The attack on World Trade Center in New York is one of the most dastardly and heinous crimes committed against mankind. This crime will be remembered no less than the Mongols' burning of Baghdad and the entire loss of Islamic treasures.
When I talk to my American friends in New York and all over, they tell me that this attack on World Trade Center pales the memory of Pearl Harbor, which was basically an attack on military targets unannounced, but conducted with the greatest of surprises. America did revive from that and came out very strong, and that particular attack even changed the course of the World War II in Europe. You talk to any American and he will talk about some events in life as a picture embossed in his mind. The assassination of John F. Kennedy is one such moment. Oklahoma bombing another, which was marked down as one of the bleakest days in American history. People of our generation always ask what were you doing then or how did you hear the news then?
But nothing compares to the attack on World Trade Center. In one fell swoop, the vulnerabilities of America's domestic defense were revealed; the ease by which four planes were hijacked within 30 minutes of each other, fully laden with 250 thousand gallons of fuel for a long haul to California, could only be an excerpt out of a novel. Tom Clancy could have conceived no better plot than this. The terrorist committed a heinous crime that pierced a dagger in the heart of America's social, political, strategic, and financial strength. The billions and billions of dollars spent on defense and ideas, like the special Strategic Defense Initiative, to insulate America from incoming nuclear missile attacks lay wasted with a single stroke of lowliest act a man has ever committed against another man.
The condemnation of this act has no precedent, and can find no better words than saying that this in the history of mankind will be called as mankind's darkest day. It is the darkest day because today we thought that we had groomed ourselves enough to understand and solve issues through mutual consultation. But that was not to be. The world financial markets have shown how precarious they can be. What it boils down to is that the entire 35 trillion dollar world economy finally became hostage to twelve human bombs who had very little respect for mankind in general. The worst of the whole thing is that this was done in the name of our Holy Book, the Quran, which teaches the message of mercy, forbearance and tolerance.
The attack on World Trade Center and its associated human loss of life is coincidentally too large a price for what has changed for humanity today. The world is poorer today, like the 1967 mass hijackings changed the way we fly now. These attacks have changed the way we have treated hijackings so far. The next time any plane takes to the air will not only be worrisome for the passengers, but the real agony will be for the people on the surface over whose heads these planes shall be hovering.
The dynamics of hijackings will change completely. So far nations used to refuse to accept flying planes as too hot to handle on ground; now, the first change would be that the people will try to bring these planes down on the tarmac as soon as possible. There will be a deep sigh of relief if human bombs do not hijack the fuel-laden planes. The world will have to live in fear of the unknown and that is the biggest disservice to mankind. Unfortunately, doing this in the name of Islam is the biggest disservice to Islam. Islam is a religion of compassion, not destruction and death.
It is sad today that we are at this juncture. Not only have the dynamics of terror been changed, but the fact that a fuel-laden bomb or biological-laden passenger bombs, the equation of threat against civilians has completely changed. It's New York today; it can be Cairo tomorrow. The same militants are as much against New York as they are against any other moderate Muslim government in the Middle east. Those who are gleefully dancing in the streets should realize that this is a common threat against mankind. We will never fly again the way we used to, and our profiles will be under more careful scrutiny. We who have darkened skins and darkened hair. Is this a fair price to pay for the whole Islamic nations that today one billion people are under suspicion? The act of few has clouded the prospects of billion. That is not acceptable.
One thing has come out clear from this: the pockets of terrorists will not be condoned anywhere in the future. Like, after Pearl Harbor, Japan, Germany and associated imperial and Nazi thinking were annihilated completely, this will be a point where there will be a concerted global action against the thinking of destruction and senseless death. This will be the first biggest change the world will view. Terrorism, as a threat in general, will not be dissociated from it. This is a new low in the thinking of people, who can go down to the level of mass massacring for reasons and benefits still unknown. It is also, on the other hand, an eye-opener for a superpower like America that geographic isolation of their country means nothing. They have to mingle with the world; they have to be associated with the world. Their vulnerabilities are huge. Never before in history, even after the World War II, did markets close for three continuous days. The nuclear arsenal stands useless today as a resolve of a few individuals ready to die for a controversial cause; they have glaringly opened vulnerabilities of the greatest empire the world has ever seen since Rome.
Today, when Americans look at dancing kids in the Muslim capitals, they ask why they are so hated. It has also changed the thinking of a common American; he is wondering what policies US is pursuing that has led to this blindfolded hatred against Americans by the Islamic nations. In the short run, it may be very easy to say that Israel may have scored a great political victory, but in the long run, Israel has been the biggest loser of this attack politically. America, which is known as a White American Protestant country, would question its policies towards the Middle East much more closely, and it may not be apparent in the next few weeks, but Israel will be under tremendous pressure to respect the Oslo Accord.
The point is that revenge may not be the answer or a solution to this problem. It is a question of entire re-thinking. America would need to build new bridges to the Islamic world, develop understanding and will have to dangle a carrot with a stick. The fact remains that in Afghanistan, where the mastermind has taken refuge, is a country known where even British and Russians could not cow people into submission. And this country had contiguous borders with these nations. Carpet-bombing of Afghanistan and mass annihilation would wield no results. It is a question of going and finding the masterminds, eliminating the root of evil, and that root of evil can only be eliminated with long-term policies; policies of vigilance.
Today, America has not been attacked from outside but from within; the enemy was within! Initially it was thought that Americans should punish the nations that have given their ground and camps to train these de facto pilots, but it is tragic to see that the very people that were out to commit horrendous acts were actually being trained in America's frontyard. These cells existed in America and they apparently had no communication with the masterminds. The horrific crime was committed through physical intermediaries, but it was planned and executed within the United States. One hates this fact, but the truth is that it is a failure of internal intelligence that such an act could be committed in such a planned and precise manner. America has to find the enemy within; trace out the selves within America without engaging on the rhetorics of war. The Pakistani intelligence chief, Gen. Mahmood, was in Washington and my sources tell me that he is holding discussions with the Americans on a way out, with Pakistan's President, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, announcing his unstinted support to America. The masterminds of this dastardly act can be encircled and expedited, because nobody is ready to pay a price.
Scars on America's social thinking, its body politics, its defense establishment and its global financial supremacy are so deep that no immediate evaluation can be made of the extent of damage. But, the world has to view this as a global problem. Wherever these extremist zealots have taken command, the developments have just disappeared. The biggest joke was that Afghanistan's leader said, “What will America bomb? We have already destroyed everything in fighting [within our country].” The leading Islamic ideological states are all in economic shambles. Is this not an eye-opener enough for the Muslim world?
The fact remains that the attack on World Trade Center will change the way we travel; the way the flying crew cabins are designed; the impact on Mideast policies, where without any iota of doubt, the last thing Americans should intelligently and hopefully do is not to create more Osama bin Ladens by adopting a more balanced policy towards the Middle East and stopping the atrocities.
The Americans should rightfully ask only one question: Why them only? There are other superpowers too. The political hijacking of America will also come to the fore. It is presently being buried in statements like that of Senator John McCain's that God may have mercy on those who have perpetrated this act, but they will have no mercy. But the basic causes are homegrown. The domestic flights were so insecure that you could carry knives aboard. No other country in the world allows this. Terrorists were being trained as professional human bomb pilots and nobody checked their backgrounds. Despite the 1993 attack on World Trade Center, which had become an unfortunate booty for the global terrorists, could anyone imagine that the pride was so high, only one tower was insured as no one expected that the two towers could fall simultaneously!
The external carpet-bombing of Afghanistan will bring absolutely no results; it will only create more human bombs. Rather, it would be more appropriate to address the cause, and win broader support so that America may not be a known target of the terrorists. I strongly reject and condemn the idea of yielding to demands, but the next time a plane is hijacked we will all be more worried that its no longer about passengers and crew only; it is about a new turn in the way we annihilate each other; it is a new low in our thinking, much as we condemn it, it is not enough.
The perpetrators who have inculcated this thinking in the human minds are the lowest of human beings. Mankind's balance of terror has been most unfortunately changed. The blackmail has just begun and if Islamic states do not take notice of this, their own powers will crumble, as these blackmails will be conducted against their own cities by the very elements who consider most of these moderate Islamic states as heretics. The threat is not just against America, it is against freethinking and a free society. Those who rejoice unfortunately represent the death of freedom.