Unleashed Terror (Part II)

Injustice fuels a cycle of revenge



In March 2003 the U.S. and allies invaded Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, supposedly hunting weapons of mass destruction and roundaboutly avenging 9/11.

Not long after, I spoke with a co-worker from Iraq, one of the few Muslims working with us. Hatem kept mostly to himself but was a competent and respected professional engineer. He spoke perfect British English and had a Master’s degree.

“Hatem, what’s happening with your relatives back home in Iraq?”

“They had to flee during the invasion when my hometown was destroyed. But my whole family is safe in Greece right now, applying for asylum. Naturally, I’ll be sponsoring them here.”

“So it isn’t just Chaldean Christians being displaced over there?”

“Oh, not at all. American cruise missiles don’t discriminate on the basis of religion.”

“I’ve been meaning to ask: do you think the U.S. allowed the attack on the World Trade Center Towers?” I wanted the Muslim side of the conspiracy angle, unbiased by a Christian perspective.

“I don’t know. But I read that four hours before the 9/11 attack, a machine called a Random Event Generator at Princeton University supposedly predicted a cataclysmic event would happen soon. Maybe what Princeton told the CIA lacked enough specifics to do anything about it.

“I also saw something about a training exercise called ‘Vigilant Guardian’ by NORAD (North American Aerospace Command) that was running hijack simulations with four airplanes the week before, and strangely, on the very same day as the attack.”

“That is a suspicious coincidence,” I said.

“I don’t believe in coincidence. As rumored of Pearl Harbor, maybe the Pentagon knew all along the Towers attack was coming and allowed it because America needed that shock to mobilize for a war on terror. It’s what a lot of Muslims believe, that the CIA arranged it or let the jihades attack us to justify a war.”

“Why the World Trade Center?” I asked.

“Bin Laden had sworn payback to avenge a long history of Muslim casualties and cultural insults by U.S. commercial interests in the Middle East since the 1980s. In the summer of 1982, it occurred to Osama during the Lebanon War while watching the U.S. destroy that city’s prominent towers, to retaliate in kind. The Towers were to be the first installment of the debt he figured owed to Muslims.”

I thanked Hatem for our brief but frank discussion, and wished his family well.

My dad regularly reminded me there’s always two sides to every story. Regarding 9/11, I tried to struggle past my American-Christian bias to see the big picture. Maybe my co-worker Jamal was right in saying the U.S. has “idiots in charge.” Our leaders should have known better than to invade and occupy a ferocious, rugged territory that the British and the Russians could never subdue, or to force democracy on a people not ready for it.

On the other hand, bin Laden was born into prejudice as a Jew-hating Muslim, and in his early adulthood he’d watched as Israeli forces and the American Sixth Fleet demolished a Lebanon occupied by the PLO. A growing sense of injustice fueled his obsessed determination to use his inherited wealth to counter what he saw as American colonization of the Middle East in favor of the Jews. He began covert terrorist activities to thwart their objectives. The cycle of revenge never stopped. Two decades of increasingly violent reprisals incited bin Laden to plan and mastermind the Islamic coup of the century.

This is not meant to excuse terrorism but to give the “other side” of the story.


Richard M. DellOrfano spent ten years on a cross-country pilgrimage following Christ’s instruction to minister without possessions. He is completing his autobiography: Path Perilous, My Search for God and the Miraculous.

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