The need to understand

With rare exception almost every Westerner remembers where they were and what they were doing when the planes struck the World Trade Center in New York City on 11 September 2001.

I remember being at a teaching colleague´s home near Bad Krozingen discussing work when one of her friends called her up and told us to watch TV…


There were, and still are, no words to describe this unspeakable act – over 3,000 people killed by less than a dozen men.

To witness this moment and then return back home to Freiburg im Breisgau to see a small crowd of young Muslims celebrating this horror and burning US flags in the streets and around Bertholdsbrunnen completely mystified me.

For the West, especially the United States, modern history is divided between before 9/11 and after 9/11.

Every American recalls his / her feeling when it was announced that Osama bin Laden had been found and killed.

Before and since 9/11, attacks of a similar nature from around the world, on a far-too-regular basis, continually emerge: the London bombing, the Madrid bombing, the Bali nightclub, the attack of Ottawa’s Parliament Hill, the Tunisia beach attack…

…and the list seems to go on and on and on.

One good friend of mine in St. Gallen half jokingly remarks that America is attacked because its enemies…

“They hate our freedom.”

Is he right?

Is he wrong?

I have been trying to understand what exactly is going on inside the mind of these attackers, why they (Al Qa’ida / ISIS) would do such violent acts and also try to seek some sort of comprehension of just how different their ideas are from ours, how such attackers attract followers, so that perhaps some solution might be proposed to deal judiciously with these attackers and their grievances.

Been reading two books in my collection, I bought after 9/11 during my days in Freiburg, of great interest to me on this subject and that might interest others too:

The Eagle´s Shadow: Why America Fascinates and Infuriates the World by Mark Hertsgaard

The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror by Bernard Lewis

I will let you know what I find and eagerly look for an opportunity to discuss things…


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