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Timing Of Terrorism: The Obsessions With Dates
By Christopher C. Harmon
Last month was the black anniversary of September 11, 2001. It has
many meanings for us, but was that date, in particular, selected
by Al Qaeda? A few suggest there is a link to the last day of the
battle in 1683 at the gates of Vienna, a titanic Moslem-Christian
struggle for western Europe. Americans might also wonder whether
9/ll—numbers that cry “emergency” to this country—were
a clever choice by the terrorists as psychological warfare.
Terrorism is very much about symbols and events—usually political,
historical, cultural. Virtually every group has a date, or certain
dates, which are sacrosanct. Among the most common: the birth or
death date of some hero or martyr; the opening day of an insurrection;
the formal founding date of a movement or political party; etc. Some
terrorist groups name themselves after an awful date, a tragedy.
But, apparently, the nineteen men sent to their deaths by Khalid
Sheik Mohammed were not thinking of a particular date for their attack.
We have the meditative letter given to them called “The Last
Night” and it was silent on that. Timing seems to have been
based on operational needs. It may or may not have been coordinated
with the team that murdered celebrated commander Ahmad Shah Masood
in Afghanistan two days before airplanes hit American targets. But
no Al Qaeda sources confirm special interest in Sept. 11, 1683--and
in fact the Battles of Vienna finished the next day, the 12th.
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