Canadian 9/11 widow in a staring contest with 9/11 terrorists:
Q. Why did you want to go?
A. I had an overwhelming desire to see things and judge for myself. I wanted to try to understand why these five men were so full of hate for innocent civilians that they were capable of killing so many people going about their daily life. I wanted to be a representative of another country other than America, because I’m constantly trying to remind both Americans and Canadians that it’s not just all about Americans. There were citizens from 92 countries that lost their lives that day.
Q. What happened in court?
A. Much drama. Ramzi was forcibly ejected. It’s because he was not cooperating. I witnessed that all the high-value detainees had nothing but contempt and no respect for the judge. They never stood, as did everybody else, when the judge entered or departed from the court. I noticed right away that the defence were all wearing burkas, the females of course. Not today, because today is Friday and none of the high-value detainees are in court because it’s their prayer day. The detainees are not wearing any type of prison garb. They are easily identified because they’re wearing white, very clean, freshly-pressed, laundered Muslim clothing, all white.
Q. What was it like to finally look them in the face?
A. I did behave like a typical polite Canadian. But I had to control myself. You know, you actually find yourself wanting to make eye contact. It was almost a challenge amongst the family members because they [the detainees] do occasionally look at the family members. And I feel as though — not KSM, but Ramzi — and I made eye contact. And for my part, it was like looking at evil, hate, a monster — straight in the eye. I surprised myself. I just wanted to outstare him, especially as a woman, knowing how they feel about women. It gave me a little sense of satisfaction to be able to look him straight in the eye back. I felt secure. And I could just feel all of the hate and contempt that they could muster. They want to intimidate you and terrorize you, even to this day but I tried not to let that happen. It did not happen.
Q. So you had the sense that when they were looking at the families it wasn’t in an apologetic way?
A. Not at all. Not a hint of remorse or regret. No. Just the opposite. More of a gloating, hateful stare back.
Q. Was there any closure in seeing them in custody and on trial?
A. No, there’s still just a big sense of frustration. Closure, it’s an elusive thing for the families of 9/11. We all want some sense of closure but the families that are here with me, I don’t think any of us have come close to reaching that stage yet.
Q. You are there with others who lost their fathers, a brother, a fiancé on 9/11. What was that like?
A. There’s a unique bond that happens immediately, and you’re with people that get it. We share concerns, emotions and 12 years later it’s not so much about the grieving process as it is the quest for justice and accountability, and the determination to have a trial work not just for us but for the rest of the world.
Q. Has your visit helped you deal with the trauma you’ve been through?
A. I was concerned that this would be triggers for the trauma, but the support that I have received far exceeds my anxiety and so it’s been a positive experience for me. I do think it is helping me, mostly because I’m with other families.
Q. And because you won the staring contest.
A. Yeah! Does that sound odd? It’s because I could, in my own small way, look Ramzi — KSM was, he was constantly reading something, so he didn’t do it as often as the others — but to be able to look him in the eyes. And it wasn’t just a glance, it was a hard core stare. That was my moment of triumph.