Evasions and Secrecy at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum

After I published my article “National Disgrace: 9/11 Museum to Charge $24 Admission” last week, I sent a few follow-up questions to Museum officials. Anthony Guido, Communications Manager at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, sent me answers:

1. It has been reported that museum will feature large, and some have said borderline laudatory, profiles of Mohammed Atta and the other hijackers. Yet conspicuously absent is any discussion of their motivation. Why is this?

Guido: “The Museum includes a brief history of al Qaeda, an overview of the 9/11 plot, and reference to the perpetrators of the 1993 WTC bombing. The exhibition includes audio (e.g. transmissions made by 9/11 hijackers Mohammed Atta and Ziad Jarrah from the cockpits of hijacked Flight 11 & 93), moving imagery (e.g. broadcast interviews given by bin Laden in the late 1990s, video of hijackers passing through security on 9/11, and clips from al Qaeda propaganda tapes), evidence used by the DoJ at terrorist trials (e.g. facsimiles of documents related to the hijackers’ flight school training; the driver’s license of Flight 77 hijacker Nawaf al-Hazmi, recovered from the Pentagon), quotations from the perpetrators (e.g. bin Laden’s declaration of war on the US, which we will use to indict him in his own words) and photographs, most notably small images of the 19 hijackers. The selected photographs of the 19 hijackers were released by the Department of Justice and bear a government evidence sticker, which marks the hijackers as criminals. The final size of the images is 1½” X 2″ each. At the suggestion of FBI advisors, the images will be presented at a low angle, almost horizontal, so visitors can choose whether or not to look at them. The FBI plans to use a similar configuration in its internal exhibition.”

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Guido answered in so much detail that it is easy to overlook the fact that he doesn’t say anything about the Museum featuring any direct explanation of the motives and goals of the hijackers. This might or might not be included in the quotations from bin Laden’s declaration of war (not “jihad”) against America and the statements from the hijackers, but even if it is, there is nothing placing the 9/11 attack in the larger context of the jihad against the U.S. and the free world. This is not nitpicking: without it, the hijackers will appear to be a small group of “extremists,” and not what they really were: exponents of a worldwide movement that today is growing and more assertive and threatening than ever.

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2. Prominently featured inside the museum now is a photo of a man in traditional Muslim garb. This is the first photo that catches the eye when one enters the museum. How was this photo chosen, and why?

Guido: “The Museum will open in May and many of the photos are not yet in place. Do you have a published report you can share on this? The first photos you see will be of the original towers and WTC space.”

What I was referring to was the indoor part of the existing, unfinished Museum, which I visited in July 2013. The walls of the area right inside the door are covered with photos of various individuals and groups from all over the world paying their respects to those killed on 9/11; the largest and most prominently placed photo is of a Kuwaiti man in full Muslim garb. The political point is obvious.

3. Atta and the some of the other hijackers left behind writings that made their motivations clear. Are these featured at the museum? If so, are these motivations explained and placed in the context of contemporary conflicts? If not, why not?

Guido: “See #1. And yes motivations are examined inside the historical exhibition.”

To what extent will the Museum examine the texts and teachings of Islam that jihadis use to justify violence? Probably not at all. The letters left behind by the 19 Muslim terrorists that attacked America on September 11th mentioned Allah over 90 times. Is that highlighted? It’s not even mentioned.

When the confrontation begins, strike like champions who do not want to go back to this world. Shout, ‘Allahu Akbar,’ because this strikes fear in the hearts of the non-believers. Allah said: ‘Strike above the neck, and strike at all of their extremities.’ (Last letter of the 9/11 Muslim terrorists)

4. Why was Daisy Khan chosen for the museum board, and what is her specific role?

Guido: “This is a list of our Board of Directors: https://www.911memorial.org/board-directors.”

In this he was not quite accurate. The New York Times reported in 2010 that “Daisy Khan, who immigrated, also as a teenager, to Jericho, on Long Island, from Kashmir, married Imam Feisal in 1997….They spoke out against religious violence; the imam advised the F.B.I.; his wife joined an advisory panel of the 9/11 memorial and museum.” Khan is the head of the American Society for Muslim Advancement; her husband, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, was the driving force behind the building of the “Ground Zero mosque.”

5. Do you think it would be wrong in principle to elucidate the motives and goals of the 9/11 hijackers at the museum? If so, why? If not, why not?

Guido: “The 9/11 Memorial Museum has an obligation to preserve the history of what happened on September 11, 2001 and make a clear statement about who was responsible for the attacks.”

What and who, but here again, not why.

The Museum officials are oddly secretive. I asked for an interview with Joe Daniels, the 9/11 Memorial President, but was refused. I asked for an interview with any of the 9/11 Memorial Board members, in this I was refused as well. I requested three separate times for media credentials to visit the Museum; Guido told me that the Museum had been closed to the media since December. Why? When I asked, Guido answered: “The Museum doesn’t open until May, so along with construction progress at several points in the last 6 months we have given media preview tours.”

Americans need to take back the 9/11 Museum. And not at the outrageously priced $24 admission price. It is not a theme park. It’s hallowed ground.

The 9/11 Memorial and Museum is a cemetery, a battlefield like Gettysburg and Pearl Harbor. It should be turned over to the Federal government.

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