Diary, 20th June 2020 - The Blind Eyes and Greed Behind 9/11

by Anthony C Heaford 
20 June 2020

9/11 didn’t happen because no one saw it coming. 

2,977 people were murdered that September morning because hundreds of people turned a deliberate, greed filled blind-eye to all the warnings in the years leading up to the terrorist attack. I can name three of them, all former work colleagues of mine.

The first was the longest serving salesman of my former employer. Within a minute of the men (who I now know sheltered Khalid Sheikh Mohammed) leaving my company's sales stand in Chicago, that longest serving salesman had dismissed a caution about how suspicious those men were by saying:

"Don’t ask any questions, they just paid list price on our most expensive machine!

I was a witness to that exchange in April 1997 but having only been in that job role a few months and having seen nothing suspicious myself (I wasn
’t party to the sales negotiation or contract signing) I thought nothing of it. I certainly didn’t consider it a few months later when I went to Yemen to install said machine in September 1997. But six days later as I sat on the return flight to Manchester I did have some very grave concerns, so I raised those concerns with the first person I spoke to in Manchester upon my return - my works-manager.

After handing the works-manager my completed paper work for the installation I tried to speak to him about what I had seen and experienced at this particular customer in Yemen:

“There was something very suspicious about… “ I began.

“Don’t worry about it” the works manager interrupted.

“No, really, there was something… “ I tried to continue.

“Don’t worry about it,” the works manager said again, this time with an unconcerned smile. 

“They’ve already paid in full” was his reasoning for his disinterest, before shooing me out of his office.

My concerns about the customer were vague; something had seemed very odd about my visit to Yemen, but I was still new to the role of international service technician so I couldn’t be sure what was ‘normal', what was ‘unusual’, and what was damned suspicious as I now know my experiences in Yemen were. 

Despite remembering the profit focused salesman brushing concerns away, and now hearing the paperwork overloaded works-manager dismissing my suspicions, I still sensed I needed to share what I'd seen and done at the customers factory in Yemen. I needed to tell someone about my conversation with the Pakistani machine operators who’d asked me about visiting New York and specifically the World Trade Centre. I determined my best bet was to tell the most senior and experienced international service techniciian in the company. A few weeks later I found him at his desk and after saying I had concerns from Yemen and linking it to my concerns about a airplane hijacking from Logan airport in Boston I asked:

“So who do I tell? Where can I report this stuff?”

This seasoned traveller looked at me with horror and said:

Oh God, never say or report anything like that, you’ll be 
stopped and hassled at customs every time you travel if you do."

I wasn’t sure if he’d appreciated what I’d said so I pressed the matter with him, but he told me again:

“Never report anything like that to airport security - don’t worry about it, 
there’s people whose job it is to spot stuff like that. They’ll deal with it."

Confused, I felt like I had no choice but to follow these three pieces of advice from people far old, more experienced and more qualified than myself:

Don’t ask any questions

Don’t worry about it

Don’t ever report it

Now I am their age. I have a broad range of experiences and I feel qualified enough to give out my own advice: 

If you see suspicious behaviour, investigate it.

If you see something dangerous, remove it. 

If you see a vulnerability, address it.

In Summary: Do whatever you must, and whatever you can, to make sure that no one can ever accuse you of turning a blind eye. And do it yourself to completion - go that extra mile - because as I have found out in the hardest and cruelest of ways there are far, far too many blind eyes in this world. People who will look the other way for an easy life for themselves, regardless of what the cost to others maybe.

Truly, for some of us nothing is written, unless we write it 
© Anthony C Heaford - The Quiet Mancunian