The Islamic attack of 9/11

The myth of the sedate and peaceful Sunni traditionalist was refuted by a single event: the atrocity of September 11, 2001. On a clear sunny autumn day as the office workers grabbed a morning coffee on their way to work, as early morning bond traders were calling their floor traders in the Chicago pits, and Jersey secretaries emerged from the subway in the sub-basement of the World Trade Center, this modern metropolis was jolted by an inexplicable attack unimaginable by civilized men and women. A jumbo jet crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center disintegrating on impact and spreading debris and fire onto the street below.
Puzzled, almost everyone believed it had to have been an accident until the second jet hit the south tower. No one would have imagined that this was methodically planned for years, carefully rehearsed, and undertaken with full intention to deliberately cause the greatest number of deaths, chaos and terror. No demands were made, no military maneuvers followed, nothing tangible was gained except the pure satisfaction of the act itself. Just like the rise of Hitler and Stalin, intellectuals can’t grasp the significance of this event – including conservative intellectuals. This act was understood – not here in America or in Europe – but throughout the Islamic world. The response was immediate: delight and deliverance.
Cheers erupted among celebrating Arabs in the West Bank. Throughout Saudi Arabia there was pride and satisfaction. "I don't know a man, woman, or child who was not happy about what happened in the US [on 9/11/2001]" says Abdullah Al-Sabeh, a professor of psychology at Riyadh's Imam Muhammed bin Saudi Islamic University. 24 Soon we would find out that the master mind behind this movement was admired by the majority in many Islamic countries. The Muslim denials, perfunctory and with a wink to their brethren, was punctuated with the typical blame that is part of the humiliation process of every Islamic attack: you brought it on yourself. Without missing a step, they quickly contradicted themselves by denying it was Islamic in origin – and followed up with charges of racism for even thinking such things. To this day it is common to hear Muslims blame 9/11 on Zionists or President Bush while taking quiet satisfaction that their folk hero, bin Laden, has still not been brought to justice.
One of the few accurate descriptions of the Islamic reaction can be found in Benjamin and Simon’s book, “The Age of Sacred Terror.” 25
“Bin Laden’s popularity is remarkable. The Arab street exulted in the September 11 attacks and acclaimed him a hero in the mold of Saladin. The mood was encapsulated by Radwa Abdallah, a university student who, sitting in a McDonald’s in Cairo, told a Wall Street Journal reporter that when she heard about the carnage at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, ‘Everyone celebrated. People honked in the streets, cheering that finally America got what it truly deserved.’ Op-eds in regional newspapers reflected Radwa’s sentiments. … Public opinion in Saudi Arabia, where polling is difficult to conduct because political self-expression can be dangerous, matched the Egyptian reaction to the attacks in one survey, where 94 percent of the respondents applauded bin Laden’s actions.”
To this day, the Islamic attack of 9/11 is not understood. This was first and foremost a religious act. That is hard for Americans to fathom given the religions they know. Islam, however, is very different. Islam is a warrior religion at its core. It is an imperialistic religion bend on world domination and, at the height of Islamic power, conquered most of the known world. The religion had been marginalized during the 20th century as Arabs and other Muslims desired to modernize and adapt socialism – the dream of the intellectuals during the time most Islamic countries came of age in the post-colonial period. During the last few centuries, Islam was often mechanically practiced and only lip-service given to its warrior triumphalism. But as the socialist ideal faded and the global rise of identity politics, with the emphasis of indigenous culture authentic to each demographic group, the Islamic revival became a reality.
The difference between dead ritual and animated belief is not uncommon during stages of a religion. One can imagine during the centuries of the Jewish Diaspora, from the shettels of Russia to the ghetto of Venice, the phrase “next year in Israel” was said without a shred of conviction or hope of ever living to see that day – until the mid 20th century, as Israel became a reality, these words became alive and potent. So to, the Muslim practice of Jihad in its primary meaning atrophied to mere words. It didn’t seem possible to regain the glory of Islam when it ruled what seemed like the world and reduced the infidels to constant humiliation as second class citizens called dhimmis. The Islamic attack of 9/11 was a reaffirmation of the Jihadist spirit – it was indeed a religious act meant to galvanize the believers and recruit men for the Jihad. And in accord to Islamic practice, a reaffirmation of Islamic superiority involves the humiliation of the dhimmis.
There were ample reports from Americans who were in Islamic countries during the attack. Few were reported in the media. One American in Saudi Arabia relates what for her was a puzzling state of affairs. She said there was a considerable amount of anger and hostility towards Americans after the attack. She and others agreed that there was clearly an increase in hatred – again afterwards. Of course, you’d expect hatred and anger to motivate and lead to such atrocities. But here cause and effect seemed reverse. The events of 9/11 galvanized the Islamic world. This was a re-affirmation. The Jihadist spirit, which lay dormant and implausible, became real again. This was a profound religious act but not of any religion imagined in the West.
Westerners were puzzled. Who would deliberately kill innocent individuals quietly going about their lives among other civilized people gathered from all over the world in the peaceful and productive activity of trade? What kind a sick person would spend years to plan this atrocity as their final act of life? Who would bring such shame and disgrace to their cause and their people? This was incomprehensible to any rational civilized person. No one would step forward to even categorize the event correctly. The media continued to call it a tragedy. Some called it a horrible tragedy – a redundancy which elicited snide commentary from CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. Now, a tragedy is when your car’s breaks fail and you drive off a cliff. The two planes didn’t hit the World Trade Center because of a mechanical malfunction. This was far more than just a tragedy – although it was obviously that. This was a deliberate vicious attack – it was an atrocity. That’s the missing word that people avoided. Why?
The silence after 9/11 was more than a respect for the families of the victims. It continued too long. What was missing was a righteous anger that should have surfaced after a respectful period of mourning. But without intellectual guidance it continued to lay buried, unexpressed, and formless – perhaps shared only in private. There were those who were ready and eager to demonize America and thus blame the victim. However, the subliminal anger was sensed leaving most critics to complain that there was an atmosphere of censorship. America was in no mood to hear about the so-called grievances of dark-age savages or theories about how we upset these barbarians. The anger is there and it continues to grow.

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