The Analogy of 9/11 and 9/13 Tragedies

Published on September 10, 2011

By Nehginpao Kipgen

Asian Tribune – September 10, 2011

The tragic event on September 11, 2001 (better known as 9/11) has changed the lives of many thousands. A well-trained 19 al-Qaeda militants hijacked four passenger jets to hit different targets in the United States of America. This year marks its 10th anniversary.

Two planes crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing everyone on board and workers in the two buildings. The third plane crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. The hijackers apparently redirected the fourth plane toward Washington, D.C., targeting either the Capitol building or the White House, but crashed it in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania after the passengers attempted to take control of the plane.

According to the 9/11 commission report, “more than 2,600 people died at the World Trade Center; 125 died at the Pentagon; 256 died on the four planes. The death toll surpassed that at Pearl Harbor in December 1941.”

The 9/11 incident had unprecedented domestic and international consequences. The tragedy brought together democrats and republicans alike, who were otherwise deeply divided along party lines. Not only the politicians, but also the general public were united in condemning the heinous crime against humanity.

Subsequently, the Congress passed a USA PATRIOT Act, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001. USA PATRIOT Act literally stands for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act.

The Act dramatically reduced restrictions on domestic law enforcement agencies’ ability to search telephone, e-mail communications, medical, financial, and other records. It eased restrictions on foreign intelligence gathering. The Act also enhanced the Secretary of Treasury’s authority to regulate financial transactions, and broadened the discretion of law enforcement and immigration authorities in detaining and deporting immigrants suspected of terrorism-related activities.

The U.S. government was determined to disrupt and destroy al-Qaeda’s base and its networks. Afghanistan was the prime target because the Taliban regime provided shelter and sanctuary to the al-Qaeda militants.

The international coalition forces led by the United States of America, the United Kingdom and the Afghan United Front (Northern Alliance) launched attacks on al-Qaeda and the Talibans under the code name ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ on October 7, 2001. War in Afghanistan was followed by an invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003.

Somewhat similar to the 9/11, the Kuki people in India, particularly in the state of Manipur, have been observing September 13 (known as 9/13) as ‘black day’ to remember the massacre of 108 civilians on a single day by the National Socialist Council of Nagaland – Isak and Muivah (NSCN-IM), a Naga armed group which wants to secede from India. This year marks its 18th anniversary.

As part of its ethnic cleansing campaign in 1993, the NSCN-IM militants massacred 88 Kukis at Joupi village in Tamenglong district. All the victims had their throats slit. Another 13 innocent villagers were killed in Gelnel village; and four from Santing village (both in Senapati district). Three more people were killed in Nungthut village in Tamenglong district, just because they belonged to the Kuki ethnic group.

Partly because of its geographical location and the lesser intensity of the carnage, this tragic incident has been less widely known by the international community. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported it as ‘ethnic cleansing by Naga separatists’; the Cable News Network (CNN) called the Joupi incident a ‘genocide’, while some others reported as ‘bloody ethnic cleansing’. The ethnic cleansing campaign, which went on from 1992 to 1997, resulted in the death of 961 Kukis, 360 villages uprooted, and about 100,000 people rendered homeless.

Both 9/11 and 9/13 tragedies were the works of radical elements to advance their cause. While the intention of al-Qaeda militants was to harm the U.S. interest and eliminate many Americans as much as they possibly could, the primary goal of NSCN-IM was to drive out the Kukis from their settlements so that the militants could control the lands.

The two tragedies have significant ramifications. The United States of America is still at war with al-Qaeda militants by pursuing them wherever they are. In the process, the foundation of al-Qaeda has been significantly weakened or crippled. However, despite the death of its supreme leader, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda’s determination to attack America’s interest does not seem to dissipate.

The violence against innocent Kukis has stopped, but there remains mutual distrust between the Kukis and the Nagas. There has not been any formal peace established between the two ethnic groups. Similarly, it is unlikely that Washington will sign a peace treaty with al-Qaeda, at least in the near future.

There are some key differences between the two tragedies. The 9/11 attack killed nearly 3,000 people from 92 nations, with ages ranging from two and half-year to 89-year old. Whereas, the 9/13 attack killed over 100 innocent people from a single community in a racially diverse country.

In memory of the victims of the worst attack in American history, 9/11 has been remembered by the entire nation. At the site of the World Trade Center, a museum is being built. Two key features of the museum are the two reflecting pools that outline the footprints of the twin towers. When completed, the pools will be the largest man-made waterfalls in the country.

On the other hand, 9/13 has been observed by the Kuki community alone. No official museum is constructed in memory of the victims. On September 13, black-color flags or traditional clothes are hoisted in every household in Kuki inhabited areas across Manipur state from dawn to dusk. As Christians, the Kukis get together and hold prayers in Churches.

Whether the remembrance of 9/11 and 9/13 promote peace and harmony in domestic and international politics is debatable.

Nehginpao Kipgen is a political analyst and general secretary of the U.S.-based Kuki International Forum (www.kukiforum.com). His works have been widely published in five continents – Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, and North America.

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