The Looming Towers: 9/11 before it happened

in life •  2 years ago 

We present the English translation of the post by @SerialFiller titled The Looming Towers: l’11 settembre prima ancora che esistesse, originally in Italian

Translation by @camomilla revised by the @davinci.polyglot team.


The Looming Towers: 9/11 before it happened

September 11, 2001

Who among us does not remember exactly where he was when he received the news?

How many of us felt, at least for a second, as a citizen of the world, mourning for those events? Stunned while watching those 2 planes swooping in on one of the symbols of the West. Dead inside when the Twin Towers completely disintegrated provoking a smoke curtain that sucked in Manhattan and transformed it on hell on earth?

And how many of us asked themselves, at least once, why?

Why would Al Qaeda do this? How could a powerful nation such as the USA not prevent this tragedy from happening?

And how many of us, maybe a few months / years from the events of 2001, started to believe that maybe there was something more behind it, starting to inquire and obsess over the various conspiracy theories that began with Michael Moore's Fharenheit 9/11 and gradually found more steam, until they became hyper-conspiracy theories that saw America at the center of everything?

There have been many movies, documentaries, investigations and many products that have told that story. Some tried to put en heroic spin on the United States and some tried to discredit its role in the story. Some simply tell the tale as we know it and some try to justify what happened later in terms of wars launched to obtain revenge against the enemy.

But to be honest, there have been very few production of movies or TV series that spoke about 9/11 with a critical voice, observing the events and trying to analyze the whole story without taking sides and trying to narrate what happened before it even happened.

Hulu has accepted the challenge and, fresh from the Handmaid’s Tale success, has tried to fill in the void by presenting to the world a miniseries of 10 episodes titled The Looming Tower, from the homonymous book by Lawrence Wright.

If you love the detective and documentary genres and you are into spy stories with an international and political setting, and especially if that tragic day of September 11th shook your world, this TV series is for you.

The serie will finish by telling of those events but the road it will take will be long and made of many different stories that will attempt to explain why what happened happened. The narration will travel from New York to Washington DC, making stops in Kenya and Yemen but also Afghanistan.

An ensemble TV serie that will bring to life the conflict existing, during those years, between the heads of the CIA and the FBI, embodied both by their prominent figures and by simple henchmen who got caught in the crossfire against their own will. The CIA finds its highest performances in George Tenet (played by Alec Baldwin) and Martin Schmidt (Peter Skarsgaard), the first a diplomatic man, the second a warmonger analyst who had guessed everything that was bound to happen and thought that bombs were the only weapon. Within the FBI, the always impressive Jeff Daniels here plays the role of John O'Neill, a beloved but anarchist FBI veteran who is among the first to connect Al Qaeda to possible attacks on the American soil, and his adept Soufan, a newly arrived special agent of Arab origins that will soon forge an impressive career in the Bureau. He’s interpreted by an excellent Tahar Rahim, who rose to fame with the beautiful "The Prophet". In the middle of the war between the two agencies we find the stable and wise Mr. Clarke, a solid man with flawless ethics and anything but bigoted. He’s played by Michael Stuhlbarg, one of the actors of the year, whom in the last 12 months we saw in Fargo, Call me By Your Name, The Shape of Water and The Post.

All these characters, in one way or another, weave the canvas that will trap the U.S.A. on that damn day, clashing too often among themselves and too often omitting useful information.

The TV serie becomes especially good towards the final episodes when the hate for Al Qaeda is put aside by the agencies and the focus is on the new political line chosen by the Bush administration. The serie is exceptionally good in that it unmasks the key players of the CIA and the US Government by flashing forward to scenes of Tenet, Schmidt and Condoleeza Rice all lying under oath to a Grand Jury to protect their interests.

By putting Condoleeza Rice on the spot, the Hulu TV series doesn’t openly show the conspiracy behind 9/11 but certainly opens the door to a number of doubts on the doings of the Bush administration. It shows the incompetence, the disastrous way of handling the whole situation and the wrongdoing that brought the US to that terrible day, suggesting that there was at least some awareness of what was to come. We see Rice postponing or rather canceling Al Qaeda-themed meetings in 2000 and 2001 and we see the FBI repeatedly report alleged possible Saudi terrorists without ever raising any interest from "Condy". We then see Bush just worrying about saving the Saudi royal family as a top priority a few minutes from the attack on the Twin Towers, and finally we witness an icy declaration from Rice, during the first post-attack meeting, suggesting to Clarke to point the finger at Saddam Hussein and Iraq, foregoing all links to Bin Laden.



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These few cryptic scenes manage to convey just how much ignorance and incompetence the US administration showed at the time and that relationships with Saudi Arabia were important enough to justify a possible retaliation against Iraq a few minutes after the World Trade Center attack. A honeypot for conspiracy theorists!

Nevertheless, the series has the merit to never pass judgement but to stay faithful to the events, leaving the spectator free to reach his or her own conclusions. In the season finale, the series unleashes a tearful ending but also focuses on the Arab world, unmasking the supposed Holy War as a mere pretext through the character of Soufan, a true Muslim with a deep faith in the Qur'an who, for this very reason, despises Al Qaeda.

During an interrogation with Bin Laden’s bodyguard, Abu Jandal, we see how Jandal’s beliefs fall under Soufan’s arguments, which manage to overcome all of Jandal’s convictions with his own weapon: the Qur'an.

Whereas Jandal indicates in the scriptures that the will of Allah is to annihilate the infidels, Soufan responds by quoting the verse of the Qur'an which reads:

“Whoever kills a person, it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved all mankind.” (Qur’an, 5:32)

Jandal falls under the weight of the Qur’an verses even though he was quoting them just before and declaring that the scriptures were the secret of Bin Laden’s success.

Soufan indicates a simple way, because Islam is a simple religion if applied to the letter, a religion that pursues truth, peace and justice, that is the exact opposite of the purposes of Al Qaeda.

Even Islam is humiliated under the series’ scrutiny, or rather Islamic fundamentalism that knows why it fights and that unlike the Americans does not need ships, planes and bombs to advance but an act of loyalty and will in seeking a common enemy in the West.

Beliefs, battles, divergences and fights. The human race divided in two factions who cannot communicate and two adverse ideologies that the series shows in all their fragility.

After 9/11 the world was never the same and we all felt this skin deep. This show brings us back to that moment and it tells us that even before the event, the world was not exactly a peaceful oasis. But when bombs fell on small villages far from the big cities and killed innocent children playing soccer barefoot in the streets instead of stock brokers, it felt far away and not so real. And at the time, if any revenge was executed, it happened to embassies far across the world, and not in our homes. Those four planes made us feel vulnerable, frail and weak. They woke us up from our peaceful slumber and this TV series, not only shows that but also remind us another terrible truth. 9/11 could have been avoided, by the CIA, the FBI, the US government. But it could have also been avoided by each of us, day after day, when bombs were being dropped far away in the world and when 9/11 was not yet with us, before it even happened.


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The BBC had prior knowledge of 9/11 - demonstrated by their announcement of the collapse of building 7 eight minutes before it happened -
West Sussex Police investigated BBC under the Prevention of Terrorism Act
The report was never made public

Absolutely