Monday, 2 May 2011

Osama Bin Laden is dead

Yep, you read it right, Mr Bin Laden of Al-Qaeda fame, credited for numerous US embassy bombings, two attacks on the WTC, previously trained and equipped by the CIA, is dead after an operation by US soldiers in a mansion in Pakistan.

Sprung into somewhat celebrity-styled infamy as America's Most Wanted after 9/11, it's apparent from the public reaction that a massive sense of relief is being enjoyed. So, I thought I'd take this opportunity to look back over the last ten years and recall my experiences of life post-9/11.

On 11th September 2001, I was working for Midway Games, an American video games publisher whose European office was based in the upmarket end of High Street Kensington. I was the token Muslim guy in the office, I was young and afraid of girls, which my fellow female colleagues thought was hilarious and perhaps somewhat cute. I was naive, enthusiastic and had ambitions to one day work for Nintendo in Japan. During the early afternoon, a man walked into the office I was in and said "Have you heard? Someone's just flown a plane into the World Trade Centre". It was quite odd that someone who worked in a neighbouring office and not from Midway Games would walk into my office to tell me something like that, also in my head I imagined that his comment meant that some idiot in a two seater glider had flown into the antennae and probably just injured or killed himself. I mean, who'd fly a plane into a building on purpose? Who could even get that far with all the radar coverage in the air anyway?

For the first few minutes, there was a laughable buzz in the office of our American company as we imagined this to be a civilian accident. Suddenly, things went cold. As I heard of a second plane going into the second tower, I ran over to the Finance Manager to tell her what I heard. As I ran in there still thinking it was all a big accident, I saw the look on her face as she grabbed the phone to speak to her family in the USA. Now I started to realise that it wasn't some accident, but that there was some kind of attack happening in the USA. With the world now going chaotic, we still had work to do and today was critical as our prize game for Xmas 2001; Spy Hunter was in Sony submission and we needed to get it approved.

After work I went to the gym where there was a TV in the changing rooms, and that's when I saw the very first pictures of what had happened to the WTC. It was no accident, something big had happened, and it was really, really bad. Deep in my gut, I started to fear that these attacks may have been orchestrated by some Islamic-related group or something and that this would be the beginning of some really bad anti-Islamic sentiment. I was right, and the world changed in a very horrible way for ever.

The last 10 years have been interesting. Fears, prejudice, religion, paranoia, introspection have been probably more pertinent than ever before, at least they have been for me. I remember that every time I would get on a train with a bag, the looks I would get. If I felt that people were afraid, I would open my bag and take a book out, then I'd see people around me easing up. Once, whilst standing at London Bridge Tube, a young chav-type saw me, turned to his friend and said "nah mate, terrorism" and then walked further away to another carriage. Every time I would go through an airport, a smarmy security official who wishes he was Jack Bauer would always give me hassle, my name and image was enough to set off paranoia and give some school drop-out with a badge a reason to feel that he was checking me as a potential terror threat. With nothing to hide, I'd let them do their job and always be polite, even though the patronising tone of their voice would always remind me that I would forever be the target of discrimination and profiling in this bellend-ed world of idiot human retards. I could share some more examples, but you get my drift.

Right now, as I write this, I am watching the BBC News feed of a jubilant crowd outside the White House, rejoicing over the news that Osama Bin Laden is dead. And although this is meant to be "good" news, I can't help but fear that it'll be a catalyst for the ignorant and violent factions of society on all sides to demonstrate how epically stupid they are by doing something that will further fan the flames of hate.

I guess we'll have to see what happens next, but I think we can all agree that we can do with some respite from all this fear, whether it be legitimate or mongered.


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