The Message on 9-11:

Our elected representatives have been busily covering for each other how as the Twin Towers catastrophe was no intelligence or foreign policy failure – a blatant self-contradiction on its face. The sheer ineptitude and unperceptiveness of their reactions give them away, too. We have been fed empty gestures, shutting the barn door after the cow is out, mustering aircraft carriers against exploits we know were carried out with bare hands and knives, and comic-book scenarios like defending museums and amusement parks. That is not a failure, it is a total rout.

Granted, if our security gurus had to admit outright that trillions in technology are no defense against armloads of guts and cunning, they would be hard pressed to justify their huge budgets and star-wars schemes.

Yet in spite of all the recent suicide bombings in Israeli Palestine, did it ever cross their minds that tactics completely change when an attacker is ready to die in action?

These attacks were almost certainly the work of Muslims, because their last line of defense is the willingness to die for their faith, much more than in other systems.

In both foreign policy and intelligence terms, the administration shows a colossal failure to learn about the Muslim world. That is an awful hiatus. Muslims are about as numerous as Chinese on this earth. A generation ago, Nixon concluded it was not possible to support tiny Taiwan at the expense of relations with the most populous nation on earth. Decades later, no one in Washington seems yet to have discovered the parallel, that backing tiny Israel, “my proxy right or wrong,” is powerfully alienating the world’s one billion Muslims.

Yet Islam is more of a real competitor with the West than the other great blocs of our time. The market economy, Soviet style socialism, and even Confucianism are essentially akin, as utilitarian, materialistic or worldly philosophies. Mohamed may have been a businessman by trade, but Islam is much more centered on values like honor, chastity, prayer and the day of judgment. Deeply influenced by an essentially non-materialist philosophy, the Muslim world is going to be much more difficult for America to co-opt than China or Russia. Merely because it is not a single nation state, we have under-rated it as a fourth-rate power.

In America we don’t give so much weight to ideals like honor in our calculations or choice of tactics for behavior modification. Yet the most cursory dealings with Middle Eastern culture show how careful one must be with this very real concept of honor, and to avoid assuming that everything is a matter of money and expedience.

The Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan have been refusing to surrender their friend bin Laden exactly because they believe he is innocent and in their value system, hospitality to a guest is a point of sacred honor. The knee-jerk American response is to bombard them. Such collisions in value systems are the stuff world wars are made of.

Not the experts, but the Muslim man in the street immediately understood this week’s attack as aimed to teach the US a lesson we will never forget. To judge from our officials’ remarks, this aspect has totally escaped their ken, if they are not just playing brain-dead. America is stunned to suffer civilian casualties for the first time in its history  yet she herself holds the all-time world record for bombing civilians from the air!

Our leaders can come out now and say, Chin up, America, we are still ahead on the scoreboard. Even now, thousands of children die in Iraq each month as a consequence of our bombings and sanctions. So next month we are back in the lead already! Unless of course we bomb Afghanistan this week…

Deaf ears or not, whoever masterminded the Twin Towers attack loaded it with messages, which can be deciphered using the numerology the Arabs love.

First take the date, 9/11. Of course, 911 is the number we call for emergencies. The attack is an alert, a warning, and, yes, a cry for help. After all, the US is the world’s policeman!

The hijackings occurred around 9 a.m. One of the flights was No. 11, another was 93. The Twin Towers are the two one’s in the number 911, the more round-shaped Pentagon stands in for the figure 9. These buildings symbolize American hegemony in the commercial and military spheres. The World Trade Center was a symbol of globalization. So the attack was a statement: if the 21st century is the age of globalization, then no more fortress America that only dishes out bombs but can’t take them.

Says who? God. Nine times eleven is 99. In the Islamic tradition, God or Allah has 99 names. And the name Allah, in Arabic, looks like our number 911!

Here’s how it is figured. Allah is spelled ALH, written from right to left. Start with the letter A, called Alif (like the Greek alpha, from which we get our word alphabet). This first letter of the Arabic alphabet, like the numeral one, is a single vertical stroke. Next the letter L. Like our lower case L, it too is a vertical stroke. Two vertical strokes make AL, or 11, like the Twin Towers. The last letter, H, looks something like a backwards capital Q: your Pentagon and the number 9. So Allah = ALH = 119, which written right to left, equals our 911.

Every time we dial 911, do we unwittingly call on Allah for aid?

In Arabic, the date Sept. 11 can also be written 11.9 = ALH or Allah. It so happens that the numerals 1 and 9 are even now written the same in Arabia and in our adapted Arabic numerals. Although numbers are written right to left in Arabic, they start with the smallest units first, instead of the largest ones as we do. So the number 911 looks exactly the same in Western or Arabic writing. A possible meaning is: there can be no losing the message in translation.

The 11th was the second Tuesday in the month, Tuesday is the second day in the week, and there were two pairs of planes: 9+2=11. It was also reported that the hijacking teams consisted of 9 stormers and 2 pilots  again, 9 + 2 = 11. That would make 44 martyrs. Our numeral 4 looks a lot like a 9, which again resembles the letter H, which spells He – meaning God.

What about the fourth airplane? The name Allah has a double L, so it is usually written with three vertical strokes  as in Flight 93 or 9III. Letting imagination run wild, our English word Will (as in Will of God) also has three vertical strokes plus a W, and the Arabic letter W looks exactly like the number 9. W also stands for Washington, White House and G. W. Bush. Evidently, it wasn’t God’s Will for the fourth plane to get through. Four vertical strokes would have made 11/11  our Veterans Day. The other two Flights were 77 and 175. 175 = 7 x 25. Adding together the 2 and 5 in 25 gives a fourth 7, or the series 7777, perhaps symbolizing complete success, seven times 1111. The planes chosen were also of the Boeing 7×7 series .

Is there any meaningful message in all this mystical numbering? Yes, if it can tell us about who is attacking us and why. Here is one message that could have been intended by the 911=Allah symbolism:

God, Allah, is the ultimate lawgiver. He has deputies to enforce His law, and to protect the weak from the rapacity of the strong; among them is the policeman of this world, America. He calls on US to alert us to an emergency: distressed people need our protection, but instead we arm the bullies and crush the innocent victims. To get our wayward attention, His 9/11 call now comes as a blow, to warn us that He can take away our powers, for no policeman is a law unto himself. No nation has ever succeeded in hegemony over the entire planet. Every power that has tried has seen its downfall. If America does not become more humble, she will be humbled in her turn.

Strange  could our attackers turn out to be mystics rather than brutish killers? It would be quite in keeping with the Semitic bent of mind. Not only do the martyrs expect heavenly reward, but, as is less well known, their victims are also meant to receive redemption in the hereafter, as partakers in God’s plan for peace.

If we were less keen on firepower and more on the power of ideas, there would not be such a cultural gap between us and the Islamic world. That may be too much to ask, but at least the common principles of civilization are a basis for understanding.

One message did get through even to the bunkers in Washington: it is impossible to guard all the time everywhere against this sort of attack. But I have not heard anyone from that quarter carry this insight to its logical conclusion, namely: the only solution is at the source of the problem. The real grievances of the dead attackers and their billion-strong surviving constituency need to be addressed.

It makes a world of difference, whether we are up against idealists, fanatics or common criminals. “Rather than simply branding our foes as rogues and crazies, we need to know how they get a following,” says University of San Francisco professor of politics Stephen Zunes. “What fans the flames?”

Or as my old poli sci professor said, “Politicians and political science have nothing in common.” Why, I asked. As best as I can remember, it had something to do with campaign funding.

Zunes continued: “Terrorist leaders are able to exploit the popular perception of the United States as starving Iraqi children. Washington is vilified for supporting Israeli military occupation and assassinations of Palestinians and Arabs, and for backing autocratic regimes in the Middle East and elsewhere”.

Israel has been stepping up its “targeted killings” or assassinations. This is obviously a very dangerous type of war crime, especially for our leaders personally. Though nothing was proven, the Kennedy’s did die after assassinating the South Vietnamese president and attempting to snuff out Castro. But I am after other bait here.

The word “assassin” is Arabic, meaning The Founders. That was the name of a secret society that toppled thrones across the Islamic world centuries ago. Their ultimate weapon was not technology, but the simple fact that they expected to get killed in the act  they needed no elaborate support or means of escaping alive.

Once such a secret society takes root, it can be almost impossible to extinguish. Our modern-day Mafia descends from triad cells formed in Sicily during the Moorish-Norman period, about 600 years ago, along the model of Arabic secret societies. Their original purpose was to defend their communities. Today, the Islamic world sees itself under attack from Western and Russian weapons and media. If we don’t lay off, inimical institutions will arise that could still be around after another millennium!

Here and today, our leaders indirectly or directly support the assassination of their opposite numbers in Palestine. A very practical aspect of the 9/11 warning for them is  know your enemy, if enemies you must be. It is madness to endlessly provoke utterly fearless people, or to assassinate the people who invented assassination – unless, as the Orientals love to say in their martial arts films, “You are tired of living.”

One conclusion I think we can all agree on is this: America should not stay involved in the Middle East without understanding Middle Eastern culture.

I hope my numerological divinations don’t get me suspected of a secret communication channel to the attackers! Rather blame our so-called government for not having one – if they really do care at all about innocent civilians anywhere.

Do they care? One report is that Tuesday’s attack was in retaliation for a bungled cruise-missile assassination attempt on bin Laden, which mostly killed  you guessed it  innocent civilians!

Another scenario has been mentioned too. What country has something to gain from this, has undercover infiltration in the Arab world capable of mounting such a provocation, using Islamic militants as pawns, was founded and maintained by terrorism, and has attacked the US military with impunity before? Starts with the letter I, it is in the Middle East, and it isn’t Iraq or Iran.

Well, how about I for Innocent until proven guilty. For once, let’s not shoot first and ask questions later, if we don’t really want to blow up ourselves, our democracy and our motto of the free and the brave. As big a shock as this is, it is nothing compared with what our European cousins have lived through in the last century, and what too many peoples have felt under the rain of American bombing.

Perhaps Bush will pull it off. If he keeps his cool, could he even succeed now in putting together a coalition to bring democracy back to Afghanistan  or is that wild optimism? The luckless Afghans have already suffered a quarter century of war and famine as pawns of world power plays. They don’t need another job like the Gulf War. In a convoluted way, New Yorkers have paid a price for that “perfect” military intervention, one without blood shed by our soldiers, using superior weapons to destroy a smaller country  a war won by perfect cowards. No doubt the mujaheddin who died to topple the Twin Towers felt themselves morally superior to our warriors.

The tragedy of modern warfare has been that civilians get hit harder than solders. Is America finally going to learn its lesson and improve in this area? If we don’t, this will not be the last attack on American civilians, no matter whom we apprehend this time.

Mr. John-Paul Leonard is a free-lance writer and a regular contributor to Media Monitors Network (MMN)