Who is the hero of 12/25? - by Aisha Umar Yusuf
In December 2001, Time magazine named former New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani as its Person of the Year. We did not need to crack our brains to find out why he got it. There was an almost unanimous agreement in the United States, at the time, that he was the undisputed hero of 9/11. Left to me he was only doing his job, coordinating search and rescue efforts in the face of an unprecedented disaster in his locality. But Time said he had done it so exceptionally well that he deserved to be so honoured. And he was.
Eight years and three months later, we heard that a mini 9/11 was almost re-played aboard flight NWA 253. When Umar Farouk Muttallab allegedly tried to detonate an explosive on the plane which ended up setting only him on fire, one man from among the passengers was said to have jumped and subdued him. Who was that man? Why isn't he celebrated as the undisputed hero of 12/25? Sunday Trust named him as Dutch director Jasper Schuringa. It reported him as saying that when he heard the first explosion, he turned and saw Mutallab with his pants down and something between his legs which was already on fire. 'I pulled the object from him and tried to extinguish the fire with my hands and throw it away.' Schuringa said 'My hands are pretty burned, but I am fine.' he added.
Ladies and gentleman, this is the picture of a true hero any day. Yet how come we still don't know him? His face should have hit all TV screens and newspapers around the world, at the same time that Farouk Mutallab's did, but why did it not? For sure, if Farouk had attempted to murder almost 300 people in the name of some crazy suicidal ideology, then the man who grabbed him and put out the fire with his bare hands had saved almost 300 souls from horrible death, how come no one is celebrating him?
For all intents and purposes, this man is a greater hero than Rudolph Giuliani, because he acted in the face of clear and present danger. Giuliani only oversaw emergency rescue operations after the danger had passed. At the time this man grabbed Farouk, the two of them might have gone up in flames if Farouk really had something burning between his legs. In fact if Farouk was really an intended suicide bomber, he might have had other explosives tied up in other parts of him, and grabbing him might have triggered an explosion that will engulf the whole plane, but Schuringa still took the risk and went for Farouk. This man is a hero in all respects, yet why isn't he on talk shows and regular bulletins, telling the world how he did it and showing us his burnt hands?
When I wrote about the testimony of Passenger Kurt Haskell in Daily Trust of January 7th, 2010, I quoted Haskell as saying that he was somewhere near the boarding gate when a well-dressed man came with Farouk Muttallab and requested the ticket agent to allow Farouk, whom he said was from Sudan to board the plane without a passport, adding 'We do this all the time.' The ticket agent referred Mutallab and his companion, according to Kurt Haskell, to her superiors down the hall. That was the last he saw of them until Muttallab was being led in handcuffs out of the plane. The questions I asked then were: Who was that well-dressed man, on whose authority did he say 'We do this all the time'? Why did he lie that Farouk was a Sudanese, and why was Farouk poorly dressed? Even more importantly what sort of identification did he carry that he could request to put someone on an international flight without a passport and not raise any suspicion?
My conclusion then was that Farouk was abducted and then drugged, made to look like a Sudanese refugee and put on the plane by that well-dressed, obviously authoritative companion. This same man eventually set him on fire, made sure the fire extinguishers were brought on time and the flight saved, because it wasn't meant to be brought down in the first place. The whole thing was staged to make Farouk look like an attempted suicide bomber. I still stand by my theory. What I wish to add is that the this so-called Dutch (?) director (of what ) Schuringa must have been Muttallab's well-dressed companion. It finally adds up, if you consider the fact that despite his very heroic feat there was a deliberate attempt to deny him publicity. The only reason is because giving him publicity will also give him exposure. All those who saw him with Muttallab at the airport and elsewhere will certainly recall having seen them together. And this is why a man who risked his life to save almost 300 souls can not be celebrated, because he was only acting a well-timed role in a diabolical drama of deceit.
Indeed more of such actor/ witnesses seemed to have been interviewed soon after 12/25 because there were those claiming that Farouk was screaming and yelling. One unidentified female passenger (?) was quoted as saying, 'He stood up, he was belligerent. He was yelling, swearing. He was screaming about Afghanistan. He was fighting with the wonderful stewards we had.' Yet an identified passenger David Schike, whose version of the story was published in the Nation of January 2, 2010, along with a picture of himself and his family said something entirely different. He wrote 'I remember staring at him (Farouk) for long periods of time. I could very clearly see his face. He never moved, he never turned his head, he never spoke a word or moved his lips. He never struggled. He never stopped anybody from pouring water on him. His expression was completely emotionless.' Even Kurt Haskell had alluded to Farouk's near- submissiveness when he said 'He did not fight back at all. This wasn't a big skirmish. A couple of guys jumped on him and hauled him away.'
Like Moussaoui, like Muttallab When French-born Moroccan Zacarias Moussaoui was arrested in the US on August 16th 2001, the charge against him was immigration-related. He was charged with remaining in United States with a visa that expired since May of the same year. After 9/11, according to Associated Press, there were attempts to link him to the tragedy but the FBI said it lacked sufficient evidence to warrant a search on him. In that same month, September 2001, knowing that he was being linked to the incident, Moussaoui had written his mother, Mrs Aisha Moussaoui in Egypt and said 'As far as the American story is concerned, don't worry I didn't do anything, and I will prove it when the time comes. They are going to fabricate proofs and witnesses, but I have proofs and witnesses and Allah will make their plot ridiculous. Do not think I am unhappy or desperate, I am fine. '
After this, Moussaoui had consistently maintained his innocence, for he was now known as the 20th hijacker who couldn't make it on time for the martyrdom mission. When in December 2001, a federal court indicted him of criminal conspiracy to commit 9/11, his court appointed lawyer, Mr Donald D Douboulay told newsmen 'We are conceding nothing, the charges are not true. He maintains his innocence.'
Amazingly in April 2005, he was found guilty of conspiring to commit 9/11. He was reported to have boasted in the courtroom that he was personally handpicked by Bin Laden to take part in the mission. It didn't seem ironic to them that at that point in time they already had three 20th hijackers; Moussaoui himself, Ramzy bin Al-Shaib of Pakistan and Muhammad al-Qahtani of Saudi Arabia. Al- Qahtani's special torture regime at Guantanamo actually inspired a cover story by Time magazine. He was tortured beyond human endurance, according to Time, to get him to confess to being the 20th hijacker, yet it was Moussaoui who was eventually convicted. Among the fabricated proofs at his trial were two mysterious sisters who confessed to having known him as a very difficult sibling.
Given the evidences emerging against Farouk Muttallab today, it is safe to assume that he will be treated the same way as Moussaoui, with fabricated proofs and witnesses. Already we have people saying he shouted 'Afghanistan' and was being belligerent on the plane. Then the American agents, who said he had confessed to being trained and equipped by al- Qaida in Yemen. And then there is the website claim which came from the mythical Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsular. Like I've mentioned in my earlier piece, a diligent domain search by Jack Blood has shown that the web address for Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsular, www.ansarnet.com was actually domiciled in Dallas, capital of Texas in the US, and not anywhere in the Arabian peninsular. Another amazing fact in the Mutallab case has to do with his miraculous recovery. A man who fellow passengers said had severe burns in his thighs and legs suddenly showed up in court, unassisted and wearing 'A t-shirt, trousers and tennis shoes'.
How did he manage it? Didn't we all see the bombed underwear that clearly showed how much Farouk's lower side was burnt? How did he manage to wear trousers exactly two weeks after, and to walk into a courtroom without a wheelchair? Was Farouk Mutallab burnt at all? Or is that burnt underwear another of those fabricated proofs?
We are indeed special, Yaya Femi. My esteemed royal brother, Dr Sanusi Abubakar, whom I knew earlier as Yaya Femi, certainly made my day last Tuesday when he described my piece on Passenger Haskell's testimony as 'scholarly, civil and thorough.' But he also consigned it to the conspiracy basket and added that he failed to see why I thought the Americans will 'drug a young Nigerian and stage an airline bombing just to embarrass us. Why us? What is so special about us?' he had asked.
For one I didn't say the staged bombing was targeted at us, I said it was planned to find a good pretext to re-kindle the war on terror, which the Obama administration didn't seem keen to pursue dedicatedly.
However I still maintain that we Nigerians and northerners in particular, are special on America's radar screen. In May 2005, Thisday reported that former American ambassador to Nigeria Dr. Princeton Lyman had said that Al-Qaida has now shifted base to Nigeria after it had been successfully chased out of Afghanistan. Quoting an American TV report, Thisday reported that Dr. Lyman had said 'investigations had uncovered Al-Qaida's surreptitious training and building bases in Northern Nigeria.' So how can we say we aren't special? In any case with our combination of oil, Islam and even Sharia, Nigeria is a natural target for America's interest.
So Big Bro, as you are broad-minded enough to accept a Yoruba nick-name from a loving Aunt, knowing that it detracts nothing from either your blue blood or your Fulaniness, please be gracious enough to accept that conspiracies do exist and in fact are more often the driving forces behind world events. Former British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, once said 'The world is governed by very different personages from what is imagined by those who are not behind the scenes.'
And according to John Whalen and Jonathan Vankin authors of 50 greatest conspiracies of all time, conspiracy theory is what remains when the safe, sanitised Disney version of history is extracted from world events. They argue that 'the main resistance to conspiracy theories comes not from the people on the street, but from the media, the academia, and government- people who manage the national and global economy of information.' And I agree with them.
Aisha, is the editor of Aminiya. She can be reached at [email protected]