Friday, December 14, 2001

Sept. 11 families didn't need proof


But bin Laden tape might be what's needed in other countries

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Lynn Faulkner and Suzanne Peraza, who lost loved ones in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, did not need to see a video of a gloating Osama bin Laden to know there is evil in the world.

        But maybe much of the rest of the world did.

Lynn Faulkner
Lynn Faulkner
        “It is hard to imagine anyone in the world who claims to support civilization seeing this and believing this man did nothing wrong,” said Mr. Faulkner, a Mason resident, whose 47-year-old wife, Wendy, died in the World Trade Center attack.

        Mr. Faulkner and Mrs. Peraza, a Mason woman who lost her son, Robert David Peraza, have flinched in the months since when the face of the al-Qaida leader has flashed on a TV screen.

        Thursday, when the Pentagon released the captured videotape of Mr. bin Laden and a Saudi cleric talking — even chuckling — over the hijacked airplane attacks, Mrs. Peraza was at her home, watching parts of the video on a cable news network.

        It was disturbing, Mrs. Peraza said, but she was glad the videotape was released.

        “I think it's valuable that the rest of the world see what has happened and understand that there is no doubt about who is responsible,” said Mrs. Peraza. She went with her husband, Robert, to New York in the days after the attack in a fruitless search for their son, who worked for the investment firm of Cantor Fitzgerald on the 104th floor of the first tower.

Suzanne Peraza
Suzanne Peraza
        Mr. Faulkner had not seen the videotape by midafternoon Thursday; he had been driving in his car and heard portions of the audio translated on the radio.

        “It shows pretty clearly that (Mr. bin Laden) was delighted with what he had done,” said Mr. Faulkner, who has two young children at home.

        “I suppose that there are those in the world who believe the United States has been making this up; that this man had no part in this,” Mr. Faulkner said. “This should change their minds.”

        That is precisely the value of the tape, said U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which had a private screening of the tape Tuesday.

        “You watch this man and he clearly relishes the fact that he has killed thousands of innocent people,” Mr. DeWine said. “When people see this, they will be disgusted by what they see.

        “There are still going to be those who say that we somehow fabricated this tape,” Mr. DeWine said. “But the vast majority of people around the world who see it will understand what it is about.”

        Most Americans, Mr. DeWine said, already believe Mr. bin Laden is responsible for the attacks. The value, he said, “will be in convincing the rest of the world.”

        And, the senator said, “it should stiffen our resolve to win this war.”

        Tens of thousands of young American soldiers, sailors and airmen are now serving here and overseas in the “war on terrorism” President Bush declared after the Sept. 11 attacks.

        The mother of one of them, Jenny McCauley of Wyoming, said Thursday she believes release of the bin Laden tape will “help make us that much more committed to rooting these people out and bringing them to justice.”

        Mrs. McCauley's son, 26-year-old Ryan McCauley, is a lieutenant on board an aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, in the Arabian Sea, where he supervises a Tomahawk missile crew.

        “I know my son is committed to what our country is doing,” Mrs. McCauley said. “I'd rather have him here, but he's doing something important.”

        Mrs. Peraza, too, praised the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan, but cautioned that she hopes that Americans do not blame the wrong people for what happened to her son and the others.

        “We have to help rebuild Afghanistan,” Mrs. Peraza said.

        “Afghanistan did not do this to us; the Islamic religion did not do this to us,” she said. “Osama bin Laden and the people who support him did this.”
       



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