Prior to 9/11 these men would have chosen airline seats by the windows. Based on the data from previous hijackings, they knew this allowed them to be harder to physically strike in an initial violent takeover of the plane’s cabin when terrorists needed to make examples of certain passengers to keep the others in line. Window seats bought these men time to observe and plan a course of action. 9/11 shifted the hijacking paradigm. Following that Tuesday morning, those same guardians began selecting seats in the aisle so they could react to a threat instantly. They appear no different than anyone else, unless you know what to look for; unless you are one of them.
Researching this novel was an intensely emotional experience: listening to the calls from those on the hijacked aircraft to their loved ones on the ground, reading about those who perished, trapped in collapsing buildings, some electing to jump to their deaths rather than be burned alive.
I encourage everyone to visit the 9/11 memorial in lower Manhattan. Take your time. Heed its lessons.
As we move past the twentieth anniversary of the attacks and into our third decade of continuous warfare, do we have a clear vision of how this conflict ends? Or has our short-war strategy applied to a long-term conflict condemned our children and grandchildren to fight the sons and grandsons of the men who planned the deadliest terrorist attack in history? Do we still not understand the nature of the conflict in which we are engaged?
I fear we may all know the answer.