Nineteen

The Tribute in Light almost didn’t happen this year because of the 9/11 museum’s staggering deficit and because the lights are manned by an Italian company whose workers had to be given special permission by the State Department to enter the United States and quarantine for 14 days well in advance of the testing the lights earlier this month.
©2020 Derek Henry Flood

New York- Yesterday was the nineteenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States by al-Qaeda. The plot involved numerous Saudis and adhered to a zero sum Egyptian ideological backbone in which the ummah, or global Islamic community, is pitted against rapacious West with America, and New York City, as it vile, serpentine head. Years of political repression in Egypt and Saudi Arabia overlapping with bloodshed in Afghanistan created a cauldron of salafi-jihadi thought that turned dangerously actionable. A marriage took places between ideas and weapons. 9/11 was most certainly a conspiracy, a tiny conspiracy made up of a few dozen mostly Arab men around the world. It was an outside job. Carried out by radicalised Sunni Arab men who had vague ideas of fighting against Russian federal troops in Chechnya or some other fantasy of holy war with a definitively binary narrative of good and evil. Unsure of their role in a newly globalised world, they sought to destroy a part of it. Martyrdom was glorified to the point of fever. The West was demonised. Dissimulate into it in order to tear it down was the thinking. Al-Qaeda’s ideological warfare played perfectly into the hands of a powerful group of mostly older men known as neoconservatives. The neocons, as they were referred to at the time, were an ideologically concentrated bunch who needed an enemy in some form. Both sides were without Soviet communism with which to fight thus they began to fight one another. The neocons would try to change the world by blunt force. They were a caricature of how al-Qaeda’s ideologues viewed the West.

The Tower of Voices, at 93 feet tall, at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania. For nearly 19 years I meant to drive across my home state to see this place. I was taken aback by its quietude and beauty in the calm summer light.
©2020 Derek Henry Flood

This fever resulted in the destruction of New York’s iconic World Trade Center, a plane crash in rural Pennsylvania, and a plane smashing into a wing of the Pentagon in Virginia. Thousands of people were killed and thus began the terror wars. The nascent Taliban government in Afghanistan was quickly overthrown by American bombardiers flying in from the British Indian Ocean Territory and local war fighting groups on the ground. The American military began vastly expanding its global footprint into fragile republics that had been constituent territories of the once feared Soviet Union. But even this wasn’t enough and the Republic of Iraq was invaded with its mustachioed dictator quickly toppled. Countless Afghans, Iraqis and thousands of American soldiers would perish as a result. None of the four nation-states the 9/11 hijackers came from; Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Lebanon, were directly affected, much less invaded. Instead other more far flung, poorer societies suffered in the convoluted response to 9/11. Tin pot regimes in Kabul and Baghdad crumbled. Enemies did not nor could not understand one another. An epochal global tragedy that still rages on. The Taliban and Ba’ath Party were both dreadful outfits in their own right to be certain but neither attacked the United States on that fateful day. Communities near and far have suffered enormously. America, Afghanistan and Iraq are all incredibly polarised in their own respects.

The Fire Department of New York’s bagpipe troupe plays Amazing Grace just beside the 9/11 Memorial. The crowds get smaller every year as time marches on. It still moves me.
©2020 Derek Henry Flood

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