Americas

'The Owl and the Hawk': A Plan to Avoid Another 9/11

The Owl and the Hawk. By John Errett. 344 pages. Free Enterprise Press. $19.95.

In a wonderful new suspense/thriller, The Owl and the Hawk (Free Enterprise Press), an astonishing plan is revealed that, if in effect on Sept. 11, 2001, would most likely have avoided that terrible disaster. The author calls the plan the Privilege of Passage plan, or POP plan.

On the occasion of a visit to Israel in 1973, the author, John Errett, was invited to an Israeli Air Force base and learned of the importance placed on the Phantom jet by the Israelis. There was nothing any of the hostile Islamic nations had that could, in any way, match the versatility of this splendid aircraft. He was further lectured on its deployment, capabilities, and the increasing need for more of them. A visit to the Lebanese border, with an overnight stay in a northern kibbutz, fenced in and guarded 24 hours a day by ordinary farmers carrying automatic weapons, was chilling. On another side trip to the Golan Heights, he stood atop an abandoned Syrian tank and viewed the vulnerability of the Israeli farmlands below.

On a 1975 visit, during a period of published vitriolic hatred for Israel in the Muslim press, he learned the extent to which fanatical Muslims might go in order to kill an Israeli or one of their American supporters. On the day of his baptism in the Jordan River, a number of Jewish tourists were slain by a bomb planted in a Tunisian synagogue by terrorists believed to have been based in Libya. The total immersion in the Jordan conducted by a Baptist minister began the thought process that eventually led to the POP plan

Today, any citizen of a non-hostile nation, holding a valid passport, could enter the United States subject to visa requirements and a search of the immigration "wanted list." There is no investigation, by the passport issuing nation, of the character, disposition, or associates of the passport holder. So the United States and the nations of the world are admitting millions upon millions of foreign nationals into their countries, knowing a handful might be assassins or terrorists. The question is, what ought to be done to screen visitors before allowing them entry? As a practical matter, investigating the backgrounds of many millions of foreign travelers would be both physically and financially impossible for any nation.

But what about the nation that issued the passport? Would it not be much easier for them to look into the backgrounds of their own citizens prior to issuing passports? Absolutely, and all nations should, but few take even a cursory look into the matter. Why should they? For most of them, their nationals are well behaved and to investigate each passport applicant would involve costs depending on the depth of the inquiry. But what if the nations of the world accepted responsibility, or more precisely, accepted financial responsibility, for the criminal acts of their passport holders while in another country? What effect would such a system have? Errett believes the benefits to the United States and almost every other nation in the world, by adopting the POP plan would be enormous.

Nations do not knowingly issue passports to criminals and terrorists; that is, most do not. Today it is more than likely terrorist acts will be committed by Middle East Muslims. In saying that, we are profiling, a sin to some, but the absolute truth to most of the world. Try to recall when and where an American committed such an act in another country. Although there have been non-related acts of terrorism perpetrated by non-Muslim nations of the world, they have been few and far between.

We must be realists and see the world as it is today. There is no question that a few nations do issue passports to terrorists, some knowingly. They do so, secure in the knowledge that they will bear no responsibility, certainly no financial responsibility, for criminal acts perpetrated by their passport holders. But what would they do in their own self-interests before issuing passports if they could be held financially responsible for serious criminal acts committed by their nationals while abroad? They would be far more interested in the passport applicant, his reasons for travel, his record, his associates, and his memberships lest that nation be at risk and obliged to pay for his misdeeds.

Now let us see what the results would have been for the disaster of 9/11 if the POP plan were in effect between Saudi Arabia and the United States. Since 15 of the 19 suicide terrorists held Saudi Arabian passports, they (Saudi Arabia) would be financially responsible for the losses if criminal acts were committed. There can be no doubt that hijacking airplanes, deliberately crashing them into occupied buildings, and intentional murder are all criminal acts of great consequence. The loss to property owners and businesses alone has been estimated at over 1.5 billion dollars. The value of the loss of human life, its affects on families and loved ones and the medical costs to the known injured along with the yet to be reported injuries, come to a staggering sum that simply cannot be fully estimated.

Since the government of Saudi Arabia had knowledge that some of the terrorists were, or might be dangerous and therefore should not have been issued passports, Saudi Arabia would be financially liable for the losses. But with the Errett Plan in effect, would the Saudis have issued passports to all 15 terrorists or to any of them for that matter. The absence of any one terrorist on 9/11 might have been enough for Al Qaeda to abort the attack. The absence of several of the terrorists would certainly have aborted or seriously curtailed the plot. Many, if not all, of the innocent victims of 9/11 might still be alive and we all might still be able to view the monument to American business, trade, and ingenuity embodied in the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.

Profiling is the most effective initial step to be taken in identifying terrorists since history tells us that past acts of terrorism were committed by fanatical, extremist Muslims, almost all from the Middle East. In addition, "suicide/martyr factories" are operating even today in some countries, including Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. There are schools of terror in these countries, teaching impressionable pre-teens and teenagers that they have anobligation to kill infidels, who are you and me, in order to gain Paradise. It is the Saudis and their Wahhabi schools that finance the terrorist teachings in the madrassas of Pakistan and the rest of the Middle East. In support of these conclusions, it is interesting to note that over 50 percent of the foreign forces supporting Al Qaeda in Iraq and becoming suicide bombers are from the oil barons of Saudi Arabia. Having said this, it is only fair to say that most Muslims everywhere are good and true followers of Islam and have sustained more deaths and mutilations than anyone else.

There is no doubt we are focused on the Middle East and this is profiling. The POP plan calls for all nations to deny entry to any passport holder whose government refuses to assume financial responsibility for criminal acts committed by the passport holder. That means that we, the United States, would deny entry to passport holders of any nation refusing to assume financial responsibility and join the POP plan. Every nation in the world should enthusiastically join in the plan since it serves to transfer liability from victims to criminal perpetrators as well as creating increased scrutiny of passport applicants.

Citizens of any nation refusing to join the POP plan might still travel to a POP plan nation by putting up sufficient collateral, buying an insurance policy or a surety bond that satisfied the nation being entered. The president working thru the State Department and with the approval of Congress should immediately form a committee to advise on the issues likely to be raised. The author strongly feels that this matter should not be a project for the United Nations nor should the United Nations have any part in its implementation or operation.

The POP plan does not include or anticipate the Mexican border issues. Mexicans are not terrorists and are our first line of defense in identifying foreign intruders. The immigration and illegal alien situation as it relates to Mexicans requires another solution bearing in mind that American citizens from Mexico have as much to lose as anyone in the event of terrorist attack and have become exemplary contributing Americans.

The POP plan is introduced in the final chapter of John Errett's wonderfully suspense filled novel, The Owl and the Hawk, published by Free Enterprise Press, P.O. Box 511169, Punta Gorda, Fla. 33951 or call Atlas Books toll free 1-800-247-6553. For more information, visit www.theowlandthehawk.com.

Babs Chandrasoma is a public relations professional with PR by the Book in Round Rock, Texas.

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