It's Sept. 11, 2007, six years since the 9/11 attacks and I spent part of this morning with the TV on, watching the memorial service at Ground Zero. Among the first names read out loud at the service by former first-responders were "Alok Agarwal" and "Mukul Agarwala," two of the South Asians to be killed at the World Trade Center. We have estimated that several dozen South Asians were killed at the WTC (none, we believe, died at the Pentagon or in the field in Pennsylvania). We have collected online profiles of 54 of these victims, including Alok and Mukul (link below) and are looking to add more: saja[at]columbia.edu - or use the comments section below.
Here are several items from the SAJA archives and beyond that you might want to check out.
- A message I sent to the SAJA lists on 9/11/2001 at 1:21 p.m. New York time (see below).
- A Sept. 13, 2001, message from then SAJA President Jyoti Thottam, now at a senior editor at Time (see below).
- SAJA's roundup of articles, resources and more about the attacks: http://www.saja.org/roundupsep
t11.html (it has not been updated in four years, so many of the links are no longer working, but it still makes for fascinating reading). Links to more than 150 news stories, first-person reports, op-ed pieces and much, much more.
- SAJA's links and profiles more about victims of the 9/11 attacks: http://www.saja.org/dissect/sept11victims.html (includes 54 profles of those who were killed at WTC as well as the handful who were killed in hate crimes).
- Statistics, by place of birth of those killed (see below).
- Obits and reports about people killed in the wave of hate crimes following 9/11/2001 (see below).
- Over the years, SAJA HQ has been asked regularly about some of the victims of the attacks. The two people we have had the most queries about are one who survived, Stanley Praimnath, and one who didn't, Mohammed Salahuddin Chowdhury (updates on both their stories are below).
- Listen to a 2006 SAJAforum audio interview with Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria about the five-year anniversary and read some of his 9/11-related pieces.
- In the Sept. 24, 2001, issue of The New Yorker, Amitav Ghosh was one of several famous writers (John Updike, Susan Sontag, Jonathan Franzen) who reflected upon the attacks in "Talk of the Times." See all those piece here.
Post your thoughts about the anniversary in the comments section below.
A message I sent to the SAJA e-mail lists on 9/11/2001 at 1:21 p.m. New York time
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 13:21:20 -0400 (EDT)
From: Sreenath Sreenivasan <email@example.com>
I have received several e-mail and phone inquiries asking about the NYC situation. This is just a note to let you know that I am well and am checking in with as many of my friends as possible. There are still dozens of people I know who work in the WTC area and am awaiting word on their safety.
Below are six items that might interest you.
1. Part of a note I sent to my family this morning. My wife, Roopa, and I were in Bermuda this weekend and were stuck there because of Hurricane Erin -- we came back on one of the last flights into JFK this morning (an American Airlines flight, no less)... See below...
2. A link to a story by a first-hand account of MSNBC reporter Martin Wolk who was in the WTC area at the time:
3. The Poynter Institute has built an excellent Web site with suggestions
for reporters covering the story from around the world:
http://www.poynter.org -- especially compelling is the collection of
newspaper frontpages from around the country that has been gathered there
in PDF format.
The American Press Institute has built Web resources for journalists as
4. A 1997 NYT report about the start of the trial of the 1993 WTC bombers.
The description of an FBI agent's conversation with a WTC bomber as they
flew by the WTC is chilling indeed. See below...
5. Two older online stories done by students of mine about the WTC. One,
"Securing the Big Apple" from April 2001 about security at the Center:
The other is "The Skyscraper Shimmy" from March 2000 about the WTC's
We are praying for the people affected by all this mayhem.
regards, sree | http://www.sree.net
o o o o o
> From SREE at 11:53 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001
we flew into NYC around 8:10 this morning on an american airlines and as
we came close to the city, i saw the familiar skyline from my window seat.
roopa and i looked at the world trade center towers clearly visible in the
beautiful clear sky (we were about two miles away). we even talked about
how nice it all looked -- the citibank building and the WTC were the two
most visible landmarks (the empire state building, which is taller than
the citibank building) was somehow not as "shiny" as those two landmarks.
we landed, got into a cab and neared the triboro bridge into manhattan, we
were able to see dark smoke billowing from one of the WTC towers. at that
point, we started listening to the radio and watched as emergency crews
drove past us. the rest, you know.
o o o o o
The New York Times
Aug. 4, 1997
Trial begins today for alleged leader of Trade Center attack; February '93 bombing killed 6, injured more than 1,000
NEW YORK CITY--One February night two years ago, a helicopter carrying Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, the man accused of masterminding the World Trade Center bombing, sped along the East River on the last leg of Yousef's journey from Pakistan. He was on his way to detention and trial in the United States. As the helicopter flew over mid-Manhattan, William Gavin, a senior official in the FBI's New York office, pushed up his captive's blindfold.
Yousef squinted as his eyes adjusted to the light. Then Gavin pointed at the Trade Center towers below, their lights glowing in the clear, cold night. "Look down there," Gavin said he told Yousef. "They're still standing."
Yousef replied, "They wouldn't be if I had had enough money and explosives," recalled Gavin, who has since retired.
Yousef may have boasted of his role in the Trade Center blast, which killed six people and injured more than 1,000 on Feb. 26, 1993. But as his trial begins in federal court today, important questions remain about Yousef and the extent of his participation in what at the time was the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
For example, did any country, group or person - beyond Yousef - sponsor the Trade Center blast? Evidence in previous trials showed that the bombing cost less than $20,000 to carry out, but it is uncertain where the money came from. [Read the rest of the story here at NYTimes.com]
- - -
A Sept. 13, 2001, message from then SAJA President Jyoti Thottam, now at a senior editor at Time.
A Message from SAJA President Jyoti Thottam, posted as part of Tips for Covering the Sept. 11 attacks
Dear SAJA members and friends:
NYC, SEPT. 13, 2001: The events of the last two days have us all reeling in shock and dismay, and SAJA first wants to extend its condolences to the families and friends of those who were killed or hurt at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania. Many of us were witnesses to this disaster, and we will never forget it.
As the world's journalists document what happened on Sept. 11, 2001, and its aftermath, SAJA has published this set of Reporting Tips for covering the World Trade Center attack. Please distribute it widely.
Although it is not yet clear who is responsible for the attack, the media spotlight has been concentrated on Afghanistan and the surrounding region, and there have been several reports of reprisals (physical and verbal) against Arab Americans and South Asian Americans, particularly Sikhs and Muslims. Part of SAJA's mission is to promote accurate coverage of South Asia and the South Asian diaspora, whatever the circumstances, so we hope these links will aid in that effort.
SAJA president & reporter, On Magazine
- - -
Several community organizations have put the death toll of South Asians - US citizens and non-citizens - at more than 200. That number has not been confirmed. We have compiled online profiles of 54 people here: http://www.saja.org/dissect/sept11victims.html
Deaths by BIRTHPLACE
According to an
April 2002 New York City Dept. of Health analysis of WTC deaths by birthplace
(looking at 90 percent of the 2,825 of the victims)...
Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago: 29 (several of South Asian origin)
Bangladesh numbers were not broken out.
With 34, India was the third largest country (US: 2,106 & UK: 53).
South Asians born in the U.S. do NOT figure in these totals.
Here is a list of British citizens who were killed (has several South Asian names):
- - -
South Asians Killed in Hate Crimes Following Sept. 11
- Balbir Singh Sodhi, Mesa, Arizona - Sept. 16, 2001
Store owner killed in spree (Arizona Republic)
'What was he guilty of? That he looked like Osama bin Laden?' (Rediff)
- Waqar Hasan, Dallas, Texas - Sept. 16, 2001
Pakistani businessman shot dead in Texas (Rediff)
"Who is the man who killed my brother?" (Rediff)
- Vasudev Patel, Dallas, Texas - Oct 4, 2001
Family of Man Killed After 9/11 Finds Little Charity, but Much Hardship
- See Little India article about hate crime victims, by Lavina Melwani
- - -
Over the years, SAJA HQ has been asked regularly about some of the victims of the attacks. The two people we have had the most queries about are one who survived, Stanley Praimnath, and one who didn't, Mohammed Salahuddin Chowdhury (updates on both their stories are below).
STANLEY PRAIMNATH: Praimnath was on the phone in his 81st floor office when the plane hit the South Tower. His tale of how he survived and climbed down all those floors was covered in various news outlets. This anniversary week, he was profiled in the NY Daily News:
Praimnath, now a deacon and men's leader at the Bethel Assembly of God in Ozone Park, Queens, started touring the country as a motivational speaker, addressing church and college groups. "I became a speaker because I believe God asked me to do my part," said Praimnath, now 50 with two teenage daughters. "I stopped taking every day for granted. Never again."
MOHAMMED SALAHUDDIN CHOWDHURY: Chowdhury was a waiter at the Windows on the World Restaurant atop the World Trade Center. He usually worked a later shift, but went to work the breakfast shift on Sept. 11, 2001, because he and his wife, Baraheen Ashrafi, known as Sudipta, was likely to go into labor later that day. Sudipta became widow that morning and a mother to Chowdhury's second child two days later, when baby Farqad was born (their first child Fahina was five at the time). About two years ago, she moved with Farqad and Fahina to Oklahoma and is reported to be doing well, all things considered.
Articles about the family: Rekha Basu's moving 2001 profile in the Des Moines Register | Charisse Jones's look at 9/11 kids in USAToday.
Post your thoughts about the anniversary in the comments section below.