September 11- Eight Years Later

Every year I try to come up with a poignant post that captures the feeling of the day for me. Most of the time I feel like I come up short.

This year I decided to just write a few words, link to some old posts and include perhaps a word or two. Of the posts I linked to below the two that really grab me are Eicha- One Last 9/11 Post and As The Bodies Fell- He Played.

I wrote As The Bodies Fell- He Played three years ago and in some ways it is the most significant 9-11 post I have written. The image of my son playing with his blocks while I watched people jump from the towers is seared into my memory.

I remember the feeling of pain and anger. I remember thinking about how many children were going to go to bed as an orphan, or if they were lucky with one less parent. And I remember hugging that little guy and wondering what sort of world he was going to grow up in.

This year decided to run it again.

Eicha- One Last 9/11 Post requires a bit of explanation. In general people associate Eicha with Tisha B’Av, which is a day of mourning within the Jewish calendar. On that day the Book of Lamentations (Eicha) is read. But in this context it actually refers to chanting. In general when Jews read from the Torah there is a style with which it is done.

We do it differently on Tisha B’Av. Eicha refers to that style. The audio post is of a man chanting the final messages of victims of 9-11 using the Eicha style. It is hard to hear.

Anyway, here is a link to some old posts from the past.

Eicha- One Last 9/11 Post 
September 11- The Memories Continue
As The Bodies Fell- He Played
We Remember
Football Saves Lives
911- Five Years Later An Angry Rant 
September 11 Musings 


American al Qaeda Member

CNN reports that American Al Qaeda member has acknowledged that he has Jewish roots.

(CNN) — In a new anti-Israel, anti-U.S. video, an American al Qaeda member makes reference to his Jewish ancestry for the first time in an official al Qaeda message.In the video, Adam Yahiye Gadahn, also known as Azzam the American, discusses his roots as he castigates U.S. policies and deplores Israel’s offensive in Gaza that started in late December 2008 and continued into January.

“Let me here tell you something about myself and my biography, in which there is a benefit and a lesson,” Gadahn says, as he elicits support from his fellow Muslims for “our weapons, funds and Jihad against the Jews and their allies everywhere.”

“Your speaker has Jews in his ancestry, the last of whom was his grandfather,” he says.
Growing up in rural California, Gadahn embraced Islam in the mid-1990s, moved to Pakistan and has appeared in al Qaeda videos before.

He was indicted in the United States in 2006 on charges of treason and material support to al Qaeda, according to the FBI. Gadahn is on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, with a reward of up to $1 million leading to his capture. FBI records show Gadahn’s date of birth as September 1, 1978.

The video — in which Gadahn speaks Arabic, with English subtitles — surfaced on Saturday.

This account is based on an English transcript provided by As-Sahab Media, the media production company used by al Qaeda.

Not a whole to be said. His speech proves that being a moron is not limited to any one group, race, color or creed. A moron, is a moron, is a moron.

But don’t let that fool you into not taking his threats seriously. This is war being waged in all arenas, be it through the media or on the ground.

There is nothing wrong with saying that some ideologies are morally superior and some are morally inferior. It is fine and good to say that we should respect other people’s beliefs, but there are lines that can be crossed and he has done so.

Flying buildings into planes, blowing up embassies and all of the other fine work that they take credit for makes it clear that they are members of an ideology that is morally bankrupt.

I am saddened and disappointed by this. The U.S. like many other countries has made many mistakes, but it has also done a tremendous amount of good for the world. The reality is that few countries have ever offered so many such tremendous opportunities as the U.S. does. It is not cliche to say that it is a place where dreams can come true.

It is too bad that Gadahn has positioned himself as the tool of such people, but he will get what he deserves.

Homegrown Terrorists Plot Thwarted

Nothing like homegrown terrorists to warm the cockles of your heart. Apparently these men had intended to murder Jews and Americans.

How very sad to write a sentence that divides the two groups like that, Jews and Americans. As an American Jew, or Jewish American I take these things very seriously. But I would strongly urge that we all pay close attention to these events.

They should lock these men up and throw away the key. Here is the CNN report:

NEW YORK (CNN) — Three of the four men arrested for allegedly planning bomb attacks on Jewish targets in New York are expected to appear in federal court Thursday, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

The group allegedly plotted to bomb two New York synagogues and wanted to use surface-to-air missiles to fire at U.S. military planes, said a criminal complaint filed this week in White Plains, New York.

“Four individuals were arrested for planting bombs in front of two [Jewish facilities] in the area,” said Raymond Kelly, New York City police commissioner.

The charges are based on information from an FBI informant, with whom the men met as they plotted to carry out their attacks, authorities said.

“While the weapons provided to the defendants by the cooperating witness were fake, the defendants thought they were absolutely real,” acting U.S. Attorney Lev L. Dassin said in a statement.

Added Kelly: “The bombs had been made by FBI technicians. They were totally inert; no one was ever at risk or in danger of being injured.”

Suspects James Cromitie, David Williams and Onta Williams — all U.S. citizens — were at the federal courthouse Thursday morning being processed, FBI spokeswoman Monica McLean told CNN.

This comes from ABC:

The investigation of the men began in June 2008, according to court documents, when met with a person who had been an FBI informant for more than six years and allegedly talked about his anger about U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and said he was interested in doing “something to America.”

According to the criminal complaint, Cromitie told an FBI informant in June 2008 that his parents lived in Afghanistan before he was born, and because of his ties to that country, he was upset about the war there.

Then in November of last year, Cromitie allegedly discussed targets with the informant, saying, “the best target [the World Trade Center] was hit already.” Later in that conversation, the complaint says, Cromitie stated, “I hate those motherf—–s, those f—–g Jewish bastards… I would like to get [destroy] a synagogue.”

Illogical ranting like this seems to be a hallmark of many of these people. I won’t call them crazy because I don’t want this to be dismissed or viewed as being any less serious than it is.

Let’s take a look at MSNBC:

The men, described as Black Muslims, had planned to detonate a car with plastic explosives outside a temple in the Bronx neighborhood of Riverdale and to shoot military planes at the New York Air National Guard base at Stewart Airport in Newburgh with Stinger surface-to-air guided missiles, authorities said.

The defendants planned to “destroy a synagogue and a Jewish community center with C-4 plastic explosives,” Acting U.S. Attorney Lev L. Dassin said.

The religious targets were the Riverdale Temple, founded in 1947, and the Riverdale Jewish Center, authorities said.

Defendants dealt with informantIn their efforts to acquire weapons, the defendants dealt with an informant acting under law enforcement supervision, authorities said. The FBI and other agencies monitored the men and provided an inactive missile and inert C-4 to the informant for the defendants, a federal complaint said.

The investigation had been under way for about a year.

“They never got anywhere close to being able to do anything,” one official told NBC News. “Still, it’s good to have guys like this off the street.”

In June 2008, the informant met Cromitie in Newburgh and Cromitie complained that his parents had lived in Afghanistan and he was upset about the war there and that many Muslim people were being killed in Afghanistan and Pakistan by U.S. military forces, officials said.

Cromitie also expressed an interest in doing “something to America,” they said in the complaint.
In October 2008, the informant began meeting with the defendants at a Newburgh house equipped with concealed video and audio equipment, the complaint said.

Beginning in April 2009, the four men selected the synagogue and the community center they intended to hit, it said. They also conducted surveillance of military planes at the Air National Guard Base, it said.”

After you read these stories you cannot help but wonder if profiling is an appropriate measure to take. Preventative action is imperative.

Were They Tortured In Mumbai

Solomonia has a story from the JTA that suggests that the Chabad victims may not have been tortured. One of the commenters links to a New York Times story and a blog post that contradict the JTA.

One could argue that the experience of gunmen storming in your home could be qualified as torture. As a parent it seems easy to imagine that the fear of what could happen to your child and spouse would be torture. It is not just the physical pain, but the mental anguish that accompanies it.

A couple of excerpts from the Times and the blog post.

Gruesome new evidence also emerged Thursday suggesting that some of the six people killed at the Jewish center in Mumbai had been treated savagely. Some of the bodies appeared to have strangulation marks and wounds on their bodies did not come from gunshots or grenades, the police said.


However, a report carried by The Times of India the following day, quoting an Israeli official who flew out to Mumbai, was more equivocal:
The forensic team arrived in Mumbai late Sunday aboard a chartered flight and were using DNA testing and dental records to identify bodies so mutilated they could “not be identified from their faces”.

“Many of the killed have been badly mutilated before or during the operation (to end the hostage crisis). The condition was bad before but it is worse now.
“It might have been because of torture, I cannot say, but when there is shooting and grenades being exploded by terrorists, people do get mutilated,” he said.

Daled Amos links to David Aaronovitch of The Times who says that it is unlikely that the terrorists had ever met a Jew.

Poverty is bad. You can see the reasons for warfare in Kashmir, for riots in Hyderabad and for Maoist uprisings in the deep rural areas of India. But why kill the rabbi? Why invade the small headquarters of a small outreach sect of a small religion, which far from being even a big symbol of anything, you would almost certainly need a detailed map and inside knowledge even to find?From what has been learnt from the one surviving attacker, the baby-faced and variously pre-named Mr Kasab, his group came largely from the rural southern Punjab in Pakistan. It is therefore unlikely that any of them had even encountered a Jew, or knew anyone else who had.

In the end many will develop their opinion/theories about why this took place. As for myself I can sum it up this way. I don’t think that any one race is superior to another. People are people and the death of the innocent is tragic no matter who they are.

But we can make a distinction based upon ideologies because some are morally inferior to others. In this case the reality is that only one group was specifically sought out, attacked and murdered in cold blood.

The question in my mind is what are we going to do about this. Today it might be Jews/Israelis who are the focal point of the hatred, but in the end the murderous spotlight is going to fall upon all who oppose the hatred espoused by the terrorists and their supporters.

Outgunned Mumbai police hampered by WWI Weapons

If you think about it the fact that so few men were able to hold a city hostage for so long is ridiculous. This is just unacceptable:

Indian police who bore the brunt of last week’s attacks on Mumbai had defective bulletproof vests, First World War-era firearms and insufficient weapons training, police sources have told The Times.
Many wore plastic helmets and body protectors designed for sticks and stones, rather than bullets, as they fought highly trained militants armed with AK47 rifles, pistols, grenades and explosives.

The contrast between them was vividly illustrated yesterday by CCTV footage of two militants attacking Chhatrapati Shivaji terminus, Mumbai’s main railway station, last Wednesday.

It shows the gunmen spraying automatic fire while two constables cower behind pillars, one armed with a .303 rifle similar to the Lee-Enfield weapons used by British troops in the First World War.

Similar scenes were played out at other targets in the first seven hours of the attacks, in which 16 policemen died, including three of India’s top officers.

“That’s 16 too many,” Maxwell Pereira, a former joint commissioner of Delhi police, said. “These casualties could have been prevented if they’d been properly equipped.” The abysmal state of police equipment helps to explain how ten gunmen managed to paralyse a metropolis of 18 million people for more than 60 hours.

It also illustrates how ill-prepared India’s 2.2 million-strong police force is to tackle another such attack.

“We’d react exactly the same way tomorrow,” Ajay Sahni, of the Institute for Conflict Management, said.

He described India as one of the “least policed” places in the world, with 126 officers per 100,000 people, compared with 225-550 per 100,000 in most Western countries.”

I suppose that it helps to explain somewhat why a photographer excoriated the police and said that he wished that he had a gun. Not that it excuses cowardly behavior. If you are going to work in law enforcement you have to be prepared to deal with dangerous situations.

But what angered Mr D’Souza almost as much were the masses of armed police hiding in the area who simply refused to shoot back. “There were armed policemen hiding all around the station but none of them did anything,” he said. “At one point, I ran up to them and told them to use their weapons. I said, ‘Shoot them, they’re sitting ducks!’ but they just didn’t shoot back.”

Thankfully heroes appeared on the scene. The story that I know best is of the nanny who rescued Moshe Holtzberg. She is yet another example of how ordinary people can rise to the occasion.

As the siege at the Chabad House began, Samuel heard the commotion, locked the doors and hid in a room.

“She heard Mrs. Holtzberg — Rivka — screaming, ‘Sandra, Sandra, help, Sandra,’ ” said Robert Katz, executive vice president of the Israeli organization Migdal Ohr.

The gunmen reportedly went door-to-door, searching for targets. Samuel unlocked her door and dared the gunmen to stop her, according to Katz.

She then ran upstairs to find the Holtzbergs shot dead, lying on the ground with their son crying over them.

“She literally picked him up and made a dash for the exits, almost daring the terrorists to shoot a woman carrying a baby,” Katz said.

If you read the article you’ll notice that recovering the bodies of Moshe’s parents was hampered because the terrorists had booby-trapped them.

“The return of the bodies was delayed until authorities removed hand grenades from the bodies, left there by the attackers, Katz said.”

There will be a response to their murder. I hope that it is swift and severe. Ironically it is reported that Rabbi Holtzberg was reading an anti-terrorist handbook.