Juan Cole today opens a dramatic post with the following passage, in response to the deaths yesterday, from Israeli fire, of several dozen Palestinian civilians sheltering at an UNRWA school in Gaza:
In 1996, Israeli jets bombed a UN building where civilians had taken refuge at Cana/Qana in south Lebanon, killing 102 persons; in the place where Jesus is said to have made water into wine, Israeli bombs wrought a different sort of transformation. In the distant, picturesque port of Hamburg, a young graduate student studying traditional architecture of Aleppo saw footage like this on the news (graphic). He was consumed with anguish and the desire for revenge. He immediately wrote out a martyrdom will, pledging to die avenging the innocent victims, killed with airplanes and bombs that were a free gift from the United States. His name was Muhammad Atta. Five years later he piloted American Airlines 11 into the World Trade Center….
You wonder if someone somewhere is writing out a will today.
The post goes on to argue that America will pay the price of Israel’s “bloody-mindedness,” as it did on 9/11.
Actually, Atta’s will was dated April 11, 1996—one week before the Qana tragedy, on April 18. We don’t know for certain why he made it, but it cannot be because he witnessed any footage from Qana, which was still in the future. And Cole apparently never read the will. It contains no pledge to die while avenging anyone. The will deals with disposition of Atta’s body and possessions in the event of his death. It’s not a “martyrdom will,” but a standardized one, provided by Atta’s Hamburg mosque. (You can read the full text here.)
This is not Cole’s first problem with 9/11 chronology and facts. For an earlier instance, go here.
Update: In the wake of this post, Cole has partly retro-edited his own post (without indicating so). Just for the record, below is the original.