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Financier of 9-11 Attacks on NYC & Pentagon Osama bin Laden is Dead in Pakistan - Is the War on Terrorism Really Over?
September 11, 2001 Remembered
Remembering The Attack on The Pentagon
Have You Heard the News? bin Laden is Dead!
Sunday, May 01, 2011
Sunday night, as I was drawing the water and wrestling my three year old out of her clothes and into the bath, my phone rang; It was my niece Ashley on the other end. "Auntie, Oh my God, Have you seen the news?"
Before I could say no, or ask the question, why, my phone was ringing again, this time it was my husband, (who was calling me from our garage), "Hey, turn the news on!" He said when I answered.
I was just about to ask him why, when my seventeen year old son pounded on the bathroom door, "Mom, are you in there? Did you hear the news? Osama bin Laden is Dead!"
Thus, my family, (except for my three year old, who having no idea what the hoopla was about, and not having yet acquired a taste for news programming of any sort, had emerged pink and scrubbed squeaky clean from the bathtub, climbed into her pajamas, and then into my bed, to watch Disney's Pinocchio), spent the rest of Sunday evening, as I imagine did many Americans, making and receiving phone calls, texting, and analyzing the news broadcasts of three different news channels, on three different televisions.
Like the assassinations of former president John F. Kennedy and legendary music icon John Lennon, Pearl Harbor, or the day that the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up, the horrific events of 9-11 that preceded the nearly decade long hunt for Bin Laden, his capture and demise, is big news on a personal level for the majority of the American population.
It was just this line of thought I was reflecting upon as I finished up the last of the evening's dinner dishes.
Memories of September 11, 2001
As I dried and put away dishes, and went about the straigtening of the kitchen, my thoughts on the news that Osama bin Laden, had at long last, met his own personal waterloo, stirred the sleeping memory of that awful September day that had reached out and effected the lives of our nation, its people, and my family, changing everything, forever.
On September 11, 2001, my active duty husband, our children and I, were living on base at NSA Millington, just outside of Memphis, Tennessee.
That day had dawned as post-card perfect fall day as any that I have ever seen. As my husband headed off to work that morning, and the kids and I headed off to school, the sky above was a crystalline blanket of uninterrupted blue. There was just enough chill in the air, that the kids and I needed a hoodie or a sweater, but even with the morning coolness, you could feel the promise of a warmer afternoon. It was one of those days, when you wake up and step outside, and just have the feeling that all is right with the world.
Of course, none of us knew what was in store for us or for the nation that day, or how it would change things in everyone's life.
As a part of the base security detachment, the effect on my husband's job and our home life was immediate. I remember vividly, how moments after the second tower was hit, we both arrived at home, almost simultaneously, with Michael sliding his car sideways into the parking spot. He left the car running, jumped out, ran past myself and a girlfriend who was with me, and into the house. He emerged seconds later, carrying his gear. Running past me again, he managed to give me a quick kiss, and one, or maybe it was both of us, said, "see you when I see you," (something that we had always said when his job demanded unspecified departure and arrival information), and then he was back in the driver's seat, putting the car into gear and driving away, as I called out to remind him to be careful. It would be several days before any of us saw him again for more than a few stolen minutes at a time, and over a year before his schedule, and our life at home, would return to what it had been.
Other effects on my familly would be a little less obvious but have longer ranging effects; my six year old daughter's nightmares, and refusal to sleep in her own bed. My seven year old son's obsession with the news, and my overall feeling of anxiousness and waiting for the proverbial other shoe to fall would take a very long time to go away, and nothing could have prepared any of us for the heightend feeling of anxiety felt by all three of us when Michael made his next deployment after returning to sea duty in 2003.
Caught in the of the cross-fire between the television in the den and the one in the living room, my private revere being periodically interrupted by the snippets and sound bites of dueling anchormen, I was wiping down the stove and counter top when from my vantage point in the kitchen, I overheard something that my nearly seventeen year old son was saying to a friend on the phone, that gave me a moment's pause;
"Dude, where have you been all night? Haven't you heard? They got bin Laden, the war is over."
"Over," I thought, "Could it be true? Could the death of Osama Bin Laden actually wipe out Al-Quida and its long range effects on terrorism? Change world view? Had our persistence in pursuit and capture of this evil-maniacal madman served such a powerful punch that other like-minded terrorists would take heed of the warning and back down?" While it was a nice thought, somehow I just didn't think so.
Then I had a second, more troubling thought, "If my usually news savvy son thought that by killing Osama bin Laden, America had managed to end the war on terrorism, were there others out there who might believe the same thing? Would America be lulled into complacency? Would the country and its leaders, weary after the ten year battle in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq, believe that it was safe to let our guard down?"
Remembering Flight 93
The President Speaks
Just as my train of thought had shifted tracks and began to pick up speed on a downward descent into the worrrisome side of my imagination, my son threw the brake switch, by announcing that the president was about to speak:
"For over two decades, bin Laden has been al Quida’s leader and symbol, and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies. The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Quida.
Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that al Quida will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must –- and we will -- remain vigilant at home and abroad..."
I breathed a sigh of relief, and I was comforted by the fact that the thought that had crossed my mind, had also crossed that of our commander and chief, (or at least it had crossed the mind of his speech writer.) it was also good to know that I was not alone with this thought, proving that it was not necessarily a crazy one.
As this whole line of thought had started with the comment I had overheard my son making, I wanted to speak with him about it, and actually caught a lucky break following President Obama's address to the nation, and was able to briefly divert his attention from his need to channel flip between the news broadcasts, long enough to ask him the question that was weighing on my mind.
"Hey Bubba," I began, as I sat down beside him on the sofa, "I overheard you on the phone with Travis earlier" (this earned me a sharp look that spoke volumes about how he felt about his privacy and eavesdropping on his conversations in general) "I heard you say that the war was over," I went on with my question before he had a chance to comment, "and I was just wondering, do you really believe that because bin Laden is dead the war on terrorism is really over?"
With his eyebrows raised in a fashion that reminded me of my own teenage-self, he favored me with one of those all-knowing teenage looks that made me grit my teeth and want to apologise to my own father for having once been a teenager. "Mom...." he began,
but I wasn't looking for a debate on this, I simply wanted to tell him my thoughts, and so I played the parent's perogative card, and cut him off before he could really get going.
"Look Joey," I said, "The capture and killing of Osama bin Laden in some ways provides closure, but I think that it is hardly the end of terrorism, or the war against it. I don't think that this is a case where we can cut off the head of the snake and expect the snake to die, because for each bin Laden in the world, there are 100 more that are willing to stand up and take his place. I really don't think that this is the end of this, and I think that it would be a dangerous stance for the American people to take. You're a big boy, and will decide for yourself," and finished with what I had to say on the subject, I patted his leg, stood up, and turned back toward the kitchen.
Climbing into bed that night, I switched on our local news for a few minutes, and was relieved to hear that National Homeland Securtity had raised the threat level, and were cautioning Americans to be vigilant incase of retaliation. I went to sleep thinking that all of my worry was for naught, and slept peacefully through the night.
President Obama's Announcement of Osama bin Laden's Capture & Demise
Monday May 2, 2011
At six-thirty on Monday morning, having already seen my two older children off to school, I was tiptoeing, coffee balanced precariously in hand, trying not to wake my three year old, while reviewing last evening's events. Making it into my office without alerting my tiny shadow to my absence, I switched on my computer, and began my morning log-in ritual, sat back, and sipped the sweet hot liquid, savoring a moment of peace and tranquility before my day's work was to begin.
Checking my Facebook page first, I was delighted to see two things; The first of which was a note that had been posted on the wall of my, oldest, dearest, and closest girlfriend, Dawn Marie Frye, entitled; The Bigger Picture," in which she a briefly addressed some of my own worries and fears. Secondly, I was not only delighted, but grateful to see that not one of my nearly two hundred Facebook friends and family members had made any statement or comment that in any way shape or form suggested that they might be thinking that Osama bin Laden's demise meant the end of the war on terrorism.
In her Facebook post, my dear friend Dawn Marie wrote;
"Can't help but think about the retaliation that could come .....Watching the people gathered around the White House in celebration of taking him out, and wondering about the seriousness of this...take a minute and think.....Gloating is not smart....don't get me wrong something needed to be done and shouldn't have taken 10 years to do it....BUT...Our country needs to think about the bigger picture, Hatred is a very ugly and powerful thing. Just think what must be going through the minds of the people on the other end of this....visualize our footage from their end......Flag waving Americans celebrating in the streets....Heads up people this may not have been a smart move to publicize ...we still need to be vigilant and aware that there are people out there who still hate us....."
"Okay," I told myself, "doesn't really look like anyone has taken leave of their senses, so no reason to panic." I spent the rest of the morning with my time split between writing and taking care of my dad and my daughter.
Buried at Sea
"Video of bin Laden's sea burial to be released?" Read MSNBC's headline, when I returned to my computer sometime on Monday in the late afternoon to check messages before starting dinner for my family
"Hmmmm...What's this?" I was mumbling to myself as I slid into the chair at my desk to have a closer look. I was just wondering if it was a good idea to release that type of footage, or if it would only incite more anger towards the United States, when I saw the sub-title;
"U.S. official describes rites: Islamic clerics debate if procedure was proper or humiliating"
"Uh-oh, here we go...." I said out loud, though there was no one else in the room, and clicked on the link to the MSNBC article.
Basically the article itself went on to divulge the information that Osama bin Laden, who had been killed the previous day in a firefight with special operations SEAL TEAM 6 and some CIA operatives had, following the traditional Islamic customs for preparing the body of the deceased, been buried at sea, from the deck of the aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson.
According to an unnamed White House official;
* The deceased's body was washed and then placed in a white sheet
* The body was placed in a weighted bag
* A military officer read prepared religious remarks that were translated into Arabic by a native speaker
* After the words were completed the body was placed on a flat board, tipped up, whereupon the deceased's body was eased into the sea.
The MSNBC article quoted a statement issued by President Obama, which said that the remains of Osama bin Laden had been handled in accordance with Islamic custom, which requires a speedy burial. From Washington D.C., U.S. officials stated; "There is no single authoritative Islamic text on burial, the Quran is not specific about burials, as long as the body of the deceased is cleansed quickly."
What is the standard Muslim practice for burying the dead?
According to Islamic teachings, the highest honor to be bestowed upon the dead, is to give the deceased a swift burial, preferably before sunset. After the body has been cleansed, the deceased should be wrapped in a white sheet, and the body placed so that their head is pointed toward Mecca. Those who die while traveling at sea, can have their bodies committed to the bottom of the sea if they are far enough from the coast.
The article went on to say, that the reason that he had been buried at sea was that with no family to claim the body, the U.S. government felt it would be difficult to find a government that would be willing to receive the body, and that having an actual grave site brought up concerns that al-Quida and other like minded terrorist groups might be tempted to use that grave site as a rallying point or shrine.
Muslim Clerics World-Wide Speak-Out About At Sea Burial
As should have been expected by everyone, bin Laden's burial at sea has become the catalyst for a two-pronged debate among Muslim cleric worldwide, with the issues at the center of the conflict being the how he was buried and why.
While the executive director and chaplain at the New York University Islamic Center, Khalid Latif, who is also a New York police chaplain praised the U.S. administration, saying, "I think that White House showed immense wisdom in the manner is which they decided to bury him." Latif went on to say that, under Islamic law, it would be important to weigh the impact that bin Laden's burial on land would have on most people, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. "Given the fact that this person was one of the most hated individuals that ever lived, we have to be mindful of what his burial means to people on the whole of the earth. I wouldn't want my brother, my father, my loved one, buried anywhere near him." Latif would go on to say that he had hope that the death of bin Laden would mean the end of a painful chapter for Muslim and non-Muslim relations. "Muslims really hated this man, he has caused so many problems for Muslims in general," he said.
However, as clerics around the world, continued to offer their opinions, it became apparent that the opinions of Khalid Latif were not of the majority, and the dissenters opinions ranged from mild reproach to bordering on outright threats;
Dubai's grand mufti, Mohammed al Qubaisi said; "They can say they buried him at sea, but they cannot say they did it in accordance with Islam. If the family does not want him, its really simple in Islam; You dig up a grave anywhere, even on a remote island, you say the prayers and that's it. Sea burials are permissible for Muslims in extraordinary circumstances, this is not one of them."
From the university of Jordan, professor of Islamic Law, Mohammed Qudah said; "The land and the sea belong to God, who is able to protect and raise the dead at the end of times for the judgement day. It's neither true nor correct to claim that there is nobody in the Muslim world ready to receive bin Laden's body."
Both Shiite cleric, Ibraham al-Jabari and Islamic Scholar of the famous Abu Hanifa Mosque in Baghdad, Abdul-Sattar-al Janabi, weighed in with opinions from Iraq;
According to the Shiite cleric, "If a man dies on a ship that is a long distance from land, then the dead man should be buried at sea, but if he ides on land, then he should be buried in the ground, not thrown into the sea. Otherwise, this would be inviting fish to a banquet."
While al-Janabi said; "What was done by the Americans is forbidden by Islam and might provoke some Muslims. It is not acceptable and it is almost a crime to throw the body of a Muslim man into the sea. The body of bin Laden should have been handed over to the family to look for a country or a land to bury him."
The harshest criticism of all, came from radical, London based cleric, Omar Bakri Mohammed, who chastised the U. S. government in his reaction to the burial with a statement that sounded almost like a threat, and claimed that the the U.S. administration had made a strategic mistake;
"The Americans want to humiliate Muslims through this burial, and I don't think that this is in the best interest of the U.S. administration."
But probably the most telling of all the statements made regarding the sea burial of Osama bin Laden, and its effect on terrorism, was also the shortest and most simple, it came from Egyptian Islamic analyst and lawyer, Montasse el-Zayat who in his opinion professed the belief that the U.S. administration's motivation for burying bin-Laden at sea was designed to prevent his grave from becoming a shrine; "An unmarked grave was an option. They didn't want him to become a symbol, but he is already a symbol in the hearts of his people."
Did the U.S. make a mistake here? Have we, like a matador waving a red cape at an angry bull, managed only to provoke more anger from the people who's hearts are already filled with hatred for anything American?
As the Smoke Clears and the Dust Settles
Early Tuesday morning, I decided that I would turn on the news to see what was happening in the world. I suppose that it should have come as no surprise that on every local and national news morning news show, the number one topic of conversation was the death and burial of Osama bin Laden. Flipping through the channels, I found that every anchor and reporter seemed to either be talking about bin Laden, or talking to a so-called bin Laden expert, leaving me to wonder for a brief moment where all of these experts had suddenly come from, and where they had all been hiding out during the decade long hunt to find the object of their expertise.
All that day, and throughout the week, as the smoke cleared and the dust settled, the reporting, the interviewing, and the debates went on; Would and should the video and pictures of the capture and the dead body of al Quida's leader be released? What about the video of the burial at sea?
I personally was relieved to find out that someone in Washington had thought better of the idea. While I understood that people wanted to see the dead body of this evil man for themselves, I felt a strong sense of forbodding at the idea of parading those photos out to the public like some sort of contest trophy. In my thinking, it would not only serve as another of those red capes, but in many ways it would make us no better than some of our enemies. I am sure that not all would agree with me, but I still believe that we are better off taking the high road.
With President Obama's announcement that the videos and photos would not be released, came the conspiracy theories; Some of which, I can honestly say had continuity and a credible base to them, while other were so far out in the atmosphere, I couldn't help but giggle at my imagined reactions of a nearly eighty year old Elvis and an over one hundred year old Hitler to the news of the latest resident of the Conspiracy Arms Hotel.
By Thursday they were debating in both houses about when and how to pull the troops from Afghanistan, and my thoughts were once again forced to the more serious implications of the argument of whether or not bin Laden's death meant the war on terrorism was at an end.
After a review of all the facts, I still found my belief to be that this would be short-sighted on the part of both the American people and the American government.
Friday, May 6, 2011
On Friday May 6, 2011, an eleven paragraph statement which was dated on Tuesday, May 3, 2011 was released from al-Quida via militant websites:
"The blood of the holy warrior sheik, Osama bin Laden, God bless him, is too precious to us and to all Muslims to go in vain, We will remain, God willing, a curse chasing the Americans and their agents, following them outside and inside their countries. Soon, God willing, their happiness will turn to sadness, their blood will be mingled with their tears."
The statement which praised bin Laden for his leadership and his martyrdom, also called upon the people of Pakistan to rise up against their government, and reminded their followers that, just as I had suspected, bin Laden had built al-Quida to survive with or without him.
So, bin-Laden is dead, we have at long last cut the off the head of the snake, but terrorism, and the war against it are, in my humble opinion, far from over.
Kristen Burns-Darling ©May 2011 (all rights reserved)