Sunday, July 4, 2010

'Yemenis Also Died in Attack,' LA Times

Jeffrey Gettleman, Times Staff Writer,
Dorothy Ingebretsen, Times researcher
Rabyaah Althaibani, 22-year-old Yemeni immigrant
Hassan Ashmori, an official with the Yemen Embassy,
Hussein Ibish, communication director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Washington, D.C.
Fahmi Salah, editor of the Brooklyn-based Yemen Post,

This article is nonsensical and contradictory. The writer is sourcing his 200 Yemenis figure to the Arabic-language newspaper Al-Ahram, while he has direct information that the number is only a handful. How many Yemenis in fact did die that day? Zero? This inflating of both the Arabic and the Israeli and Jewish casualties means to escalate a conflict. Saying that Yemen "has supplied thousands of freedom fighters to Bin Laden's holy war against America," is unforgivable yellow journalism. Figures like that may have fought against the Russians, but any holy war fighters against the U.S. should be counted on one hand.

The Los Angeles Times

'Deaths: As many as 200 people from country with ties to Osama bin Laden may have been killed in the twin towers.'

September 17, 2001|

NEW YORK — Among the nearly 5,000 missing in the World Trade Center attack are dozens--maybe even hundreds--of victims from Yemen, the ancestral home of prime suspect Osama bin Laden.

The losses have been especially heavy to bear because many Yemeni Americans and Muslim Americans have been fearful of mourning in public--and shamed by any connection, however tenuous, to Bin Laden.

This weekend, 22-year-old Yemeni immigrant Rabyaah Althaibani was asked to attend a vigil in Manhattan.

"But I thought: Going over there? With a veil on? That's not safe," she said.

Yemen is an isolated, poor Arab country, fervently Islamic. It has supplied thousands of freedom fighters to Bin Laden's holy war against America and was the base of operations for last year's bombing of the destroyer Cole, a suspected Bin Laden strike. Years of tribal conflicts and civil war have driven many people away and a large immigrant community has taken root in Brooklyn, where many families have found prosperity and, until last Tuesday, peace.

As many as 200 people with ties to Yemen may have been killed Tuesday. Several other Arab Americans were thought to be inside the World Trade Center when a pair of hijacked jets slammed into it and reduced the twin towers to rubble.

Across the East River from the disaster zone is the Atlantic Avenue neighborhood of Brooklyn, the heart of New York's 10,000-strong Yemeni community. It is full of falafel shops, Arabic bookstores and kiosks selling the music of wailing flutes.

But it was quiet Sunday.

Stores were shut and men with pained faces stood on street corners, passing around cell phones. They were trying, like people all across New York City, to get information about loved ones still missing.

Hassan Ashmori, an official with the Yemen Embassy, told the Arabic-language newspaper Al-Ahram that "an unknown number of Yemenis" were thought to have been killed. The story, published Saturday, estimated that 200 Yemenis were missing.

About 5,000 people, including hundreds of immigrants and foreign nationals, are thought to have been killed in the World Trade Center. One Lebanese American was a passenger on a hijacked plane. There is no doubt many Yemeni Americans worked in the two towers. Several men were employed in a restaurant on the 106th floor of the north tower. There was also a group at Manna Trading Group Inc., a Yemeni-owned import-export company on the 33rd floor of the north tower. Manna is now one of the dozens of companies that have disappeared.

"I remember those guys," said an Arab American businessman who declined to give his name because of security fears. "They were trying to import dried tomatoes."

Also, many of the large investment firms in the buildings employed Yemeni Americans and other Arab Americans, said Hussein Ibish, communication director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Washington, D.C.

Leaders of New York's Yemeni community have been closely following reports of casualties. Many continue to pray they are not true.

"We know each other well in this community," said Fahmi Salah, editor of the Brooklyn-based Yemen Post, who has so far heard of only a handful of missing Yemenis. "We are hoping that we would have had more people coming to us if that many people died."

On Sunday, an Arab family center hosted a vigil in Brooklyn to mourn those lost in the attack. Many who came said they felt more comfortable expressing their grief in Brooklyn, where 100,000 Arab Americans live, than in Manhattan, site of the disaster.

Althaibani, the 22-year-old Yemeni immigrant, stood with a candle and marched quietly down Atlantic Avenue. While walking, she said a prayer, not just for the Yemeni feared lost but for all the lives that disappeared when the two biggest buildings in New York fell to the ground.

Times researcher Dorothy Ingebretsen contributed to this story.

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