On November 21, 1974, after two Irish Republican Army (IRA) bombs exploded in two separate Birmingham pubs, killing 21 people and injuring hundreds, an investigation was opened to find the culprits. Almost immediately, the investigation centered on six men, later known as the Birmingham Six. For years the IRA and the British government had been at odds over the status of Northern Ireland, in fact you had to be hiding under a rock if you didn’t know about it. Still, on that November day, it all came to a head. The bombs exploded, destroying everything and killing or hurting everyone in sight.
The most immediate reaction of the British government was to outlaw the IRA. Virtually overnight, they were declared a terrorist group in all the United Kingdom. Thus began the worst miscarriage of justice in British history. Immediately, authorities rushed to arrest and convict the IRA members who were responsible for these horrific acts. Six Irish suspects were picked up. They were Hugh Callaghan, Patrick Joseph Hill, Gerard Hunter, Richard McIlkenny, William Power, and John Walker. During interrogation, four of the men signed confessions, which made no sense, because even the IRA, which had claimed responsibility for the Birmingham bombings, said that the six were not members of its organization.
That begs the question, that if the IRA claimed responsibility and specifically said these men were part of their organization, how could these men be tried, found guilty, and sentenced. Nevertheless, they were, and they served 16 years before something was done about it. These men declared their innocence almost from the beginning…if you take the signed confessions at face value, and assume they were not coerced. The men stated and never wavered, that the police had beaten the confessions out of them. Many people would agree. Of course, the prosecutors denied this and also came up with forensic evidence that apparently proved that the Birmingham Six had handled explosives shortly before their arrest. It appeared that they just wanted to get a conviction so things could settle down. I’m sure they were under a lot of pressure to solve the crime.
Following their convictions, the men were sentenced to lengthy prison terms. In all they spent 16 years in prison, before something changed. I’m sure they thought they would never be free again, but their convictions were declared “unsafe and unsatisfactory” and quashed by the Court of Appeal on 14 March 1991. Apparently, this all came about as a result of the widespread questioning of their guilt by the British people. They started seeing that things just didn’t add up, and yet, here were these men, locked up and seemingly innocent of any crime. In the face of all this, the British authorities released the so-called “Birmingham Six.” The six Irish men who had been sent to prison 16 years earlier for the 1974 terrorist bombings of two pubs in Birmingham, England. To further prove the error, in 1985, the forensic evidence was exposed by scientists as unreliable at best!! The nightmare for the Birmingham Six was coming to an end, and the nightmare for the British government was just beginning. In 1987 an appeals judge conceded that the same results could be obtained from testing people who recently touched playing cards or cigarette paper, and yet these men were convicted of a bombing based on that same lack of credible evidence. Even with all that information, it took until March 1991, before the people across Britain and Ireland began calling for their release. Finally, they were freed after years in prison. They were free, but their story didn’t end there. Seven years later, a British court of appeals formally overturned their sentences, citing serious doubts about the legitimacy of the police evidence and the treatment of the suspects during their interrogation. The six men were later awarded compensation ranging from £840,000 to £1.2 million.
When we think about the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, most people are first saddened and appalled, and then we wonder…why?? We should also wonder…why September 11th. I’m sure that the terrorists pick a day, without really knowing why that was the day they picked, but I find the parallels concerning September 11, to be beyond coincidental. I can’t really take credit for pointing out the parallels either, that honor goes to Jonathan Cahn, who is the author of “The Harbinger II,” among other books on the same subject. When you hear about the parallels…well, it’s almost eerie. Cahn pointed out some things that I had no idea about, and it is my guess that I am not alone in not knowing about these parallels, and the good news is that you can research them for yourself to see if what I am telling you is correct or not.
New York City was founded in 1609, when Henry Hudson sailed into what is now the Upper Bay of New York Harbor in the Dutch East India Company ship, Halve Maen (Half Moon in English). Hudson was looking for a Northwest Passage to Asia. He landed on what is now Manhattan, just a short distance from where the World Trade Center had stood in modern times…on September 11, 1609. When I heard that, I had to check it out for myself, and sure enough, on September 11, 1609, Henry Hudson sailed to the southern point of modern day Manhattan. September 11th…seriously!!
So the terrorists flew into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 just a short distance from Henry Hudson’s famous landing, but what of the Pentagon. Well, during World War II, when it was decided that the military needed a single headquarters, the plan began to take shape. The location was chosen, and then came the groundbreaking ceremony on…you guessed it, September 11, 1941. I found it not only shocking that the attacks came on the days of the founding of Manhattan and the Pentagon, but that those two separate places could have that date in common. Could the terrorists have known about these two obscure events in the passage of time. I don’t think so, because I don’t think they were that smart. They simply did what they were told. Could Osama Bin Laden or Khalid Sheikh Mohammed have known. I suppose so, but what would they have done if the dates hadn’t matched. None of that made any sense. From their prospective, they simply wanted to attack America. To me, the date is beyond coincidence. It is prophetic and it is spiritual. You can check out the research and draw your own conclusion, or better yet, read the book. There is much more there…in the book…far too much to say here, but it got my attention.
For a time, bombs or bomb threats seemed to be the weapon of choice for terrorists and hijackers on the worlds airlines. With better screenings and luggage checks, things have improved and we see fewer incidences like these, but that in no way means that we should ever let our guard down, because evil exists in this world, and awareness of that fact saves lives. On April 2, 1986, we weren’t quite as prepared as we are today. On that day, Trans World Airlines Flight 840 was on a regularly scheduled flight from Los Angeles to Cairo via New York City, Rome, and Athens. The plane was flying at 11,000 feet over Greece, on its way to Athens, when the bomb went off. Four people, including an eight-month old baby, were sucked out of a TWA passenger jet after an explosion ripped a hole in its side.
It blew a hole six feet by three feet wide under a window in front of the starboard wing. It is believed the explosion happened at floor level in the passenger compartment itself. The four bodies of the victims were retrieved from a site 87 miles southwest of Athens. Three were from the same Greek-American family, believed to have been a grandmother, her daughter and her granddaughter. Police also found the body of a male passenger identified as a Colombian-born American, sucked out of the plane still in his seat. Remarkably, the remaining 118 passengers and crew survived, including Christian author, Jeanette Chaffee, who has written about this and other incredible situations, called “Extravagant Graces,” a book I think I will have to read. The pilot, Captain Richard Petersen, made an emergency landing, telling Athens control tower that the pressurization in the cabin was failing.
The pilot, Captain Richard Petersen, made an emergency landing, telling Athens control tower that the pressurization in the cabin was failing. He is being hailed as a hero. “We are proud of him,” said a TWA source. Just seven passengers were taken to hospital, and only three were kept in for treatment. One was Ibrahim al-Nami, from Saudi Arabia, who said he had been sitting next to the man who was sucked out with his seat. “We heard a big bang outside the window,” he said,” and then I saw the man next to me disappear and I felt myself being pulled out.” He avoided sharing the same fate by clinging on to his wife’s seat. Another passenger escaped because she left her seat only minutes earlier to go to the lavatory. Florentia Haniotakis, a Greek-American from Ohio, praised the crew. She says they comforted passengers to calm them during the emergency landing.
The airliner was on the same Rome-Cairo route as a similar TWA plane hijacked by Shia Muslim gunmen in June 1985 after leaving Athens for Rome. The investigation found that the bomb had been planted under seat number 10F, probably inside a lifejacket. A group calling itself the Ezzedine Kassam Unit of the Arab Revolutionary Cells claimed responsibility, and said the bombing was in retaliation for US bombing raids against Libya the previous month. Police initially suspected a Lebanon-born Palestinian woman named Mai Elias Mansur. Mansur was a suspected terrorist connected with the Abu Nidal extremist group, who was involved in an abortive attempt to bomb a Pan American airliner in 1983. She had travelled in seat 10F on an earlier flight of the same Boeing 727. Mansur denied any involvement. After a two year investigation, the US State Department said it believed that she had carried out the bombing, operating on the orders of known Palestinian terrorist Colonel Hawari, but they were unable to definitively prove it. Therefore, nobody has ever been convicted of carrying out the bombing. TWA filed for bankruptcy in 2001 and was taken over by American Airlines.
Fifteen years ago today, Americans were greeted with horror, as terrorism split the atmosphere of safety we had long enjoyed around our nation. I think most Americans had become comfortable, and even complacent about national security. Life was going along at almost a lazy Sunday afternoon pace. We were like small town kids, who thought that nothing ever happens in our town. How very wrong we were. Our world was about to be turned upside down.
When the first plane hit the World Trade Center, I think most people thought it was a tragic accident. We simply couldn’t fathom the idea that a terrorist would be so horribly cruel as to hijack a plane full of innocent people and fly it straight into a building full of more innocent people. And yet, to our horror, that is exactly what these terrorists did. They operated the planes with no mercy and no feelings. They did not care about the lives they were taking or even about their own lives…in fact, they thought they were heroes for their actions, and that there would be great rewards in Heaven for them. Their complete shock as they entered Hell, must have been devastating.
Their actions left our nation is shock and disbelief. We watch as the devastation unfolded before us, growing worse by the moment, our hearts and minds were assaulted, yet we could not look away. We watched, hoping that the people on the top floors could be saved…even after they began to fall or jump from the building, because the heat was more than they could take. We felt sick with each and every thud. We prayed over the rescuers, that they would be successful in getting people out, and that they would come out too. We watched in stunned disbelief as the towers fell, praying that after the first tower fell, that somehow, the second would remain standing…until it also fell. We became angry at the people who had done this, without provocation. Pure hate, of our beliefs, our prosperity, and our liberties, and that drove them to attack us.
As the day went on, we watched in horror as more information came out. We knew that there were going to be many people died, but still we watched as they dug through the rubble. We thought there would suddenly be people found alive in that rubble. As time went on, we knew that there wouldn’t be huge numbers of survivors. In the end, only twelve people were found alive after the towers fell. After a couple of days, we knew there would be no more, still we could not look away. We had to watch…had to know. As each lost one was found…we cried right along with their families. Then came the worst horror of all…finding out that some people would never be found. The fires had been so hot that their bodies were cremated. That added more horror to our thoughts. It was something we just couldn’t fathom, just like we could not fathom that 15 years later, that day would still be as vivid in our memories as it was on the day we were attacked.
As the fourteenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks approached, movies that had been filmed following those horrible events began to show up on television again. I think I’ve already watched each and every one of them, but I always feel compelled to watch them again. It isn’t out of a morbid sense of curiosity, but rather as a reminder that there are people out there who are so evil that it is beyond our ability to comprehend. It is also a way to remind myself that there are heroes out there who set aside self, no matter what the danger, in an effort to save others.
I like to hope that I would be one of those people who come together to save others, but I don’t think that the average citizen really knows what they would do, until they are placed in that position. Our flight instincts seem to be based on just how big a danger we perceive ourselves to be facing. I don’t think that I could leave someone in trouble, but I don’t know how I would feel about actually running into a building like the World Trade Center on September 11.
As I was watching the movie, I was reminded that there were a number of people who were simply never found at the World Trade Center site. Never found!! In fact, there were over 1000 people who were never found. It was like they were simply vaporized. Of course, there might be pieces of them in the many, some small enough to fit in a test tube, pieces of human remains that have not been identified. It is shocking and sad to me to think that there are actually people who have never been given closure concerning their loved ones. All they know is that their loved ones were killed on September 11, 2001. They don’t know if they suffered, or if it was instant. There is simply no way to know. And that is horrifically hard. I don’t mean to sound morbid, but I have a really hard time when I think about the fact that in just a few hours, more than 1,000 people simply disappeared. In our world of DNA matches and so many other methods of identifying people, and so many pieces of bodies that have been found, I just don’t understand how those people could simply be nowhere, but they are. I think that true closure often comes from being able to view the body, and have a funeral using the real body of the loved one. In the absence of that body, the mind plays tricks on us. We hope that maybe they somehow survived and simply have amnesia or something. Even though we know that is probably wrong.
As this fourteenth anniversary of that horrible day arrives, I pray for those who lost loved ones, and those who will never know what happened to their loved ones. I pray that they are able to have emotional closure, even if they can’t have full closure. For the rest of us, I hope that we will never forget what happened that day, the people who died, and the people who did this. Terror and terrorists continue to exist in our world, and they don’t care if their victims were tolerant of their beliefs or not. They have one agenda, and one agenda only, to kill all infidels, because in their minds, that is their obligation and their right. We must stay alert, lest we find ourselves open to another attack.
Twelve years ago today, our world was changed forever. In my remembrance and that of all living Americans, there has never been never been such an attack…here, on American soil…until September 11, 2001. That day will live in the memories of all the American people who were old enough to remember it, and any who have been told very much about it since. I have to wonder about the people born since that time. Will they understand what that day is all about? Or will they simply see it in the way most of us see things like the Civil War or the American Revolutionary War? Both were events that took place here in America so very long ago, fought on American soil, and yet, they seem more like a storybook event than a real event that is such a big part of our history. I don’t know how that could have been changed in the years following those wars, but with our technology, we should be able to keep the memory of the terrorist attacks in the front of our children’s thoughts, so that as they grow, we don’t lose sight of what the evil in this world can bring about.
I did not know anyone who lost their life on 9-11, but I did know someone who could have been in the middle of that whole thing. My daughter’s friend, Carina, who has been like a third daughter to me since they were in Kindergarten, was a flight attendant during that time with Continental Airlines, based out of New Jersey. She was sick that day, and so was not flying. That did not alleviate her parents’ concerns, because they didn’t know that she was not flying and they couldn’t get a hold of her, because she had turned her phone off. When we knew that she was safe, we all gave a sigh of relief. It is a feeling of relief that we will never forget.
Now twelve years later we are again remembering a horrible terrorist attack against our nation, this time in Benghazi. Our government became too complacent about our safety both here and abroad, and again…people died…on a day when we should have been watchful!!! It is an atrocity!! When will we learn that we cannot forget. There is so much evil in this world and we must remain watchful, or we will be attacked again. Today, I pay tribute to those lost in all of these attacks, and to those who gave their lives trying to help others. Rest in peace.
Seventy one years ago today, one of the most horrific attacks ever launched on US soil took place. Following that attack, the United States entered World War II. That would eventually lead to the men who would become my dad and my uncles, also entering World War II. So many people think that the United States loves to go to war, but that is simply not the case. The United States is a nation of people who try to give everyone the right to live and let live, but if we are provoked or if another nation is in need, most nations or terrorists will find that we are a nation they will wish they had not messed with.
Our family has not lost a soldier to war that I am aware of, at least not as far back and including World War I, so I don’t know what it feels like to lose someone to combat. I do know that whenever our nation is involved in a war, my prayers go out for protection for all our soldiers…those I know and those I don’t.
There have been times when our nation has been divided over whether or not we should be involved in a war, but when it is an attack on our soil, very few people protest the war. It just feels different, more personal, whether we know anyone who lost their life or not. They are our people, and this is our nation…our safe zone, and we don’t like having anyone come in and violate that safe zone. The attack on Pearl Harbor came as such a shock to so many people, because they had been lead to believe that we had made an agreement with Japan that they would honor, but no matter what they are like today, they did not honor the agreement made than, and many people paid for our nation’s trusting ways with their lives.
The attack on Pearl Harbor will forever be embedded in the minds of those who lived it and those who have studied it. Today, I want to honor all the men and women who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor and in World War II, and all the men and women who have served their country in World War II and all the other wars our nation has been involved in. Thank you all for your service.