On September 11, 2001 Sujo John sat at his desk on the 81st floor of the World Trade Center’s North Tower. He could hardly believe what the past several months had brought. Having wed Mary in January of 2000, he was still a newlywed and she was four months pregnant with their first child. Just six months before, the two had left their native Calcutta, India with only $50, a couple of suitcases and dreams of a better, more prosperous life in the United States. In that short time in America, the two had landed good jobs. Mary worked nearby—on the 71st floor of the WTC’s South Tower.
As he sat typing an email to a friend from church, Sujo confided that he believed God wanted more for him. Having read the Prayer of Jabez, by Bruce Wilkinson, Sujo wrote, “I’ve been chasing stuff in America. I want to be used of God.” He finished his email and hit “send”. It was 8:05 on a beautiful Tuesday morning, and it was time to start working. About 40 minutes later, Sujo was sending a fax and heard a huge explosion that we now know was American Airlines Flight 11 striking the North Tower between the 94th and 98th floors.
Down on his floor, Sujo watched as the world seemed to crumble around him- a huge hole allowed him to see ten floors up. The building shook violently, walls started to fall apart and jet fuel from the planes caused fires to break out everywhere, making every minute more treacherous for those in the building. Sujo made his way to the stairs along with his co-workers and thousands of other workers in the building. He remembers the people’s faces saying the “fear of death was written on the face of everyone.”
A short time later, he heard another loud crash when United Flight 175 slammed into the South Tower around the 81st floor, just ten floors up from where Mary worked. Wondering whether he would get out alive, he was now more worried about what was happening with her. Sujo tried to use his cell phone and those of people escaping down the stairs with him, but he couldn’t get through to her. By the time he made it to the ground level of the tower, an area called The Plaza, the horrors of that day really hit Sujo. Normally, The Plaza was a bustling, lively place, but what Sujo saw was beyond human comprehension. He said, “This place of life, this place of just exuberance where life would be celebrated has now been turned into a place of death, a place of destruction, as I see hundreds of bodies of people that jumped out of those buildings, people who were in those planes.”
As time ticked away and he made his way through the chaos, away from the North Tower towards the South Tower, he felt the ground beneath his feet begin to rumble. Sujo described feeling as if he were being “sucked into a vacuum” as he heard the roar as the upper floors of the South Tower began to crumble. He stopped momentarily and huddled with a group of 15 or 20 people and suddenly became very concerned of what would become of them if they all died without hearing about Jesus.
Until this point in his life, Sujo described himself as a “closet Christian”, keeping his faith to himself and never sharing what he believed about Jesus Christ. Now facing death, Sujo found a boldness he never had and began praying out loud, crying out the name of Jesus. He then realized those people he was with were also joining him in unison as he prayed. He went on from there, stumbling through the dust and debris, covered in soot and wondering what became of Mary.
After the dust settled somewhat, Sujo decided to try to crawl back to the group of people he had prayed with a short time earlier, only to find they had not made it, and had been crushed by the hurricane-force wind and debris cloud caused by the South Tower’s collapse. Downhearted and questioning God as to why He would allow him to survive and not them, Sujo said he felt God’s presence and believed those people were at peace now. After the North Tower followed its twin and imploded, Sujo was shocked and couldn’t believe he was still alive. He found himself out in the street, certain his beloved Mary was gone.
After wandering into a shop, he met a young woman who helped pull bits of glass out of his hair and offered to call someone for him. Just as he handed his phone to her, it began to ring for the first time in many hours. It was about noon by this time, and the clerk handed the phone back to Sujo. The caller ID said it was from Mary’s number, but he was certain it was going to be the worst news…that someone was calling from her phone to let him know she didn’t survive.
He was wrong. When he answered, he heard Mary’s voice. She told him she had wanted to get to work early that day, but ended up running late. When they reunited that night, they made a vow to each other and to God that they would make every day of their lives count. Sujo prayed for God to “rewrite the history of my life”. He knew that he and Mary had not come to America just to make money, pursue success or have financial security. He believed that what was important to God was people…all people.
Fifteen years later, Sujo and Mary live near Dallas with their three children and have started an organization called You Can Free Us. This organization works to abolish the modern-day slavery of human trafficking by rescuing women and children forced into prostitution in the U.S. and around the world. As 21st century abolitionists, Sujo and Mary have made good on their promise to God and have taken their message of survival and hope to people of all ages all over the world.
Today is Flag Day. Instead of seeing the colors of Old Glory waving proudly, on this Flag Day, most flags are flying at half-staff due to the events at an Orlando nightclub Saturday night when a lone terrorist used a gun to kill 49 innocent people and injured more than 50 others before being shot by police. It was the worst terrorist attack on our soil since September 11, 2001.
Fort Hood. Boston. Chattanooga. San Bernardino. Orlando. Will it ever be time to take Islamic extremists at their word when they say “crazy” things like “Death to America!”? Or when they promise us after every attack in Europe that they’re coming here to do the same? When they tell us they are and will continue to infiltrate themselves into the populations of oppressed refugees that legitimately fear for their lives in their homelands? Why do those who think they know better than us always brush these hate-filled words under the carpet, then whine about needing more gun laws to prevent such tragedies? As if more laws (instead of enforcing the ones we already have) were the answer. It wouldn’t have kept the Orlando terrorist from doing what he did.
Some people are even trying to blame Christians for the attack due to The Pulse nightclub being a gay bar. A nut from the ACLU claimed that all of the bills in various states coming out in recent months to protect Christian businesses from lawsuits when they don’t want to participate in same-sex “weddings” are to blame for ratcheting up the hatred against homosexuals.
It’s not about guns…or wedding cakes…it’s not even about being gay (though in this particular incident, that’s the likely motivation for picking this target). It’s about those who hate our way of life so much, they want it to disappear.
The Elephant in the Room is this: evil exists and it seeks to destroy. Just because you refuse to acknowledge it as such doesn’t make it go away. All Westerners– whether here in the US, in Canada, Europe or wherever—have a real enemy in political Islam and those who practice it. It doesn’t matter if you are a Christian, Jew or a Muslim who isn’t the right kind of Muslim. It doesn’t matter if you’re gay, straight or what color skin you have. It is about radical Islam, though you’ll never hear the president use that phrase. We may not be at war with them, but they sure as heck are at war with us. . All you have to do is take them at their word.
Here’s an example. In April of this year, WFTV 9 in Orlando broke a story about an Islamic imam who was coming to speak at the local mosque. A little investigation into this imam found that he had some pretty radical beliefs and was caught on tape back in 2013 expressing those views. That imam, Sheikh Farrokh Sekaleshfar, is on tape saying how he would deal with homosexuals: “Death is the sentence. We know there’s nothing to be embarrassed about this, death is the sentence…We have to have that compassion for people, with homosexuals, it’s the same, out of compassion, let’s get rid of them now.”
Now why didn’t that get any national news coverage back in April? Given the events of Saturday night/Sunday morning, it seems particularly chilling and is not unlike what Adolf Hitler said of them back in his day.
The guy who shot up The Pulse nightclub saw the world through a prism of hate. Twisted, disturbed, inhumane. The only thing that can conquer this kind of darkness is light. The homosexual movement uses the rainbow colors as their flag of solidarity. When the colors of the rainbow pass through a prism, what comes out the other side is pure, white light—focused and sharp as a laser.
Maybe it’s time for all of us to be that light–to focus more on what we have in common and stand for one another’s right to live, to be free, to speak our minds without fear of being made into some sort of hate-monger. Unless, of course, like the previously-mentioned imam–you are a hate-monger who talks about killing people.
We don’t have to agree on everything, but can we not at least agree that all lives really do matter, and that the time is coming—and may already be here—when we need to stand together against darkness?
The people who died in Orlando were somebody’s daughters and sons. Whether they were gay or not doesn’t make a difference, just as such things as political party, sexual orientation or skin color didn’t matter in the days after the Twin Towers fell.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Remember that teenager in Texas who started the school year last month by bringing his homemade “clock” to school and freaked out his teachers? Apparently, he’s been enjoying his 15 minutes of fame, which looks like it’s turned into a full hour. Leaving his books (and homemade clock/bomb) behind Ahmed Mohamed—aka “The Clock Kid”—has been traveling the world. Last night, he even appeared at the White House as the president’s special guest at the White House Astronomy Night.
Ahmed got his chance to meet NASA scientists and astronauts—minus his “clock”. After he was handcuffed, detained and released the same day for bringing in a briefcase-looking thing with wires coming out of it to his school in mid-September, Obama tweeted his support and invitation to the White House: “Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.”
No doubt Obama was thinking that the Irving, Texas school officials and police “acted stupidly” in how they dealt with the Muslim teen. The WH spokesperson Josh Earnest even stated at the time that Ahmed’s teachers “failed him” by stereotyping him as they did. Prior to the White House shin-dig, Ahmed even told the press how hard it was for him to live in the United States and that probably if he had been a white kid, and not a Muslim, nothing would have happened to him. The ignorance of youth…so easily molded into the role of the victim.
Ahmed must have forgotten what happened to a little white boy, 7-year-old Josh Welch, who was suspended for 2 days from his Maryland school in 2013 because he supposedly ate a pop tart into the shape of a gun. Unfortunately, The Pop Tart Kid never received this kind of VIP support.
Maybe it was a little over the top to put The Clock Kid in handcuffs and haul him down to the police station for the day, but weren’t his public school teachers just adhering to Obama’s own adage to “say something when you see something” when it comes to terror threats? At 14, Ahmed should probably have been aware of the way things are in public schools, and that bringing a briefcase with wires sticking out of it into class might be a bad idea.
These two public school incidents remind me of that saying, “Everyone is equal…some are just more equal than others.” One kid eats a pop tart into a gun shape (he said he was trying to make it look like a mountain in a picture he drew) and gets suspended for a couple days…and has the suspension upheld by a judge the next year because the judge said the boy had a history of bad behavior in school. Another kid, twice his age, says he’s making a clock, that looks nothing like a clock by anyone’s definition of a clock…but it does kind of look like the makings of a bomb. He brings it to school and gets an invitation to bring it to the White House (which he didn’t do).
But it didn’t stop there for Ahmed the Clock Kid. He has since left his high school and is being home-schooled, and has visited Mecca, Google and Queen Rania of Jordan. The young inventor, son of Muslim activist Mohamed Elhassan Mohamad (who ran for the president of Sudan twice) even got to meet the Butcher of Darfur, Omar Hassan al-Bashi, who is the current president of Sudan. Al-Bashi is accused of ordering the genocide of hundreds of thousands of people in Darfur over the past ten years and is wanted for war crimes.
Ahmed has also been honored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) as their “American Muslim of the Year”. By the way, CAIR remains an un-indicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case of several years ago where participants were charged with funding the terrorist group Hamas. Ahmed, since you live in Texas, maybe you should do a search for an old country song by Garth Brooks…it’s called “Friends in Low Places”.
So Ahmed goes from an obscure high school nerd to the Man About Town, or rather—The World. Wonder if he still thinks it’s so hard to live in America?
If you were old enough 14 years ago to remember the events of this day, you probably know exactly where you were and what you were doing. It was a Tuesday, and since then, we’ve seen many Tuesdays come and go. The photos of all those who lost their lives on this day in 2001 slowly faded with time and fell from their places on cement walls and bulletin boards. The phrase “Never Forget” is often seen and heard on this day, only to go away again until next September 11th.
All of those who perished on 9/11/01, their families, friends, and colleagues have a story to tell… and some of those stories have been told many times. Some stories may never be. When it comes to the passengers and crew that boarded Flight 93 on that fateful morning, the names that usually come to mind are Todd Beamer, Mark Bingham and Tom Burnett. They were the men who decided to lead the other passengers in an attempt to re-take their airplane from the terrorists. As a result of the last heroic efforts of many of the passengers, Flight 93 is the only plane that never made it to its intended target, which is now believed to have been the U.S. Capitol building.
Among the other passengers and crew was a former police detective (Cee Cee Lyles, flight attendant); a greeting-card aficionado who always remembered loved ones and co-workers on special occasions…two of whom received cards from her that were postmarked 9-11-01 (Lorraine Bay, flight attendant); an aspiring child psychologist who worked with troubled teens (Deora Bodley); an ironworker who helped to build the World Trade Center and who had served as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army (William Cashman); an account executive at Good Housekeeping who was in the middle of writing her own book to inspire women (Lauren Grandcolas). As a side note, Lauren, who was 38, was expecting her first child with her husband Jack at the time of her death. Every year when they read the names of the victims at the memorial service in Shanksville, PA and a bell tolls for each passenger …her unborn child is also recognized among them. Lauren’s two sisters completed her book, titled “You Can Do It: The Merit Badge Handbook for Grown-Up Girls.”
Time and space doesn’t permit a complete list, but here are a few more: a veteran of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm who later flew humanitarian missions to Somalia (First Officer Leroy Homer); a college-aged Japanese national who was headed home after having visited such American icons as the Statue of Liberty and Niagara Falls who traveled alone so he could immerse himself in the English language (Toshiya Kuge); the Purser on Flight 93 (Deborah Jacobs Welsh) who had more than 25 years of experience in the airline industry. Deborah was known for her compassion that she showed to the homeless who lived near her Manhattan neighborhood when she would bring them leftover airline meals and warm winter clothing.
These are just some of the 40 people who, when they saw evil face-to-face, didn’t sit around asking why the terrorists hated them. They didn’t form committees to try to analyze the evil before them. Time wasn’t on their side and they knew it…and they acted.
The passengers and crew of United 93 could be considered some of the first civilian heroes of the modern-day War on Terror (a term our current president no longer uses). The world has gotten even more dangerous in the 14years since. The same ideology of the hijackers of 9-11-01 is the same ideology that threatens large swathes of the Middle East right now. It now goes by another name than it did in 2001, but it’s still pure evil and it has to be called out for what it is.
Those people could have ignored what was happening before them that day, but it wouldn’t have done them any good…and if they had chosen to sit passively in their seats and accept what was happening, it wouldn’t have turned out any differently for them. On the other hand, but for their fearlessness in the face of terror, that day could have turned out much differently for a lot of other people.
In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. sat in a jail in Birmingham, Alabama and penned his now-famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. In it, he explained to a group of fellow pastors why he had to be in that city, which at that time, was the most segregated city in the United States. He wrote, “I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Perhaps it was that same Spirit that desires to see freedom for the oppressed that prompted Kayla Mueller, a 20-something relief worker from Arizona, to go to one of the most dangerous parts of the world to help people living under the dark shadow of the Islamic State (ISIS). Kayla had done relief work in India in the past. When her boyfriend Omar Alkhani went to Syria to do some internet service work for Doctors Without Borders, she asked to go with him.
They were both captured in August, 2013 after leaving a hospital in Aleppo, Syria. Alkhani was beaten and released after two months, but Kayla’s ordeal was to continue on. According to reports that have since been confirmed by American intelligence, Kayla was raped repeatedly and forced into a “marriage” to top ISIS leader and financier Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
During her captivity, Kayla wrote a letter to her family that made its way to them and has since been released. To read it, knowing what we now know, is truly heart breaking. She tells her family she was “in a safe location, completely unharmed.” However, it’s apparent she was just trying to spare them any further worry about her situation. She’s even apologetic, to the point of feeling like forgiveness from them is beyond her reach: “If you could say I have “suffered” at all throughout this whole experience it is only in knowing how much suffering I have put you all through; I will never ask you to forgive me as I do not deserve forgiveness.”
She writes about her cellmates who were released…2 Yazidi teens who were also kept as sex slaves. They wanted her to come with them, but she insisted she stay behind because she thought her obviously-American appearance would put them in jeopardy and that they would all be re-captured. So she stayed behind. Though she was hardly old enough to be a mother to the teen-aged girls, Kayla’s family said she became a “mother figure” to them as they all tried to survive together. They were held in the home of another ISIS leader, Abu Sayyaf and his wife Umm Sayyaf. The teens with whom Kayla was imprisoned confirmed Kayla’s forced marriage to al-Baghdadi. He would often come to visit the Sayyafs, and when he did, Kayla was taken to his room. When she returned, she would often be in tears and told the other girls what he did to her.
Her mother, Marsha said, “Kayla did not marry this man. He took her to his room and he abused her and she came back crying.”
Kayla’s death was confirmed back in February of this year, but even now, no one knows how she died. ISIS claims she was killed in a Jordanian airstrike, but U.S. officials have not said that those were the circumstances that caused her death. As for the Sayyafs, Abu Sayyaf was killed in a May 16th raid by the elite U.S. Delta Force that intended to capture him, but was forced to kill him because he drew a weapon on them. This lead to a “treasure trove” of new information about ISIS, some of which came from Sayyaf’s wife Umm, who is said to have pretty much spilled her guts about ISIS leaders’ routines and locations. She also corroborated much of what the Yazidi teens had told to U.S. officials about Kayla and the torture she endured to the end of her life at the hands of al-Baghdadi.
What happened to Kayla Mueller is just one example on a long, long list of examples of the inhumanity of the group called ISIS. They behead men, burn people alive, crucify children, throw homosexuals off of buildings and force women and young girls into sex slavery. Kayla saw injustice and oppression on the other side of the world, and like MLK before her, decided she couldn’t sit and do nothing about it. She did what most of us wouldn’t be willing to do: to be a light in the darkest place on earth. She may have lost her life, but she gained so much more, as she clung to her faith in God. In her words, “I have been shown in darkness, light + have learned that even in prison, one can be free. I am grateful. I have come to see that there is good in every situation, sometimes we just have to look for it.”
If Kayla’s story has inspired you, please share it.
“One year like any old other year
In a week like any week
Monday lying down
People doing what people do
Loving, working and getting through
No portraits on the walls
Of Seventh Avenue”
-lyrics to “Tuesday” by Five for Fighting
In a couple of days, we’ll mark another anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania that took the lives of nearly 3,000 people. It’s also the first anniversary of the attack on our embassy in Benghazi that left our ambassador there dead, along with three brave Americans. That second incident could never have happened, I’m afraid, without some amount of forgetting about the first one by some people in very high places. It appears now we may be on the eve of yet another war…this time, though, our brave soldiers will be sent to Syria to fight on the side of the people who took down those two massive towers—and left the lives of thousands changed forever.
Sure, we’re being told that this isn’t going to war, necessarily- just some very precise strikes at certain locations. Does anyone really believe this? Given the record of this president and his cohorts, how can we ever trust what they say? These are the same people who blamed the Benghazi attack on a poorly-made You Tube movie by some guy no one ever heard of (who only recently got out of jail on supposedly “unrelated charges”).
They’re the same people who, to this day, refer to the deadly shootings at Fort Hood in 2009, as an incident of “workplace violence” instead of calling it what it really was. Just for future reference, Mr. President and Mr. Eric Holder: when someone shouts “Allahu Akbar” (“Allah is greater”) while shooting American soldiers—or while flying planes full of people into buildings full of people—he or she is in full jihadi mode. It’s called a terrorist attack.
They also ignored warnings from Russian intelligence about the two brothers who executed a successful attack at the Boston Marathon earlier this year where 3 people died and hundreds more sustained life-altering injuries. At least that one they did see fit to call an act of terrorism, even though they had proclaimed last year that the War on Terror was officially over. In fact, when Obama became president, he didn’t even want the phrase to be a part of the government’s lexicon, preferring to call the War on Terror an “overseas contingency operation”. Political correctness gone wild.
Since then, he’s tried to fight multiple wars the PC way, by letting the enemy know in advance when we’ll be leaving the area, not even calling those who want to kill us “enemies” (or acknowledging that there are people who want to kill us), and neither defining nor desiring victory. Only a horse’s behind could concoct such a motto as “Lead from behind.”
The words from the song noted above were written by John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting. He captures very well the mindset of Monday, September 10, 2001. I wouldn’t say we were a nation of innocence and naiveté back then, but compared to what happened on Tuesday and in the years since, it pretty much was an innocent time.
Maybe we’ve forgotten that there was once a time when people who took you to the airport or picked you up could actually go right up to the gate. Or that getting on a plane didn’t involve removing any articles of clothing or being touched by a total stranger. The Constitution of the United States has taken a brutal beating over the past twelve years (even before Obama) to the point that the Founding Fathers wouldn’t recognize it or the nation that still claims to be governed by it.
It’s easy and maybe even convenient for those of us who didn’t lose a loved one, either on 9/11/01 or 9/11/12 to allow our memories of these days to fade, only to look back once a year when we’re sure to see some retrospective on a cable news channel.
But for those who lost someone, they live with the results of terrorism every day. They’d probably give anything for it to be Monday, September 10th again, just to have one last chance to see, talk to or hug the one they lost. Many of us haven’t forgotten them, but I’m not so sure about our “leaders”. It took less than a dozen years to go from Never Forget…to Try to Remember.
“The thing about memories
They’re sure and bound to fade
Except for the stolen souls
Left upon her blade
Is Monday coming back?
That’s what Mondays do”
***NOTE: You can listen to “Tuesday” by Five for Fighting HERE. And watch my video tribute to the victims of 9/11/01 by clicking the “Remembering 9/11/01” photo that is always linked from this page.
If the news that the National Security Administration is spying on all of us didn’t burn you up this summer, maybe this will get your attention. The Department of Defense released a training document (thanks to the efforts of Judicial Watch) that teaches our military men and women how to recognize extremists in and outside of the Armed Forces.
What’s wrong with that? Nothing…until you start to read the document. To begin, it relies heavily on information provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a far-left organization that defines any group or individual that disagrees with them as extremists. Conservative organizations such as the Family Research Council and the American Family Association are lumped in with true extremists and hate-mongers like the skinheads as far as the SPLC is concerned. In fact, in August of 2012, when the headquarters of the Family Research Council was attacked by a lone gunman, he later admitted that he targeted the employees of that organization because he saw it listed on the SPLC’s website for being “anti-gay”. As you can see, the SPLC has some radical supporters of its own.
In the DoD’s training document, it gives examples of what it calls “extremist ideologies and movements” and gives two examples from history: “ The colonists who sought to free themselves from British rule and the Confederate states who sought to secede from the Northern states are just two examples.”(page 43). The document gets even broader in what it defines as extremist: “Nowadays, instead of dressing in sheets or publicly espousing hate messages, many extremists will talk of individual liberties, states’ rights, and how to make the world a better place.” (page 45). (The last thing we need are more people who want to make the world a better place!)
This is why leftists routinely say that anyone who speaks of freedom, liberty or states’ rights is speaking “code words” to hide their racist beliefs. When the training manual describes the ultimate racist group, the Ku Klux Klan and gives its history, it mentions that it was a Christian organization, yet doesn’t mention that it was started by white Democrats. It lists September 11, 2001 as an “historical event” tied to al-Qaeda, but neglects to mention who al-Qaeda is: followers of Islamic sharia law.
Speaking of al-Qaeda, a separate document released by the Pentagon was obtained by the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty within days of the first document that Judicial Watch had found. This second document goes so far as to link Evangelical Christianity and Catholicism with the same religious extremism as al-Qaeda and Hamas!
It’s plain to see what Obama’s Department of Defense thinks of conservatives, people who talk about personal liberty and religious people (namely, Catholics and Evangelicals). In fact, it seems to be a pattern throughout the administration: the IRS giving extra scrutiny to conservative and pro-life groups; the Obamacare mandate forcing employers to pay for birth control, even those opposed to it for religious reasons; the hostility shown to military members who wish to share their faith—the list grows with each passing day.
One more thing about that document: it lists several personality traits or tendencies of extremists that sound all-too-familiar. Some of the traits are: character assassination, name calling and labeling, the use of sweeping generalizations, use of slogans and buzzwords and assumption of moral superiority over others. Sounds to me like the Obama 2012 election campaign strategy.
My favorite was the last extremist tendency: the advocacy of double standards: “Extremists generally tend to judge themselves or their interest group in terms of their intentions, which they tend to view generously, and their critics and opponents by their acts, which they tend to view very critically. They would like you to accept their assertions on faith, but they demand proof for yours”.
Now that sounds like Al Gore.