9/11, 15 years on

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Time flies. The five-year-old boy I took to the zoo -- and kept away from the TV and the radio -- the day the terrorists flew planes into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center is on his way back to college after a short visit home.

Sonia Shah was just two years older than my son on that day. She is now a 22-year-old senior at Baylor, and she recently spoke to the Associated Press about how the death of her father, University of Tulsa and Memorial High School graduate Jayesh Shah, who worked on the 103rd floor of the north tower for Cantor Fitzgerald, has motivate her to serve refugees:

Sometimes, after refugees told her their stories of conflict and loss, Sonia Shah would let them know that she had one, too.

Explaining that her father died in 9/11 opened 'a bonding moment,' says the Baylor University social work student, who spent the summer volunteering with refugee aid organizations in Greece.

Her father, Jayesh 'Jay' Shah, was killed at ground zero, where he was a financial trading technology executive. Sonia was 7.

His death fueled Sonia's impulse to try to help where others turn away.

'Because I had faced loss at such a young age and in such a different way than many other people, I recognized hardship in other people's life a lot more easily,' says the 22-year-old senior, who took a year off from college for religious study. She says that without her faith, she 'wouldn't be as whole and as healed.'

Say a prayer for Jay's family, who deeply miss their brother, son, husband, and father. This 2002 story from the Houston Chronicle tells about Jay's family and their desperate search through the streets of New York for hopeful news that never came.

The Daily Mail piece also features Ronald Milam, Jr., the 14-year-old son of Muskogee native U. S. Army Major Ronald Milam, Sr., who was killed in the attack on the Pentagon, Ronald Jr.'s mother, then-Air Force Capt. Jacqueline Milam, who was pregnant with him on the day of the attack, was at the Pentagon that day as well, but escaped. Ronald Jr. wears the number 33 on his basketball jersey to honor the father he never met, who was 33 years old on 9/11/2001. The Muskogee High School gym was renamed in 2002 to honor Maj. Milam, who had been a four-year starting point guard for the team and went on to a basketball scholarship and bachelor's degree from Eastern New Mexico State University.

Many of the links from previous years are reprised below, as they remain excellent resources for refreshing our collective memory and, I hope, rekindling our resolve. Here are a few newer items worthy of note:

On Facebook, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote:

Today we mark 15 years since the terrorist attacks on 9/11. We remember the victims. We embrace their loved ones. We stand with our greatest ally the United States of America and with other partners in the battle against militant Islamic terrorism that spreads its fear, its dread, its murder around the world.

Our memories are long, our determination is boundless. Civilized societies must band together to defeat these forces of darkness, and I'm sure we will.

Actor Steve Buscemi, who had served as a New York City firefighter in the early 1980s, returned to duty on 9/11, working 12-hour-shifts to help his old company in the search for survivors. His involvement didn't become generally known until years later:

The day after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Steve Buscemi, who worked as a firefighter from 1980-1984, showed up at his old fire station, Engine Company No. 55 in the Little Italy section of New York.

For the next week he worked 12-hour shifts, digging through the rubble trying to find the bodies of missing firefighters, all the while refusing to do interviews or have his picture taken.

"It was a privilege to be able to do it," the 45-year-old actor said. "It was great to connect with the firehouse I used to work with and with some of the guys I worked alongside. And it was enormously helpful for me because while I was working, I didn't really think about it as much, feel it as much.

"It wasn't until I stopped that I really felt the full impact of what had happened. It would have been much harder for me to get through it if I hadn't been able to do that."

Politico has collated the memories of those who were traveling with President Bush on Air Force One on 9/11.

Al Perrotta tells the story of his big sister Dodie, an Air Force intelligence analyst who was at work in the Pentagon on 9/11:

As they were for millions of Americans, the next hours are a jumble of nightmare images and frantic phone calls. Dodie called my mom from a hotel on Route 1, where she had walked from the Pentagon. My mother and Julie forced their way to the hotel through the traffic. Unable to make a turn to the hotel because of the gridlock, my 80-year-old mother jumped out of the car and leaped over a road barrier in an effort reach her daughter, only Dodie was nowhere to be found. The hotel had forced the Pentagon survivors to leave and continue their exodus down Route 1, as tens of thousands of Federal workers ordered out of DC were heading en masse in that direction. (Osama bin Laden and friends are lucky to have met their end at the hand of Navy Seals and drone strikes. Had our mother gotten hold of them that day or any other their deaths would not have been so quick and merciful.)

For hours no one knew where Dodie was. She ended up walking seven miles to the King Street Metro station in Alexandria before my brother-in-law found her. Seven miles on the one day in decades she had not brought sneakers to work....

Dodie was furious at the actual attack and the al-Qaeda terrorists. Furious at herself for having left the sneakers at home and being forced to walk miles in heels and bare feet. She was also furious because the U.S. intelligence community knew an attack was in the works and was working around the clock to put the pieces together, but had been stifled by "walls" the Clinton Administration had put in place limiting what the various intelligence agencies could share with each other.

In fact, she revealed years later that the real reason she had to miss my wedding in the spring of 2001 was because of high-level top-secret meetings dealing with the looming threat.

There was something else she did not reveal to me until just a couple years ago -- always looking to protect her little brother. The morning of 9/11 she had been scheduled to meet with her Navy counterpart over in his new offices. At the last minute he said, "Why don't I come over your way since I have to be over in that part of the Pentagon anyway."

They were meeting when the building shook. Aware of the attack in New York, Dodie told him "We've been hit." Indeed. The wheel of American Airlines Flight 77 had just slammed through her colleague's conference room. His offices were incinerated. But for chance, both of them would have been killed....

Dodie had made it home safely on 9/11. And yet come dawn September 12th, after fully absorbing the horror of what had happened, her feet still swollen and sore, she --and thousands of her civilian colleagues -- left the safety of home, made the long, slow commute, walked past rows of emergency vehicles and heavily armed Marines, and entered a building still on fire. With smoke and the stench of death still in the air, Dodie sat down at her desk and set herself to the task of helping defend the nation.

Here Is New York has added a site called Voices of 9/11, video interviews with 500 eyewitnesses, recorded in 2002 and 2003.

Theologian Ravi Zacharias considers the stories of rescue and loss 15 years ago and asks, "Where was God?" As a prologue, he writes:

As some would continue to perpetrate the myth of progress, we live on this fifteenth anniversary of 9/11 under the cloud of a world dramatically changed since that terrible day. Anyone who travels sees and feels what a murderous ideology has done to our world. May we never forget what happened and ever be in pursuit of wisdom and courage to deal with those whose philosophy thrives on hate. Our prayers are for the families that lost a loved one and with gratitude for those who came to the rescue.

Civilization is always threatened by ideologues who embrace the moment and lose sight of the essential value of every human life. Answers will only be found in embracing the God of love and living by his precepts. Loving God and our fellow human beings are the two laws on which all other laws stand. May God guide our leaders. The Scriptures call us to understand the times and know what to do (see 1 Chronicles 12:32). May we be faithful.

Le Figaro has a montage of amateur video taken in lower Manhattan the morning of 9/11, including a clip of the first plane hitting the North Tower. The images and language are unfiltered and may be disturbing. This clip comes via Ace of Spades HQ. Ace writes:

I'm linking it because this pulls no punches. It is not sanitized. It includes screaming in horror, and f-bombs, and blasphemies (the "JFC!" one), from people recording the attacks on their cell phones.

I'm linking it just because it's something we don't see much in American media, where things tend to be sanitized, Because Backlash.

Last year, Bookworm Room reminded us why we need to remember:

Last year on 9/11, my remembrance post looked at how our political class, led by Barack Obama, seemed to have forgotten every lesson learned from 9/11. Under his aegis, I pointed out, our borders were meaningless, the always dangerous Middle East was a swirling mass of chaos, and ISIS was cutting a bloody swath through that benighted land. This year, things are worse.

Obama's Middle Eastern policies -- policies that systematically destabilized Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and Egypt, and that enabled anarchy in Syria and ISIS's rise -- have led to the largest migrant crisis since Rome's downfall....

The worst irony of today's 9/11 anniversary, though, is that yesterday, the fourteenth anniversary of the day before the world changed forever, the Obama-led Democrat party took steps to ensure that 9/11, rather than seeing the peak of Islamic terrorism, will begin to look like a dry run, just as the 1993 World Trade Center attack was a dry run....

With every passing year, 9/11's emotional resonance lessens, with September 11 becoming nothing more than a sad story rather than both a national tragedy and a wake-up call. Even worse, too many of the younger generation don't even have a textbook acquaintance with 9/11. Our continued survival as a free nation demands that we remember 9/11 in a way that enables us to understand the lessons it teaches about the nature of evil and about the evil nature of radical Islam, whether it emanates from Sunni or Shia Islamists.

Ben Domenech, writing at The Federalist, calls 9/11 the day America forgot. Far from producing change in attitudes and behaviors, nothing much changed after a month or so of bipartisanship and resolve.

From news.com.au: 30 pictures of 9/11 that show you why you should never forget.

As we remember the victims and the efforts of the brave rescuers, we must also never forget the enemy that attacked us and which still seeks our destruction.

The Telegraph has a first-person feature story about Jesse Morton, who was recruited into radical Islam while in jail, deepened his involvement after his release, but has since de-radicalized himself and is working with authorities. He has some thoughts on what causes radicalization and how it can be stopped.

It was a radical imam in Richmond jail who had first told me about Islamic prophecies of the end of the world. So on 9/11, as the planes smashed into the Twin Towers, resulting in the deaths of 2,996 people, I saw that those prophecies would come true. I had been radicalised to such an extent that my sympathy would be with al-Qaeda.

In the Koran and the Hadith (the compiled sayings of the Prophet Muhammad), I found an abundance of verses that I believed justified heinous violence in support of the establishment of an Islamic state for the whole world. Yet for my entire life before I became a Muslim, I had completely rejected and opposed violence....

When I was released from Richmond prison a few years later, I moved to the next level of involvement with Islamist extremists. Through the Islamic Thinkers' Society in New York, I came into contact with Anjem Choudary, who was beamed into our meetings from the UK to give us instruction....

By then, I was so committed to the ideology that al-Qaeda and others were promoting, I believed their view, which divided the world into an "in" group of Muslims and an "out" group of everyone else, to justify acts of violence and atrocities such as 9/11....

Islam gave me the structure I craved. My high IQ then won me scholarships and, from 2007, I studied for a Masters in International Studies at Columbia University. But I was living a double life - as Jesse Morton in class, and Younus Abdullah Muhammed elsewhere. My radical views could have been recognised by the university, but weren't. I now believe we must train teachers better to key into their students for early signs of radicalisation....

When, in 2010, the animated comedy series South Park depicted the Prophet Muhammad, I posted the addresses of the show's creators online and encouraged extremists to attack them. For this, I was convicted and sentenced to 11 years in jail.

Deradicalisation for me was a process, not an event. Incarceration was one factor for change, but other things made me realise the impact on others of what I had done. My marriage had broken up under the strain of what had happened, and I was looking at never seeing my two young children again. Slowly, I was realising that my deeds had consequences, whereas previously I had assumed I had divine protection.

Effectively, I self-deradicalised. I cut myself off from anything that would pull me back towards jihadists, but it was my decision to co-operate with the law enforcement community, providing them with intelligence, which stopped me being locked up with other terrorists and gave me the space I needed to reflect.


Andrew McCarthy, who lead the prosecution of the perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, writes that blindness to the Islamist threat has become official policy:

When I wrote my "Memoir of the Jihad," willful blindness was an ingrained conscious avoidance of the abundant evidence of the threat posed by Islamic supremacism -- the ideological commitment to coerce acceptance of sharia law, by force if necessary. It was a head-in-the-sand approach to easily accessible proof that the threat is rooted in Muslim scripture and a mainstream interpretation of Islam that stretches back over a millennium. Alas, apologists of the See No Islam school cannot seem to make the jihadist carnage go away. We're way beyond that. Now, it is compelled blindness, a tireless campaign to erase the abundant evidence, to make it inaccessible. Alas, apologists of the See No Islam school cannot seem to make the jihadist carnage go away. But they work feverishly to make sure you can't see what causes it. Or, if you do get a glimpse -- because the carnage and its animating ideology are inextricably linked, and because jihadists are actually quite anxious to tell us why they do what they do -- the apologists warn that you'll keep your mouth shut if you know what's good for you....

Fifteen years after 9/11, al-Qaeda has revived. Its breakaway faction, the Islamic State (formerly, al-Qaeda in Iraq) is our current obsession -- and there are some understandable reasons for that, since the Islamic State controls major swaths of territory in the Middle East and projects terror into the West. But al-Qaeda is resurgent and as much a threat to America as it was in the late Nineties.

After 9/11, the American people seemed resolved to defeat jihadist terror. Today, the United States government is a major financial benefactor of Iran, the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism -- a regime that regards our country as its mortal enemy. Iran has a longstanding practice of abetting al-Qaeda. The Obama administration now has a practice of supplying Iran with plane loads of untraceable cash.

A threat can be repelled only by seeing it for what it is, understanding what it wants to accomplish, and exhibiting the will to deny it, however long that takes. Erasure is not a strategy. Fifteen years ago, we seemed to know that.

Bosch Fawstin, who calls himself a "recovering Muslim," says we need to stop pretending that the problem is some radical variant of Islam, or Islam with a qualifying adjective or suffix.

There is Islam and there are Muslims. Muslims who take Islam seriously are at war with us and Muslims who don't aren't. But that doesn't mean we should consider these reluctant Muslims allies against Jihad. I've been around Muslims my entire life and most of them truly don't care about Islam. The problem I have with many of these essentially non-Muslim Muslims, especially in the middle of this war being waged on us by their more consistent co-religionists, is that they give the enemy cover. They force us to play a game of Muslim Roulette since we can't tell which Muslim is going to blow himself up until he does. And their indifference about the evil being committed in the name of their religion is a big reason why their reputation is where it is....

Non-observant Muslims are not our problem, but neither are they the solution to our problem. Our problem is Islam and its most consistent practitioners. There is nothing in Islam that stays the hand of Muslims who want to kill non-Muslims. If an individual Muslim is personally peaceful, it's not because of Islam, it's because of his individual choice, which is why I often say that your average Muslim is morally superior to Mohammad, to their own religion. The very rare Muslim who helps us against Jihad is acting against his religion, but that doesn't stop some among us from thinking that his choice somehow shines a good light on Islam. It doesn't. A good Muslim according to us is a bad Muslim according to Islam....

Objectively good human beings, who identify themselves as Muslim, give Islam a good face, one far better then it deserves. This only gives us a false impression about what it is we're facing, with just another excuse not to face it. And this leads to our acceptance into our culture of stealth jihadists who have figured out how to say what we want to hear, while they scheme behind the scenes to further Islamize the West.

A year after the attacks, an exhibit of photos showing the aftermath, recovery efforts, and the indomitable spirit of New Yorkers toured the nation and is still online: Here Is New York.

The History Channel has moved its 9/11 content. There used to be an interactive site on the 9/11 attacks here, but it seems no longer to be on the web, and the archived version appears to be incomplete.

The ABC miniseries The Path to 9/11 told the story of the events, beginning with the 1993 World Trade Center attack, that led to the 9/11/2001 attack. Because it put certain American politicians in a bad light, it has not been rebroadcast in the US, and the original version is hard to find, but not impossible for the tech savvy. You can watch a documentary about the political pressure that led to the censorship of the mini-series, "Blocking the Path to 9/11," on the Internet Archive.

The Telegraph: 9/11: How the drama unfolded aboard Air Force One, inside the White House bunker and at the Pentagon

Video / audio from the day:

FAA, American Airlines, & NORAD real-time audio as air traffic controllers, airline officials, and military officials became aware of and responded to the attacks.
WNBC live coverage
Fox 5 live coverage
CNN live coverage

Footage from Hoboken, N.J., on 9/11: "Footage from September 3rd and 11th 2001 in Hoboken, NJ by Bruce Miller, Brad Miller, and Michael Frank and in Manhattan on September 19, 2001 by Bruce Miller. And some subsequent footage I shot during the 6-month Tribute in Light and Fleet Week 2002." Hoboken is directly across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan.

Some personal recollections of the day:

New York singer/songwriter Beth Sorrentino wrote this song, "Beautiful Day," a week after the attacks. "It's a reflection and narrative of the events of that day and people I knew who were there, and worrying about their safety."

Presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer offers his account of 9/11 with President Bush aboard Air Force One, and the threat that the president's plane might itself be compromised by terrorists.

In 2009, HotAir blogger Allahpundit tweeted his memories of the day. He lived in downtown Manhattan, not far from the World Trade Center.

Ron Coleman was in midtown Manhattan when the planes hit. He writes of the confusion of the day and his journey, by foot and ferry, back to his home in New Jersey.

Gerard Vanderleun was watching from Brooklyn Heights when the towers fell, recording his observations online: "Lower span of Brooklyn Bridge jammed with people walking out of the city, many covered with white ash. Ghosts. The Living Dead. BQE empty except for convoys of emergency vehicles."

Here is Robert N. Going's diary of four weeks as a volunteer in a respite center at Ground Zero.

My personal recollection of the day and the weeks that followed.

Rusty Weiss says, "9/11 saved my life," shocking him out of complacency as a responsibility-shirking young man.

Robert Spencer lists ten things we should have done since 9/11 to defeat Islamism, but we haven't because of political correctness. Number 4 rings a bell:

It is remarkable that thirteen years after 9/11, not a single mosque or Islamic school in the U.S. has any organized program to teach Muslims why the al-Qaeda/Islamic State understanding of Islam is wrong and should be rejected. Yet they ostensibly reject this view of Islam, so why don't such programs exist? Even more remarkable than their absence is the fact that no government or law enforcement authorities are calling upon Muslims to implement them.

Such programs must be instituted, and made transparent and open to inspection, so as to ensure their sincerity and thoroughness.

Tulsans know what happens when a Muslim does speak out and explain that Islamists aren't good Muslims.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 11, 2016 8:22 PM.

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