Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 - fifth anniversary starts with threats

Further threats come from al-Qaeda on fifth anniversary of 9/11

Saturation coverage of the events surrounding America’s worst terrorist attack has begun. CNNi began the day with Remembering 9/11, an hour long special looking back at the attacks, the tributes, and statements from world leaders.
Business International continued with an overview of today’s events and a look back at the attacks which killed 2,973 [The death toll from the twin towers was estimated at 2,749, including the 87 passengers aboard American Airlines Flight 11 and the 60 on United Airlines Flight 175. Among the dead were 60 police officers and 343 firefighters who responded to the scene. Another 125 died at the Pentagon with a further 59 perishing on flight 77. Flight 93 which crashed in Pennsylvania took with it 40 lives. The 19 hijackers are not included in these figures - source].
Sky News broke their continued coverage to bring viewers a Live broadcast from Lebanon where Prime Minister Blair is continuing his Middle East tour. He has already met with Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, over the weekend. Today, in his address, he said Britain was committed to bringing about a lasting peace in the Middle East. His speech was briefly interrupted by a female protester who unfurled a banner reading “Boycott Israeli Apartheid”. As the protester was led away Siniora said, “It’s alright, we live in a democracy, and we are willing to listen to all views”. Siniora then read a statement in Arabic. There is a lot of anger in Lebanon towards Blair for his not having called for a ceasefire during the month long conflict. Prime Minister Blair said he was aware of the hostility towards him, but added that he wanted to meet the Lebanese president “face to face” and to understand the views of the government. Of the criticism that Blair had not been more forceful in trying to stop the violence he said, “There never was going to be a cessation unless there was a UN resolution … but my view was to get the UN resolution … and the best chance for Lebanon is resolution 1701”. The conference was not covered by any of the main broadcasters in its entirety. CNN cut away shortly after the brief protest, Sky News cut away for a commercial break, and the BBC broke for headlines at the top of the hour.

And headlines are dominated by the events of five years ago. One difference of this year’s broadcasts is that video of the plane hitting the towers is far more prominent. This will be unsettling for many that lost loved ones in the attacks. The scars have not healed for many Americans, and more especially for New Yorkers. Thousands of people are still affected by the atrocities. Many physically, from the smoke that enveloped much of Manhattan when the towers collapsed. Others still suffer the mental and emotional scars from that day. And it is far from normal in the Big Apple where five years on a large empty space still remains where the World Trade Centers once stood.

The war continues too, both in Afghanistan and Iraq. Today a suicide bomber killed at least 10 Iraqi army recruits in Baghdad, CNN has reported. And a US soldier was killed on Sunday by small arms fire in the north of the capital. Throughout July alone Iraqi government figures put the civilian death toll at 3, 438.
Afghanistan is still a battleground and there has been continued battles with the Taleban over the weekend leaving 150 insurgents dead according to official sources. Today also brought another message from Al-Qaeda’s second in command Ayman al-Zawahiri [CNN]. In a lengthy statement the al-Qaeda leader said that “new events” would be coming soon. Of 9/11 he said, "Your leaders are hiding from you the true extent of the disaster … and the days are pregnant and giving birth to new events, with Allah's permission and guidance." And in a statement targeted at the United State’s closest ally he said, "I want to bring to the attention of the British people that Dr. Brydon won't be returning to India this time." The comment is a reference to the sole survivor of a British army massacred in Afghanistan in 1842. The rhetoric continued in the 75 minute tape with more threats and promises. "We tell you not to concern yourselves with the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, these are doomed," he said. "You should worry about your presence in the Gulf and the second place they should worry about, is in Israel."
Another videotape aired last week by Arabic-language network Al-Jazeera showed what was described as a meeting between bin Laden and Ramzi Binalshibh, a key plotter in the September 11 attacks. The video was said to have been made in 2001 and shows Hamza Alghamdi and Wail Alshehri who were two of the hijackers who died in the 9/11 suicide attacks. Posted by Picasa

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