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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Readers Wonder Who's to Blame for Attacks

In response to "Bin Laden? Better Be Sure," a column by Boris Kagarlitsky on Sept. 18.

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While Boris Kagarlitsky correctly notes that we in the United States should not blindly assume that the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were masterminded by Osama bin Laden and other militant Islamic extremists, he appears to suggest (or at least strongly imply) that the United States has jumped to this conclusion without evidence. That implication is foolhardy. Although I have no access to any information other than the news media, consider the following:

Firstly, Osama bin Laden has already been linked in an open court to the previous bombing of the World Trade Center and has spoken publicly about his desire to destroy it. The United States government has an outstanding warrant for his arrest in connection with that attack. No other terrorist group -- particularly right-wing groups within the United States -- has shown such an obsession with that particular landmark.

Secondly, an associate of Osama bin Laden admitted in court testimony (during the trial of the first World Trade Center bombers) that the al-Qaida organization was exploring the possibility of hijacking commercial aircraft to be used in suicide bombings.

And thirdly, the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were very coordinated, at least in terms of timing. Remember the bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa in two separate countries with only minutes separating the two blasts? That attack has also been linked to bin Laden. The use of multiple, coordinated attacks in separate areas appears to be one of his favored methods.

Also, most experts agree that bin Laden's organization is probably the only group capable of assembling 19 suicide bombers at once for a single terrorist mission. All these things point to Osama bin Laden and most were obvious to everyone on the morning of Sept. 11. So it was actually quite reasonable to suspect bin Laden of the attacks even before an official investigation was launched.

And while it is true that the United States did initially suspect Islamic extremists in the Oklahoma City bombing and even arranged for the brief detention of a passenger on a flight to London, U.S. officials quickly focused on the evidence and arrested a non-Islamic suspect. Many of the same individuals are investigating this matter, so you would think they would have the same discipline.

As for the suggestion that right-wing militants within the United States could have been involved, such a suggestion is almost laughable. Firstly, right-wing militants have never trained for or even considered suicide bombings. Timothy McVeigh and his accomplices did not die in the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City and there is no evidence that they ever considered such a strategy. Suicide bombings appear to be largely unique to militant Islamic extremists. Secondly, right-wing militants in the United States have a distrust of the federal government and, in particular, federal law enforcement. An attack on the Pentagon may be consistent with that sentiment (although law enforcement targets would be more likely), but not an attack on the World Trade Center. These militants distrust and attack the government but, perversely, consider themselves to be fiercely patriotic. It is unlikely that they would target only civilians in an attack. McVeigh has acknowledged "collateral damage," or civilian casualties, as acceptable in his pursuit of the real enemy but never advocated the large-scale murder of American civilians alone.

Kagarlitsky does note that some people of Moslem faith have been attacked in the wake of these terrorist incidents. However, these racist attacks are not government-sponsored or government-condoned. Law enforcement is investigating those attacks and has committed to punishing those responsible under so-called "hate-crimes" laws, which allow for increased penalties. It is unfortunate that a small number of people feel compelled to resort to racist criminality to vent their frustration at the awful events of Sept. 11, and their actions are completely unjustified. But they do not support Kagarlitsky's conclusion that the United States is laying the groundwork for a massive violation of Moslem civil rights on its own soil and certainly lends no support to his statement that this could lead to "ethnic cleansing and genocide."

Name withheld
Los Angeles


It is doubtful, as Boris Kagarlitsky suggests, that the perpetrators of the dastardly attack on the World Trade Center in New York City and at the Pentagon were carried out by anyone other than those who have been identified by the investigators.

There were, after all, eyewitnesses who managed to make calls from their cellphones aboard the aircraft before their planes were so cruelly and inhumanly crashed into buildings.

What is less clear so far is the relationship any of them may or may not have had with Osama bin Laden, already labeled as the prime suspect by President George W. Bush, even before the 720,000 tons of debris have been carefully sifted through at the scene of the tragedy.

That American intelligence can be so smugly confident in fingering the perpetrators of this act -- but apparently incapable of preventing it from occurring in the first place -- suggests either a capacity for monumental mistaken identity or sheer ineptitude on the part of government investigators.

Scott Nixon
Rogers, Arkansas


I do not appreciate the comment made by Boris Kagarlitsky that many attacks are occurring on Moslems in the United States. The writer of this article did not even bother to mention that the authorities here are seriously looking into the attacks that have taken place against Moslems, mosques and even non-Moslems mistaken for being of Middle Eastern descent.

In addition, people of other religious affiliations have even taken the step of helping out those who were harmed in these attacks. They have helped repair mosques and have given the harmed Moslems much support.

I would like to point out that in Russia, especially in Moscow -- where I lived for one year -- if a man merely looks Caucasian, i.e. dark hair and eyes, he will most likely be stopped by the police. I became upset and fed up at the sight of seeing this occur each and every time I went out.

Dustin Hosseini
Dallas, Texas

Why the Appreciation?

In response to "A Bright Moment in America's Darkest Hour," a series of letters received from Americans commenting on Russians' responses to the attacks, printed on Sept. 19.


I must say that as an American who has spent considerable time in Russia I was embarrassed and appalled by the plethora of letters you recently published from Americans thanking Russia for its expression of concern over the recent terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington.

President Vladimir Putin, who says that Russia stands with America in this hour of darkness, is the living personification of all the values America was created to escape. He has destroyed the freedom of the press in Russia and obliterated Russian federalism. He is a dictator, pure and simple, and unanimously condemned throughout the world for gross human rights abuses in Chechnya -- easily the equal of those committed by Osama bin Laden here.

The fact that a handful of Russians has laid flowers at the U.S. Embassy and a handful of others lit candles in church can hardly conceal the fact that there have been no mass public demonstrations of support for America anywhere in Russia.

To those in Russia who wish America well, by all means I hold out a hand of warmest friendship. But to the others, I simply would like to hope that this letter would dissuade them from thinking that all Americans are clueless airheads who are easily taken in. The vast majority of Americans never travel outside their country, several admitted as much in the letters you published, and yet they feel free to pontificate about Russian intentions. The ugly American strikes again.

Lenard Leeds
United States

A Proper Remedy

In response to "Only the Bold Will Bear a White Flag," a comment by Boris Pankin on Sept. 13.


I would just like to ask the author of this piece: Does he propose the same remedy for the situation in Chechnya?

America did not "retaliate" for Pearl Harbor with Hiroshima and Nagasaki. America was at war with Japan as a result of the unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor. It was widely anticipated after the bloody Okinawa campaign that the Allied invasion of the Japanese mainland, necessary to end the war with conventional weapons, would be horrendous. As someone who had relatives in the British forces in the Far East awaiting this assault with trepidation after their service in Burma or Italy, I am glad the United States dropped those bombs. It gave the Japanese leadership an excuse to capitulate, although extremists in the military undoubtedly wanted to carry on.

Several hundred of my fellow citizens have undoubtedly been killed in the act of war perpetrated on Sept. 11. If a rational military target emerges as a result of the ongoing investigations, I will support action against it.

And I am not one of those British citizens who always and unquestioningly supports the United States -- far from it.

Dr. Simon Higgins
Liverpool, Britain

An Afghan Perspective


The news of last week's tragic events have shocked, horrified, saddened and angered me. Both New York and Washington were home to me throughout my childhood and teenage years. I understand the pain of the people in D.C. and New York. I was forced out of Afghanistan 22 years ago. I understand the pain of 4 million Afghan outcasts and I've also lost family members in the Afghan-Soviet war.

However, reasoning and understanding have consistently prevailed in me. I would like to evoke the same in the reader by asking and then answering some questions regarding the current world crisis.

Why is Afghanistan in turmoil? One out of three Afghans has either lost his life or left the country during the 22 years of devastation caused by war and drought. The Afghan resistance, labeled "freedom fighters" by the West, in the 1980s was part of the largest CIA covert operation that helped bring down the Soviet empire. Soon after the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, the Soviet Union and its empire started to collapse. The sacrifice of the Afghans inevitably helped preserve Western ideology against the threat of communism.

What was the reaction of the West after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan? Western supporters of the "holy warriors" packed their bags and seemed to turn away every time they heard news of fundamentalist development, the treatment of women, the largest refugee crisis in the world, poverty, starvation, destruction of historical sights, mines maiming children and continued civil war in Afghanistan.

Who came to the rescue of the Afghans? Extremist groups from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan invaded the country with thick wallets and an agenda to establish a base. What better place than Afghanistan, where an army of 15,000 may be employed for a mere $35,000 a month? This price includes enlisting the fiercest guerrilla fighters on the face of the Earth on a terrain that the Greeks, Mongols, Arabs, Persians, British and finally the Soviets were unable to control. Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world. How much could it possibly cost to help establish stability?

Would launching a full-scale military operation to punish Afghans for harboring terrorists avenge the Americans? It may quench the anger temporarily but will not solve the problem. It may succeed in fueling a larger war probably to the liking of the terrorists who committed the horrific crimes in the United States. Americans must show that they are stronger than their emotions to win this war.

What is the solution? Firstly, recognition that terrorism is a global conflict requiring the support and cooperation of every world leader including, most importantly, the Arabs. Secondly, the building of economic, political and social infrastructures must encompass other deprived parts of the world besides Europe.

Considering the recent past, further destruction of Afghanistan and its people will be a humanitarian catastrophe equivalent to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings.

Afghanistan has not seen a stable democratic government since 1978. A large-scale world effort that includes sincere efforts to stabilize the region is required immediately.

Afghanistan needs the help of the world community now more than ever to help bring an end to the suffering and an end to terrorism. I know that the majority of Afghans are willing to help the United States again if they would only be remembered. Ask any Afghan.

Jan Mehrzai
Houston, Texas

Robbed on Red Square


My wife, Vera, and I arrived in Moscow on the morning of Sept. 11, just hours before the tragedy in the United States. As a native New Yorker, I was shocked to watch the CNN news. My wife, who was born and raised in Moscow, has been translating all the news to me.

We had been planning our trip to Moscow for months and decided to still enjoy some sights on Red Square the very next day.

As we were enjoying the beautiful views of the Kremlin, we had some questions and decided to ask the Moscow police. What a mistake!

We were immediately asked to show our passports and were told that smoking is not permitted on Red Square. We immediately apologized, and I put my cigarette out. But that was not enough. We were told that we would be taken to the police station and that a fine of 1,000 rubles to 5,000 rubles would be issued.

Throughout this ridiculous threat my wife pretended she didn't speak any Russian. The two police officers started freely discussing how much money they should tell us it would cost. They didn't realize that my wife understood every word. Then one of them said the following: "We can do this the hard way, or we can do this the easy way. Which one would you prefer?"

We obviously wanted to get out of the situation as soon as possible. We were told that a fine of 700 rubles had to be paid to them and then they would forget about the whole thing. As they accepted the bribe, they refused to tell us their names or their official positions.

As two American citizens visiting a foreign country, we were shocked, insulted and devastated that such behavior on behalf of the Russian authorities was even possible. After all, they are supposed to protect all citizens including foreigners!

Andrew Anselmo
New York