Israel Remembers 9/11 Terror Attacks

Photo: Thomas E. Franklin

By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

Jerusalem-----September 11......My four-year-old Israeli daughter was the first to wake up today. She stood up smiling in bed, pulled the sheets over herself and declared: "let's hide." Hide and seek has become a favorite game of hers as it is with many children who are just discovering the world. I immediately noted the day. "It's September 11." I wanted to explain more to her but why inject so much evil on a girl who is so young. "It's a special day for your father," my wife responded. But even to this I had no answer. This is not a special day for me, 9/11 is the anniversary of the worst nightmare that modern civilization has experienced. And for Israel a continuing and torrid tale of terrorism and propaganda.

As one checks Google News for the key words "Israel 9/11", all that is found is an Associated Press wire news story coming out of Cairo. Retired lawyer Mohammed al-Amir Atta, the father of the lead Sept. 11 hijacker, defends his son by declaring that the attacks were a "Jewish conspiracy" carried out by the "Israeli intelligence service". Mohammed al-Amir Atta makes it a point to say that 9/11 was not a plot by Islamic extremists. The Egyptian ignores that in a videotape released months after the attacks, al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden himself described the 33-year-old Atta as being "in charge of the group" that struck the US.

What may have given rise to the rumors that "the Zionists knew" and that "there were no Jews in the World Trade Center" was a little known fact that the Zim Israel Shipping company, Israel's merchant marine fleet, had moved out of the World Trade Center, but did so in a well planned move many months prior to September 11 due to the fact that their rental lease contract with the Port Authority expired on September 1. Still, Zim Israel had kept a small office behind in the World Trade Center, an office which consisted of their computer shipping tracking equipment. All of the computers were destroyed in the 9/11 attack and Zim's operations were actually down for a short period. Why would Israel have opened their merchant marine fleet to such vulnerability?

The Arab attorney chooses to ignore the hard evidence and continues the attack that his son began stating: "The US deserved the devastating result because of its anti-Arab policies." He also chooses to ignore that over 400 Jews were murdered that day. But the Port Authority of New York and the investment firm of Cantor Fitzgerald, which had lost more than 650 workers in the attacks, many of them Jews, are not ignoring 9/11. The New York Port Authority has decided to join a lawsuit charging Saudi Arabia with providing financial assistance to the Osama bin Laden-led Al Qaeda.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said in a statement yesterday that it had an obligation 'to preserve its legal options at this time', given that the three-year statute of limitations on legal action expires today - the third anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman said the bi-state agency was joining a seven-billion-dollar lawsuit filed last week in US District Court in Manhattan by the Cantor Fitzgerald investment firm,

The suit accuses the Saudi government of providing 'funding and material support and substantial assistance' to Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

"We have a responsibility to the millions of people who live and work in the region as well as to our bondholders to pursue every legal avenue to recover the losses we sustained on September 11," the Port Authority statement said.

"Our proposed action is in line with similar suits filed by other injured parties."

The Cantor suit specifically names four Saudi officials, saying they organised and controlled a network of financial institutions and charities that aided Al Qaeda for at least seven years before September 11.

So the physical and verbal Islamic attacks on democracies and our counter-attacks continue.
Most recently these vicious and unsubstantiated attacks permeated the offices of the FBI as they accused AIPAC of spying for Israel.
"I will eat this column if there is a single arrest in this "case," says Saul Singer, Jerusalem Post Editorial editor who is married to Wendy Singer, the director of AIPAC's Israel office. "Anyone who knows AIPAC and how Washington works can see these charges are absurd from top to bottom. From the shades of Pollard with which it began, it is boiling down to the possible leak of one quasi-secret (more like an op-ed, according to one official), unconsummated (there still is no approved directive on Iran) policy musing by a mid-level Pentagon employee."

Singer adds: "This compared to the near-certainty that some bureaucrats illegally leaked their own investigation, all but ruining the lives of a number of patriotic Americans and impugning the political legitimacy of millions of pro-Israel Americans and the organization that proudly represents them. Other organizations, such as the ACLU, should join the Anti-Defamation League in calling for the appointment of a special counsel to find and prosecute the leakers for abuse of office and other crimes."

Those behind the 9/11 terror attacks must be smiling as their propaganda and their "divide and conquer" tactics used to draw fire between Israel and US makes global headlines. But the attempts of our enemies in Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia and at least a dozen global Islamic terror groups including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah are transparent to most and quickly evaporate. The US and Israel are on the same page, same paragraph, the same word.

What have we learned in the past three years and what have we done?
Some countries chose to ignore organized Jihad - Islamic Holy War and have paid a very heavy price.
From Bali to Kenya, from Spain to Turkey. And now, only days before days before 9/11 Russia and the world shed tears as we watched over 300 young schoolchildren kidnapped and then murdered by Islamic terrorists. The US has spent millions on building a Homeland Security Department, enhancing their domestic and international intelligence while the UK has been more vigilant than ever in pursuing Islamic terror operatives with arrests in London and Manchester.

Israel's Mossad and Shin Bet offers and shares intelligence with the CIA, FBI, NSA, US military intelligence and dozens of other global intelligence organizations. And in some cases, Israel offers medical aid to those countries torn apart by car bombs and suicide bombers. Israel Defense Forces rescue units were in Turkey only hours after a terror attack in Istanbul and Jerusalem has just signed an anti-terror agreement with Russia.

As we enter this solemn day most Israelis are at home relaxing with their families. It is Shabbat, Israel's day of rest. Israelis turn their thoughts towards the holiday of Rosh Hashana - the Jewish new year, our painful, peaceful unilateral withdrawal from Gaza as Palestinian terrorists continue to launch Kassam missiles at us and praying for the removal of Yasser Arafat with a Palestinian leader who is truly a peace partner. We think of Israel's terror victims, women and children who were blown to shreds on buses, in restaurants and in shopping malls. And the thousands of Israeli terror victims left without eyes, arms and legs. Most Israelis do not reflect of the passengers who were in the four airplanes hijacked on this day three years ago, those who chose to jump from the World Trade Center rather than burn to death, and the men and women who sat at their desks at the Pentagon as a plane filled with innocent civilians and hellish fuel was hurled at them.

But we know its 9/11. The streets are quiet and few celebrations are taking place. American flags hang from many homes and apartments in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa. You can see a few Israelis who were in the States during 9/11 wearing t-shirts this week and today stating: "World Trade Center 1975-2001" and with the silver World Trade Center towers behind the red and yellow words: "May God Bless New York, May God Bless America," and other shirts declaring: "You can destroy our buildings but you will never destroy our spirit." Israelis will watch, remember and cry as they surf the Net and turn on the evening news. It is not a happy day. Not for the US, Israel and the democratic world.

As for myself, by my side I have the white, American flag decorated construction helmet and gas mask given to me at Ground Zero as I covered 9/11 for Israel media. The Daily News front page headline: "It's War" and the New York Post front page cover: "War" are framed in my office. I remember the eight years that I had worked in the majestic World Trade Center and the countless breakfasts and dinners I enjoyed at the Windows On The World restaurant atop the 110 floor of WTC Tower One.
Lastly, I think of the bravery I witnessed by New York police and fireman as they quietly searched the smoke-filled ruins day and night for survivors and how New Yorkers became one family on that brutal day. As we will never forget Pearl Harbor, we shall never forget the horror of September 11. The search for Osama bin-Laden and all Islamic terrorists will continue in our pursuit of self-defense, freedom and liberty. We are not playing "hide and seek."

A Personal Account of 9/11 Revisited, by Joel Leyden

New York-----September 2001......On a sun-filled Autumn morning, within a period of two hours, the United States had lost its innocence, isolation and security as Islamic terrorists attacked multiple targets in the USA murdering over 3,000 civilians. Four civilian airliners, packed with passengers and fuel became deadly suicide missiles hitting and collapsing New York's World Trade Center and destroying a part of Washington's Pentagon.

I was working as an Israeli journalist, reporting from New York and visited "Ground Zero" twice - a hellish, gray gas and smoke filled area where only twisted metal and body parts remained. A place where I had once worked – a city within a city from where New York's Twin Towers once proudly touched the sky.
No image on television or in the newspapers came close to the gruesome reality that one would find in this mass cemetery.

Slowly approaching the area, you could hear the roar of F-15's flying overhead, circling Manhattan. The smell of burnt plastic and rubber fills the air - burning the eyes and throat. You walk past American landmark symbols, such as the NASDAQ building with it’s sign cracked and submerged in debris and thin, grey dust.

Israelis live in an atmosphere where senseless and barbaric terrorist attacks have almost become routine. Israelis have adjusted to a traumatized life style where crazy has become the norm. But for America - for Americans it has been very, very different. Americans had become so isolated from global affairs that on September 11th with total surprise they repeatedly kept asking "why", "why did this happen to us?"
American culture had become so safe, so secure – approaching uncomfortable heights of boredom which manifested itself into "reality television".

On September 11th - every American had now taken a lead role in the popular TV series "Survivor" and "Lost ". But only for a very short period of time. For Americans are an intelligent and proud people who once threatened, join hands, hold their Stars and Stripes above their heads and transform a "sleeping giant" into a fierce and fiery eagle which is unmatched for it's potent, respected speed and power.

Standing among the ruins of the World Trade Center's Twin Towers, wearing a white hard-hat and breathing through a gray and red gas mask - one could only remember the Gulf War. A time when all Israelis wore masks and heard sirens wailing and scuds exploding.

In the middle of where the Twin Towers once stood were three gray, dust laden flag poles. One which would bear the flag of New York, another the flag of the World Trade Center and the third - the flag of the United States of America. Only one flag survived this terrorist attack, the American flag and three fire fighters made sure it was going to stand for a long time to come. American flags quickly blossomed in every direction - hanging from tall commercial buildings, taped to store windows and flying from car antennas. Nationalism had revisited the United States for the first time since the December 7th attack on Pearl Harbor.

Police, fire and National guard soldiers created a five mile security perimeter. Soldiers marching in green uniforms with automatic weapons at the ready and armored personnel carriers patrolling the streets. It was a nightmarish scene, something that only existed previously in Hollywood monster movies. But now – it was not King Kong or Godzilla, but rather human beasts which had turned the lights out on what was once America’s vibrant financial capital.

In effect, this security perimeter created two cities - one which was completely evacuated leaving behind devastation and thick smoke south of Canal Street and the other up North – clean with restaurant and hotel doors open but almost completely deserted. Traumatized New Yorkers took refuge in their cement caves as others headed for their green and removed suburban homes. The only activity was in the city to the south where brave rescue workers from New York and those who had driven hundreds of miles to assist were digging under intense search lights, non-stop for any signal of life. Many of these huge men, sweat dripping from their faces, were seen collapsing and crying from total exhaustion - not wanting to leave, not wanting to rest - their only desire was to find survivors who might still be alive trapped in air pockets below. Vietnam veterans had dusted off their old uniforms volunteering to join the search with sniffer dogs attached to their wrists.

Tons of supplies were donated and placed at the site. Food, medical and construction materials were within a few feet of the workers. At this point only 159 bodies had been recovered. 20,000 tons of debris had been carefully removed - ever so carefully so as not to create further danger for the survivors and rescuers and so that criminal evidence could be gathered and analyzed.

For a period of time, I was detained and interrogated by the FBI. They ignored my New York Police Department press credentials and were obsessed with my Israeli nationality.
"What did you know about the attack" they asked. I was in shock. I looked at them with revulsion as if to say: "how can you dare associate me with this barbaric act?" These agents did not know that I was born and bred in the USA, that I had worked at the World Trade Center for several years, that my brother had an office across the street on Vesey and that I was no less American than they are.
After three hours they released me, taking both my film and press credentials. They were overreacting, but I could not blame them, it was the first time that many of them were face to face with terrorism. Some Israeli officials suggested that I file formal complaints, I responded, “this is not the time, these are our friends and they are traumatized, let it go”.

Recently, almost a year after the attack when nerves would be much more calm, thinking much more rational and less paranoia floating around (not every Israeli works for the Mossad!), I contacted the FBI and requested that they return my film. They responded that the film had been destroyed. I seriously doubt that the FBI would "destroy" anything obtained during 9/11. And if the film had so little value that it was actually destroyed - then I ask, why could they not have had the courtesy of returning these historic photos to me?

As an American citizen who had done absolutely nothing wrong and in fact had valid NYPD press credentials and followed all of the rules - it was a very sad and traumatic experience, but if the film and photos that I took in Manhattan of candle lit memorials and the devastation at Ground Zero assists the FBI in their investigations and research - I'm pleased!

The policeman, the fireman, the uniformed soldiers in their new black boots – they all had tears in their eyes. A piece of America had been ripped away from them. We were on holy ground, no one spoke at ground zero unless they had to. You worked, you ate, you rested and worked again in a deafening and depressing silence. You smelled death and heard only the sound of jackhammers.

As one left "Ground Zero" you could not miss the hundreds of memorial candles lighting up the entrance to the New York fire department's World Trade Center Ladder Company Number 10 which had lost so many good and brave men. Thousands of posters were clinging onto telephone and electric poles with photos staring at you, descriptions of many of the men, woman and children who were missing. Darkened churches, parks and subway stations were also lit up displaying more posters and more flowers throughout the city.

Photo: Joel Leyden

You could not escape the shock, tears, or anger - for America and the world had never witnessed such an evil and barbaric act of terror in the history of mankind. You could only think - what kind of people, what kind of animals could kill so many, could even murder their own Muslim brothers who were working in the Trade Center.

As I was now riding north on a subway train to the other city, two exhausted and spent fire fighters sat across from me. I asked them what they thought, how would they describe all that they had seen. They looked up at me and responded with only one word - "war".


9/11 Israel Victims Memorial