America's defences against suicide bombers are porous
Stabroek News
September 12, 2001

Dear Editor,

Seated on the eleventh floor of a midtown Manhattan office on Tuesday, 9.11.01, (the numeric way in which Americans write their dates), I could not help feeling numbed by the flow of information about the two-plane terrorist attack on the now destroyed twin towers aka the World Trade Center in New York City.

One person sitting next to me pointed out that the date 9-11 (September 9), when merged to read 911, comes across as the emergency telephone number, and that the terrorists wanted to use the date to send a message that they were going to send America into a state of emergency.

As information kept coming from employees trafficking in and out the office, it soon dawned on most of us that there was an orchestrated series of attacks intended to do great harm to people and destruction to property on American soil, particularly with reports about planes being hijacked and crashing elsewhere in America, and federal buildings being targeted.

It was not until I emerged from the building and saw the bewildered look on people's faces, some covered in white dust and soot from the ensuing fires, as they streamed away from the location of the disaster, that I began to feel the enormity of the impact.

I have become accustomed to walking on Broadway and seeing the twin towers, but when I looked up, smoke billowed and the towers were no more. Tears welled up in my eyes because these two structures were awesome and a wonder in themselves to behold from a distance, to walk around and visit on the inside.

Then my mind turned immediately to 'whodunit'? Most experts suspect Arab terrorists, largely because of America's staunch support for Israel which is now embroiled in an eleven-month battle with Palestinians, and unless proven otherwise, these experts may be correct.

My mind subsequently turned to how could it have happened given the apparent tight defence system America has in place? America did build up its defence system to cater for inter-continental ballistic missiles coming in from the now defunct Soviet Union, but this tragedy now proves how it porous its defence is against suicide bombers; a type of warfare that requires a different approach.

By two o'clock in the afternoon, the New York Police Department confirmed that about 40,000 worked in the towers and about 200,000 passed through there daily, so the early assumption was that the number of fatalities could be in the thousands.

With such a potential loss of lives, mostly Americans but including other nationalities, such as Guyanese and other West Indians, the American Government is going to conduct an investigation and the world can rest assured that whichever nation is responsible, or wherever the responsible groups are located, devastating punitive military action by America will be forthcoming.

Not that retaliatory action may resolve the issue, especially if it is proven to be Mid-east related, but some semblance of authority has to be established to bring assurance to people from all over the world who call America home, that their lives will not be at risk because of the irresponsible behaviour of some terrorists who feel the best way to settle intractable differences is to kill innocent people who have nothing to do with the issue at hand.

I know of a few Guyanese who work at the WTC and I pray that they are not among the thousands feared dead or seriously injured. I pray for the emergency personnel and medical practitioners who will be digging through rubble for survivors and the deceased, and working to save lives and limbs. I also pray for all peoples affected, even if vicariously, by this tragedy, and feel confident that God still is in control.

Yours faithfully,

Emile Mervin,
Brooklyn, New York