AC360 Thursday 8p

There are growing questions about the Bluefin-21 search for Flight 370. What's happens when it completes its sweep? The latest tonight on AC360.
September 11th, 2008
07:02 PM ET

Spending seven Septembers hijacking my religion back

Editor's Note: We are devoting many posts today to the anniversary of 9/11, with first-hand accounts, insight, and commentary dedicated to that day seven years ago that changed our world. Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, founder of themuslimguy.com and Contributing Editor for Islamica Magazine in Washington DC.
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Arsalan Iftikhar | BIO
Founder, themuslimguy.com

Mahatma Gandhi once said that, “I have nothing new to teach the world…Truth and nonviolence are as old as the hills.” Since time immemorial, our human experiment has revolved around the enlightened advancement of collective human thought. Within the current ungodly global mix of perpetual war, everlasting human poverty, extremist terrorism and global racism; our human race has completely and utterly lost its collective mind. Since our world has gone completely bonkers, the unquenchable thirst for social justice of this young American Muslim human rights lawyer and public diplomat must be positively channeled at this juncture of infinite global sadness towards a purpose-driven life guided down an untaken road called Islamic Pacifism.

9/11 was ten days after my twenty-fourth birthday. As a second year law student at the time, even though I had already lived more than two decades; in many ways, my life only truly began at 8:46 am EST on September 11, 2001. Because as an American Muslim, that would be the day that my country was attacked by people who would also infamously hijack my religion.

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September 11th, 2008
07:01 PM ET

al Qaeda, by any other name…

Editor's Note:
We are devoting many posts today to the anniversary of 9/11, with first-hand accounts, insight, and commentary dedicated to that day seven years ago that changed our world.
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Reza Aslan | BIO
Author, “No god but God”
Perhaps the most significant change to have occurred over the last seven years of fighting the War on Terror is that we are no longer battling a terrorist organization called al Qaeda. We are now fighting a global social movement called al Qaeda.

 

The truth is al Qaeda was never the coherent, global entity it is so often imagined to be – an organization with an easily identifiable leadership structure and a systematic ideology. That al Qaeda existed only in the imaginations of those of us desperate for the days when America’s enemies were nations that could be assuredly defined and armies that could be conventionally overcome. It is no wonder that word al Qaeda continues to be rendered into English as “the base.” A base implies something concrete and conquerable, something that can be defended or assailed.

But the word al Qaeda also means “the rules” or “the fundamentals,” and is used by Arabs most often to refer to the basic teachings or creed of Islam. In that light, it may be somewhat appropriate to consider al Qaeda an Islamic form of fundamentalism, in so far as that word implies puritanical adherence to the elemental doctrines of a religion. But it is imprecise, and even dangerous, to consider al Qaeda the operational seat of global Islamic extremism.
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September 11th, 2008
06:59 PM ET

In Afghanistan bin Laden using culture to buy loyalty

Editor's Note:
We are devoting many posts today to the anniversary of 9/11, with first-hand accounts, insight, and commentary dedicated to that day seven years ago that changed our world.
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Nic Robertson | BIO
Senior International Correspondent

It’s hard for me to see clearly what’s on the blurry cell phone video from Afghanistan.

Are there children and women under those blankets, were as many as 90 people killed in a US air strike as Afghan and UN officials suggest. The countries lawmakers believe so, they want strict controls put US troops. I just don’t know.

But what is painfully clear to me the strengths and weaknesses the coalition had in it’s pursuit of Osama bin Laden in the weeks following the 9/11 attacks are not only unchanged after 7 years, but threaten to unravel the hunt of the worlds most wanted terrorist.

When bin Laden fled with hundreds of die-hard al Qaeda fighters to the mountains of Tora Bora in western Afghanistan for his last stand against the coalition, the coalition made a fatal mistake.

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September 11th, 2008
06:50 PM ET

"We are doing the best we can to prevent anything like that from happening ever again"

Editor's Note:
We are devoting many posts today to the anniversary of 9/11, with first-hand accounts, insight, and commentary dedicated to that day seven years ago that changed our world.
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U.S. Army soldiers salute three American flags, representing the three sites of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, at a ceremony to mark the seventh anniversary at Camp Liberty in Baghdad.
U.S. Army soldiers salute three American flags, representing the three sites of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, at a ceremony to mark the seventh anniversary at Camp Liberty in Baghdad.

Arwa Damon | BIO
CNN International Correspondent

“Hot, its always hot...” the soldier responded, the collar of his flak jacket soaked in fresh sweat, mixed with that of months of patrolling. We’d only been out an hour, already drenched in sweat, and we’re only carrying about a third of the weight that the soldiers are. Two hours after they return to their base in downtown Baquba, they are out again, flak jackets still wet from the previous patrol. They live on a combat outpost. Sleep whenever they can, work out at the gym. There’s no TV and very little escape from combat. For these soldiers the routine of 9/11 will be like any other day.

We were just embedded with the 2nd SCR in Baquba, and among other stories we’re covering, we were also talking to young troops about 9/11.

Part of me forgot just how young some of the soldiers fighting out here are, with all their gear on they seem much older than their years. The ones we were talking to were barely in their teens when 9/11 happened, too young to realize the global impact that day would have and how it would forever alter their lives.

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September 11th, 2008
06:49 PM ET

Remembering my 343 FDNY brothers


Editor's Note: We are devoting many posts today to the anniversary of 9/11, with first-hand accounts, insight, and commentary dedicated to that day seven years ago that changed our world. FDNY Battalion Chief Tom Narbutt shares his experience from 9/11. Off-duty at the time, Tom made the treck to New York, arriving on the scene shortly after the collapse of both towers:
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Tom Narbutt
FDNY Battalion Chief (Ret.)

As I was responding to the emergency at the World Trade Center, I knew that a catastrophic event had occurred. But it was not until I actually arrived that I realized what had occurred. The scene was surreal. I could suddenly understand what it must have been like during the Lodon Blitz in World War II.

After I arrived at the Command Post set up near the site and was sent over to 7 World Trade Center to get a progress report from the Chief in Command. '7 WTC' ' was the location of the Mayor’s Emergency Command Center.

I will never forget that walk. It felt like I was walking on sand at the beach; The concrete was pulverized into fine granular pieces. What also surprised me was the lack of furniture in the rubble. No office equipment or anything else to be found... Just steel and papers.
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September 11th, 2008
06:39 PM ET

Leave the live shot rolling and duck behind a wall

Editor's Note:
We are devoting many posts today to the anniversary of 9/11, with first-hand accounts, insight, and commentary dedicated to that day seven years ago that changed our world.
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An airplane flies overhead toward Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport as members of a Military honor guard stand at attention for the unveiling of the benches at the Pentagon Memorial, Thursday, Sept. 11,2008
An airplane flies overhead toward Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport as members of a Military honor guard stand at attention for the unveiling of the benches at the Pentagon Memorial, Thursday, Sept. 11,2008

Steve Turnham
CNN Producer

On 9/11 I was the Senate producer for CNN. By the time I got to work the House and Senate had already been evacuated. I ended up on the roof of the CNN bureau, with a veteran cameraman, pointing the lens at the sky, waiting for a plane to come barreling down the Mall and into the US Capitol.

By then the Pentagon had already been hit, and there was smoke drifting across the city. But no one was quite sure yet what had happened. Rumors were flying that a plane was heading into DC, to the White House maybe, or the Capitol. As it turned out that plane was the one that crashed in Pennsylvania, but in those early hours, nothing was certain.

Another network reported as fact that a plane was flying down the Potomac River towards us (CNN did not report this). We tried to get ready for anything. What if it hit the Capitol and the explosion reached us a quarter mile away? What if it missed, and hit closer to us? We decided if we did see a plane, we'd shoot as long as possible, then leave the live shot rolling, and duck behind a wall.

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September 11th, 2008
06:12 PM ET

Behind the lens on 9/11: Capturing a Catastrophe

Editor's Note:
We are devoting many posts today to the anniversary of 9/11, with first-hand accounts, insight, and commentary dedicated to that day seven years ago that changed our world.
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See some of the images Ricky Shine filmed that day for CNN in this special look back at the first hours of 9/11/01 as events unfolded. Viewer discretion is advised.
See some of the images Ricky Shine filmed that day for CNN in this special look back at the first hours of 9/11/01 as events unfolded. Viewer discretion is advised.

Ricky Shine
CNN Photojournalist

"It's going to a beautiful day", I thought to myself as I headed to Manhattan from Queens. There was no haze, it was as clear as can be, and the sky was a deep blue. While driving on the Long Island Expressway towards the Midtown Tunnel, I looked in awe at the city skyline just as I did everyday on my way to work.

I was listening to the morning news on CBS radio. Everything seemed normal as I drove into the darkness of the tunnel. As usual, while in the tunnel I temporarily lost the radio signal. As I exited the tunnel and the radio signal strengthened, I heard the newscasters cut in with breaking news.

"The World Trade Center has been hit by a small plane" they said.

As I was driving rapidly across 34th street, I remember thinking to myself that I might be sent down to the World Trade Center to cover the accident. I kept driving to work and trying to sneak a peek at the Trade Center to see it for myself. When I finally caught a glimpse, I realized that it couldn't have been a small airplane. It had to be a big jetliner because you could see the outline of where the plane went into the building and the wingspan went from one side all the way to the other. I called my assignment desk and was told that my partner already took my gear up to our deck on the roof of the CNN building and I should head straight up there.

As I reached the deck, I saw my partner already shooting with my camera. I ran to the camera position and immediately took over. I put on my headset so I could communicate with the director, and zoomed into the 1st tower of the World Trade Center to show the damage that the plane had caused. It was at that point that I saw out of the corner of my eye, a big explosion in the 2nd tower and zoomed out to see both buildings which were now billowing with smoke.

It was at that moment that I realized we were under attack, and life, as we knew it, would never be the same.

September 11th, 2008
06:00 PM ET

Beat 360° 9/11/08

Ready for today's Beat 360°?

Everyday we post a picture – and you provide the caption and our staff will join in too.

Tune in every night at 10p ET to see if you are our favorite!
Here is 'Beat 360°’ pic of the day:

US Democratic presidential candidate Illinois Senator Barack Obama stands alongside former US President Bill Clinton in Clinton's Harlem office during a lunch meeting in New York, on September 11, 2008.

Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions!

Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.
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Beat 360° Challenge

But wait!… There’s more!

When you win ‘Beat 360°’ not only do you get on-air prime-time name recognition (complete with bragging rights over all your friends, family, and jealous competitors), but you get a “I Won the Beat 360° Challenge” T-shirt!

Read more here….

Good luck to all!

Update: Today's winner is Eddy from Toronto, Canada who wrote:

"Remember Bill, if you can’t say anything nice, say nothing at all."


Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
September 11th, 2008
05:48 PM ET

'Look at your neighbor...Does he look suspicious?'

Editor's Note:
We are devoting many posts today to the anniversary of 9/11, with first-hand accounts, insight, and commentary dedicated to that day seven years ago that changed our world.
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Christiane Amanpour
CNN Chief International Correspondent

Seven years later, I remember like it was yesterday. I was covering a story in Sierra Leone, the war torn country in western Africa. With no scheduled airlines in or out, it had been incredibly difficult to get there in a series of charted helicopters and small prop planes.

I had literally sat down to my first interview, when patchy and intermittent phone calls started coming in, first from our base in London, then from HQ in Atlanta: a plane had crashed into the WTC….it may have been an accident…still checking…..then a second plane…..and suddenly it was all systems go.

Having barely any communication, no scheduled flights to get out on, and no TV to even see what had happened across the ocean in New York, I quickly powered through a couple more interviews and a stand-up…my mind only half on this story as it churned into gear for what was clearly going to be a huge one.

At last we secured a charter flight, and headed for Ivory Coast to board a flight back to Europe. I was in a black hole, I still had not seen any of it, cell phones did not work and no-one on the ground in Africa could clearly understand what had happened.

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September 11th, 2008
05:48 PM ET

Fighting for control: The greatest heroes

Editor's Note:
We are devoting many posts today to the anniversary of 9/11, with first-hand accounts, insight, and commentary dedicated to that day seven years ago that changed our world.
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2007 Memorial ceremony for flight 93, which crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001.
2007 Memorial ceremony for flight 93, which crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001.

David Mattingly | Bio
AC360° Contributor

I was the first network correspondent to reach the Shanksville crash site.

I had been on vacation at my mother-in-law's house in central Pennsylvania with plans to go fishing when news of the crash came in.

I remember having to talk my way through police check points using my CNN cap and my Georgia drivers license as the only proof that I was a CNN correspondent. Fortunately it was enough.

I was astonished when authorities let me view the crash site. The destruction was unlike any airline crash I had ever seen.

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