- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Remembering the attacks

The German, Syrian and British ambassadors have seen their countries greatly changed by the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Germany has been fighting to rid itself of terrorist cells linked to the attacks. Syria, whom Washington accuses of sponsoring terrorism, has pleased U.S. officials by sharing intelligence on al Qaeda, the terror network. Britain again has proven to be the strongest U.S. ally by pledging support for the removal of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Germany's Wolfgang Ischinger, Syria's Rostom Al-Zoubi and Britain's Sir Christopher Meyer will join other ambassadors today at a Pentagon ceremony for victims and survivors of the attack there. Yesterday, the officials shared with Embassy Row their thoughts on the anniversary of the attacks.

Mr. Ischinger remembered opening a fund last year at the German Embassy to help families of the victims.

"I thought we would raise a few thousand dollars. The amazing thing is we raised more than $9 million," he said.

Mr. Ischinger played down the dispute over Iraq between Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Mr. Bush. While news reports say the two leaders are not talking to each other, Mr. Ischinger said they are still communicating.

This week he delivered a letter to Mr. Bush from Mr. Schroeder, pledging Germany's continued support in the war against terrorism.

"We remain actively committed to the fight," the ambassador said.

He noted Germany's deployment of troops to Afghanistan and its cooperation in intelligence and law enforcement. Those efforts led to the crushing of a terrorist cell in Hamburg and the arrests of other suspects. Attorney General John Ashcroft told Mr. Ischinger over lunch this week that he appreciated Germany's cooperation.

"Germany continues to feel very close to the American people," Mr. Ischinger said. "We still have a problem over how to deal with Saddam, but we are committed to the fight against terrorism. God knows whom these people want to attack next."

Syria has seen itself transformed in the eyes of the United States from a rogue nation to a partner in the war on terrorism.

Mr. Al-Zoubi yesterday expressed his country's "sympathy and support for the bereaved families on this sad occasion."

"We reiterate our condemnation of the terrorist attacks of September 11," he said, adding that his country understands the suffering of the survivors because "we, ourselves, have been victim to such scars before."

"Syria has stated its readiness to support any international efforts to combat and uproot terrorism in all its forms," he said, adding that Syrian President Bashar Assad was among the first to cable Mr. Bush with condolences after the attacks.

"Our cooperation with the U.S. against al Qaeda is well known, and that cooperation has helped save American lives," he said.

Mr. Meyer yesterday focused on the human side of the tragedy.

"This is a moment when you stop being an ambassador and start being a human being," he said. "In a way, it was the worst of times and the best of times.

"It was an appalling atrocity, a terrible human loss. But, and this may sound like a odd thing to say, it did pull people together. It showed how we need each other."

Wound on mankind

The ambassador of Cyprus says the terrorist attacks "inflicted a deep wound on mankind," but the civilized world would prevail over "hate, fanaticism and intolerance."

"It may be that the location where these horrific crimes were committed was New York or the American capital, but the target was the entire civilized world, democracy and freedom," Ambassador Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis wrote in a reflection on the anniversary of September 11.

Somber New Year

September 11 is not just the anniversary of the terrorist attacks, it is New Year's Day in Ethiopia. However, Ambassador Kassahun Ayele has canceled his embassy's celebration out of respect to the United States.

Under Ethiopia's calendar, the first day of the first month, Meskerem, falls today.

Two Ethiopians were among the victims of the attack on the World Trade Center, and one died on the airliner that hit the Pentagon.

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