9:59 AM

by S. Abbas Raza

I just looked over at my digital clock and it happens to be 9:59 am.

At 9:59 am on September 11, exactly 20 years ago, I watched the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapse live on TV sitting in my living room only a few miles away and first realized that life was about to change in a big way, that we were living a pivotal moment of history. And I knew I would still be speaking of what was happening in that moment decades later. And I am.

And then the second tower fell. I didn’t know it at the time, but in that very moment my friend Ehtesham had died.

So it has been 20 years. Sitting outside at a cafe on Broadway in Manhattan that afternoon, fear and the smell of smoke in the air, government agents on street corners with submachine guns, military aircraft in the sky, I was naive enough to think that perhaps we would learn some valuable lessons from the events of that morning, that we might change some of the policies which led to such disasters. How foolish that thought seems in retrospect; how much the opposite of what actually followed.

Here’s something I wrote five years after that day as part of a series of reflections we published on the 5th anniversary of the attacks at 3QD.

And you can see other articles from that series here.

Finally, this is what I wrote about Ehtesham when Osama Bin Laden was killed.

And here Ehtesham and I are sitting in the same place in my Manhattan living room from which I later would watch the collapse of the tower in which he died.

RIP Ehtesham U. Raja