New York's September 11 museum to play martyrdom tapes


New York's September 11 museum to play martyrdom tapes

Thu Sep 10, 2009 4:49pm EDT

By Joan Gralla

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A museum dedicated to the September 11 attacks will play "martyrdom" videos made by the hijackers but testimonials by the public would be screened to prevent sympathizers from praising the perpetrators, museum officials said.

Previous attempts to put into context the motivation of the September 11 hijackers have been met with emotional public opposition, with politicians canceling plans for an "International Freedom Center" in 2005.

But the president of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum said videos made by some of the 19 hijackers in preparation for their suicide missions make up part of the "witness testimony" and available for playback at the display.

The memorial and museum are planned for the World Trade Center site undergoing reconstruction in lower Manhattan. The above-ground memorial, consisting of a plaza and reflecting pools marking where the Twin Towers stood, is scheduled to open by the 10th anniversary of the event in 2011. The underground museum should open by 2013.

Museum president Joe Daniels said the exhibit would present the facts, focusing on "what happened on that day, why it happened, what does it mean to live in a 9/11 world."

The museum is inviting people around the world to send in pictures and recorded recollections about the attacks that will be displayed on its website after being screened for sentiments lionizing the hijackers. (

"No one will come to this museum and leave with a feeling of heroism for the people who committed the crimes that we bear witness to today," Daniel told reporters.

Museum officials are treading carefully. Initial plans for rebuilding the World Trade Center included the International Freedom Center, which would have covered subjects unrelated to the 2001 attacks and discussed themes such as tolerance and diversity.

But Former New York Governor George Pataki canceled the Freedom Center after critics, including survivors and relatives of the nearly 3,000 who died, said the museum should instead be dedicated exclusively to the day known as 9/11 and the 1993 truck bombing of the World Trace Center.

As an example of what will be included, Daniels said the 1979 invasion of the Soviet Union by Afghanistan was vital in understanding "the roots of Al Qaeda."

Asked if the exhibits will delve into economic motivations, such as the West's thirst for Middle Eastern oil, he replied: "Let the perpetrators speak for themselves ... It was a mass murder perpetrated by a group," he said.

The most horrific pictures, such as those of people who jumped from the top floors of the Twin Towers to escape the heat and flames, will be segregated.

(Editing by Daniel Trotta and Philip Barbara)