupidity on all sides. On the one hand, Radical Islam is as stupid as it is dangerous. On the other, the U.S. intelligence agencies had information, which could and should have been used to prevent the attacks. Since the first attack on the World Trade Center (WTC), on February 26, 1993, even some companies with offices there, had prepared for the expected second attack, by setting up emergency offices in Jersey City and elsewhere. But the intelligence and investigation agencies trusted with the difficult task of preventing September 11, failed, in spite of memos, which could have led them to Mohammed Atta. The German authorities could have taken out his Hamburg cell as well. But, of course, all of this is easier said that done.

Did Radical Islam in the western hemisphere start on September 11th? No. The 1993 WTC attack, the USS Cole attack in the port of Aden, the attacks on U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar-Es-Salaam, plus many other terror attacks, had happened before. But nothing of this magnitude.

Have we made headway in the fight against Radical Islam in the past 15 years? Yes, in the sense that countless attacks were thwarted since. The F.B.I. did so by using the terrible experience of September 11th and the information gathered in the months after the attack. And no, since Radical Islam, in its many forms, under several umbrellas, still wants to kill the “infidel”. All of us. They still do. They even did in Bulgaria, at Burgas Airport. And, “no” again, since we are making mistakes:

– We are applying double standards: Israel has been fighting Islamist terror since its foundation in 1948. That tiny country is fighting our war. What does it get in return? Bias of the worst kind at the United Nations, where organizations like UNRWA or the UNHRC are working for terror, instead of peace. Bias in left-wing circles and even some governments in Europe. When Israel is attacked and defends itself, it is being criticized harshly. When France does the same, it is being applauded. The experience collected in Israel since 1948 is actually helping all of us, regarding security, as we speak.

– We are supporting Radical Islam financially. The terrible deal with Iran, the millions for the Palestinian Authority and their Hamas terror partners, which are being used for weapons, terror tunnels and inciting hatred on Palestinian TV, rather than schools and the well-being of the Palestinian people, are grave mistakes.

Apart from fighting Radical Islam on the battle field, the right way is to support all moderate, peaceful entities, organizations and people in the Muslim world, to make hate preachers shut up, at least in our vicinity, and to work with young Muslims in Europe, some of whom are being radicalized by those same hate preachers, live or on the internet, and therefore need alternatives which make sense. But we also have to demand clear condemnations of terror attacks in the Muslim world. Preaching peace into western TV cameras, while inciting hatred in front of other TV cameras, is not really helpful or acceptable.

The list of Islamist terrorist attacks is extremely long. And, unfortunately, it will be prolonged further. Still, there is another aspect, which is extremely important: Even though, in some parts of the Muslim world, terror attacks are being celebrated, rather than condemned, even though Islam itself is in a “difficult phase” or “crisis”, which affects all of us, even though Islam’s claim of absoluteness is dumb, dangerous and annoying (as it is in other cases too), the following is important: Judging all Muslims based on all of this, declaring all of them terrorists, hating Muslims due to the “crisis” of their religion, is almost as wrong as the terror itself. We should not forget or supplant the fact that far too many Muslims are victims too. They are victims of oppressive regimes in Tehran and elsewhere, they are victims of unspeakable violence, such as in Syria, they are victims of brainwashing, of terror (yes), they are being put in harms way and murdered, both directly and indirectly, by their own leaders in Gaza and elsewhere.

One last aspect: Most refugees are refugees, not migrants, meaning they are fleeing from war, murder and torture. Even though Radical Islam is using the flow of refugees for terror purposes, and even though some refugees are criminals and haters, helping is a moral imperative, while dealing with all the issues arising as a consequence. Politics are one thing, empathy is another. At times, they should be combined. But empathy also leads to the right political decisions.

I cried on September 11th, after the initial 12 hours of non-stop reporting, when CNN played “In a New York Minute” by The Eagles, along with pictures of that terrible day of horror. That was when it kicked in. I was so glad my daughter, then six months old, was in Bulgaria that day, visiting baba and diado in Sofia.

By Imanuel Marcus

The Washington Monument, on September 11th, 2001, some three hours before the attacks started. Photo by Imanuel Marcus.
The Washington Monument, on September 11th, 2001, some three hours before the attacks started. Photo by Imanuel Marcus.
On September 12th, 2001, a man in Washington D.C. demands the use of nuclear boms. Photo by Imanuel Marcus.
On September 12th, 2001, a man in Washington D.C. demands the use of nuclear bombs. Photo by Imanuel Marcus.
Imanuel Marcus
Imanuel Marcus

 

Comments

comments

About the Author

The Sofia Globe - Bulgaria’s fully independent English-language news and features website, run by an all-expatriate team. Sign up to subscribe to sofiaglobe.com's daily bulletin by using the form on the homepage of our website. Please click to support our advertisers!

One Comment on "Fifteen Years Later: “In a New York Minute, Everything Can Change”"

  1. Alex September 10, 2016 at 8:57 AM · Reply

    A truly moving account of something that should never have happened, but it did, that shocked the world at the time but has happened [albeit on a smaller scale] countless times since. Thank you to the author for sharing this …. I have no more words

Leave a Comment