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These stories were published Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2002, in Vol. 2, No. 180
Jo Stuart
About us
Sept. 11. . . 
one year later

Lady Liberty maintains her vigil below during an angry New York sky. The figure is part of a painting by Hans Doller, which now hangs in the Café de Artistas in Escazú. The work was done in 1992 to mark the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s voyage to the  New World.

However, the image seemed appropriate for today, the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington and the terrorist-caused air disaster in Pennsylvania.

The rest of today’s Sept. 11 coverage:

• A look back in photos of a week of tragedy as seen in Costa Rica. BELOW!

• The United States has issued a high-level warning of a possible undefined terrorist attack through October. BELOW!

• The U.S. military is deploying live anti-aircraft missiles in Washington. BELOW!

• President Bush says he will  call on the United Nations to deal with the problem of Iraq. BELOW!

Part of painting by Hans Doller
U.S. warning predicted attacks by terrorists
By Jay Brodell
Editor of A.M. Costa Rica

The story seemed a bit alarmist. The U.S. government had issued a warning to its citizens abroad telling them that they may be at increased risk of terrorist action from extremist groups. 

The night was Sept. 10, 2000, and alarmist or not, the story found a place on the front page of the month-old A.M. Costa Rica.

The government reported that night that it was taking seriously information that U.S. citizens might be targets of groups with links to Osama Bin Ladin and his Al-Qaida organization.

To say that the news story was prophetic is an understatement. Less than 12 hours later, the World Trade Center towers were aflame. The disaster came to Costa Rica by television in at least five languages.

Nearly every family had some relative, friend or associate in New York City at that moment. The fears at first were personal and then changed to a general uncertainty because we all knew the world had changed.

The Internet proved itself that morning. The principal news page here got an update at 8:30 a.m. that said commercial airline flights were grounded. By 9:30 a.m. a prayer vigil had been organized and the U.S. Embassy issued a statement 90 minutes later. All found their way into an updated Web page.

A first-person account from an observer rounded out the report that morning. Left in the page was the story that the U.S. government was concerned about a possible terrorist attack somewhere.

The strongest sentiment of U.S. residents here seemed to be impotence. There was nothing to do. That was the feeling shared with rescue workers in New York and Washington, as it turned out.

Few U.S. citizens gloated over their relative safety in peace-loving Costa Rica. Nearly everyone here realizes that the much-trumpeted peace would not last without the U.S. fleets offshore and U.S. strength to the north.

Some residents would have returned to North America if the airlines had been running, the sense of impotency was that strong.

Only later did the damage to tourism begin to become a discussion topic. Shocked and stranded tourists wandered the downtown. 

U.S. Marines present the colors at a memorial service for U.S. residents a week after the terrorist attacks.

Hotel managers worked hard to keep them housed and fed.

Costa Rica had been in the midst of a tourism boom but was deflated by the attacks. The attacks proved to be less of an impact than the economic downturn that reduced the spendable income of North American tourists since Sept. 11.

Hard hit by the tragedies were Costa Rican policemen and firemen. They, more than most, felt the loss of the New York City patrolmen and firefighters crushed in the collapsing towers. They came in force to express their feelings at the U.S. Embassy in Pavas. Others simply stacked up flowers against the embassy wall. One person left a model of the Twin Towers.

Later, officials calculated that citizens of 90 countries died in the attacks, but there was little news of individual victims for several days.

The impotency and detachment from the tragedy is such that some U.S. citizens have made special tourist trips to Ground Zero to somehow ratify their personal link to the tragedy in New York.

Those who have not made the pilgrimage can visit in spirit at the Museo Caldarón Guardia where dramatic photos of the New York tragedy will be on display until Oct. 13.

The images and smells of the attack stick in the memory
By Bryan Kay
of the the A.M. Costa Rica staff

I was somewhere between unconscious and conscious last Sept. 11 at 8.45 a.m. I was in an apartment building in Chinatown, New York City. 

I remember the very last detail. 

No matter how hard I try I can’t erase the pictures in my mind that I don’t want to be there. It really shouldn’t be there, but how can I make something go away that is so real.

Sept. 11, 2001, was a surreal day through my eyes — and I’m sure many others’ too. Maybe it was the brightly shining sun above the Manhattan skyline that heightened that feeling. 

But it created an uncannily perverse backdrop to a skyline at once so beautiful, but in seconds shattered senseless, in tune with its inhabitants. 

I was but a few minute walk away, and a friend and I tried to head for the Twin Towers to offer vounteer services. The smell was intense. As the second tower fell, intense clouds of smoke billowed to the sky.

A policeman turned us back. Even the professions were unable to cope that day.

Watching the T.V. images now reminds me of this sureal feeling. 

Start on monument
leads day's agenda

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

At 9:30 a.m. today the first stone of a monument to the victims of Sept. 11 will be put down in Parque Urbanización General Cañas. The park is on the south side of the Centro Cultural Costarricense Norteamericano in Sabana Norte (not to be confused with the centro in Los Yoses.)

This is a joint project involving the Municipality of San José, the centro, the American Colony Committee, the Costa Rican-American Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Embassy.

At 11 a.m. Costa Rican firemen will render a tribute to the victims. And Correos de Costa Rica will display the commemorative stamp that is being issued today.

At 8 p.m. an exhibit of the works of three photographers will be opened at the Museo Calderón Guardia in Barrio Escalante.

The truth is I don’t think I really woke up that day at all. I guess I was in the state that I started the day in all day — dazed and half awake.

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Switzerland becomes
United Nations member

By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

NEW YORK CITY — The new session of the U.N. General Assembly opened here Tuesday with one of its first official acts, the admission of Switzerland as the 190th member of the world organization. 

The 57th annual meeting of the General Assembly is taking place in the shadow of international terrorism, as the world observes the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

"As we commemorate the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, we must remain focused on the fight against international terrorism and uphold our international coalition," said Jan Kavan, the new president of the assembly.

"The strengthening of United Nations instruments, including the set of international treaties combating terrorism, should be central to the efforts of the international community."

While national leaders over the next two weeks are likely to talk about what their governments are doing to cripple support for terrorist groups, the Al-Qaida network in particular, the world body took a moment at its opening session for a celebration. Switzerland, after decades of resisting membership, formally joined the organization.

With a salute to Switzerland's traditional neutrality, Swiss President Kaspar Villiger said his country's continuing adherence to that principle does not mean a neutral position on crime or terrorism.

"This is why Switzerland, following the events of Sept. 11, has redoubled its efforts in the fight and in international cooperation," he said. "We are acting on our conviction, which is deeply rooted in our culture, that attacks against freedom, democracy and human rights must not be allowed to win."

Click here for more 9/11 news

Dip in coffee prices
hurts Central America

By A.M Costa Rica wire services

ROME — The World Food Program says it is worried about the effect falling coffee prices and drought will have on Nicaragua's poorest people.

Thousands of Nicaraguan families are in the process of losing everything they own, their coffee seeds and their money, said the program’s representative.

The food aid organization says families in El Salvador and Guatemala have also been hit by the falling coffee prices and drought.

Aid workers in the region said respiratory illnesses, diarrhea and skin diseases are on the rise in the coffee-producing provinces, according to international news sources.

Uribe cracks down
on leftist rebels

By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BOGOTA, Colombia — The Uribe administration has given authorities here special powers to conduct searches and make arrests without warrants under an emergency decree aimed at cracking down on leftist rebels. 

Officials said Tuesday that the new rules give authorities the power to inspect homes, boats and aircraft without a search warrant and hold detainees for 24 hours before handing them over to a public prosecutor. 

The new policy also makes it easier for authorities to tap telephone lines and restrict civilian movement by placing parts of the country under military control. 

Uribe decreed a 90-day state of emergency last month to crack down on rebels blamed for inauguration day attacks that killed at least 20 people. The government has argued that some civil liberties must be suspended in the effort to combat outlawed groups fighting in the country's 38-year civil war.

Stadium roof blown
down by the wind

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Eladio Rosabal Cordero Stadium in Heredia suffered wind damage Tuesday when gusts knocked down the roof over part of the bleachers.

The mishap took place in the afternoon while football players were in a meeting nearby.

Gasoline going up
5 colons a liter

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The price of gasoline will go up five colons per liter, according to a decision taken by the agency that regulates prices. 

The request was made by Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo, and the approval came from the Authoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Públicos. Increases in gasoline prices are common and linked, in part to the structured, continual devaluation of the colon and changes in world oil prices.

Monday is work day
despite independence

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Monday will be a work day for most Costa Ricans. Independence Day is Sunday, but the day will not be a holiday. Only primary and secondary schools will be off Monday.

Pacheco will halt
high-risk building

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The government of Costa Rica is going to prevent construction in protected zones and in areas of high risk.

President Abel Pacheco made that decision while he toured the Los Tanques section of Orosi Monday. That is where seven persons died when hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of mud poured nearly a half mile down a mountainside and buried homes Aug. 31.

Pacheco said that he would rescind a decree that has been on the books that permitted such construction. The action will take effect once published in the official newspaper, La Gaceta.

“The measure we have taken is for the future,” said the president. “To not permit more construction in dangerous areas. In this, we are trying to be energetic.”

The homes that were buried sat in a deep depression in the hillside.

Pacheco also put in a plug for reforestation to counteract landslides and similar events caused by rapid runoff of water.

Costa Rica has to understand that residents cannot continue construction in dangerous areas such as the prohibited zone less than 15 meters (about 50 feet) from rivers and residents have to stop deforestation, said Pacheco.

“We cannot continue logging the summits,” said the president, who added that even in Orosi another summit near the scene of the disaster is being logged.

San Carlos scene
of anti-drug activity

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators were in the midst of a complex anti-drug operation centering on San Carlos Tuesday. 

Early Tuesday they arrested one man they said was the distributor of cocaine to the area by means of nearly daily trips from San José. Agents said he was the wholesale source for a large number of retail drug distributors in barrios such as San Martín, La Cruz and el Bajo del Zoncho. 

Agents accused the man of distributing nearly a kilo of cocaine, mostly in the form of rocks, each week.

They were expecting to make more arrests as a result of an undercover operation and stings of dealers.
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News files hold historic photos of tragic week

An infrared photo from space shows plume of smoke from the World Trade Center site.

Firemen battle the blaze at the Pentagon not long after a jetliner crashed into outer wall.
Costa Rican bomberos pay tribute to fallen New York City firefighters at the U.S. Embassy.
The photos on this page were published in A.M. Costa Rica in the days following the Sept. 11 attack. 

Local police and firemen quickly came in force to the U.S. Embassy in Pavas to express their sympathy and solidarity with their dead brethren in New York.

Memorial services were held, including one mostly for the U.S. community at the Centro Cultural Costarricense Norteamericano. 

The crowd overwhelmed the theater there and televisions had to be set up in the lobby where Ticos and Ticas mingled with U.S. language students.

Local police maintain security following the terrorist attacks in front of U.S. Embassy in Pavas where flag is flown at half-staff.

English- and Spanish-language students at the Centro Cultural Costarricense Norteamericano watch a local memorial service via television hookup.
Ashcroft issues high-risk terrorist alert
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States has upgraded its terrorist threat alert to the second highest level — code orange — indicating a "high risk" based on specific intelligence reports and analysis that point to potential terrorist attacks at U.S. facilities and interests worldwide says John Ashcroft, attorney general.

The alert was announced Tuesday at a Justice Department briefing by Ashcroft, Tom Ridge, Homeland Security director, and Robert Mueller, FBI director.

"The U.S. intelligence community has received information, based on debriefings of a senior Al- Qaeda operative, of possible terrorist attacks timed to coincide with the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States," Ashcroft said.

"Information indicates that Al-Qaeda cells have been established in several South Asian countries in order to conduct car-bomb and other attacks on U.S. facilities. These cells have been accumulating explosives since approximately January 2002, this year, in preparation for these attacks."

Code Orange is the second-highest of five levels of threat security and requires the U.S. government to take extra precautions at public events and to coordinate efforts with law enforcement agencies and the U.S. armed forces. It is one step below "severe risk" of terrorist attack. Access to various government installations is restricted to only "essential personnel."

Additionally, Ashcroft said intelligence reports indicate that one or more individuals in the Middle East are preparing for a suicide attack or attacks against U.S. interests. He said that the reports indicate the most likely targets of the al Qaeda attacks would be in the transportation and energy sectors, and at facilities or gatherings worldwide that are symbols of American power or security.

President George Bush, during a visit to the Afghanistan embassy here Tuesday, said, "the threats that we have heard recently remind us of the pattern of threats we heard prior to Sept. 11 (last year). We have no specific threat to America. But, we're taking everything seriously."

Vice President Dick Cheney left the White House for a secure, undisclosed location, and canceled a Tuesday evening speaking engagement, the White House announced.

"This heightened threat level has been or is being communicated to local and state law enforcement, federal agencies, members of Congress, governors, state homeland security advisors, and representatives of the private sector," said Ridge.

"The nation's homeland security advisory system provides a national framework to inform and facilitate decisions appropriate to different levels of government and to private citizens either at the workplace or at home.

"The system couples the threat level with protective measures that will be taken to reduce our country's vulnerabilities."

Ashcroft said that low-level al Qaeda operatives may view the Sept. 11 anniversary as a suitable time to lash out in even small strikes to demonstrate their worldwide presence, suggesting that unsophisticated strikes are possible.

"The specificity of some of the information and analysis has contributed to the decision to close four U.S. embassies in Southeast Asia and to elevate our security at all overseas diplomatic and military facilities," he said.

The State Department issued a notice of "worldwide caution" to Americans abroad, citing potential terrorist threats, which will remain in effect until Oct. 31, said Richard Boucher, department spokesman.

Bush to ask U.N.
to deal with Iraq

By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Bush says he will call on the United Nations to deal with the problem of Iraq. But, Bush is keeping quiet about the details of his planned speech Thursday to the General Assembly.

The president says he looks forward to the speech, saying he wants to talk about ways the international community can work together to make the world a more peaceful place.

"I'm going to the United Nations to give this speech for a reason - because I believe this is an international problem, and that we must work together to deal with the problem," he said.

During a brief question and answer session with reporters on the grounds of Afghanistan's embassy, the president focused on the need to reach out to other leaders. He said he would not provide any clues to the specifics of the speech, and refused to answer directly when asked about possible military action.

Bush will stress the current regime in Iraq is an outlaw regime that challenges the authority of the U.N, said a senior administration official. The official said the president is still considering a broad range of options but firmly believes something must be done. 

As Bush prepares to make his case to the U.N., Hans Blix, chief U.N. arms inspector says he has no evidence that Saddam Hussein is getting ready to produce nuclear bombs. But Blix, who briefed the Security Council in New York Tuesday, says only on-site inspections can rule it out categorically. 

The chief U.N. arms inspector says he does not have what would constitute proof of an Iraqi arms build-up. But neither does he rule out the possibility. He says Iraq needs to provide more information to weapons experts, which then would have to be analyzed before anyone could be quite sure of what exists in the country.

"If I had solid evidence that Iraq retained weapons of mass destruction or were constructing such weapons, I would take it to the Security Council, report to them," he said. "However, there are many open questions. These questions need to be answered.

Many of them have not been so, and it will be one of our tasks in getting back to Iraq to discuss these issues with them."

As for satellite pictures the Bush administration says point to new and suspicious construction in Iraq, Blix says the photographs can be helpful but not conclusive.

"One can see whether there have been extensions, whether they are re-built, etc. But this is not the same thing as saying that there are weapons of mass destruction," he said. "It is precisely for these reasons that you would like to have inspectors on the ground, so you can view horizontally, not just vertically. The satellites do not see through the roofs."

It is not clear what the Security Council will do to toughen its approach to Iraq. One possible outcome is setting a deadline for letting the inspectors back in, with a threat of punitive action if Iraq fails to comply. Iraq banned inspection teams nearly four years ago.

Iraq continues to maintain that it is not producing weapons of mass destruction. But with the difficult history between Iraq and the United Nations, Council diplomats do not take Iraq's word as a guarantee.

At the same time, U.N. diplomats are trying to dissuade the United States from taking unilateral action against Iraq. The Bush administration has been debating a military strike to remove Saddam Hussein from power.

U.S. deploys anti-aircraft
missiles around D.C.

By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. military is deploying live anti-aircraft missiles around this capitol city in a bid to bolster security for the Sept. 11 anniversary ceremonies. 

Donald Rumsfeld, defense secretary, ordered missiles moved from storage to a variety of launchers previously scattered around the capital, as part of an air defense exercise. 

The decision to make the transition from an exercise to an actual armed operational deployment was not in response to any specific threat. But it called the move a prudent precaution intended to increase the air defense posture in the Washington area, according to a Pentagon statement.

The Pentagon said it would not disclose the actual locations of its air defense assets for security reasons. But at least one military vehicle equipped with anti-aircraft missile launchers was seen by reporters on the perimeter of the Pentagon. 

The decision follows an increase in the terrorist threat warning level in the United States and at U.S. facilities worldwide. 

In addition to the new anti-aircraft missile deployments in this area, fighter jets have resumed their 24-hour patrols over the capital as well as over New York City. 

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