Friday, September 11, 2009

Why a lethal surprise like 9/11 may happen again

By Yoel Marcus, Haaretz Correspondent Last update - 03:40 11/09/2009 There are moments in life when the mind does not pick up what is visible to the naked eye. One day, during the afternoon of September 11, 2001, Israel time, I stared at the television while having my hair cut at a barber shop. I was watching the television though I could not hear what was being said in the broadcast. Suddenly, the picture changed to an image of airplanes crashing into the Twin Towers in New York. During those first few seconds, I thought I was watching one of those disaster flicks. Yet, with a thump in my heart, it quickly became apparent that we were bearing witness to the largest, most surprising terrorist attack ever committed. Its name would forever be etched in my world as the attack of "9/11." Nineteen Arab hijackers, some of whom learned aviation in the United States, covertly took control of four civilian passenger aircraft, causing the deaths of about 3,000 people, injuring some 6,000 others and inflicting hundreds of millions of dollars worth of property damage. Worst of all, it shook up the self-confidence of the world's largest superpower. Were the planes to have taken off one hour later, when the Twin Towers would have been filled with even more workers and tourists, the number of deaths could have reached tens of thousands. Nonetheless, 9/11 was a turning point. Israel feared that the Americans - both public opinion and the decision-makers in power - would lay the blame for the attack on its refusal to strike a deal with the Palestinians, causing the outburst of hatred which gave rise to the attack. Fortunately for us, this did not happen - on the contrary, the attack brought Israel closer to America on all matters relating to anti-terror cooperation. On the other hand, the attack proved fertile ground for Arab "anti-Semitism." In action movies of recent years, the bad guys and terrorists are Muslims who are often portrayed by Jewish actors. The attacks heightened the ambivalence of the relationship with Saudi Arabia, the country which gave birth to Osama bin Laden and a number of his cohorts. The humiliation on the one hand and the failure to apprehend bin Laden on the other compelled the administration to become more aggressive, thus complicating its international standing. Bush, who was hell-bent on revenge, plunged America deep into a war in Iraq that has exacted many casualties. This was despite the fact that the lethal weapon which supposedly was in Saddam Hussein's hands turned out to be a bluff. At the same time, the administration is spending billions in the hunt for bin Laden. On many occasion, the CIA and other agencies made contact with tribal leaders who promised to produce bin Laden, dead or alive, in exchange for a handsome reward. Not only did the money disappear, but so did the tribe. [CLICK HERE TO READ ENTIRE COLUMN]
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