Meaning of Maussaoui

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Wall Street Journal

We wonder how many Americans got the same eerie chill that we did reading the partial transcript yesterday of the final 31 minutes of United Airlines Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001. Especially in this holy season of Easter and Passover, it was disturbing to read the hijackers swear fanatic allegiance to another great religion as they squeezed the life out of pleading flight attendants and pointed the jet down to smash in a Pennsylvania field.

10:00:22: Oh Allah, Oh Allah, Oh Gracious.

10:00:25 (passenger, struggling to enter cockpit): "In the cockpit. If we don't, we'll die."

10:01:08 (hijacker, in Arabic): Is that it? I mean, shall we pull it down?

10:01:09: Yes, put it in it, and pull it down.

10:03:02: Allah is the greatest.

As hard as it is to hear it, this is the voice of the threat we still face. It cares only about its own fanatic goals, not about the innocents it kills or the destruction it causes. It can't be deterred in any rational sense. But if we are to survive this ideology in an age of proliferating WMD, maybe we have to look it square in the eye.

The eye, for one, of Zacarias Moussaoui, whose trial in connection with 9-11 revealed the Flight 93 tapes. While he has tried every imaginable stunt during his long trial, the one thing Moussaoui has never shown is remorse. His only expressed regret is that he wasn't able to ram his own plane into the White House, as he says was his plan. Reporters in the courtroom say he smiled broadly this month when former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani described the horrors of the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Center.

Yesterday Moussaoui declared that "You [Americans] have to be subdued. We [Muslims] have to be above you."

The further we move away from 9-11 without another domestic attack, the more tempting it is to believe that awful day was an aberration, to think that we can return to normalcy if we merely leave Iraq and the other Middle Eastern regimes to their own purposes. But the forces of radical Islam aren't going to leave us alone merely because we decide that resisting them is too hard. The men and women on that plane weren't soldiers overseas; they were traveling to work, or on vacation, or to their homes within the United States.

The main political difference in the U.S. today is between those who appreciate that Islamic terrorists represent an existential threat to American life and liberty and are prepared to do what it takes to defeat them, and those who think the threat is overstated and can be ameliorated or appeased. Only yesterday, al Qaeda kingpin Ayman al-Zawahiri exulted in a videotape posted on the Internet that "the enemy has begun to falter." He's wrong, but the transcript of Flight 93 is a reminder of our fate if we do.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: