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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Ziad Jarrah's Strange Good-Bye

Ziad Jarrah, the terrorist alleged to have been the pilot at the controls of the United Flight 93 which crashed in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001 after the passengers overpowered the hijackers, had supposedly written to his girlfriend in Germany the day before the attacks to bid his farewell. According to the official version of the events, this was a pilot, thus we ought to assume that Jarrah knew that he was not to live to the end of the next day. (We are told that the hijackers who provided the "muscle" for crowd control onboard the hijacked aircraft were likely not told about the true nature of the mission and were possibly in the dark about their intended fate. I view that possibility as entirely realistic.)

The above-mentioned BBC report contains a number of curious details about the package Jarrah is alleged to have mailed to his girlfriend.
...Jarrah apparently made a mistake when he wrote the German address, and the package was returned to the US, where it was passed to the FBI, said Der Spiegel.
Well, one would think that the man knew where his girlfriend of five years lived. It also appears a little strange that assuming he knew what the right address was he did not check to make sure he wrote it correctly when mailing such an important piece of correspondence.
German prosecutors have confirmed that the package also contained documents relating to flight training which Jarrah had undergone.
"You should be very proud, because it is an honour, and in the end you will see that everyone will be happy," the letter is reported as saying.

And he tells his girlfriend: "Keep hold of what you have until we meet again."
I am not sure how to interpret that. I can easily believe that the document could have been mistranslated. However, if that is not the case, I am thoroughly baffled here. For one thing, what is the point of those flight-training related materials in the package. Did Mr Jarrah wish his girlfriend undertook flight training too? Possibly. But if he knew he was going to soon be dead, what is the point of instructing her to "keep hold of what you have until we meet again"? The only place where, under that scenario, they would ever meet again would be in the afterlife, and taking material possessions there is not an option under any of the major religions' interpretations of the afterlife.

It appears that I am not the only one who finds it hard to believe in the authenticity of this document.
Jarrah's relatives - who say he was a passenger, not a hijacker - have insisted that the letter is not genuine.

"The letter has been fabricated in an attempt to find evidence against Ziad Jarrah," his uncle, Jamal Jarrah told the US news agency Associated Press.
I remember hearing such rebuttals during the months immediately following the great tragedy of 9/11. At the time, I tended to view such rebuttals by the alleged hijackers' family members as an expression of denial, as a refusal to accept the awful truth. However, knowing what we know now, it would seem to me that Jamal Jarrah and others may well have a good case to make.

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