Flotilla Fabrication

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?The average person believes implicitly that the photograph cannot falsify. Of course, you and I know that this unbounded faith in the integrity of the photograph is often rudely shaken, for, while photographs may not lie, liars may photograph.?
Lewis Hine 1909
Photographers often get defensive when reminded that many of them resort to ?digital manipulation? using the new tools currently available. Discussions about the limits of what is permissible regularly sparks off heated debates, particularly in contests. Jobs have been lost, awards cancelled, and credibility undermined when photographers have digitally manipulated photographs to create the image they have wanted.
Sadly, the arguments raised have largely dealt with issues of technique rather than issues of ethics. One school of thought suggests, ?if it was doable in a darkroom, then it can be doable in a computer?. Others claim that conventional darkroom techniques, such as dodging, burning, or changing contrast are acceptable, but inserting, taking away, or displacing visual elements are off limits (though these too were, and had been, done in the darkroom). More ?artistic? criteria suggest that the essential ?mood and character? of the original image must be preserved. None of this addresses the central issue Hine had brought up in 1909. Is the photographer lying?
I believe the discussion needs to shift from ?how? the image was altered to ?why? it was altered. Indeed, photographers have ?enhanced? their images by using filters to darken skies, dodged and burned in the darkroom to change relative emphasis of visual elements, sometimes even eliminated visuals that distracted from what was considered central to the photograph. Subtle changes in tonality and gradation altered the ?feel? of an image, affecting the emotional response one might have to the visual experience.? In the analogue days, the skill sets required hand-eye? coordination to a far greater extent than is needed today. The modern photographer needs to learn about pixels, paths and plug-ins. The software used, the amount of RAM and processor speed are the new vocabulary that replaces darkroom tools of yore. But even in the digital age, the skill of the practitioner often determines whether the change is detectable.
There are those who subvert the process and deliberately play on detectability of the process, confronting the viewer with their interventions, questioning her perception of what is acceptable, stretching her boundaries of credibility. Indeed, on occasions, flaunting these very norms to raise uncomfortable issues of how images are read. Early theorists like Professor Fred Ritchin, currently at Tisch School of The Arts, New York University, have eloquently analysed how this ?manipulation?, instead of undermining the credibility of the photograph, has returned the onus of authenticity upon the integrity of the author rather than the acceptability of the tools (human or mechanical).? One believes a photograph, as one believes a word, based on the reliability of the source, rather than the mode of production. The hugely talented pioneer of digital photography, the Mexican photographer Pedro Meyer, playfully, intelligently and skillfully, toyed with us, shaking the pillars of our age old beliefs, forcing us to question the process of seeing and believing.
Of course the photograph still retains the characteristic of being the primary source. ?I was there. I saw it with my own eyes. I have photographs.? It is precisely because the photograph or the video, is seen as an unmoderated fact, that it is so powerful. It is precisely the reason why lying through a video or photograph can be so effective.
In this age of spin, rhetoric and hyperbole, does the liar, by shaking our confidence in the medium, undermine the veracity of the one source that we still implicitly trust? In some ways of course it does, but by doing so, the liar does us a favour. It reminds us to question, not merely the medium but also the source.
Buddha, Moses, Jesus and Mohammed were believed because they were trustworthy. They had established their credibility. They had a track record that gave their word a respectability that others who said otherwise did not have. I have no way to vouch for the veracity of the incredible claims that they made. That is the basis of a very different discussion. But it is undeniably true that centuries after they have gone, there are people who live by their ideals and are prepared to die for them. The lives that they lived, made their words believable. We believed their actions, which led to us believing their words.

That brings me to the point of this article. The video of the attack on the flotilla. People have correctly pointed to the technical errors in the released videos. The fact that there were white frames inside the sequence, that consecutive frames did not match, that crude alterations revealed the manipulation where people are seen to be walking through metal pylons, the amateurish display of a catapult by turning towards a camera on a tripod and holding it high, in the middle of an attack by armed soldiers, the fact that a voice inserted in the video is that of a woman on another ship, all make the video a laughable piece of ?evidence?. Indeed, the detection of the tampering is what is being used as evidence of lies being told.
My argument is elsewhere. What if the Israelis had produced the perfect video, backing up their claims. What if their technicians had been more skilled, their computer animations more realistic, their actors more adept and telling their version of the story. Would that have validated their version of the story? I would like to return to who is telling the story. The veracity of the source.
Lies are more difficult to protect than the truth. If the version they had presented had been genuine, there would have been no need to confiscate all the visual material, releasing selective segments, with obvious tampering. If they had nothing to hide there would have been no need to jam the communications at the moment of attack, or to erase the audio from certain segments of the video. There would have been no reluctance to make all the evidence available and let the viewers decide. Suspicious behavior gives rise to suspicion. For a nation known for manipulating the truth at all levels, casting doubts on authentic data, vilifying honest citizens, persecuting every hint of dissent, it is the fact that the source is Israel that is the greatest reason for disbelief.
If a time were to come when Israel had a change of heart and for once spoke the truth, like Matilda in her burning house, there would be none to believe her. That fire is imminent and Israel?s house of lies might well be close to burning.
Other points of view.

BBC Panorama Video 1

BBC Panorama Video 2

“>Al Jazeera Storming of Gaza aid convoy

Legal assessment of Gaza Flotialla raid
Related links:
Military ties between India and Israel
In Defense of Helen Thomas
Human Rights Council Condemnation of Israeli Attacks
Adopted by a recorded vote of 32 to 3, with 9 abstentions.
The voting was as follows:
In favour: Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Chile, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritius, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudia Arabia, Senegal, Slovenia, South Africa, Uruguay;
Against: Italy, Netherlands, United States of America;
Abstaining: Belgium, Burkina Faso, France, Hungary, Japan, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland:

Power from the barrel of a lens

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By Satish Sharma

Forget about the power that, according to Mao, flows from the Barrels of Guns!
A lot more power actually flows through the matte black barrels of lenses. Camera lenses! And this is a power that flows a lot more silently and, most of the time, it works it magic very subtly.
Very rarely do pictures explode on the media scene like the now infamous cover picture on the August 9th issue of Time magazine. Very rarely do pictures present us with such a questionable and ?teachable? moment about photography and its political uses. Rarely do photographs become such a powerful peg for discussions that go on and on. Discussions that need to go on because we have to understand, dissect and discuss the spaces that photography occupies in contemporary society. Spaces that are hardly any different from the times when photography was a medium controlled by the political and secret department of a British colonial government. Photography, we have to remember, was invented at a time when colonialism was at its height and became a major player in the colonial game. Something that British army cadets, who were to be posted in the colonies, were specially taught and equipped for.

Images of Afghanistan by Mohammad Qayoumi (prior to CIA intervention and Russian invasion).

The physical campus of Kabul University, pictured here, does not look very different today. But the people do. In the 1950s and '60s, students wore Western-style clothing; young men and women interacted relatively freely. Today, women cover their heads and much of their bodies, even in Kabul. A half-century later, men and women inhabit much more separate worlds. ??Mohammad Qayoumi

In the 1950s and '60s, women were able to pursue professional careers in fields such as medicine. Today, schools that educate women are a target for violence, even more so than five or six years ago. ? Mohammad Qayoumi

The central government of Afghanistan once oversaw various rural development programs, including one, pictured here, that sent nurses in jeeps to remote villages to inoculate residents from such diseases as cholera. Now, security concerns alone make such an effort nearly impossible. Government nurses, as well as U.N. and NGO medical workers, are regular targets for insurgent groups that merely want to create disorder and terror in society. ??Mohammad Qayoumi

Photography is a powerful language, a valuable voice of authority for authorities. One has to understand how it is used. A ?Writing with Light?- Photo Graphy is becoming more powerful than any other human language. It is more than just the world?s first universally understood language, one that needs no translators and appears to have no word language limitations because it is a technology driven by newer and newer technologies which give it a reach and power that no language ever had.
The endless flow of camera constructed pictures is, today, increasingly constructing our social and political landscape. Constructing us, actually, by manipulating the mental spaces that we live in. Defining our Drishti – our perception and very sense of self ! There are, after all, more photographs shot every year than there are bricks in the world. And photography, in its different, camera lens based, avatars (film and television, for example) is what makes us what we are -who we are manufactured to be.
Cameras construct our worlds in ways that word oriented languages did not because the visual language they present us with is perceived to have credibility, a veracity and a connection to objective truth that words did not. Pictures are becoming the bricks that construct our contemporary, increasingly visual world. A world that can no longer just ban the making of pictures as it once did or tried to do. A world in which technologies drive the move away from the word driven and language riven cultures towards vast visual information landscapes that are increasingly becoming part of a real, war driven, information wars . Wars that are, says the Project for a New American Century, about Full Spectrum Domination.
Domination that is blatant about not allowing any challenges ??military, economic or cultural?. Domination that seeks ?control of all international commons including Space and Cyberspace, Culture not excluded? and is driven by never ending wars that see whole societies as a battlefield. A battlefield where – in the language of the US Marines? ?Fourth generation Warfare? ? ? the action will occur concurrently- throughout all participants depth , including their society as a cultural and not just as physical entity?. Special Human Terrain teams now work alongside the American Armed Forces. These anthropologists, ethnographers etc are uniformed cultural warriors. They are, very problematically, working in battlefields to understand and subvert cultures and peoples. Humanity is now a terrain to be controlled.
It is against this background of militrarised information and cultural control that one needs to look at the Time magazine cover. It was its founder, after all, who first projected the idea of the 20th century as ?An American Centrury?. Henry Luce founded a media empire to project his agenda. Time, Fortune, Life and even the March of Time film series served to mediate his synarchist ideas of corporate control of political power. That he was a member of Yale university?s secretive Skull and Bones society like so many other American leaders, only adds to ones suspicions of hidden agendas.
Continue reading “Power from the barrel of a lens”

The Face That Launched a Thousand Drones?

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By Anne Holmes

The much talked about August 9 Time magazine cover, unabashed in its aim to shore up support for the war effort in Afghanistan, has left many still shaking their heads in disbelief at such brazen exploitation of a woman?s suffering. It?s not the first time the plight of Afghan women has been used to manipulate public opinion. It?s a narrative we have become so accustomed to since the 2001 invasion, that many of my most intelligent female friends did not recognize it for the subversive emotional blackmail that it is. More important, they said, was the attention it brought to women?s issues. Well, let us talk about those issues in earnest, then.
The picture, by South African photographer Jodi Bieber, shows an 18-year old woman by the name of Bibi Aisha. Her story is tragic, and all too common in places like Afghanistan. Married off at a young age, she was beaten regularly by her in-laws and forced to sleep in the stable among the animals. Aisha decided to flee, but women wandering around on their own don?t go unnoticed in Afghanistan, and before long, she ended up in a prison in Kandahar. While not officially a crime, running away is often treated as such and can receive hefty sentences; in this case three years. But her father found her, and took her back to her in-laws. Her punishment for disgracing the family was decreed: her husband, A Taliban?according to some accounts, should cut off her nose and ears. She was left for dead in the mountains of Oruzgan. As a testament to her fighter spirit, she managed to drag herself to her father?s house, who took her to a US Army hospital where she was cared for until they turned her over to a shelter in Kabul. This was 2009.
After an article about her ordeal appeared in the?Daily Beast in December of last year, the Grossman Burn Foundation in California offered to perform reconstructive surgery on her this past spring, long before her face appeared on Time?s cover. She arrived in the US to begin treatment last week, just as her portrait appeared on newsstands amid the media frenzy surrounding the recent release of some 76,900 classified Afghan war documents. Perfect timing.
Aisha?s story will have a happy ending. America will have done right by her. She will get her nose back and hopefully go on to live a perfectly normal life far away from her abusers. It?s a heart-warming story. But what about the remaining 15 million Afghan women, nearly 90% of whom it is estimated suffer from some form of domestic abuse, and moreover, what does this have to do with America?s war?
Most people will never read the accompanying?article in Time magazine. They will only see the disturbing gaze of a mutilated woman and the message scrawled beneath it ?What Happens If We Leave Afghanistan,? question mark excluded. Most will never examine the mechanisms within them that bring about the deep emotional response. Subliminal advertisers know all too well that a powerful image can make a target audience ignore the caption, all the while absorbing it subconsciously, reducing them to zombie-like consumers ready to do whatever the ad tells them to: buy this car, try this diet, sell your house, dye your hair, get a new phone, support our war. Using emotional triggers like scantily clad women in ads that sell anything from watches to hair-loss treatment, have proven effective time and time again. A strong image can be a thousand times more powerful than the words that accompany it, but words can manipulate the message of an image in far more virulent ways. The photograph alone is subject to interpretation. But in this case, the two combined, we are being sent a clear message that tells us this is what will happen?if we leave Afghanistan. Who among us wants this to happen to another Afghan woman? Guilt is the precise emotional response that makes us suddenly feel that being against the war is somehow a travesty.
Setting aside the obvious (that this is what is happening?now,?today, on?our watch) how can Time editor Rick Stengel be so sure of the future? ?I think we answer questions. I don?t think we ask them,? Mr. Stengel said in an interview with Katie Couric when she pointed out the missing question mark at the end of the headline. It?s one thing to draw conclusions about questions that can actually be answered, like is there undeniable evidence that Bernie Madoff cheated lots of people out of money? It is another to predict the future of a foreign country at war, something analysts, historians and military advisors have been unable to do since time immemorial.
Mr. Stengel?explained his editorial choice in the first pages of the magazine as follows: ?What you see in these pictures and our story is something that you cannot find in those 91,000 documents,? he said, referring to the recent release of leaked classified papers titledThe Afghan War Diaries by whistleblower website Wikileaks. The White House has been struggling desperately to convince the public that we can?t leave Afghanistan amid the fallout following the leak, a trove of documents that reveal the true horrors of the war campaign on the ground, and it seems Mr. Stengel decided to play steward to the Pentagon and help sway public opinion.
In his chosen message, two points of absurdity emerge: when in the history of mankind has a war ever been fought in the name of women?s rights, and how can one justify the murder and mutilation of thousands of innocents in the name of eradicating domestic abuse, never mind the fact that the Pentagon has no vested interest in the said cause. Countries don?t spend billions of dollars to mobilize troops to liberate women from the chains of institutionalized misogyny.
Why then, should we believe that saving the Aishas of Afghanistan is a just cause for war? It?s a narrative we have heard periodically for nine years, though never when it stood to benefit the women in question. In the lead up to the war, we were shown images of Afghan women being beaten and executed by the Taliban at Kabul?s infamous soccer stadium. Stories in the press abounded about the terrible living conditions of women under the Taliban, pulling on the heart strings of the typically more pacifist female demographic, and yet, nary a member of congress brought the matter to the floor prior to 2001. If it was really a just cause for mounting a full-scale invasion, it begs the most conspicuous question: why have we not done so in other parts of the world where our sisters are suffering too?
It?s the same ludicrous line we?ve been fed about wars in the name of democracy and freedom. We went in to Iraq to liberate the people from a terrible dictator. What we ended up doing is ?liberating? well over 4 million people of life, limb, or home, ripping the country asunder, ushering in extremist factions that made some of the once secular nation?s women dress in the code of Hijab or wear a Burqa for the first time in their lives.
So why have we heard this line about the women every time proponents of the war seem to be dwindling? Because it works. Look no further for evidence than a recently leaked?CIA document in March of this year, drawn up after the Dutch decided to pull out of the war. Amid fears that Germany and France, who supply the third and fourth largest contingents to Afghanistan, might follow suit, it suggests pushing stories about abused Afghan women to drum up support for the war:

Afghan women could serve as ideal messengers in humanizing the ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] role in combating the Taliban because of women?s ability to speak personally and credibly about their experiences under the Taliban, their aspirations for the future, and their fears of a Taliban victory. Outreach initiatives that create media opportunities for Afghan women to share their stories with French, German, and other European women could help to overcome pervasive scepticism among women in Western Europe toward the ISAF mission.

But women in Afghanistan suffer abuse at the hands of Talibs and non-Talibs alike. It?s a social problem, not a Taliban problem. Of course, ousting the Taliban did women a favour in many regards. They regained suffrage, for one. Yes, today women nearly fill the 25% quota for parliamentary seats, and education is no longer officially forbidden. But how many women really benefit from the new constitution? What is written on paper is rarely applied in practice for the vast majority of women, particularly those living in rural areas, which represent about 77% of the population.
According to a?recent survey by the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), ?more than 87 percent of all women suffer from domestic abuse, making the country one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman.? That is today. Are we to believe that 100% of women were being abused under the Taliban, or will be if they return to power? Is that meagre 13% of violence-free women really the result of the ISAF mission?
In 2007 I did a?story on Afghan women who self-immolate. They are so desperate that, one day, something compels them to douse themselves with petrol and strike a match. I listened to their stories with unease. They were beaten, raped, used as prostitutes, molested and enslaved; all by husbands, fathers, cousins, uncles, brothers, or in-laws. Not one of them was from Taliban territory. Though it?s impossible to get a real sense of the numbers, most agree that the phenomenon is on the rise, and yet, we are meant to believe that the war effort is making progress on the front of women?s rights.
Oppression and brutality against women are not endemic to the Taliban alone in Afghanistan. Last year, President Karzai, in a bid to gain votes from the country?s Shia minority (roughly 19%) passed a controversial new law curtailing women?s rights. The Shiite Personal Status Law (SPSL), allows a man to deny his wife food if she does not submit to his sexual will, gives custody of children to fathers and grandfathers, and requires a woman to get permission from her family to work or to travel outside the home without a male escort. ?It also, in effect, enables a rapist to avoid prosecution by paying ?blood money?,? says Human Rights Watch.
It?s worth noting that the Taliban are Sunni, not Shia, and that the US-backed president has enacted a law for the non-Taliban sector of society, rolling back rights for women that were written into the constitution. Before the elections, the?Times Online reported that ?the United States and Britain [were] opposed to any strong public protest [against the law] because they fear[ed] that speaking out could disrupt [the] election.?? The bill was pushed through parliament in February of 2009 and came into effect in July of last year. Afghan women fumed, while US and UK leaders stood by, and where was Time?s cover advocating for women?s rights then? Here are the covers they ran in February 2009.

Central to the debate about the message the Time cover sends, is the question are we really making progress for women ? and if so, why should we believe that a good reason to continue fighting? While many people were moved by the cover, some things just don?t add up. After nine years of war, the public has grown wary of these kinds of media stunts. We are not so dumb anymore. The Bush years are over. Challenging our leaders is no longer tantamount to a capital offence. Not ?supporting the troops? is no longer suggestive of treason, since so many of them are returning home to join the growing anti-war movement. Support for the war has plunged to an all-time low (36%). Too many US soldiers have committed suicide or come home suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). People are starting to feel uncomfortable about the number of Afghan civilian casualties, which sadly should have been an issue long ago, but what the Wikileaks documents show us is that the army has been cooking the numbers. All those deaths of ?enemy combatants? were in reality far too often civilians. Such facts Americans are not happy to learn. The truth is coming out, though the editors of Time, like the Pentagon, obviously want to deflect our attention from it by shoving our faces in another gruesome reality that somehow makes even the staunchest pacifist wonder if maybe we?should soldier on.
In my discussions with friends about the cover, I was amazed how many educated, sharp women couldn?t see how they were being manipulated. Many felt it was much more important to shed light on the plight of women, and missed the absurdity of the message attached to it. Some of them were Iranian expats, for whom the subject of women?s rights is all too close to home. But then I asked, what if Time magazine were to run a cover like this one?

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9/11 Suicide Hijackers. Risen from the dead

by Rahnuma Ahmed

?Curiouser and curiouser!? Cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English).

— Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland (1865)

It’s old news. So, why bother writing about it? Because recent research has come up with interesting explanations about why 9/11 `suicide’ hijackers could still be alive, even after all else in the World Trade Centre?concrete, glass and gypsum?had been pulverised into fine dust. The question of live suicide hijackers is one that the US government has refused to address. According to new research findings, all crucial government evidence which aims at proving that Islamic terrorist hijackers were responsible for 9/11 either lacks authentication, or, when placed alongside other evidence, are very clearly fabrications or forgeries.
The FBI’s list of nineteen 9/11 hijackers?complete with photos?a list which CNN had within? 24 hours of the attack, was contested soon enough. By none other than the `suicided’ hijackers themselves. The very least they could have done was die in the plane crash (before burning in hell till eternity). But no. Some of them had the audacity to turn up. To claim that they were not hijackers. That they lived elsewhere. That they had not been on any of those domestic flights, had neither armed themselves with box-cutters, nor flown hijacked aeroplanes headlong into tall buildings. One of them even had the nerve to say that he had never been to the United States.
Did news reports such as these?’Suicide hijacker’ is an airline pilot alive and well in Jeddah’ (The Independent, 17 September 2001), `Hijack suspects alive and well’ (BBC World, 23 September 2001), `Revealed: the men with stolen identities’ (The Telegraph, 23 September 2001)?cause the FBI to alter its list? No. Its director Robert Mueller however, did admit that? the FBI case against these 19 named hijackers would never stand up in a court of law
The 9/11 Commission Report insists that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by “19 young Arabs acting at the behest of Islamist extremists headquartered in distant Afghanistan”
armed with small knives, box cutters, and cans of Mace or pepper spray. So does the US government, and all other western governments. The 19 young Arabs, we have been repeatedly told, were “al-Qaeda terrorists” who had hijacked four commercial passenger jet? airliners, had intentionally crashed two into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre in New York City, the third into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and the fourth into a field near Shanksville in rural Pennsylvania. None of the passengers, or crew members, or hijackers, survived the disaster.
?If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it,” said Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi minister for propaganda. For propaganda to be successful, he added, it must be confined to a few points, which must be repeated over and over again. As one reads comments such as these on the internet: `facts about the known hijackers and the video taped confession of Osama Bin Laden makes it clear beyond reasonable doubt that Al Qaeda planned and committed the crime.’ `Whether we know their correct names or not, all of those who were on the planes doing the actual hijacking are dead.’ `There is a strain of Islam that is bent on mass murder and they carried it out on 9/11...’one can easily see how America’s `war on terror’ propaganda campaign has been scripted on Goebbels’ lessons: al-Qaeda. Osama bin Laden. Arabs. Islam. Extremists. Terrorists. Repeated ad nauseum. So what if Osama is, in all likelihood, dead? Has been so, probably for the last nearly-eight years. So what if those accused of hijacking and crashing planes, of causing untold misery, suffering and death to many thousands, were probably not on the planes? Have these mind-boggling discrepancies, of dead people not being dead, forced the US government to agree to a new investigation of what actually happened on 9/11, an investigation which is independent, impartial and thorough? No. Neither Bush, nor Obama, whose rationale for extending the war beyond the borders of Afghanistan is to hunt down al-Qaeda, its extremist allies, and its leadership, namely, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri (March 27, 2009) .
The advantage of having al-Qaeda as the enemy, says independent researcher Jay Kolar, who has conducted research on the 9/11 hijackers, is that it lacks a `specific national identity.’? This enables the US military to extend its wars beyond national boundaries, to hunt its supra-national enemy in `multiple countries’ (`What we now know about the alleged 9-11 hijackers,’ in The Hidden History of 9-11-2001). Afghanistan. Iraq. Now Pakistan. Infinite wars. Endless profit for the US war machine. Never-ending cycles of death and destruction.


Abdulaziz Alomari
Abdulaziz Alomari

Ahmed Alnami

Khalid Almihdhar
Khalid Almihdhar

Mohamed Ata
Mohamed Ata

Saeed Alghamdi
Saeed Alghamdi

Wail Alshehri
Wail Alshehri

Waleed Alshehri
Waleed Alshehri

Abdulrahman al-Omari, a Saudi Airlines pilot, who was “very much alive and living in Jeddah” was astonished to find himself accused not only of hijacking, but also, of being dead. Named by the US Department of Justice as a suicide hijacker of American Airlines flight 11, the first airliner to smash into the World Trade Centre, Al-Omari was reportedly “furious” and visited the US consulate in Jeddah demanding an explanation.
This made the FBI delete his name, to replace it with another name: Abdul Aziz al-Omari. But inconsiderately, Omari no 2 turned up too. Alive, and “furious.”? An engineer with Saudi Telecoms, he said he had been at his desk at the Saudi Telecommunications authority in Riyadh when the attacks took place. “The name [listed by the FBI] is my name and the birth date is the same as mine, but I am not the one who bombed the World Trade Center in New York” (Asharq Al-Awsat). Omari no 2 said his passport had been stolen while he was an electrical engineering student at Denver university in 1995, a theft which he had reported to the police. “I couldn’t believe it when the FBI put me on their list. They gave my name and my date of birth, but I am not a suicide bomber. I am here. I am alive. I have no idea how to fly a plane. I had nothing to do with this.”
Another hijacker from the FBI list, Captain Saeed Hussain Al-Ghamdi, turned up alive and `worried’ on September 18 after seeing his picture on CNN (Arab News). A Saudi citizen living in Tunisia for the last nine months, al-Ghamdi was a co-captain on Tunis Air. He had studied in Florida from 1998 to 1999 and suspected that his picture had been taken from the file of the aviation school in Florida.
Other `discrepancies’ turned up?Adnan Bukhari, Amer Kamfar. Also, Ameer Bukhari, who it turned out, had died a year earlier (2000). FBI then replaced these hijackers with new names, interestingly enough, with more `Arab’ names, ones which had not been on the 9/11 airline flight manifests confiscated by the FBI after the 9/11 attacks (nor on the list of deceased passengers released later by the government):
Adnan Bukhari was replaced by Waleed al-Shehri
Ameer Bukhari was replaced by Wail al-Shehri
Amer Kamfar was replaced by Satam al-Suqami
But even the newly-replaced dead, all except Satam al-Suqami, kept rising. Waleed Al-Shehri, a Saudi national. In Casablanca. Ahmed al-Nami. In Riyadh. An administrative supervisor with Saudi Arabian Airlines, al-Nami said he had been “shocked” to see his name mentioned by the American Justice Department. “I had never even heard of Pennsylvania where the plane I was supposed to have hijacked.” Khalid Almihdhar was reported to be alive as well.
Eleven of the FBI-named finalists could not have been on those planes, says Kolar. Ten were still alive, another’s identity had been improvised by a double. Could it be that none of the alleged hijackers were on these planes? Kolar’s close scrutiny of government evidence leads him to conclude that most of the hijackers had doubles, not only that, pairs of them were doubled, their car rentals and itineraries were doubled. As was the 9/11 attack itself through the military war-game exercise (Vigilant Warrior, Vigilant Guardian), scheduled for, and held on September 9. Part of the exercise was the simulation of live-fly hijacking and this confused military officers. This pattern of doubling, writes Kolar, “together with evidence of patsies, cut-outs, national security overrides, protected hijacker activities, and of the hands of controller-moles pulling the strings from inside the government, all suggest the entire scenario was a covert US intelligence operation.” One that was “disguised as an outside enemy attack.”
Outside enemy attack? I guess, it’s true. The US is its own enemy.

Ground Zero

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It was as a student of photography that I poured through the
mysterious images of Joel Meyerowitz. Haunting images of the twilight
zone. Nature’s colours blending into the neon constructions of
mankind. A changing moment in everyday life. This time Meyerowitz has
chosen a different transition point. A moment that has clearly
changed the contemporary world. An event that has taken on an iconic

The stoic strength of `The Welder Wounded By Exploding Bullets’, and
the nuances of light and form in `The Blue Hour’ and `The North Wall’
are reminiscent of the vintage Meyerowitz. A few of the other
exhibits in “Images of Ground Zero” are also signature images of this
master craftsman, but by and large, the photographs are
unexceptional. The packaging is impressive however. Smartly hung on
large frosted panels, the exhibition is destined for over thirty
venues in locations around the globe. About a third of these venues
have a largely Muslim audience and the show is clearly designed with
a purpose. As a photographer from the majority world I question the
simplistic message this exhibition carries. I see an icon that has
many meanings. The exhibition does remind me that everything is NOT
okay in this world of ours, but I look beyond the rubble of ground
I hear the word democracy, over and over again, and wonder why the G8
countries, which represent only 13% of the world’s population, decide
for me how my life should be lived. I do not question the process
through which their leaders came to power, but I know that I never
chose them as my representatives. Yet they rule our lives.
I worry knowing that the 5 permanent members of the Security Council,
who happen to be the world’s largest producers of arms, are entrusted
with keeping peace in the world. I worry knowing that they have
quelled the peace-initiatives that have given us most hope, while
innocents have continued to die. I want my voice to be heard, but
know that a single veto by nations I have never chosen to be led by
can overturn the hopes of the majority of the globe.
I dream of an epitaph that we can all take strength from. That
perhaps from the rubble of ground zero, will rise a Banyan tree, that
will give shade to us all. I remember the words of an American whom
Meyerowitz’s own nation seems to have forgotten: “Every gun that is
made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the
final sense, is a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those
who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending
money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of
its scientists, the hopes of its children… This is not a way of
life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war,
it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”? Former U.S. President,
Dwight D. Eisenhower, in a speech on April 16, 1953.
Only when we build a world that truly respects different
civilisations, cultures, races and religions, can we honour the dead
in ground zero and those who continue to die. For when all things ARE
considered, the price is NEVER worth it.
Shahidul Alam. 7th April 2002. London.