Don't forget 9/11 16 anni dopoOggi molti quotidiani hanno ignorato l'anniversario del 9/11. Neanche una riga sui quotidiani ticinesi e nessuno spazio in TV ma anche nel resto dei media mondiali l'attenzione è stata minima. Certamente fra uragani e terremoti c'era di che scordarsi di questo anniversario che non fa più notizia, ma è un errore. Parlare dell'11 settembre 2001 non è solo ricordare un attentato importante con 2753 morti ma non dimenticare un momento di svolta davvero epocale sul piano della nostra percezione del quadro mondiale globalizzato. Con le torri gemelle a New York è crollato infatti un modo di guardare alla realtà sociopolitica planetaria che è diventata il bersaglio debole nel mirino di chi vorrebbe il controllo del pensiero di tutta l'umanità. Per me e per molti, ogni anno far memoria dell'assurdità di un pensiero malato, è d'obbligo, perché solo ricordando si mettono le basi per costruire un mondo che sappia giudicare le assurdità nella prospettiva che si eviti di ripeterle.
Su Twitter, almeno, il ricordo mi è parso essere ancora vivo ed ecco alcune immagine che ho salvato.
E il New York Times, che ha comunque dato ben poco spazio al 9/11, ha pubblicato un articolo che ricorda la ricerca mai abbandonata dai famigliari delle vittime che chiedono di continuare le analisi dei resti per ritrovare qualche traccia dei propri cari
The New York Times 9/11/2017
Opinion – Editorial
By the editorial board
9/11: Finding Answers in Ashes
An inscription on the lobby wall greets visitors in Latin at the offices of the New York City medical examiner. It is an adage familiar to places where autopsies are performed. Reasonably translated, it says: “Let conversation cease. Let laughter flee. This is the place where death rejoices to help the living.” Another saying, borrowed from the Book of Proverbs, Chapter 31, might also work were it to be put on that wall: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.” That, too, is what the medical examiner’s office is about. Rarely has it been called upon to speak up as relentlessly as it has for those whose voices were silenced at the World Trade Center 16 years ago. For the chief medical examiner, Dr. Barbara Sampson, and her staff, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, are never past. All these years later, the team still strives to scientifically identify each of the 2,753 people who were killed in the destruction of the twin towers. “We made a commitment to the families that we would do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes,” Dr. Sampson said. “We’re the family physician to the bereaved.” Death certificates for the victims were issued long ago. But assigning identities to the 21,905 human remains that were recovered from the wreckage is a separate matter. Only 1,641 of the 2,753 victims — 60 percent — have been positively identified, mostly through DNA analysis. The success rate is slightly better, 64 percent, in regard to the 405 firefighters, police officers and emergency medical workers who died at ground zero. Time has not been a friend of the forensic teams. Victim No. 1,641 — a man who, at his family’s request, has not been publicly named — became known to them a month ago. This was nearly two and a half years after No. 1,640 was identified: Matthew David Yarnell, a 26-year-old technology specialist who worked on the 97th floor of the south tower. Before that, six months had gone by since No. 1,639: Patrice Braut, 31, the lone Belgian citizen among the victims. He worked on the 97th floor of the north tower. “It’s a slow go,” Dr. Sampson said. “We’re now down to the ones that are very difficult to get useful DNA.” The genetic material that’s available is sometimes no more than the tiniest patch of flesh. Some remains lay in the wreckage for weeks, months, even years — degraded by water, burning jet fuel and all manner of debris from the downed buildings. In addition, bacterial DNA intermingled with human matter. “It was the worst combination of events you could have for a DNA specimen,” said Dr. Sampson, who has been the city’s chief medical examiner since December 2014. Recent scientific advances, including what she described as a bone-extraction technique, made it possible to identify the 1,641st victim. That gives her hope that the process is not stuck. “I am optimistic we will identify more people,” she said. “But do I think we will be able to identify every single person? Probably not.” Apparently, relatives of the victims have not given up. None of them have told the medical examiner’s office that, after the passage of so much time, they no longer care about matching slivers of remains to their loved ones. “We work very closely with the families,” Dr. Sampson said. “We know every family’s wishes as for what they want us to do.” Since 2014, unclaimed remains have rested 70 feet underground in a repository at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in Lower Manhattan. Only members of the medical examiner’s office may enter the area (though no laboratory work is done there). Next to the repository is a quiet space known as the reflection room, reserved for Sept. 11 families and their guests. Not surprisingly, the anniversary is a time of pilgrimage there. In a typical month, 20 or so people go to the room. On Sept. 11 alone last year, 65 visited. Just about every week, a few families will call the medical examiner’s office with questions, mostly of a technical or administrative nature. Still, often enough, there’s a catch in the caller’s voice or a verbal tic that makes plain how time is an imperfect healer. “You can get a sense of despair,” Dr. Sampson said. “And hope,” she added.
Basilio (mio figlio, quindi Noris!) mi segnala un articolo molto interessante del New Yorker di Robin Wright, non la brava attrice, ma una ottima giornalista che ha incontrato tutti e sa tutto sul terrorismo e non solo. La seguo e l'apprezzo da diverso tempo. Qui fa un'analisi del panorama del terrorismo dall'inizio ad oggi che permette di capire un po' di più i vari meccanismi di funzionamento di questo fenomeno.
The new Yorker
Sixteen Years After 9/11, How Does Terrorism End?
By Robin Wright
September 10, 2017
The current spasm of international terrorism, an age-old tactic of warfare, is often traced to a bomb mailed from New York by the anti-Castro group El Poder Cubano, or Cuban Power, that exploded in a Havana post office, on January 9, 1968. Five people were seriously injured. Since then, almost four hundred thousand people have died in terrorist attacks worldwide, on airplanes and trains, in shopping malls, schools, embassies, cinemas, apartment blocks, government offices, and businesses, according to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. The deadliest remains the 9/11 attack, sixteen years ago this week, which killed almost three thousand people—and in turn triggered a war that has become America’s longest.
I’ve covered dozens of these terrorist attacks on four continents over that half century. After the Barcelona attack and the U.S. decision to send more troops to fight the Taliban, I began to wonder how terrorism ends—or how militant groups evolve. In her landmark study of more than four hundred and fifty terrorist groups, Audrey Kurth Cronin found that the average life span of an extremist movement is about eight years. Cuban Power carried out several other bombings, but, in the end, it didn’t last a whole year.
I’ve also witnessed some transitions that I never thought would happen. I interviewed Yasir Arafat several times when the United States considered him a notorious terrorist. He was a paunchy man of diminutive height, a bit over five feet, with a vain streak. He always wore plain fatigues, crisply pressed, and a checkered kaffiyeh headdress to conceal his bald pate. He was linked, directly or indirectly, with airplane hijackings, bombings, hostage-takings, and more. Israel thought that Arafat was defeated after its 1982 invasion of Lebanon. I watched from the Beirut port as the chief of the Palestine Liberation Organization and his fighters sailed off to new headquarters in Tunisia, a continent twenty-five hundred miles, by land, from the frontlines.
Eleven years later, I was in Washington when Arafat and Yitzak Rabin signed the 1993 Oslo peace accords. They shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize. President Bill Clinton hosted Arafat more than any other head of state. I flew with the next four secretaries of State to see Arafat, to discuss the next steps for an enduring peace, in the Palestinian Authority. A quarter century later, it’s far from over. But it did begin.
In the run-up to the 9/11 anniversary, I reached out to eight terrorism experts who’ve long studied the phenomenon at the C.I.A., the F.B.I., the National Security Council, the State Department, the Rand Corporation, and in academia. They identified six ways terrorism evolves, fades, or dies—and under what conditions it succeeds.
Fewer than five per cent of terrorist groups succeed outright, Cronin told me. Among the most notable was Irgun. The Jewish group bombed Britain’s colonial offices in Palestine and diplomatic sites abroad, as well as local Arab targets. Its most famous attack was in 1946, when members, dressed as waiters, planted a bomb, concealed in milk cans, in Britain’s headquarters in Jerusalem’s King David Hotel; ninety-one were killed. The group was then led by Menachem Begin. Two years later, Irgun realized its goals when British troops withdrew and the state of Israel was founded. Three decades later, Begin, then the Prime Minister, shared the Nobel Peace Prize for détente with Egypt.
Another was in South Africa. In 1961, Nelson Mandela founded the armed wing of the African National Congress. Its first attack was five bombings on government facilities on the same day, in Johannesburg, Durban, and Port Elizabeth. Mandela was arrested and sentenced to life for sabotage. Decades later, as apartheid floundered, the white-minority government ceded power.
Extremist groups are more likely to succeed when objectives are limited or attainable, “such as independence, a role in government, or a piece of territory,” Richard Clarke, the national coördinator on counterterrorism under the Clinton and George W. Bush Administrations, told me. “If a group can increase the pain point to the decision-makers, they will give in. That was true of many independence movements, including the American Revolution.”
“Then they go straight,” Clarke added. “They trade off their radicalism to become a government that is not that out of line with other governments of the world.”
More common—about eighteen per cent—are terrorist movements that end up negotiating to achieve their political goals. “They are the groups that hang on the longest. Their life span as terrorists is usually twenty to twenty-five years,” Cronin told me. “Usually, the talks trundle along. They often take years, and some lower level of violence continues,” she said. “But they rarely fail outright.”
The P.L.O. negotiated. This summer, Colombia’s FARC guerrillas ended a half century of kidnappings and killings in a historic peace deal. Northern Ireland’s Provisional Irish Republican Army was party to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. It had attacked London’s financial district, in 1993; the British Prime Minister’s residence, at 10 Downing Street, in 1991; and the hotel where Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Party was meeting, in 1984. Today, Sinn Féin—the I.R.A.’s political wing—is the most popular party in Northern Ireland, Bruce Hoffman, the author of “Inside Terrorism,“ noted. “The leaders of the moderate Catholic party—the Social Democratic and Labor Party—won a Nobel Peace Prize, but it’s Sinn Féin that is being elected now.”
Negotiations respond to other factors. The P.L.O., FARC, and the I.R.A. were weakened by military campaigns against them and ebbing momentum. Israel, Colombia, and Britain, in turn, altered course as costs mounted over decades and public support waned.
But when extremist groups walk away from negotiations—as happens ten per cent of the time—they often get crushed. Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers pioneered the suicide vest. It was the only terrorist group to assassinate two world leaders—India’s Rajiv Gandhi, in 1991, and the Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa, in 1993. At its peak, it controlled strategic chunks of the country. But years of sporadic peace talks broke down in 2006. In 2009, the Sri Lankan military crushed the Tigers in a relentless offensive.
A third pattern is terrorist “reorientation,” when groups alter tactics, sometimes even entering politics. I lived in Beirut when embryonic precursors of Hezbollah launched the first suicide bombing against an American Embassy, in 1983. After the attack, the seven-story building, which was down the hill from my office, looked like a doll’s house with its façade blown off. Sixty-four died, including some of my friends. Six months later, a bomber drove a Mercedes-Benz truck into the barracks of U.S. Marine peacekeepers in Lebanon. Two hundred and forty-one marines died in the largest loss of U.S. military life in a single incident since the Second World War. I still recall the roar of that bomb waking me up on a balmy October morning, and watching for weeks as the bodies of my countrymen were recovered from under tons of debris.
A decade later, Hezbollah emerged from the underground to run for Parliament, build a network of social services, and greatly expand its support base. Today it has seats in Parliament, Cabinet positions, an alliance with Lebanon’s President, and the largest military force outside the army, as well as hospitals, schools, and welfare agencies. I spent several hours interviewing its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, in 2006, and his deputy, last October. Yet Hezbollah still calls for Israel’s destruction. The United States considers it one of the most dangerous terrorist groups.
“Hezbollah doesn’t rule Lebanon, but it controls it. The message is that terrorism pays. It is translated into power,” Hoffman told me.
Cronin added, “This is the least satisfactory pattern.”
The fourth path is state repression, the most instinctive reaction. It worked against the Tupamaros, in Uruguay, in the nineteen-seventies. But the results often produce massive destruction, unintended consequences and mutations. Russia’s campaign against Chechen extremists made vast swaths of Grozny uninhabitable, and Chechen militants moved elsewhere. Since 2014, thousands of Chechens have joined ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
“Military repression usually backfires,” Jessica Stern, the co-author of “ISIS: The State of Terror” who was a national-security staffer in the Clinton Administration, told me. “Even when they seem to end, they keep merging, splitting, renaming. When a particular group is banned or defeated in one area, it may very well appear in a new guise, under a new name.”
Other terrorist movements collapse as the national and international political dynamics that fuelled them fade. “Either they implode, burn out, and collapse, or they lose popular support and fizzle out,” Cronin said. “They may succumb to infighting, disagreements about ideology, arguments over tactics, or other kinds of internal dissent,” including fratricide.
Right-wing extremists were never able to sustain themselves, Hoffman said. “They made a lot of noise, but they had no message or cohesiveness. And they didn’t get the support that every terrorist group needs from state sponsors or enablers.”
Leftist and Marxist terrorists in Europe—Italy’s Red Brigades, Germany’s Baader-Meinhof Gang, France’s Action Directe—produced big headlines in the nineteen-seventies and eighties. They sought to overthrow capitalist governments. In 1978, the Red Brigades kidnapped the former Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro, after killing his five bodyguards. The group held Moro hostage for fifty-four days and, when the government refused to release political prisoners, put him in the back of a car, covered him in a blanket, and shot him eleven times. In 1981, it kidnapped U.S. Brigadier General James L. Dozier, a senior NATO official, from his apartment in Verona. He was rescued forty-two days later.
“The fanciful European groups of the nineteen-eighties had a political cause and practiced violence. But they were more like cults than terrorist groups,” Clarke said. “They never had a chance of succeeding. What happens with the cults is that the leadership gets arrested, other people pull out or go to ground. The groups become so discredited as whack jobs that they have no new adherents.”
The Soviet Union’s collapse was their death knell. “They faced a perfect confluence of fatal factors,” Hoffman said. “The citadel they worshipped no longer existed, so there was no rationale to sustain their movements. With the end of the Cold War, they had no message.”
As has happened through the millennia, Hoffman added, “The world changes, and groups become less relevant.”
Finally, the decapitation of leaders—by capture or death—can also deflate or finish off movements. For a dozen years, Shining Path terrorized Peru. It bombed government ministries, assassinated politicians, and even massacred peasants, its support base. It collapsed after the 1992 capture of its leader, Abimael Guzmán, in a dance studio in Lima. Japan’s Aum Shinrikyo, which was responsible for the 1995 chemical-weapons attack on a Tokyo subway, declined after founder Shoko Asahara was arrested and, in 2004, sentenced to death. It once had an estimated ten thousand members in thirty-six branches and offices overseas, including in Manhattan.
“Decapitation is not a silver bullet,” Cronin warned. “Sometimes it backfires and creates a martyr that can mobilize public opinion.” The killing of Osama bin Laden, in 2011, hurt Al Qaeda, although its five affiliates are still a deadly menace in North Africa, Syria, and the Arabian Peninsula.
Which pattern might apply to ISIS and the Taliban? “I’m less confident those lessons apply to the groups we face today,” Brian Jenkins, the author of “Will Terrorists Go Nuclear?,” said. “We’re dealing with adversaries who, tactically, organizationally, and strategically, have given the same amount of thought to terrorism as we have. They have adapted, and, as a consequence, many of them have survived. The idea of ending terrorism looks more complex than it did in the nineteen-seventies.”
As an assistant F.B.I. director, Oliver (Buck) Revel headed the Bureau’s counterterrorism program for years. In 1987, he led Operation Goldenrod, an F.B.I.-C.I.A.-Navy program to nab a Lebanese hijacker. It was the first U.S. capture of a foreign terrorist overseas. I covered the trial of Fawaz Younis, who was convicted in a Washington courtroom on three of six counts of hijacking and sentenced to thirty years in prison. I interviewed him after his conviction. He served sixteen years and returned to Lebanon. For thirty years, Revel has tracked how terrorist groups end, or “bleed out.”
“As we’ve seen in Afghanistan, it’s hard to bleed them out,” he told me. “They continue to grow when you don’t solve the underlying issues. But what they want is totally inconsistent with Western values. How can you turn around and negotiate with a group that engages in atrocities? Therefore, is the only option to kill? I don’t know. As long as you subjugate the rest of society, there will be friction that will result in terrorism and then war.
“It’s a conundrum,” Revel said. “As Americans, we like to think there is nothing that is unsolvable. But it’s foolish to think we’ll ever be able to eradicate all of the causes that produce violence.”
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