09 26 2016
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NEW YORK--The nation and the world began a solemn observance of the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks Monday, with sorrowful family members clutching photos of the victims at the World Trade Center site and quiet remembrances planned around the country.
A moment of silence was observed at ground zero at 8:46 a.m., commemorating the moment American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the trade center's north tower.
On the 16-acre New York City expanse where the World Trade Center once stood, three more moments of silence were observed at 9:03, 9:59 and 10:29 a.m., the times when the second jetliner struck one of the twin towers, and when each tower fell.
Family members began arriving before 7 a.m. at the trade center site, some clutching bouquets of roses and framed photos of their loved ones. Others wore pins bearing pictures of the victims.
"I think it's important that people remember as years go on," said Diana Kellie, of Acaconda, Mont., whose niece and niece's fiance were killed on one of the planes. "The dead are really not dead until they're forgotten."
Firefighter Tommy King and others stood beside a fire truck with a windshield emblazoned with the names of two comrades who died on Sept. 11.
"It's just weird being back here," King said outside the World Financial Center, where he hasn't been for five years. "This building here was a morgue."
Spouses and partners of the 2,749 people who died at the trade center were to read the names of the victims as families of the victims descend to roam the site and lay flowers.
President George W. Bush visited ground zero Sunday and on Monday was to visit the two other attack sites: Shanksville, Pa., where 40 people were killed when a jet crashed into the ground, and the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., where 184 died.
Bush also planned a prime-time address from the Oval Office.
There were also moments of silence set for 8:46 a.m. in the American and United terminals of Logan International Airport in Boston. American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 took off from Logan before slamming into the towers.
On Sunday, Bush marked the eve of the anniversary with somber gestures and few words: He and his wife, Laura, set wreaths in small, square reflecting pools in the pit of the trade center site, one each for where the north and south towers stood.
On Sunday afternoon, the Bushes attended a memorial service at St. Paul's Chapel just off ground zero, where George Washington once prayed and where exhausted rescuers sought refuge in 2001 while they dug through the trade center rubble.
A youth choir sang "America the Beautiful" and "My Country 'Tis of Thee," and religious leaders of several faiths offered words of comfort.
At a ceremony Sunday at 7 World Trade Center, the gleaming first office tower to rise at ground zero, Pataki honored first responders and said American freedom represents "the ultimate threat" to terrorists.
Peter Gorman, president of the New York Uniformed Fire Officers Association, took note of the day's vivid blue sky and said it reminded many of the late-summer morning of Sept. 11, 2001.
"Today is still a glorious day in the glorious city of New York, the powerful state of New York, in the United States of America," Gorman said. "New Yorkers and Americans will never bow to terrorism, thanks to the U.S. military, thanks to every first responder in this country."
The anniversary dawned on a nation unrecognizable a half-decade ago -- at war in Afghanistan and Iraq, governed by a color-coded terror alert system, newly unable to carry even hair gel onto airplanes.
Bush administration officials mounted a vigorous defense Sunday of the measures they had taken to protect the country, even as the nation remains divided on the Iraq war, treatment of terror detainees and surveillance measures.
"There has not been another attack on the United States," Vice President Dick Cheney said on "Meet the Press" on NBC. "And that's not an accident."
And there was a fresh reminder of the terrorist threat: An hourlong videotape posted online Sunday showed previously unseen footage of Osama bin Laden, smiling, and other commanders apparently planning the New York and Washington attacks. And in an apparently new video, the terror network's No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, called on Muslims to fight the United States.
"Your leaders are hiding from you the true extent of the disaster," al-Qaeda's al-Zawahri said. "And the days are pregnant and giving birth to new events, with Allah's permission and guidance."
An unidentified narrator said the plot was devised not with computers and radar screens and military command centers but with "divine protection" for a brotherly atmosphere and "love for sacrificing life."
Elsewhere, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi warned that terrorism remains as big a threat as ever, while Australia's leader promised that the values of liberty and religious freedom would in the end emerge victorious.
U.S. and Philippine troops fighting Islamic extremists in the jungles of Southeast Asia prayed for peace and safety.
But in Pakistan, a key U.S. ally, hardline lawmakers blamed the five-year U.S. counterattack for "destroying peace in the entire world."
Australian Prime Minister John Howard echoed the determination at a ceremony Monday held at the U.S. Embassy in Canberra, saying "terrorism is the enemy of all people of good will."
Howard branded the Sept. 11 strike "an attack on the values that the entire world holds in common" and promised that the ideals of liberty and freedom of religion and speech "will in the end triumph."
Koizumi, in Finland for an Asia-Europe Meeting, was quoted by a Japanese official as saying that terrorism "continued to be as much of a threat as ever to mankind," Kyodo News agency reported.
At the summit, he proposed hosting a conference of senior officials and experts on terrorism in 2007, Kyodo said.
In the southern Philippines, where U.S.-backed government troops have been battling al-Qaeda-linked militants, American and Filipino soldiers were to mark the anniversary with a quiet ceremony, including prayers.
The Philippines has been the target of a string of attacks, including a 2004 bombing blamed on the al-Qaeda-linked group Abu Sayyaf that gutted a ferry in Manila, killing 116 people.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who won the country's first post-Taliban election in 2004, expressed the appreciation of the Afghan people to the United States for the "sacrifices of your sons and daughters" in rebuilding his country.
But on the streets in the capital, Kabul, many Afghans grumbled that they had not seen much improvement.
Some 20,000 U.S. forces are fighting al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, about the same number of NATO troops, a resurgent Taliban resistance has shaken the country, while corruption has stymied development.
A lawmaker from a conservative religious alliance in Pakistan branded the attacks "sad events" but said Washington's counter-terror strategy destroyed "peace in the entire world."
"America made unjustified aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq," said Liaqat Baluch, a senior figure in Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal or United Action Forum, an opposition alliance of six Islamic groups that made sharp gains in 2002 parliamentary elections, mainly on opposition to the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan.
Newspapers in the capital, Islamabad, ran bleak-toned opinion columns and editorials criticizing Western anti-terror policies and attitudes.
"It is clear that the policy of force, force and more force, has failed. The results are now out: The 'war on terror' has proven to be an error," Mowahid Hussain Shah wrote in The Nation newspaper.
In Indonesia, which has been hit by a string of deadly terrorist attacks blamed on al-Qaeda militants since the Sept. 11 attacks, 100 Muslim students held prayers of peace late Sunday, saying no religion justified such violence.
But Irfan Awwas, chair of the Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia and an Islamic hardliner, said the U.S. government "has divided Muslims across the globe as either those who support or oppose America."
Other critics doubted Washington's tactics, if not their objective.
New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said the security crackdown that followed the Sept. 11 attacks had failed to make the world safer and that the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq had created a new haven for attackers.
China, accused of using an anti-terror campaign to crack down on peaceful dissent, issued no official statement on the anniversary. But government-linked scholars said the Iraq invasion has been a painful and ultimately unsuccessful diversion, while American foreign policies continue to alienate many in the Muslim world.
"The way the United States wrongly reacted to the incident -- especially in the form of the Iraqi War -- has had the bigger impact on the world," Yuan Peng, deputy director of Chinese Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said in an editorial in the People's Daily newspaper.

-- The Associated Press

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