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After 15 long years, the 9/11 memorial puts its last artifact to rest

Memories the wreckage of 9/11 hold are certain to not fade soon. Read about the 2,600 artifacts found in the rubble of WTC terror attack which are now relics

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Pedestrians walk by artist Heath Satow's sculpture "Reflect," made with a damaged, rusted I-beam from the collapsed World Trade Center buildings, outside the Rosemead, California, city hall plaza. Source-VOA
  • Post 9/11 terror attack on World Trade Centre, The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey which owned the building, sent an architect to the site to find distinctive pieces from the wreckage
  • At JFK’s Hangar 17, where all the wreckage was kept, Officials were unable to decide on what should be done with so much material and then a judge ordered that the artifacts should be donated to whomever who promised to take care of them
  • Amy Passiak, who was working as an intern at New York’s 9/11 museum was called in, to catalog the artifacts and manage their distribution

Behind the barbed wire, the white minivan’s busted windows and crumpled roof hint at its story. But forklifted to this windblown spot on the John F. Kennedy International Airport tarmac, between a decommissioned 727 and an aircraft hangar, it’s doubtful passing drivers notice it at all.

In the long struggle with the searing memories of 9/11, though, the van’s solitary presence here marks a small but significant transition point.

Tons of wreckage – twisted steel beams weighing up to 40,000 pounds, chunks of concrete smelling of smoke, a crushed fire engine, a dust-covered airline slipper – were salvaged from the World Trade Center site for preservation in the weeks after the 2001 terrorist attacks. Now, 15 years later, this van, part of a government agency motor pool likely sheltered from the impact in the parking garage beneath the complex, is the very last artifact without a resting place.

When the van is claimed, as soon as a few weeks from now, it will fulfill a pledge that, to move beyond 9/11 without losing sight of it, New York would share relics of that terror, along with the tales of sacrifice and fear that come with them.

The decision by officials to give away pieces of Trade Center wreckage has been praised and criticized over the years. But its impact is undeniable.

More than 2,600 artifacts have gone to 1,585 fire and police departments, schools and museums, and other nonprofit organizations in every state and at least eight other countries. Each recipient has pledged to use them in memorials or exhibits honoring those killed on 9/11. While some have not followed through, the many that have meant it is now possible to touch a piece of September 11 during a Roman Catholic Mass in Port St. Lucie, Florida, while standing in the shadows of Colorado’s San Juan mountains, or in a park honoring animals in Meaford, Ontario.

“They are the relics of the destruction and they have the same power in the same way as medieval relics that have the power of the saints,” said Harriet Senie, a professor of art history at the City University of New York and author of “Memorials to Shattered Myths: Vietnam to 9/11.”

“History is a vague concept, but if you have this tangible object that was a part of this historical event, it makes it very difficult to deny and it also makes it possible to experience it in a very visceral way.”

In the days immediately after the attacks, it wasn’t at all clear what would happen to the wreckage of the Trade Center. It’s not as if anyone had confronted questions of that scale before. There was no certainty about exactly which artifacts, if any, should be saved.

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which owned the Trade Center, dispatched an architect to comb through the site and cull pieces that seemed distinctive. Investigators carted away others. Most of the wreckage from the site was scrapped or recycled. But the agency saved about half of 1 percent of the total.

It all had to go somewhere. That ended up being JFK’s Hangar 17, an 80,000-square-foot cavern of sheet metal left empty when tenant Tower Air went out of business in 2000.

Officials were uncertain what to do with so much material, given the emotions intertwined with it. A judge determined the artifacts were not evidentiary or personal and approved donations to those who promised to care for them. But where to begin?

“It was piles and piles, probably my height or higher, of steel beams,” says Amy Passiak, the archivist hired to catalog the artifacts and manage their distribution, recalling the first time she walked into the hangar in 2010. Passiak, a high school senior in Michigan at the time of the attacks, had been working as an intern at New York’s 9/11 museum but says she was still unprepared for the scene.

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“I remember going home that day and just being exhausted, just from being there a few hours, just being emotionally exhausted and not being able to comprehend the amount of work that was going to go into the process. It was like, maybe a year, maybe two years. And here I am, six years later.”

Passiak built a database of every item, cataloging its size and approximate weight, with descriptive notes. As word spread that the Port Authority was giving the material away, requests poured in. Through August, the Port Authority had distributed 2,629 artifacts.

Many went to fire departments, local governments and organizations in the New York area with direct ties to the first responders and workers who perished when the towers fell.

“When those buildings came down, everybody and everything in its path was either pulverized or vaporized off the face of the earth,” said John Hodge of the Stephen Siller Tunnels to Towers Foundation, named for his cousin, a New York firefighter killed on 9/11. In late July, the foundation marked the looming closure of Hangar 17 with a ceremony outside before hauling away an elevator motor from the Trade Center, a piece of the parking structure, and a portion of a broadcast antenna that crowned the complex.

“That’s where the DNA is. Neither my cousin or anybody else from Squad 1 was ever found, but it’s in that steel,” Hodge said.

But for many of the people and groups that adopted artifacts from the Trade Center, the loss was more abstract. At least it started off that way.

Heath Satow, a sculptor in southern California hired to design a 9/11 memorial for the plaza fronting Rosemead’s city offices, recalls awkwardly scanning a digital catalog showing beams available from the Trade Center. But hundreds of hours creating the memorial – a 10-foot beam cradled by hands of chrome, the palms and fingers formed from 2,976 interlocking birds representing individual victims – left a deep impression.

“Every individual was attended to,” said Satow, his voice breaking five years later, as he described making the sculpture. “I just was totally unprepared for it. But when you spend all that time seeing it as individuals it will just wreck you.”

Satow said he purposely positioned the beam at about eye level, so people could see, touch and feel it. Others who adopted Trade Center artifacts used them to similar effect.

Firefighters in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, created a memorial in front of their station around a small piece of donated I-beam. Many people in the town, surrounded by the San Juan mountains and the Southern Ute Reservation, will never get to New York or Washington D.C., said David Hartman, who worked to obtain the artifact. But September 11 was his generation’s Pearl Harbor, and being able to see and touch the wreckage enables residents to reflect on its lessons, he said.

At Flour Bluff Junior High School in Corpus Christi, Texas, a piece of Trade Center steel is housed in a case near the entrance to the cafeteria. In September, it is taken out and cadets from the school’s Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps program stand guard. Bruce Chaney, the naval science instructor who applied for the artifacts, brings another, smaller piece to his classes.

The artifact is “twisted and somewhat burned. It’s not pretty. I’m hoping it will make them think as they’re growing up, that they have to pay attention to their past,” Chaney said.

Most of Chaney’s students hadn’t yet been born in 2001, so the relics are the closest most will ever get to experiencing that day.

But the desire to touch and own history, however distant, has been around since long before this generation, said Erika Doss, a professor of American studies at the University of Notre Dame and author of “Memorial Mania: Public Feeling in America.”

She notes that after Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, millions of Americans gathered alongside the tracks as a train carrying his body made its way to Illinois. People wore mourning bands on their arms. They hung Lincoln’s portrait in their homes. They flocked to see death masks cast from his face. They wanted to see and touch Lincoln.

Artifacts let people grapple with pained memories. But 15 years after September 11, the dispersal of artifacts from the Trade Center has not resolved the public’s conflicted feelings about those events, now set against continued fears of terrorism.

“We just don’t know where the events of 9/11 have led us,” said Rick Sluder, fire chief in Wauseon, Ohio, which obtained a Trade Center beam and, together with neighboring departments built a memorial at the nearby Fulton County Fairgrounds.

“A lot of people are looking at this as, is this the point of downfall or the point at which we rose above the rest, the point of resiliency?” Sluder said. “I don’t think that’s been determined yet.”

There’s little questioning, though, the emotions people invest in the artifacts. During the six years Passiak spent archiving the relics, the people seeking them would often tell her stories of the losses in their own communities _ of firefighters, or soldiers or others – that connected them, however tangentially, to 9/11.

In the first years, there were so many artifacts that she could easily match them with requesters. So when a girl at Cracker Trail Elementary School in Sebring, Florida, wrote that she wanted to help her fellow students learn about 9/11, Passiak set aside a children’s alarm clock recovered from a store in the Trade Center’s concourse, a burned notebook, and a small piece of steel, 6 inches square.

“I felt like that allowed a full story to be told,” she said.

As the piles of material winnowed, though, it became more difficult. Most of the groups seeking artifacts wanted pieces they could build a narrative around. The biggest artifacts were unwieldy. By early this year, there was little left except for rails from the commuter train line that ran under the complex. Items like police cruisers, whose purpose that day was clear, found takers. But unmarked vehicles, anonymous but for their place in the wreckage, were initially passed over.

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When the Port Authority shuttered the artifact program in August and padlocked Hangar 17, officials moved the only remaining artifact – a Dodge Caravan with a ripped out red interior – to the tarmac, uncertain of its fate. It, too, is likely to go soon, to group officials will not identify until its application has been approved. Hangar 17, itself, may eventually be torn down.

Passiak moved back to Michigan to start a job at an art museum this month. But many of the people whose groups received donations of Trade Center artifacts have stayed in touch with her, extending invitations to visit their memorials, from California to Germany.

Some day, the archivist said, she’d like to take a road trip, stopping in cities and towns along the way to see where the artifacts she once cared for have found homes. She imagines she’ll recognize some of them, and remember their stories. It will not matter that the steel, concrete, and other relics are at rest far from lower Manhattan. The memories they hold, she is certain, will not soon fade. (VOA)

  • Anubhuti Gupta

    The amount of sentiment that even pieces of steel can hold is somehow overwhelming. RIP

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Akayed Ullah, the Bangladeshi suspect in New York bombing described as cocky and weird

Recently a bombing had occurred in the Time Square of New York city and a Bangladeshi has been suspected in the bombing who lived in New York for 7 years.

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Law enforcement officials in New York City work after a bomb blast near Times Square, Dec. 11, 2017
Law enforcement officials work following an explosion near New York's Times Square on Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, in New York. Police said a man with a pipe bomb strapped to him set off the crude device in an underground passageway under 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
  • The bomb blast occurred on December 11, 2017 in New York
  • Akayed Ullah, a Bangladeshi has been suspected the cause for the bomb blast
  • The suspect has been described as cocky and weird

New York, December 12, 2017: Neighbors described a Bangladeshi man suspected of setting off a bomb Monday near New York’s Times Square as “cocky” and “weird,” but were surprised to hear he was involved in what local authorities called an “attempted terrorist attack.”

The suspect and three other people were injured in the explosion during the morning rush-hour in an underground subway passage about 200 feet from a busy bus terminal in Manhattan, officials said.

Authorities arrested Akayed Ullah, a 27-year-old Brooklyn resident, after he allegedly detonated an improvised explosive device that was strapped to his body, New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill said.

The explosion left Ullah “with burns and wounds to his body” and injured three others, officials said.

“He wasn’t very nice. He was kind of cocky,” Ullah’s longtime neighbor, Alan Butrico, told BenarNews. “He was often blocking my driveway.”

Butrico, owner of a locksmith and hardware in Brooklyn’s Flatlands neighborhood, said he was Ullah’s next-door neighbor for about seven years.

“I would ask him to move the car whenever he was blocking my driveway and he would react like he was giving me a favor,” Butrico said.

But Butrico, who lived in the neighborhood for 27 years, said he was surprised to hear that Ullah, whom he described as a former cab driver and electrician, was involved in a terrorist attack.

“I’m glad he didn’t blow up my store,” Butrico said. “I’m glad he went to Manhattan.”

The bomb exploded at around 7:20 a.m. (local time) in a subway corridor on 42nd Street, between 7th and 8thavenues, police said.

“This device was intentionally detonated by the subject,” O’Neill, the police commissioners, said in a statement posted on the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) Twitter page.

Three people in the immediate area suffered minor injuries and the suspect, who suffered severe burns, was placed in custody and transported to a hospital, O’Neill said. Fire officials said Ullah had burns to his hands and abdomen.

A photo published by the New York Post showed a bearded man crumpled on the ground with his shirt apparently blown off and black soot covering his bare midriff.

“Let’s be also clear this was an attempted terrorist attack. Thank God the perpetrator did not achieve his ultimate goals,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters. “The only injuries we know at this point were minor.”

Kat Mara, who works at a real-estate company near Ullah’s home, said the Bangladeshi suspect was “very aloof.”

“He’s like a loner, like there’s always something in his mind,” Mara, 63, told BenarNews, saying that she often saw Ullah at a bagel store across the street from her office.

“He’s very aloof,” she said. “I would say hello and he wouldn’t say anything. He just seemed a little weird.”

No criminal record in Bangladesh

In Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, Police Inspector-General A.K.M. Shahidul Hoque said Ullah had no criminal record in Bangladesh and that he last visited his home country on Sept. 8.

Hoque told the Reuters news service that the information was based on Ullah’s passport number, and said the suspect was from the southern Bangladeshi district of Chittagong.

New York daily newspapers, quoting unnamed law-enforcement sources, said Ullah arrived in the United States from Bangladesh on Sept. 21, 2011 on an F-4 Visa, which is for siblings of American citizens. He is currently a permanent resident, according to officials.

Shamim Ahmad, a spokesman at Bangladesh’s embassy in Washington, did not confirm to BenarNews during a phone interview that Ullah was a Bangladeshi.

Consular officials in New York were awaiting an official report from the NYPD, Ahmad said.

He later on issued a statement saying that the Bangladesh government “is committed to its declared policy of ‘zero tolerance’ against terrorism, and condemns terrorism and violent extremism in all forms or manifestations anywhere in the world, including Monday morning’s incident in New York City.”

“A terrorist is a terrorist irrespective of his or her ethnicity or religion, and must be brought to justice,” the statement said.

Ullah lived with his father, mother and brother and worked as a driver in New York for a few years until his license lapsed in 2015, officials said. Neighbors said he lived with his family on the first floor of a two-story home.

New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill holds a news conference outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan with Mayor Bill de Blasio (left) and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, after a pipe-bomb strapped to a man exploded in a crowded subway corridor near Times Square, Dec. 11, 2017. [AP]
New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill holds a news conference outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan with Mayor Bill de Blasio (left) and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, after a pipe-bomb strapped to a man exploded in a crowded subway corridor near Times Square, Dec. 11, 2017. [AP]
Six weeks, two terrorist incidents

Monday’s bombing occurred nearly six weeks after a deadly terrorist attack in Lower Manhattan.

A man killed eight people and injured a dozen others as he drove a pickup truck down a bicycle path near the World Trade Center on Oct. 31. An officer shot and wounded the suspect.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the suspect, identified as a 29-year-old Uzbek, Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, was indicted last month on murder and terror-related charges.

John Miller, the New York Police Department’s deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism, said authorities had thwarted 26 terrorist plots in New York since Sept. 11, 2001.

“We have prevented a significant number of plots,” Miller told reporters Monday.

“Your intel operations are looking for indicators,” he said. “They don’t have an X-ray for a man’s soul.”

The blast on Monday also happened two months after U.S. authorities accused a 37-year-old Filipino doctor of providing funds to support a foiled plot last year to carry out bombings and shootings in crowded areas in New York City, including the subway system and in Times Square.

Russell Salic, a surgeon, was arrested in April 2017 in the Philippines and is awaiting extradition to the United States. Authorities said those thwarted attacks were to be carried out by the suspects under the name of the extremist group Islamic State during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan last year.

Akayed Ullah
Akayed Ullah [Reuters]
Kazi Nishat Tarana, a Bangladeshi living in New York, told BenarNews she was shocked to hear reports that the suspect in Monday’s explosion could be a Bangladeshi.

“I want to say very clearly, he doesn’t represent Bangladesh,” she said. “The people of our country is peace loving and this man no way is influenced by our great tradition of peace and harmony. We are deeply upset. I hope no Bangladeshi student or immigrant will be judged differently after this incident.”

In Dhaka, Sohaili Ferdous, an assistant inspector general of police, said the department would investigate any possible ties between the latest New York attack and Bangladesh.

“Right now, we cannot give information about him. We have to check with our database whether he had any militant or criminal background,” Ferdous told BenarNews.

Kamran Reza Chowdhury in Dhaka contributed to this report. (BenarNews)

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Pakistan : Law Minister forced to step down, Is the notorious Islamic nation on way to collapse?

With growing influence of Islamic extremists on one hand and separatist movements on other hand, it is really a tough road ahead for Pakistan. The den of terror is on way to collapse

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Islamic Terrorism
Supporters of the extremist Tehreek-e-Labaik party Pakistan (VOA)

After few weeks of ongoing drama Pakistan government on Monday made a deal with leaders of an extremist Islamist protest movement, agreeing that Pakistan law minister would step down from his position in return for an end to violent protests that had resulted in brutal clashes and immobilised the Pakistani capital since last few weeks. The law minister, Zahid Hamid, whom protesters had accused of blasphemy, resigned as part of negotiations overseen by Pakistan’s military. Law Minister Zahid Hamid had been accused by clerics of committing blasphemy due to a change in the wording of an oath taken by parliamentarians. The extremists, led by Rizvi, believed the change in wording as representing a softening of the state’s position against members of the Ahmadi sect, who are not permitted to identify themselves as Muslims in Pakistan. Like many times in past once again in Pakistan the government surrendered to the extremists. A dozen of people were killed and around 250 people were wounded in clashes between protestors and security forces.

“On the assurance of the Chief of Army Staff, we are calling off the sit-in,” Muslim extremist and protest leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi representing radical “Tehreek-e-Labaik” told a crowd of around 2,500 demonstrators in Islamabad on Monday.

Islamic Extremists
Supporters of the Tehreek-e-Labaik party (VOA)

This is not the first time when Islamic extremists have highjacked the government in Pakistan. Not a single Prime Minister in Pakistan has been allowed to complete his tenure since the country’s inception 70 years ago. The political situation in Pakistan has never been a swift ride ever since 1947, as four times democratic governments were thrown away by military dictators, one prime minister was killed while another one was hanged by judiciary, many were sent home by presidents and two were dismissed by the Supreme Court, the latest been Nawaz Sharif.

The recent developments have again proved that Pakistan’s democratically elected government has no authority, it is the islamic extremists who hold the jar of power dictating government what to do and what not to do. Few days back only, a judicial panel ordered the release of Islamic militant leader Hafiz Saeed who was the mastermind of deadly Mumbai terror attacks in 2008 from house arrest. Hafiz Saeed have a huge following and popularity in Pakistan, and was to take up leadership of a political party which he planned to start. The matter of concern is future of Pakistan with such terrorists penetrating in power corridors.

With growing extremism on one side, separatist movements are also growing in Pakistan. Baloch freedom movement is gaining pace and a large section of Pashtun population are also demanding an independent Pashtunistan. There are several similarities between the Pakistani Army committing hideous crimes in Bangladesh (what was then East Pakistan) and Balochistan & Pashtunistan. Mass killings, the rape of women, laying human habitations to waste, targeted assassinations – Bangladesh saw it all during its Liberation War of 1971. Balochistan and Pashtunistan continues to witness these horrors. Religious minorities are also often targeted including the Shia and Ahmadi muslim population.

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With growing Wahhabism on one hand and separatist movements on another hand its really a tough job for Pakistan’s government to keep the country intact. Pakistan should now understand that there is no good terrorism and bad terrorism. [bctt tweet=”Pakistan should now understand that there is no good terrorism and bad terrorism. The snake you raise in your backyard is more likely to bite you before it bite your neighbour.”] In such grave situations, civil society of Pakistan must ponder over the state of affairs and should reject terrorism against India, only then a progressive Pakistan can exist. A progressive and stable Pakistan is equally important for neighbouring countries.

–  by SHAURYA RITWIK, Shaurya is Sub-Editor at NewsGram and writes on Geo-politcs, Culture, Indology and Business. Twitter Handle – @shauryaritwik

2 responses to “Pakistan : Law Minister forced to step down, Is the notorious Islamic nation on way to collapse?”

  1. Good analysis, Pakistan must look within and stop religious extremists before they take control of whole nation.

  2. That is a very good and deep analysis. Pakistan is imploding from inside, religious extremist groups have the upper hand while ethnic suppression is igniting separatism. Ethnic Pashtun and Baluch nationalism should be empowered to put an end to the terror-producing machinery in Pakistan that means total collapse of Pakistani dysfunctional, apartheid and panjabi fascist failed state.

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Is Islamic inequality a conspiracy against the God?

Islam was conducted in a sense it was never meant to be

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Muslims
An eternal religion like Islam is always targeted for its preachings. Wikimedia Commons

Religion was the purest creation by humans to guide them to a better life, but it is clear that religion is being misused by many to create chaos and misery.

Islam, which is the World’s second largest religion, has become to symolize as the largest religion of devastation. A religion that believes that there is only ‘One God’ and that is their God, has now come to stand for turbulence and violence.

Historically too, Islam has always been linked with ‘terrorism’, but what gave rise to this scenario? The synopsis of this situation is not the right interpretation of ‘Quran’. The term ‘Jihad’ which literally means ‘to strive for the betterment of society’ has been deceitfully presented which leads to production of terrorists like Kasab (he quoted it in his letter to his family). The greed for 72 virgin women, which is just a story, makes them a ‘person of mass destruction. ‘ In the name of God, some ‘juvenile’ people choose the path which they are not familiar with.’

Islamic Terrorism
It is often stated that most of the ‘Terrorists’ are Muslims.Wikimedia Commons

A religion should always teach and preach about equality but Islam surely fails when it comes to their women. They are not so privileged as men are in an Islamic society. Why is it so? Does religion discriminate between two on the basis of gender? Why a Muslim man is taught to think about 72 virgin women but a Muslim woman is told to consider one man as her god? Why a man has a right to marry thrice but a woman is allowed to marry just once?

Islamic scholar Imam Tawhidi’s tweet raised a question on the fairness of the Islamic religion.

The disparity is not limited here. A woman who leaves her home, her parents, her career and even her surname; a woman who makes a home a home; a woman who sacrifices her everything for a man; is the one who is out thrown from her own home just by saying ‘Talaq, Talaq, Talaq’. Is a relation between a husband and wife established on these three words? Why only Muslim men favoured with such power?

Culture of Hijab
Women are meant to cover their full body in Islam. Wikimedia Commons

The word ḥijāb in the Quran refers not to women’s clothing, but rather a spatial partition or curtain. However, the preachers of Islam say that women should get all her parts covered by confidently stating that it is mandated in the Holy Quran. Yet another example of inequality on the basis of gender but the compelling truth is that these customs and thesis are created by the human itself and not Islam. This is how Islam is misused to spread fallacious beliefs among the people and making their life miserable.

Does Islam need to reform? Or do preachers of Islam need to introspect and reform?

– Sumit Buchasia of NewsGram. Twitter @sumit_buchasia